Shrubs are wonderful parts of any landscape, but the coldest months can be challenging for these plants. The frigid air, unpredictable moisture availability, and hungry wildlife can all create damage. Winter damage to shrubs often makes itself known the following spring when shrubs are in recovery mode or dying. This is why it’s best to take steps while you can to prevent winter damage to shrubs. In return, your shrubs will bounce back with lush, healthy growth next year. The following actions can help protect your shrubs this season.
Always Choose Hardy Shrub Varieties
The first way to increase your shrubs’ chances of surviving winter is to plant shrubs suited to your climate. Whenever you choose shrubs, trees, and other plants, it’s best to check your hardiness zone and the required growing conditions of the shrub to find the best possible plant for your location. If your shrubs regularly struggle through winter, consider replacing them in the future with a species more suited to the unique conditions of your landscape.
Keep Your Shrubs Well-Watered
You can prevent winter damage to shrubs by keeping your shrubs well-hydrated. Shrubs should be deeply watered in the fall and supplemental water can be applied until the ground freezes. Water encourages strong root growth and is essential to promote a strong, healthy plant, even if its stems have gone dormant.
Insulate Roots from Extreme Temperatures
Newly planted shrubs sensitive to cold temperatures will need extra protection at the soil level. Snow can naturally insulate the plant’s root zone, but you can’t rely on consistent snowfall to provide this insulation. To prevent winter damage to shrubs and their roots, you can spread a 2-inch layer of mulch around them to create insulation. Shredded bark, straw, leaves, or compost are all good organic mulch choices.
Prevent Wildlife Damage
Hungry deer, rabbits, mice, and more can all turn a shrub into their personal winter buffet when their other food sources are scarce. No shrub is totally safe from wildlife damage, especially during harsh winters. One of the best tactics is to fence the plants you wish to protect.
Rabbits and small rodents can be kept out with a ¼-inch mesh hardware cloth wrapped around the shrub. For extra protection, bury the bottom edge of the cloth a few inches into the ground to prevent burrowing animals. You can apply deer repellent from Scientific Plant Service throughout the year to keep deer from browsing your landscape.
Prevent Damage from Winter Winds
Broadleaf evergreen shrubs, including rhododendrons and boxwood, are especially vulnerable to drying winter winds. These strong gusts of freezing air can cause the plants’ leaves or needles to lose water and turn brown.
You can create temporary windbreaks around plants to prevent this damage. Drive stakes into the ground around the plant and wrap the stakes with burlap or canvas cloth. Scientific Plant Service recommends treating your evergreen shrubs and trees with an anti-desiccant to prevent damage from winter winds.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.