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Landscaping may need extra care after El Niño


For residents of Northeast Ohio, El Niño has meant a mild winter with below normal snow fall and a high likelihood of shifting into a La Niña spring. While many welcome less bone-chilling cold and less snow shoveling, these weather phenomena can be hard on landscaping.


El Niño and La Niña

These now-well-known weather patterns start with water temperature in the southern Pacific Ocean creating currents and moisture that move across the country with wide reaching impact that can range from intense storms and heavy rain to extreme cold and extreme drought. In the Midwest, an El Niño winter typically means a drier and warmer fall and winter.


La Niña will generally result in the opposite winter conditions for Midwesterners and Northeast Ohioans (colder temps and more snow), but in spring/summer La Niña usually results in cooler and drier conditions in our region.


The catch this year is the shift right into La Niña, which is not uncommon following a strong El Niño. Records going back to 1950 show more than half of El Niño’s shifting to La Niña’s in a short period of time, with more than half of the strongest El Niño’s making the transition rapidly. That means following a few storms this spring, residents from Cleveland to Akron to Wooster can expect drier conditions by June and July.


El Niño, La Niña, and your landscaping

The El Niño impact in Akron and the surrounding area is warmer and drier conditions for trees and shrubs that during the winter should still be dormant. That means loss of moisture in the soil along with trees, shrubs and perennials coming out of dormancy early due to warming trends. Trees that come out of dormancy early are especially vulnerable and can quickly become dehydrated, resulting in dead branches or worse for the most sensitive species.


This can be a bigger problem as our region transitions quickly to a La Niña, as a few spring storms cannot make up for a dry winter that evolves into a dry summer.


While we cannot control the weather, here’s what you can do to get ahead of harsh weather conditions:

·         Begin watering woody plants as soon as weather permits and continue to water deeply on a regular basis to reduce the stress on the plants.

·         Check early and often for signs of insect infestation, as a mild winter can stimulate populations and allow them to thrive. T2 Design landscaping specialists can help you with appropriate treatment.

·         Consider feeding plants with a biostimulant fertilizer designed for your trees, shrubs, and perennials to encourage nutrient intake and more efficient use of nutrients for plants that may be stressed due to lack of soil moisture.

·         Maintain consistent watering as La Niña conditions develop in early summer.

If you have questions about caring for your landscaping following El Niño, contact T2 Design. Our team can help with a plan for your existing landscaping as well as a design and planting timeline for new plants and shrubs and lawncare to keep your yard looking great. Call today!

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