The Winter months can be hard on our landscape. Harsh winds, snow and ice can take its toll on trees and shrubs, leaving them looking brown and bare come the spring. Fortunately there are steps you can take now to prepare your landscape for the long winter ahead.
Trees and shrubs need to be watered sufficiently throughout the fall. We have experienced a dry summer that has turned into a dry fall.
So how much water should we be giving our trees and shrubs? To find out I headed out to Bucks Country Gardens to talk with my friend David Jones who is a horticulturist and certified arborist.
“Normally plants this time of year, especially evergreens should be getting an inch of water per week,” he said.
Jones suggests using Tree Gator bags that hold up to 15 to 20 gallons and water over a period of 5-6 hours weekly. Remember to remove the bag once the tree has taken up all the water. The bags can attract field mice and other little critters that can crawl inside and chew on the bark. Younger trees are more susceptible to this problem. You can use tree guards to wrap around the bark to prevent this from happening. Jones says they will prevent sun scold and cracking as well. Adding an extra layer of mulch around the base of the plant helps, especially with freezing and thawing that can occur during winter.
Winter burn is another common problem. Branches turn brown in the spring and appear dead. Jones recommends using an anti desiccant, like Bonide Wilt Stop.
Mix five parts water to one part wilt stop. Spray liberally on a plant that has been well watered. Ideally when temperatures are above freezing, before Thanksgiving, again in December and finally if the weather permits, a mild day in February. Wrapping shrubs like boxwoods and other broad leaved shrubs with burlap or a shrub bag can help prevent winter burn as well.
If you plan to do a little pruning at this time, don’t. You can remove any dead wood or branches that you see. Any heavy pruning should be done in January when plants are in full dormancy.
We also need to prevent any deer damage that may occur during the winter. In our region the deer are a well-known problem and can leave extensive damage when feeding on trees and shrubs. Even plants that are considered deer resistant can succumb to the hearty appetite of a hungry deer in winter. Applying repellants can deter Bambi and friends from feasting on your Arborvitae and Cypress trees. Deer Scram and Liquid Fence are effective when used as directed.
Soon we will be covered in a blanket of snow and sometimes even ice. But don’t fret, most trees and shrubs are flexible enough to handle minor coverage. It doesn’t hurt to shake those branches free from any snow and ice once the winter thaw begins.