Question: The heavy snows caused the limbs on our arborvitaes to spread out and almost touch the ground. Will they straighten up by themselves?

Answer: Heavy snow and ice will cause limbs and branches on broadleaf evergreens to spread out. Arborvitaes and Leyland cypress are very susceptible to this because they have more than one trunk. If you can, use a broom or rake to knock off as much snow as possible to reduce the weight on the limbs. The longer the limbs are spread out the less likely they will straighten back up. Give the plant a few weeks to see if the limbs return to their normal position prior to the snow. If they do not straighten back up, you will have to tie them up with rope or bungee cords. Shrubs such as boxwoods and hollies will return to normal much faster.


Question: Is it too cold to prune my roses?

Answer: I get nervous about pruning woody plants like roses when we are dipping into single digit temperatures at night. Newly exposed plant tissue from pruning cuts can be injured by these low temperatures. There is no sense of urgency for pruning roses. They are fully dormant and should remain that way until late February. I would advise to postpone pruning until late February and early March.


Question: Will the use of ice melts damage my lawn?

Answer: There are many ice melts to choose from. They contain either calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, or sodium chloride. When over-applied, they will damage grass when washed off by rainfall. Some can damage concrete and poison your pets. Be sure to follow the directions on the bag and do not over-apply. Read the precautions too. These salts attract moisture. Several can be found as components in the same fertilizers we use on our lawns and shrubs. Therefore, be careful when you are applying them near the lawn edge or plant beds. Too much concentrated there will burn grass, trees, and shrubs when rain washes them away into the lawn and plant beds. The damage and the results are the same as over applying fertilizer.



Once again the Alamance Soil and Water Conservation agency is selling tree seedlings in small amounts. This year you can get 25 loblolly pine trees for $5 and 20 Eastern red cedars for $10. Plant these trees as soon as you get them. They make great screens, borders, or use them to fill in areas you no longer want to mow. Place your order by calling 336-228-1753, ext. 3.



What a difference one year can make. My records show that on Jan. 18, 2017 we broke a record temperature with a high of 67 degrees. This year on January 18 we broke a record low with 6 degrees.


Rett Davis is a retired Alamance County Extension Director and certified arborist. You can email your questions to