In the Piedmont Triad, we never know what to expect during the winter. We may have snow, ice, spurts of warmth, too much precipitation and even dry spells. Chances are we’ll have mixed bag and while we’re warm by the hearth; our plants will have to weather the conditions.
Taking steps to winter-proof your landscape will help minimize potential damage and get the landscape ready for the spring season. Here are a few winter care tips to help protect your plants, trees, and shrubs from snow, ice, wind, and winter temperatures.
Mulch trees, plants and shrubs
Mulch around trees, plants, and shrubs to add extra protection for winter. Mulching is an important control for erosion and loss of water. A two-inch layer of mulch will reduce water loss and help maintain uniform soil temperature around the roots which will protect the plant.
Keep plants well-hydrated.
Evergreen plants continue to transpire, or lose water through their leaves, even in the winter. If autumn rains have been insufficient, give plants a deep soaking that will supply water to the entire root system before the ground freezes.
Watering on warm days during the months of January, February, and March is beneficial.
Protect evergreens, plants, and trees.
Small evergreens, shrubs and trees can be protected by using windbreaks made of burlap or similar material. They’re made by attaching material to a frame around the plant thereby reducing the force of the wind and shading the plants. A complete wrapping of burlap is sometimes used but avoid using black plastic.
Cut grass shorter.
During the growing season, lawns should be cut to 3 inches to 3.5 inches, but the final lawn cutting should be 2 inches to 2.5 inches.
Watch out for winter warm spells.
Consider ventilating burlap wrapped plants during the day and recovering them at night.
Use care when shoveling snow.
Place posts with reflectors next to plants so they are well-marked, then snow won’t be shoveled on top of them. Consider clearing snow away from walks and driveways with a shovel or snow blower. Doing so will reduce the amount of de-icing products needed.
Remove broken limbs.
If a limb breaks because of snow, ice and wind, have it removed as soon as weather permits this will help the tree or shrub heal better as the warmer temperatures approach. Damaged trees are more prone to disease.
Never shake branches.
Homeowners should gently brush off snow. Shaking the limbs may break them. They should use hands to scoop the snow away from plants to protect them from settling snow.
Prune most plants in winter.
The late dormant season is best for most pruning in many regions. Pruning in late winter, before spring growth begins, leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short amount of time before new growth begins.
We hope these tips will help protect your landscape from whatever winter has in store. If you have questions about caring for your lawn or landscape – visit us at Ask the Expert. Grass, trees, shrubs, bugs, water or soil – you name it and we’ll provide the information you need.
Inspiring you to love your lawn, again!
National Association of Landscape Professionals – Winter Article
Virginia Cooperative Extension Service – Managing Winter Injury to Trees & Shrubs
Purdue University, Dept of Forestry – Tree Windbreaks for Farms & Homes