It may not seem like it, but spring will be here soon. One of the most important things you can do as we transition to warmer weather is to inspect your property for winter damage. Finding problems and resolving them is step one in proactively caring for your outdoor spaces. Here are some things to look for as the seasons shift.
Ice damage is often the most apparent and destructive type of winter damage. Common Ice damage can include broken or fallen limbs of trees or shrubs, areas where poor drainage allowed for standing water and ice to accumulate, or even damage caused to your home from ice accumulation along the gutters or roof.
Upon finding ice damage, the first thing to do is to address the immediate area of deterioration. Pruning, removing limbs, or felling trees or shrubs is common, as is regrading or repairing roadways. In many cases, a professional should be consulted or hired to resolve these issues. In this event, should ice still be present before the expert can diagnose the problem, take several photographs to help illustrate the issue.
Once the immediate damage is corrected, property owners are best-served by assessing the underlying cause of the ice damage. A proactive plant and tree health and management program will identify at-risk plant life and resolve potential issues before next winter. Standing water and icing can be resolved through effective drainage installation or repair, and many structural problems can be repaired through proactive maintenance or thoughtful repairs.
In New Hampshire, common pests that can cause damage in the winter include deer, squirrels, mice, moles, and voles. As these animals prepare for and survive the winter, their activities may be damaging to your property. While squirrels and mice are commonly known to damage structures, moles and voles may harm landscapes and landscape features such as irrigation systems and even areas of the lawn through their burrowing and feeding behaviors.
Upon finding pest damage, the repair should occur only after the pest problem has been addressed. A quality landscape company can either address most pest problems or recommend a company for this problem.
In many cases, proactive measures can help mitigate pest damage for future winters. The location of wood and brush storage, food sources, the types of plants on the property, overhanging tree limbs, and even how a lawn is mowed in the fall are all factors that can influence pest damage in the winter.
Frost Heaves Damage
The expanding force of freezing groundwater causes frost heaves. This powerful force can disturb the soil, cause pavement or crack and create potholes, and damage landscape features. It is also a primary cause of the failure of retaining and rock walls.
Frost heave damage can be the most intensive to repair and prevent. As a result, unless there is a safety concern, we recommend that these repairs only occur after the underlying cause has been addressed. Causes can range from poor underwater drainage to shoddy construction practices.
When a landscape feature like a patio, driveway, or retaining wall is installed, the footing and back-fill are installed to allow for both water drainage and to allow the base material to absorb movement and pressure. If these aspects are absent in the construction, it needs to be addressed, or the damage from frost heaves will continue year after year. In these instances, prevention involves hiring a qualified contractor to follow industry best practices in repair and installation. We recommend utilizing certified contractors.
Regardless of the cause, winter damage is an indication that something on your property needs attention. The way you respond to, and proactively prepare for winter damage will have a large influence on the chances the damage will repeat next winter. Consulting a landscape or property management professional for damage repair and prevention is a good first-step to protecting your property.