How to Winterize Shrubs

You might think its time to give your green thumb a rest, once fall comes. But that is definitely not the case. Even though the blooms may be long gone from your garden, there are still things that need looking after. Doing the work in the fall ensures that your plants will survive the dangers of winter disease and damage and that you will be rewarded with a healthier garden come spring.

If you do not have wide knowledge of plants and shrubs, you may not know which plants need winterizing and how you should go about it. For example, many people wonder if evergreen shrubs even have to be winterized.

Most feel that evergreens are an important part of the winter landscape and that any attempt to winterize them would take away from their visual impact. But these shrubs can be damaged by winter weather, so unless you are willing to risk losing your evergreens you should do a few basic things to protect them from snow and ice.

To winterize evergreens, you should start with pruning. The best time to prune is later in the fall, when all the leaves have fallen, but not too late; too much snow or ice build-up on the branches and they will break. Remove any small or weak branches to avoid this kind of breakage. Your shrub will be much more likely to withstand the winter snow and ice without them.

Next, place a wire cage around the shrubs. You can use chicken wire attached to poles in the ground to build this kind of cage. Once a cage is in place, you want to cover the plant by wrapping the cage with burlap. This will keep out the wind and the moisture. If you have a row of your shrubs, you can build a tent-like or tepee structure over them using plywood and bamboo.

You want to make sure to place mulch around the base of the shrubs. This will aid in preventing moisture loss during the winter. Shrubs rely primarily on stored water during the winter months so you want to do as much as possible to ensure that the stored water stays in place and that browning does not occur. Mulch will ensure that the plant retains its stored water. It will also help to regulate the temperature around the shrub. You can also spray shrub leaves with an anti-desiccant to help the leave retain moisture.

Extreme changes in temperature can put stress on your shrubs and disrupt the root system.

All of these steps will winterize your shrubs and ensure their health and safety during the long winter months. The steps are simple (watering, pruning, covering and mulching), but they will make a huge different to your shrubs and really reduce the risk of winter damage such as breakage and browning.