Heavy snow accumulation wreaks havoc on hedges and shrubs, which can leave you with a spotty privacy screen. Evergreens particularly receive damage, since they collect more snow thanks to those needles and leaves. To keep hedges healthy, perform basic maintenance after snows and treat damage at the end of the season, in early spring. With time and attention, you can rejuvenate those shrubs.
During a Storm
Push fallen snow off your hedges with a broom to minimize damages later. If your snow has frozen, forget the broom: melt icy snow with hot water to free your shrubs.
Wash hedges near your property line that get sprayed with road salt, since this can damage leaves. Use warm water to rinse your hedge free of white salt spray.
Use sand instead of salt on sidewalks and doorways. Salt that's trafficked near your hedge leaves or roots causes damage, but sand does not.
Inspect your hedge in the early spring, looking for branches that have bent or snapped under the weight of snow. If you brushed your hedge after each snowfall, there will be fewer branches than if you didn't, which makes less work. Note the location of damaged wood.
Remove snow-damaged branches with your pruners, cutting back to the main trunk. Clip dead wood back to within 1/4 inch of the trunk.
Fertilize your hedge to promote new growth. Scatter dry 10-10-10 or similar fertilizer around the base of your hedge, then water to work this in. If you had to prune significantly due to snow damage, this helps build your hedge back up. Use the recommended dose range based on your plant size.
Step back from the shrub and look for areas that received enough wind damage to push them over. If part of your hedge lists from heavy snow, ice or wind, stake it upright with a garden stake. Push the wood vertical -- or have a friend help you -- then insert thick metal stakes into the ground to hold the shrub upright.
Water your hedge regularly beginning in early spring, using 1 inch of water per week, to build up your damaged shrub.