Evergreens are a key player in the winter landscape, providing color and protection when it’s lacking elsewhere. But those same plants can take quite a beating if precautions are not taken. Here are some simple ways to avoid winter injury.
Winter burn, or desiccation, affects both broadleaf and needled evergreens. You’ll see the damage in spring, when sections of the plant are brown or rust colored. Although plants often recover from this, they are unsightly and may lose branches from the ordeal. What causes winter burn? The perfect storm of dry soil, freezing temperatures, and cold, blowing wind.
Evergreens can also suffer from other winter-related problems such as animal browsing and the use of deicing salt. Here’s how to protect them:
- Mulch plants throughout the growing season to conserve moisture.
- Water deeply if rain is lacking. Water should penetrate 12 to 18 inches into the ground to reach the majority of roots. Continue irrigating until the ground freezes.
- Avoid deicing salt near evergreens. If you use deicing salt, don’t throw salt-contaminated snow near evergreens. And flush the ground beneath plants in spring.
- Minimize animal browsing with a rigid wire frame extending as far as the branches. Or spray plants with an animal repellent.
- Wrap evergreens in two layers of burlap where winters are cold. This is especially important for those plants exposed to a lot of winter wind. Remove in spring.