Evergreens are the winter color and backbone plantings for the average garden, that just a part of why they are so popular all over the world. Often people wanting to over winter them resort to covering them with burlap. But doesn't that defeat the purpose of having them in the first place? I mean just think about it, it turns them from evergreens into everbrowns! Blaa.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that without our interference most evergreens will survive quite nicely, they do it in the wild every year!
But if you really are afraid that your evergreen needs help keep these few tips in mind when you are deciding what course of action to pursue.
- No Plastic, No Way No How!! - Never, ever use plastic for winterizing evergreen shrubs. Covering with plastic is a sure way to smother your plant, create high humidity and icing conditions and basically kill off anything under the cover. Poly.
- Feed Your Evergreen. - Feed your evergreen shrubs and trees phosphate and potassium in late fall. Be sure to use a fertilizer that does not contain nitrogen, this is the wrong time for nitrogen! The roots will absorb the phosphate and potassium and research has shown that this feeding in the late Fall helps to improve winter survival rates.
- Burlap, cover them if you must. - As you may have already figure out, I really can not stand to see everbrowns in the yard! But the truth is that covering with burlap is possible and may be helpful but I personally hate the ugly look it lends to any garden or landscape. If you do decide to use burlap, make sure you securely tie it down. In fact, I am not really sure if you can secure it too much! One good blow of old man winter and you can easily loose your covering!
- Use Christmas Tree Preservative!! Anti-desiccant Spray - You might choose to use an anti-desiccant on your shrubs. Anti-desiccant spray is often sold as Christmas tree preservative in many stores. It is rather like wrapping a thin protective layer on the leaves so that they do not get wind-burned. Just know that this is a wax like substance so the sun will degrade it over time. Be sure to VERY thoroughly coat your evergreens all over, top and bottom!A second or sometimes third application may be needed as the Winter goes along.
- Block Salt from hitting your Evergreens. - If your city uses salt to keep the roads passable during Winter you will want to protect your evergreens. So if you have winter burning problems because of road salts, consider putting up a solid fence to protect the evergreens. That way, the fence stops the salt and protects your plants plus you get to enjoy the winter greenery from the house side of the fence. The fence can even be temporary so that you can remover it in the Spring. The anti-desiccant spray mentioned above also works nicely for salt damage as well for winterizing evergreen shrubs if you use a heavy coat and repeat it monthly.
- Grow The Right Plants - Grow plants that are hardy in your zone. It is mostly a search to find suitable varieties as they exist for your area for almost all evergreens and flowering shrubs. This seems to be a no brainer but I find people trying to grow zone 4 items in my zone 8 all the time! Then they call me and ask why their plant dies!!!!???
- Timing is key - Winterize evergreen shrubs after several major killing frosts have it your area and not a day before! You see, it is absolutely worthless to wrap a shrub or even to just pile leaves over a tender plant if the local rodent population is still active. You want to wait until it is late enough in the season so that the mice and squirrels are happily winterized too. Otherwise, they'll just use your evergreen as a smorgasbord!
- Expect Some Damage! - Despite all your best efforts, you will often have some winter damage, this is a natural part of the life of an evergreen. They can handle it, can you?
If seeing even a small amount of damage to you favorite evergreens drives you nuts just get out your pruners and get to work! Winter pruning of evergreens is fine and if it helps you feel better too that that is just great!