It’s wintertime, and that means there’s always a threat of snow coming. With the right precautions, even major snowstorms should be safe for your lawn and garden.

Dense layers of snow can cause branches to sag and snap, which can damage your plants. Thankfully, most varieties of plants are pliable enough to deal with a coating of snow, but several notable types will benefit from proper snow removal.

Arborvitaes and broad-leafed shrubs such as camellia, holly, and rhododendrons tend to respond poorly to a great deal of snow. If you have time before the snow hits, you can wrap your arbs and other tall shrubs with a soft cord (such as ArborTie). Tie the ArborTie to the base of the plant and wind it up around the bush. Doing this will help prevent snow accumulation in the center of the plant, which is responsible for much of the damage that arborvitaes sustain.

When you remove snow from branches and bushes, use a “soft” tool such as a fan rake or broom. Instead of whacking at the top of the foliage, use an upwards motion to knock the snow off. Doing this will be less likely to cause the branches to break. Don’t shake the branches to try and dislodge snow, as it could cause the already brittle branches to snap off.

Resist the urge to stroll through your snow-covered lawn, if possible. Under the snow lies fragile grass which can sustain damage, and walking on it can encourage fungal diseases that thrive in cold, damp conditions. Reducing foot traffic will keep the snow from getting packed down and therefore allow it to melt faster, helping your grass blades to stay firmly rooted.

Make sure you’re safe! Climbing on roofs or attempting to knock snow off overhead branches is a great way to land yourself in the emergency room. Your safety is much more important than trying to prevent damage to a few of your plants’ branches!