Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Winter shrub care
Piling snow up to (not on top of) your shrubs is not a bad idea so long as you don’t send the kids out there without some supervision! The reason? Well, if you’ve ever been a kid, and I suspect you were, you know that worrying about damaging tender branches is not at the top of your brain. More likely you’re trying to hurl the snow onto your little brother! Heavy, wet snow can damage your shrubs and trees when it’s allowed to just pile up on top and weigh down the branches. Gently knock down the snow.
The idea is to gently surround your shrubs with snow to insulate them from temperature fluctuations. That’s the hardest thing on our plants and is what causes “heaving” which can lift roots out of the ground exposing them to winter elements.
If you have shrubs planted along a walkway or driveway, then you likely use some sort of chemical to de-ice. I would suggest using sand (yes, I know it’s messy), magnesium chloride or calcium acetate. This will really reduce damage to shrubs.
You could also consider planting more salt tolerant plants. My favorite, hands down, is the Rugosa Rose – they can take salt like a margarita!
This rosebush was in another yard I lived in! It was stunning and kept blooming all summer. It was close to the end of the driveway so got salt from the driveway AND the roadway.
Alpine Currants, Staghorn sumac and Snowberry are also good choices for salt tolerance.