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Winter's Shield: Protecting Your Landscape Against the Chill

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

As winter gets closer, it's time to give our landscapes a little extra love and protection. Winter, with its biting winds, freezing temperatures, and unpredictable weather patterns, poses a myriad of threats to our outdoor landscaping. From the damage caused by frost and freezing to the drying effects of winter winds to the corrosive effects of winter salting, plants face a host of challenges that demand our proactive intervention. In this guide, we'll explore the various types of damage that can effect plants during the winter months, most susceptible species, and look at the protective arsenal of anti-desiccant sprays and plant wraps – essential tools for protection against the unforgiving chill of winter.

Among the most common types of winter damage are

  • Desiccation, or moisture evaporation, caused by the drying effects of cold winds

  • Frost damage, resulting from freezing temperatures

Broad-leaved evergreens, such as rhododendrons and azaleas, are particularly susceptible to desiccation, while shallow-rooted plants like hydrangeas and roses may face increased risk of frost damage. Understanding the specific vulnerabilities of the different plants on your property can help tailor your protective measures, ensuring a resilient and flourishing garden come spring.

Anti-desiccants sprays are most often used to protect broadleaf evergreens from moisture evaporation. In the wintertime, although your plants and trees are dormant, evergreens are often stimulated into losing moisture from their leaves by drying winds and/or mild sunny days. This is part of their normal function, although they do it at a greatly reduced rate in winter compared to the growing season. It’s almost like a hibernating animal; even though sound asleep they’re still alive and breathing, but so slowly that it’s barely noticeable, to us. However, when the ground is frozen, it’s definitely noticeable to the plant that cannot replace the moisture lost from its leaves, eventually leading to severe damage to the leaves/needles or death to the plant.

Some of the plants that can benefit most from an anti-desiccant spray treatment are:

  • Hollies (Ilex species)

  • Rhododendrons

  • Boxwood (Buxus species)

  • Laurels (Prunus laurocerasus)

  • Japanese pieris or Andromeda (Pieris japonica)

  • Yew (Taxus baccata)

  • Pine (Pinus species)

  • Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

It’s important to apply sprays to evergreen leaves or needles correctly and at the right time. The best time to apply an anti-desiccant spray is in late fall, before freezing weather sets in but when the weather is clear but not hot, around 40 to 50 degrees. Heavy winter rain and periods of warm weather can speed the disintegration of the spray, so an application in November may need to be repeated in January or February.

Our sprays are all-natural, made from the resin in pine trees. It is sprayed on the leaves of your plants and gives them a waxy coating that will help to seal in the moisture. Anti-desiccant sprays are also great for outdoor wreaths of garlands made from evergreen boughs. One treatment will keep them bright green through the entire season.

For plants that cannot be sprayed, or as a second line of defense to ones we have sprayed, burlap plant protection stands as a tried-and-true method to shield these vulnerable plants and shrubs from winter's harsh elements. Burlap provides a natural barrier against frigid winds and extreme temperature fluctuations, reducing the risk of desiccation and frost damage. The screens will also protect your shrubs from salt & errant snow shovels. Wrapping plants with burlap is a straightforward yet effective process – we simply encase the sides of plant, securing the burlap around wooden stakes. This method ensures that the vertical panels won’t collect snow and gives adequate air circulation, allowing the leaves the chance to dry off, but not dry out. It is particularly beneficial for plants prone to winter stress, such as:

  • Rhododendrons

  • Azaleas

  • Boxwoods

  • newly planted plants & shrubs

  • Plants with exposed or shallow roots

As the chill sets in, the proactive measures we take to protect our plants become the guardians of our outdoor havens. The application of anti-desiccant sprays creates an invisible shield against the drying winds, while the dependable burlap wrapping stands as a tangible defense against frost and harsh temperatures. Safeguarding your investment in your landscape is not just a winter chore; it's a commitment to the beauty that awaits with the return of spring. Entrust us with the care of your property, and let our expertise ensure a thriving landscape year-round. Don't wait for winter's grasp to tighten – reach out today to schedule an appointment. Your plants will thank you with their vibrant beauty when the warmer days arrive.

Contact us today for a quote to protect your property. Call us at 586.445.8900 or click here to reach us online.

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