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How to Cover Shrubs

By Moira Clune ; Updated September 21, 2017

There are several reasons why a gardener would cover shrubs. In the northern United States, shrub covers protect plants from snow, ice, salt and wind damage. In the South, tender shrubs may need occasional protection from an unexpected freeze. Finally, shrub covers can be used to prevent bird and insect damage to fruit-bearing shrubs such as blueberries. Shrub covers are not meant to be permanent and should be easy to install, remove and store.

Winter Protection

Wrap shrubs in burlap. Wind a length of the material around the shrub, beginning at the base. Continue spiraling the material around the bush until the entire plant is covered.

Secure the burlap with twine. Wrap the twine around the base of the shrub. Circle around the shrub, pulling the twine tight enough to hold the burlap securely. Do not leave large gaps in the burlap's seam; these can catch the wind and unwind the burlap.

Remove the burlap in early spring. Depending upon your growing zone, this can be as early as mid-February or as late as April 1.

Frost Protection

Obtain spun polyester row cover (also known as floating row covers) to protect your tender shrubs during a light freeze. Sheets, lightweight blankets or cardboard can be used as well.

Cover your plants in advance if temperatures are predicting to drop below freezing.

Drape material over vulnerable plants. If you are using cardboard, overturn a large box onto the shrub or create a tepee with wide, long cardboard sheets.

Remove the covers as soon as the temperatures moderate.

Bird and Insect Protection

Inspect berries for bird or insect damage. If your fruits appear deformed, the culprit may be blueberry maggots. If your juicy, ripe fruit disappears overnight, look up--the cause is probably birds.

Drape spun polyester row covers over individual shrubs or the entire row if the bushes are closely planted. Shrubs should be covered as soon as the fruit begins to ripen and remain in place for up to three weeks during the peak ripening period.

Apply mesh netting to protect shrubs. Netting should be draped over a lightweight frame rather than placed directly on the shrubs because birds will reach through the holes to eat the berries.

Measure your shrubs. Obtain lightweight garden stakes at least 2 feet longer than your shrubs are tall. Pound them into the ground approximately 1 foot away from the edge of the bush, creating a framework around the bush or row. Sink the posts to a depth of 12 inches. Secure the netting to the posts with staples or twine. Remove after harvest.


Things You Will Need

  • Burlap
  • Spun polyester row covers, lightweight blankets or cardboard
  • Lightweight garden stakes, wood or metal
  • Bird netting


  • Never use plastic sheeting to wrap your plants. It restricts moisture transfer and traps heat, creating a "greenhouse" effect around your plants.