If you have relatively young or newly planted evergreen trees and shrubs on your property, you may think that they are thriving through the ice and snow of winter. However, sometimes when warmer weather comes back in spring, evergreen foliage will brown. What happened to the health of your evergreen trees? Young or newly planted evergreens are especially susceptible to this damage, called winter burn. To keep your young evergreen trees thriving, consider the following and take these simple precautions.
How Winter Burn Develops
Deciduous trees and shrubs lose their leaves in fall and pass through winter with their buds tightly covered, losing very little water. Evergreens, however, do not lose their leaves. These leaves must remain open to the air to stay alive, bring in carbon dioxide, and release water. The winter air is dry, so a lot of water can escape. Once this water escapes, the evergreen roots must draw moisture out of the soil to replenish the tree.
However, as the soil freezes, so does the water. Without enough water, evergreen trees begin to dry and can be irreversibly damaged, unable to recover in spring. This damage is “winter burn” and can significantly impact young evergreen trees and shrubs that do not have deep enough roots yet.
Soak the Root Area in Late Fall
Before the ground freezes, soak the root area. It takes a lot of cold weather to freeze water, so the more water you pour, the better the chances are that it will not all freeze. Water that seeps deeper will not freeze but will remain liquid and able to be drawn up by your young evergreen tree.
Mulch Around Your Young Evergreen Trees
Use coarse material like bark chips, wood fiber, compost, or manure to mulch and insulate your evergreen trees. Cover a large area around your plants so that all of the roots are protected. However, keep mulch away from the trunk and do not bury any foliage.
Wrap Your Trees in Netting
You may have seen people wrapping sheets of burlap around their evergreen trees. This was used to reduce wind flow through the plants, so they lose less water. However, you can achieve the same result with netting without creating an eyesore with burlap. You can use a black or dark-green net, pulling the branches together and wrapping carefully but not tightly. Netting also protects your tree from snow damage.
Leave Snow Around the Roots
If you experience snowfall, don’t clear snow away from around your young evergreen trees. Brushing snow off foliage is a good idea, so branches are not weighed down or broken. Snow can be a good insulator for roots by helping to keep the soil warm and less likely to freeze hard.
Anti-Desiccant Treatment for Evergreen Foliage
Cold winter winds suck moisture from broadleaf evergreens such as azalea, holly, boxwood, rhododendron, etc. We can apply a synthetic polymer to coat the leaves of susceptible plants, enhancing their naturally existing polymer, to reduce water loss and winter burn.
By doing what you can to protect your young evergreen trees and shrubs, you can help avoid winter burn and dying trees come springtime.
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!