Seasonal - WinterCaring for Plants in the Winter

If you live in a cool or cold winter climate, below are a few tips to help you protect your plants, trees, and shrubs from snow, ice, winds, and winter temperatures. Taking steps to winter-proof your landscape will help to minimize potential damage and get the landscape ready for the spring season.

Mulch trees, plants and shrubs. Mulch around trees, plants, and
shrubs to add extra protection for winter. Mulching is an important control
for erosion and loss of water, and a 2-inch layer of mulch will reduce water
loss and help maintain uniform soil temperature around the roots.
Keep plants well-hydrated. Evergreen plants continue to transpire,
or lose water through their leaves, even in the winter. Plants kept well-
hydrated until a hard freeze, have a better chance for survival.

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Protect evergreens, plants, and trees. Use anti-transpirants which
are applied to plants and trees to help reduce water loss from plant leaves
(similar to sweating.) (Anti-transpirants may be purchased at a local home
improvement store.) Burlap wrapping also may be used to shield valuable
evergreens from salt spray and winter winds. Tie branches together that
may be susceptible to snow loads.

Cut grass shorter. During the growing season, lawns should be cut to 3
inches to 3.5 inches, but the final lawn cutting should be 2 inches to 2.5
inches.

Watch out for winter warm spells. If plants are covered with burlap or
other wrappings, consider ventilating them during the day and re-covering
them at night.

Use care when shoveling and plowing or blowing snow. Place
posts with reflectors next to plants so they are well-marked, then snow
won’t be shoveled on top of the plants. Consider clearing snow away from
walks and driveways with a shovel or snow blower. Doing so will reduce
the amount of de-icing products needed.

Remove broken limbs. If a limb breaks because of snow, ice and wind,
have it removed as soon as weather permits this will help the tree or shrub
heal better as the warmer temperatures approach. Damaged trees are
more prone to disease.

Never shake branches. Homeowners should gently brush off snow.
Shaking the limbs may break them. They should use hands to scoop the
snow away from plants to protect them from settling snow.

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Prune most plants in winter. The late dormant season is best for most
pruning in many regions. Pruning in late winter, before spring growth
begins, leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short amount of time
before new growth begins.

Minimize salt damage. Salt and melting agents for snow and ice can
damage plants and trees by drawing water away from their roots. Get rid of extra
salt by flushing out the soil with plenty of water.