Wrap It Up

New England winters can be particularly brutal. Extreme cold coupled with dry and/or frozen ground can create a hostile environment for your shrubs. While winter temperatures are cold, winter sun dries plants out, just like in the summer. The combination of sun, cold wind, and frozen ground takes a damaging toll on shrubs.

Wrapping up your shrubs in burlap helps protect them during a long, cold winter. Burlap allows shrubs to still breathe while insulating them from the brunt of winter weather. Burlap also protects your shrubs from deer who love to feed on evergreens such as aborvitaes. Ideally, shrubs are surrounded with stakes around which the burlap is wrapped, making a tent-like structure that protects your shrubs.

Have you ever had shrubs bend or break due to an accumulation of snow? Snow sliding off your roof onto the plants living by your foundation may bend weak wooded shrubs like arborvitae or inkberry holly. Shrubs such as yews can become brittle in the cold and break under a load of snow. Structural strength can be added without covering their evergreen foliage by wrapping the inside branches with jute twine. This process will help keep them from splaying open after a snow or ice storm.

The arborvitae below is splayed in two. If this tree had been tied up, this could have been prevented.

Defy the Dry with Antidesiccants

Though evergreens are known for their ability to stay green throughout the winter, their foliage is still susceptible to turning brown, and even falling off, as a result of winter burn. This condition is a result of winter’s bright sun and dry winds pulling moisture out of evergreen needles and leaves. It’s made even worse when frozen soil prevents roots from taking up enough water.

The best way to protect against winter burn is to treat your evergreens with an antidesiccant spray in the fall. Antidesiccants, also known as antitranspirants, are biodegradable latex materials that form a barrier against dry winter winds and help to seal moisture inside needles and leaves. The spray wears off when new growth begins again in the spring.

An added benefit to antidesiccants is their tendency to make evergreen needles and leaves shine in sunny conditions. Not only can you protect your valuable trees and shrubs, but you can also make them look prettier!


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