Winterize your yard by taking a few steps to protect your plants and trees. While many plants require no special care to survive even the most severe winter, others may need some help to ensure that they burst back to life in the spring. Plants can be damaged by many factors including temperature, wind, lack of snow cover and sun. Every plant has a lower temperature limit (determined by genetics) beyond which it will not survive. Here are some common contributing factors to winter damage and precautions you can take to ensure the survival of plants in your yard during winter.
Evergreens are especially sensitive because they keep their leaves (needles) all winter. Wind draws moisture out of the needles and if the ground is frozen or dry, the plant cannot replace the lost moisture, resulting in brown foliage and winter burn. Water thoroughly in late fall just as plants are losing their leaves. This assures that the plant will go into winter well hydrated and that adequate moisture is available when the soil is not frozen. Protect exposed plants with a windscreen or wrap with burlap. Never wrap with plastic, which can damage the plants by causing excessive heat buildup during the day and rapid cooling after sundown.
Sun can damage the thin bark of young deciduous trees. The leaves drop to the ground in the fall, exposing the trunk to the sun while at the same time the sun sets lower and lower in the southern sky, shining directly on the southern side of the trunk while the northern side doesn’t get direct sunlight. This can cause extreme fluctuating temperatures on the trunk of the tree. Wrap the trunks with white porous tree wrap. This is especially important for young shade and fruit trees. Older trees with thick bark do not require wrapping.
Damage from Ice and Snow
In most cases, snow is a plant’s best friend in the winter. Early, deep snowfalls can keep the ground from freezing all winter long, allowing the plant to continue to replenish lost moisture. Snow cover also protects evergreen foliage from the effects of winter wind and sun. But unusually heavy snowfall or ice falling from the roof of a house can physically damage plants by breaking limbs and branches.
Taking a few extra steps to winterize your yard during the fall will help protect your plants and trees and provide a burst of color and new growth in the spring.