Tips For Winterizing Your Evergreen Shrubs
Evergreen shrubs, bushes and hedges provide year-round greenery to your landscape. They require proper care to survive and look their best through the cold winter season. A little bit of preparation this fall, along with regular maintenance throughout winter and into spring, will keep them healthy.
Lessen the Snow Load
Heavy snow can split open an evergreen hedge or bush. In most cases, the shrub will recover. Occasionally, however, a heavy load can cause broken branches or a fractured trunk.
To lessen the weight of the snow on top your evergreen, brush it off with a broom. Sweep upward from the bottom of the bush towards the top. Downward sweeping can damage branches.
Watch the Wind
Loss of moisture during cold, windy weather can leave evergreens looking desiccated or burned. You have two options to protect them.
Wrap the evergreen with burlap. Wrapping burlap around your evergreen protects from wind damage, but it can also overheat or damage the bush. Make sure you remove any wrapping before temperatures warm above freezing.
Erect a windbreak on the windward side of the bush. Install two stakes on either side of the evergreen and stretch the burlap between them. It won’t damage the bush, since it’s not in contact with the needles or leaves.
Protect the Roots
Frost heave occurs when the roots begin to lift out of the soil during winter freeze and thaw cycles. Cover the ground around your evergreens with a 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch to insulate the roots and minimize frost heave. Avoid mulching against the trunk – leave a 3-inch space between the trunk and mulch to avoid trunk rot problems.
Water is also important during dry periods when the ground isn’t frozen. Your evergreens are only semi-dormant, so they may need a drink in the winter if temperatures don’t drop low enough to freeze.
A Timely Trim
Spring and early summer is pruning time. Wait until your evergreens begin to put on new needles or leaves before you prune out any damaged wood. Your tree service company can tell you the best time to prune in your area.
When pruning the shrubs, avoid the flat-top cut. Instead, prune them in a pyramidal or rounded shape. This allows snow to slide off the bushes the following winter, instead of sitting on top and splitting the branches.
Evergreens are typically hardy plants. Even if your shrubs suffer some winter damage, they will likely recover over the summer, especially with careful tree care.