With cold weather just around the corner, it’s important to know the ins and outs of protecting your precious greenery from harm. To make sure trees and shrubs survive to bloom next spring, learn how to properly care for them in the fall.
Freezing temperatures, winter sun, and blustery wind can have negative effects on plants, causing sunscald, damaged branches or roots, and desiccated evergreen foliage. Using proper products and equipment can make all the difference.
Winter Sun Protection
Newly planted shrubs and young trees are susceptible to sunscald, especially if recently pruned in the fall. The best way to counteract the winter sun’s rays is with strong material, like burlap or corrugated paper (lightly colored). Wrap it securely around the trunk and this protective sheath should shield thin bark through the winter months.
Conifers and evergreen shrubs are most vulnerable to browning and desiccation in cold weather since warm sun on cold days steals their moisture. To start, ensure plants get plenty of water through the fall. If the ground isn’t frozen, continue to water on warm winter days.
When cold weather hits, strong, frigid wind can burn your shrubs. Smaller plants can have pine boughs (or Christmas tree branches) propped up to block the wind. This method catches snow, acts as a windbreaker, and provides insulation.
You can also use an anti-desiccant, a commercial product said to prevent foliage from becoming too dry. Though research offers mixed results, some professionals swear by their use. For application, pick a nice day (products work best when temps are between 40 – 50 degrees) with no rain in the forecast, as the spray needs time to dry. Also, read labels about effects on certain tree varieties, as directions might vary.
Canvas, burlap, or other landscape fabric can serve to block wind, as well. For effective coverage, place wooden steaks in the ground and staple fabric to them to build a flexible barrier. For best results, use on south and wind-facing sides. These tricks are important for southerners, as the warm sun offsets cold nights. In the same vein, avoid using plastic wrap, as it magnifies the sun’s heat.
Other Useful Tips
Though mulching always promotes healthy trees and shrubs, it becomes more important during colder months, as it helps plants survive extreme weather. Apply a healthy four to six inches of mulch, maintaining a one-foot area surrounding plant bases.
After a freeze, don’t beat the ice off branches, as they might break. Also, put off pruning until new growth begins, as some branches appear lifeless but bounce back in spring.
By understanding winter hazards and how they affect trees and shrubs, you give plants the best chance of survival. And remember, professional guidance is only a phone call away.
Call Gordon Pro Tree Service at 770-271-6072 today.