“Winter burn is the worst.” If the evergreens in your commercial landscape could talk, I’d bet that’s one of the first things they’d tell you — especially this time of year. Winter burn can happen when plants experience water loss through their foliage during the winter months, leaving them susceptible to tissue damage, particularly from unseasonably warm temperatures, sun and wind exposure.
Winters in Northeastern Ohio are no joke, and last winter massive numbers of holly, boxwood, taxus and other evergreens were severely damaged or killed due to the weather. It was the worst damage we’ve ever seen.
You can prevent winter burn by taking the necessary steps now to winterize evergreens like boxwood, rhododendrons and arborvitae on your property. The following is everything you need to know to keep your plants protected and healthy this winter.
What Does Winter Burn Look Like?
Symptoms of winter burn on affected plants are relatively easy to spot and typically found on their windward side. The intensity of these symptoms will increase as spring approaches and temperatures rise. Here are a few visible signs of winter burn:
Large brown or rust colored sections above the snowline
Scorched leaf or needle tips
Thorough browning of leaves and needles
Dead buds and twigs
Want to know more about how to protect your property in each season?
Check out our comprehensive landscaping guide
5 Tips To Winterize Plants On Your Commercial Property
When it comes to winter burn, prevention rather than treatment is the smartest and most cost-effective way to go. If you think your evergreens are in the line of fire, seriously consider these tips.
Avoid Winter Burn Hot Zones
Intense sun and wind exposure are two big reasons plants end up with winter burn. At this point, relocating evergreens in your landscape to more protected locations might not be a viable option. Just keep this tip in the back of your mind and act on it in spring.
Block The Wind
Create stable standing windbreaks or wrap susceptible plants with burlap to provide sun and wind protection. This will also help alleviate some of the moisture loss.
Keep Well Watered
Keep your evergreens thoroughly watered well into winter — right up until the ground freezes.
Mulch To Retain Moisture
Add and maintain a thick layer — 3 to 4 inches — of organic mulch around the base of your evergreens throughout the growing season and into winter. This will help retain soil moisture and improve its capacity to hold moisture.
Find Less Susceptible Alternatives
Maybe you’ve ended up on the wrong side of winter burn more times than you’d like to admit. Try working with evergreen trees and shrubs that are less susceptible to winter burn, like Alberta spruce, English holly and Colorado blue spruce.
What Happens If Winter Burn Does Occur?
When winter burn is visible on your plants, there’s little you can do to treat the damaged areas. Wait until early spring to cut back damaged branches and foliage — before new growth appears.
For any plants severely affected, removal might be the most effective option because damaged plants could attract insects and disease, and possibly lead to bigger landscape headaches down the road.
Worried About Winter Burn In Your Commercial Landscape?
If you are still concerned about the welfare of your landscape and your ability to prevent winter burn, consider winterizing with Schill before it’s too late.
Let’s talk about measures to take now that will help keep winter burn at bay all winter. Call us any time at 440-327-3030, or fill out our simple web contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you.
Photo Credit: Evergreens