Well, it's that time again - Winter!

Many of your perennials survive winter without extra care but taking time to winterize is an important step to ensure your garden will produce colorful flowers in the spring. For tender plants and new additions to the garden, winterizing is vital for cold weather survival.

What Causes Winter Damage?

Cold temperatures, ice/snow, wind, salt, and animals can all cause considerable damage to your trees, shrubs, and perennials.


Rodents and Deer

Can do extensive damage to trees and shrubs as they forage for food during the winter. Rodents can be kept from gnawing on trees by encircling the base of the trunk with 1/4″ gauge hardware cloth or screen wire. The wire cylinder should be tall enough to extend at least a foot above the deepest expected snow.

Sun and Wind

When it is windy and sunny in the winter, evergreen foliage can lose moisture that it cannot replace with the ground frozen, resulting in browning. To help minimize this browning, be sure your plants have been well watered all season, right up until the ground freezes. Avoid planting evergreens in a windy location where they receive the direct afternoon sun in the winter. To protect these species from browning, wrap a loose-weave burlap around the plant. Sun ScaldEven on the coldest winter day, the sun can reflect off the snow onto landscape plants and warm the tissue enough to thaw; then the sun sets and the temperatures drop, freezing the plant tissue again. On young trees, this alternate freeze/thaw cycle can causes vertical splits in the bark on the trunk. This is a problem on most young trees and maples. You can wrap the trunks of susceptible trees and prevent almost all splitting. You simply start wrapping around the base of the trunk and work your way up to the lowest branch or as far as you can reach. You can also get plastic tubes that can be slipped around the lower section of the trunk.

Ice and Snow

Evergreens can be damaged by heavy snow or ice buildup. On trees such as spruce, the branches will usually bend and recover. Plants with upright branching such as arborvitae and junipers, can split and break. Wrap tall, narrow shrubs into a tight column with twine to keep branches from collecting heavy snow or ice and breaking off. Shelter plants up against your home from falling icicles and snow melt with a simple, reusable A-frame structure that you can make from 2x4s and exterior-grade plywood. Preventing Salt DamageWhile there are some varieties of plants that are tolerant of low levels of salt, nothing will withstand very much. In fact, salt can actually be used as an herbicide. Avoid planting where salt will be used or where there might be salt runoff. Keep the salt off greenery with a barrier made from 2x4 stakes and erosion-control fabric-the fine mesh won't let salt seep through.