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How to Protect Shrubs in Winter

In colder climates, winter can take its toll on shrubs and trees. Drying winds, freezing and thawing temperatures, snow and ice, road salts and hungry animals can damage and kill even well-established plantings. Fortunately, you can take a number of protective measures to ensure the winter survival of your valuable landscape plants. Begin in late fall so that all of your shrubs will be securely prepared when the first snow begins to fall.

General Winterizing Tips

Deeply water your shrubs in late fall, before the first hard frost. This is especially important for any newly-planted shrubs. Water 1 inch per week until the first hard frost.

Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch to conserve water and protect the roots. When mulching, leave a 3-inch ring around the base of the shrubs.

Spray evergreens and broadleaf evergreens with an anti-desiccant which is a waxy coating that prevents moisture loss. Thoroughly spray all evergreens in early fall. Repeat application according to the product's recommended schedule.

In areas with high deer predation, install chicken wire cages and apply repellent sprays to prevent damage.

Build a Burlap Windbreak

To protect shrubs from winter winds and road salt, build a burlap windbreak.

Locate your windbreak between your shrubs and the prevailing winter winds. Construct the break so that is within several inches of your shrubs but not touching them.

Before the first frost, hammer 2-by-2-by-48 inch wooden stakes into the ground to a depth of at least 12 inches.

Staple 24-inch burlap sheeting securely to the stakes.

Tie Multi-Stem Evergreens

To protect the branches and boughs of multi-stem, upright evergreen shrubs from breakage due to ice and snow, tie the branches together with cloth strips, bungee cord or deer netting.

Reach inside the shrub and loosely secure a cloth strip or bungee cord to the center of the shrub.

Loosely wrap ties around the shrub at several heights to prevent snow and ice buildup and support the branches.

Remove all ties and cabling in early spring.

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