Protecting Evergreens for the Winter

Evergreens in the landscape are the bones of the garden, keeping it orderly and interesting year-round. When the winter winds come, evergreens that are not protected in the fall have a higher chance of “burning.”

Simple steps can be taken to avoid the winter burn that becomes evident in spring once plants begin to wake from their winter slumber. Over a course of a few days to a week, plants that were green all winter may start to discolor and turn golden yellow or brown. This is evident on the sides of the plants that are in the direct path of the winter sun and winds.

Evergreens continue to respire in the winter and can desiccate quickly. One solution is a spray-on waxy coating—when applied to the surface of the needles this helps stops the water loss. Most tree care companies offer this service in the fall, but if one is industrious and a bit ambitious the materials can be purchased online or at local garden centers. It is wise to spray as late in the season as possible, still abiding by the temperature requirements, so the coating does not wear off before the winds of January and February have a chance to do the most damage.

A sturdy burlap fence or structure is also a good preemptive step to avoid winter burn. There is an art to building these structures—allowing them to withstand the elements and still look aesthetically pleasing in the winter landscape. It is important to make sure these structures are built correctly, because they will be gazed upon for endless winter months. We shake our heads often at the fencing and structures that are erected around the area in ways that detract from the architecture of the house and ultimately provide little protection to the very plants they are charged to protect. Aesthetics and functionality are key!

Be your own advocate for your evergreen friends and make sure you are handling their pre-winter care. They will certainly thank you in the spring when they maintain their brilliant green sheen.