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Winter Plant Protection for Warmer, Dryer Winters

With this type of warmer and dryer winter some plants may need some extra winter plant protection. While the temperatures are most definitely warmer the ground is colder because there is little snow insulating the ground from a harder freeze.  This condition will make it harder on evergreens and plants that are a little more sensitive to our cold temperatures. A little more TLC is needed to help these plants make it through the winter.

Winter Plant Protection


If the ground freezes harder combined with a dry fall your evergreens will need to get some extra protection from the sun and wind. The best way to do this is to build a screen on the south and southwest side of your evergreen. The idea is to cast a shadow on the evergreen when the sun is at its hottest. Having burlap in contact with the needles can actually make them dryer by wicking the moisture out of the needles. Three stakes and a roll of burlap usually will do the trick. Most years we don’t have to worry about the groundcover evergreens because they are covered by snow. Screening is a better option than wrapping because it allows better air circulation. Remember it’s not the cold giving your evergreens winter burn, it’s the sun that dries them out. For upcoming years you will want to watch our rainfall in the fall. If it is dry, it is a great idea to continue to water them until it freezes so that they have plenty of moisture available to them.

Sensitive Shrubs, Perennials, Trees

There are a lot of plants out there that are a little more sensitive to our winter than others. This makes those plants especially prone to winter damage. Plants like the Happy Chappy rose, Butterfly Bush, Lentin Rose and some Coneflowers would do great with a little extra protection. Using a nice thick layer of straw or hay will help keep these plants and others better protected from winter die off.  When laying down the straw/hay remember that you will need to go out much further from the base of the plant with a mature plant. Younger or newer plants won’t need as big of an area of protection because the roots have not gone out very far yet.

Winter Plant Protection  - Tree Wrap

Sun Scald Protection

Ever see large vertical cracks in the trunks of your trees? Most likely this was caused by the freezing and thawing of water in the bark during the winter months. The best protection for this is wrapping your trunks to protect them from the suns’ rays.  Younger maple trees are more prone to this condition because their bark has not yet got its tougher, thicker bark that you see on the older trees.

Protecting from Rodents and Deer

Food will be run out and snow is bound to come and cover it up. When this happens these animals will start to browse on your favorite shrubs and trees. Trees can be protected from rodent damage by placing a cylinder of ¼-inch mesh hardware cloth around the trunk. The cylinder should extend 2 to 3 inches below the ground line for mice and 18 to 24 inches above the anticipated snow line for rabbit protection. If you have just too many trees and shrubs to wrap you may want to think about using repellents instead. There are a variety of natural products to repel rabbits, mice and deer.