Clever Gardening Technique
Remove Snow But Not Ice
Snow collecting on shrubs and trees can weigh down and eventually break branches. Remove snow on low branches by using a broom to gently brush it upward and lift it off. If the snow clings to the branches, however, it's best to let it melt naturally, or you may do more harm than good.
Don't try to remove ice from branches. You're likely to break branches and cause further damage. Even if a tree or limb is bent under the weight of the ice, don't try to pry it up. If a tree poses a hazard, have an arborist assess the tree and explain your options.
Once the ice is melted, don't make any hasty decisions about cutting down a tree or shrub because it looks damaged. Woody plants are remarkably resilient and will often rebound. Research has shown that some trees can lose up to 75 percent of their crown and still recover. You may need to remove damaged wood and trim rough breaks, but allow the plant to grow for one season before deciding whether or not to remove it. You can prune the plant to improve its shape and symmetry, however.
The Great Backyard Bird Count
The Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, takes place on February 16 to 19, 2007. During this four-day event, bird-watchers nationwide count birds and enter their data on the Web site, creating a snapshot of the type and population of birds in areas across the country. Anyone can participate -- you don't need to be an expert at identifying birds. Learn more at The Great Backyard Bird Count Web site.
The Audubon Society is a comprehensive source of information about birds, including a "Birding Basics" section to help novices get started. And when it comes to identifying species, you can't beat the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Web site.