After the thaw, I stood in my backyard heartbroken and overwhelmed with our lawn. Where do I even begin? Everything looked dead, broken and unsalvageable. For over a week, my pollinator’s paradise stood paralyzed under layers of ice and snow. Up until Sno-vid 2021, we had a relatively mild winter. Many of my flowering plants had started to bud and some had even begun flowering. Now what do we do? Everything is dead. What will our pollinators and migrating birds do? How can we help nature reset and return?

Here are some gardening tips for after Austin’s historic snow and ice.

Like many of you, our first plan of attack was to deal with the trees. We lost many branches under the snow and ice. Our palm trees looked as though they were giving us the finger. A single green frond stood erect while completely surrounded by brown limp branches. We spent an entire week trimming, pruning and removing broken branches, limbs and palm fronds. Once the tree debris was mitigated, we began turning our attention to our beds. 

Our flower and garden beds appeared decimated. Looking at them made me so anxious and afraid. We had replaced much of our landscaping this past summer in hopes of encouraging more butterflies and pollinators to our yard. However, after speaking with a landscaper, I took a breath and waited. Had this article been submitted a week ago, I know I would have been writing a very different outcome. Yet, much of what I thought was dead has simply been lying dormant. With Texas teasing Spring, we have begun to see small signs of life. Many of our plants have begun re-sprouting close to the root. So, for the next couple of weeks, I encourage you to practice patience with your gardens.  There might still be green closer to the root and practicing patience will allow your plants the time to heal. 

That being said, for some plants, the stress of a week of frigid weather was just too much. Several of our beds were completely unsalvageable. Our Hearts of Barbados, Rosemary and Cacti were completely wiped out. After clearing these beds, we have opted to plant native species. Springtime in Texas is beautiful. After such a horrible storm, who doesn’t want to look out their window and see rows of wild flowers and Blue Bonnets.

While we wait for our plants to return and our flowers to germinate, there are also several steps we can take to help our migrating birds and pollinating insects.  The kids and I have been busy making food and hydrating stations for our pollinators.  We have created multiple water stations for our butterflies and bees. We filled small trays with sugar water and fruit pads. If you don’t want to change the trays regularly, you can use rocks or sponge pads instead of fruit. We have also purchased several nectar stations and bird feeders. 

The next suggestion will probably send your lawn perfectionist into a panic attack. Weeds! I swear the only things that survived the ice and snow were the weeds. They are perfect for pollinators. Unfortunately, in my marriage, weeds are a complete deal breaker. So out of sight from his meticulously maintained yard, I have planted a semi-contained weed garden. I grow milkweed, dandelions, mayweed, sunflowers and whatever else Nature might blow it’s way.

As I constantly remind my husband and children, nature is incredibly messy. There is beauty and perfection in the chaos, you only need to stop and look for it. I will always strive to have a garden humming with birds, butterflies and bees rather than a perfectly manicured yard. Our city was dealt a cruel hand last month. Giving Mother Nature a helping hand to aid in the healing process is the least we can do. 

 

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Michelle is a Virginia girl living in Texas. She was born and raised in Alexandria, VA and graduated from Hollins University, an all-women’s school, in Southern Virginia. After meeting her husband in college, they moved to Washington, DC to pursue their careers in politics. After an exciting communications career on Capitol Hill, she became a full-time SAHM to her four children: Oliver (2010), Alex (2012), Penelope (2014) and Margot (2016). However, she and her husband agreed, DC was not where they wanted to raise their family. In 2018, she and her family relocated to Austin. Now, she is living the outdoor life in The Hills. She loves Peloton, golf-carts and cheering her kids on at the Lakeway Aquatics Center.

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