Preparing Your Evergreens for Winter
Written by: Certified Arborist, RJ Busch
As we get ready for the days to become shorter and dropping temperatures, it’s a great time to prepare your evergreens to be in the best health before dormancy begins. Typically, this begins in late fall or early winter. Before winter takes its grip, there are some important measures you can take to ensure your evergreens thrive and survive during this.
The first and most harmful cause of poor evergreen health in winter is a lack of proper hydration. Pines, Spruces, Yews, Arborvitae, Junipers, Azaleas, and Rhododendrons require consistent soil moisture year-round; however, proper hydration is most beneficial in winter because when water loss exceeds absorption, it can lead to burned foliage, branch loss, and possible plant death in spring.
The majority of evergreens are susceptible to winter dehydration; however, new transplants less than five years old and trees with compromised root systems and/or root loss caused by soil compaction, pavement, or construction-related activities are the most vulnerable. Additional plant health factors to consider are:
- exposure to winter winds
- proximity to reflective materials (such as glass, snow, ice, water, and siding)
- the type and depth of mulch
- surrounding topography
Although late season and fall watering is important and helpful in preventing winter dehydration, it is unfortunately not always enough. We can apply a late season anti-desiccant spray which can largely benefit your valuable landscape plants. This application helps protect your plants from damaging winter dehydration by controlling the amount of plant moisture lost through the plant’s foliage.
Deer are another major contributor to poor evergreen health as they nibble on foliage and when bucks rub their antlers on trees. Putting a deer fence around your tree will significantly help keep deer away. Another option for smaller shrubs or evergreens can be wrapping them with burlap. You never really know when or if deer will start feeding or rubbing on your trees, so we often recommend putting up fencing as early as the middle of September to ensure they are protected over the next several months.
Your Wachtel Tree Science Certified Arborist can help you prioritize which plants should be protected from the array of winter weather. Planning and preparing today will provide you with healthy and beautiful evergreens to start the new spring!