Landscape Science

Lake Michigan’s “Coastal-Effect”

United States partial satellite image showing snow over northern Michigan

How one of the largest Great Lakes plays a role in your landscape.

When someone says they “live near the coast,” most individuals don’t think about living in Michigan. But Michigan boasts a long coastline along the Great lakes, actually putting it in the top ten list of longest coastlines in the United States. Northwest Michigan in particular benefits from its proximity to Lake Michigan, which keeps the area warmer than other locations along this latitude, as well as bringing plenty of snow throughout the winter. Not only is the weather great for outdoor recreation and tourism, it’s also great for your garden. In this blog, we’ll discuss how Lake Michigan’s coastal effect impacts your landscape.

Plant Preservation

Average Annual Extreme Minimum Temperature in Michigan

Northern Michigan wouldn’t be what it is without snow–and lots of it. We have full events and industries built around winter recreation, including skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. While we enjoy snow for the fun it brings, your landscape appreciates snow for the protection it provides. Snow creates an insulating blanket over your landscape, capturing and holding air around your plants. This helps keep the soil a little warmer and your protects your landscape from frigid temperatures and winds as it awaits the warmer temperatures of spring.

Generally, Lake Michigan also helps protect the area from dramatic cycles of freezing and thawing. This helps to protect trees and shrubs that flower in the spring, from fruit trees and lilacs to grapevines and dogwoods. The constant cycle of freeze-and-thaw can damage buds, which is disappointing for flowers and potentially devastating for fruit.

It’s no wonder that Northwest Michigan has so many fruit farms and vineyards, and some of the best wines in the country!

The Big Snow Dump

There’s a lot of evaporation over the Great Lakes. That evaporation creates the thick, heavy, lake-effect snow locals are familiar with – and in some winters, more snow than we might like to receive.

Petoskey, for example, has an average annual snowfall of about 123 inches. Depending on the temperatures of a winter, this region of Northwest Michigan can receive more than 180 inches. During the winter of 2001, the Petoskey area received as much as 78 inches in a single snow event.

Snow Belts Map of Michigan
Image Courtesy: Department of Geography at Hunter College, CUNY.

Many of our clients live or work in the snow belts of Northern Michigan. These snow belts are predictably east of large bodies of water, on the “leeward” side of the lakes. We understand this and help our clients prepare their landscapes for the winter weather–as well as the winter wildlife!

A downside to all this snow is potential damage to trees. Copious amounts of heavy snow can bring down tree limbs–and, in some cases, whole trees–which can obstruct driveways or roads or cause damage to property. Our Tree Service works through the winter to trim and remove trees, helping to protect our community proactively and in the case of an emergency.

Cleanup And Removal

Drost Landscape is your trusted source for reliable snow removal for both residential and commercial properties. We’re well-equipped to provide timely service to remove snow from driveways and sidewalks. Our crew also handles large-scale operations like snowbank removal from streets and parking lots. Living near the coast lets you enjoy the splendor of the winter season. Let the Drost team do the heavy lifting as one of the many seasonal landscape maintenance services we provide.

Midwestern States Normal Annual Snowfall
Image Courtesy: Midwest Regional Climate Center (MRCC)