Since spring continues to elude us, I decided to ask Andy Otting, SBC’s President and salesman extraordinaire, what affect this seemingly eternal winter will have on the landscape this year. Here are his thoughts…


This year’s frigidly cold winter conditions bring challenges to our plant communities and overall landscapes in a variety of ways. With the number of days we saw go below zero, 26 days (and counting? please no…) it will be a wait and see experience to see how plants react.

Some of the negative impacts from the cold will be observed in dieback, flower bud reduction, frost cracks on shade trees, and burn on evergreens. You may have already seen some of these effects. If you live in Evanston, you may have noticed Sycamore trees in the City’s parkways being removed. These trees were all damaged with frost cracks, presenting dangerous conditions to the neighboring homes, vehicles, and potentially unsuspecting pedestrians if the frost cracks cause the branches or the trunk to snap. We are also going to see increased damage from rabbits, voles, and deer as they feed on plants in order to survive these harsh conditions.

Not all impacts of this winter will be negative, though; there are some positive aspects to this relentlessly cold winter and significant snowfall. With consistent snow cover since December, there will be an insulator factor that will benefit plant life. Consistent temperatures below the snow will help protect the plants from the frigid temperatures. We may also see some reduction in insect populations due to the extreme cold.

As spring slowly approaches the North Shore, Scott Byron & Co. will be available to help consult and discuss the best course of action to promote healthy, vigorous growth in all our plant communities.

Well said, Andy! I for one am extremely excited about the prospect of a reduced insect population. Has anyone else been “enjoying” the tick population running rampant through the tall grasses these past couple of summers? Some of us at SBC have and I think we’d like to enjoy them a little less. Other insects that we may see have some dieback – gypsy moths, wooly adelgid (which attacks our Hemlocks), and the Emerald Ash Borer (the prolific destroyer of the area’s shade canopy).

Now when do we get a 50 degree heat wave?