Five Things that Can Damage Your Shrubs in Winter
Beautiful shrubs need some tender loving care and someone to protect them, especially during winter. While icy blasts and cold temperatures may inspire you to hibernate, the truth is that your shrubs and bushes may need you now more than ever.
Hire a landscape contractor or DIY to protect your investment from the following five things that can damage your shrubs.
Forest Creatures: If your yew or box shrub looks like it just stepped out of a modern hair salon with a skinny trunk and full top, or if it is missing patches of foliage, then your shrub might have been given a makeover by deer, rabbits or small rodents. When food is scarce in the winter, animals will venture closer to your home and into your landscaping to feed on foliage, buds, bark and twigs.
Use hardware cloth to wrap around your shrubs and form a barrier. Alternatively, you can use a spray repellent, although repeat application will be needed after heavy rain and snow.
Winter Burn: Harsh winds, blowing salt and extreme temperatures can literally whip moisture away and burn susceptible shrubs, especially young plants that are still being established.
Create a windbreak by wrapping shrubs in burlap, canvas, landscape fabric or pine boughs. Focus on protecting the wind-facing and southern sides of your plants. Shrubs with a lot of souther exposure are the most vulnerable, because they are subject to alternating warmer temperatures from the sun that are followed by cold temperatures and wind at night.
Frozen Soil: Overly cold temperatures can result in the browning and the desiccation of foliage. This happens when the leaves dry out because they cannot get enough water from the roots through the frozen ground. Generous watering in the fall and watering on warmer winter days are two preventative steps you can take.
Winter Sun: Sun scald can be a danger to shrubs that are young, newly planted, or have exposed trunk tissue due to fall trimming. The bark can be shocked from the extremes of harsh winter sun followed by freezing temperatures. Wrap the trunk with a protective material to reduce the chances of damage.
You: Sometimes a little inexperience by the well-meaning owner can damage shrubs. For example, mulch piled directly against trunks encourages small rodents to burrow in and feed on bark in the cold weather.
Pruning shrubs in the winter months can cause additional damage as well. Branches that look dead may actually bounce back in the spring, so it is best to wait for pruning until then. Finally, attempts to brush off snow or remove ice from branches is not a good idea. In many cases the snow acts as insulation against moisture loss, and beating off snow or ice can cause limbs to break.
Finally, selecting shrubs that are best suited for the climate is the best thing to do to ensure a plant’s survival.