El Nino Winter: expected effects on 2016

Posted on Posted in Blog Articles
After an El Nino Winter: Preparing To Adapt
Mild winter temperatures will have affects on the landscape going into 2016.  How ‘exactly’, we do not know–we can only speculate based on what we are reading and also our past experiences.  There are hundreds of variables that affect the health of our beloved gardens, a mild winter is only one.

Keeping aware of weather patterns is part of our job–we track weather not just day to day for the work we are doing at the very moment, but also what is happening now may have implications a few months from now.  Understanding what these implications might be provides us with information about what indicators to be on the watch for so we can react early with changes in management practices (water, fertilizer, cutting, and more).

With the mild El Nino winter here, how could this effect us locally, in the future? What types of issues will arise come summer?

To start the spring, I expect to see a bumper crop of dandelions and other perennial weeds.  Actually, I saw one blooming in Pewaukee on December 21st!  The reason is because the seeds germinate and establish during the late summer of the year, the late summer and fall of 2015 was warm and there was plenty of rain to help these new young plants get established.  Likewise, if you opted to have your lawn aerated and overseeded last fall–hooray, the grass seed certainly germinated and your lawn will be extra thick and lush this year.  Perennials that need great drainage may suffer coming out of winter because of all the rain we got–if ice forms around the crown of the plants, or drainage couldn’t happen because of partially frozen soils then some rot may have occurred and the plant will either be quite a bit smaller in spring or dead.  Evergreen shrubs and trees are the winners by far with a wet winter….unless they get loaded with heavy snow on limbs, then there may be some breakage and loss.  I expect to see minimal plant loss coming out of the winter in spring of 2016.  Sure there will be a few casualties due to other factors besides the mild winter, but generally plants will fare well.
Ahead in the late spring and through summer we will likely see increased amounts of disease and insect activity from the insects that overwinter in the soil.  A solid and long freeze in the winter is a natural control for certain disease spores, bacteria, and insects (eggs, grubs, etc).  On a good note though, perhaps we will see an uptick in the bee population–that would be nice (and so necessary).
Through the normal activity of providing services to over 250 properties in the Milwaukee/Waukesha area, we keep a watchful eye for changes in the landscape and patterns that are unusual.  When a challenge is detected in one landscape we know to look for the same issues on other landscapes that share similar characteristics.  Our work is complex, we strive to stay ahead of the curve by staying alert, sharing information with other colleagues in our industry, and watching weather patterns.
Stay tuned to our newsletter, facebook page, and website for updates on what is happening in our client’s landscapes so you can look for the same in yours!