Evergreens offer a wonderful buffer against winter winds when planted on the north and northwest sides of your property. They provide four-season beauty, shelter for birds, and naturally screen your yard or patio. Since evergreens keep their needles/leaves year round, it is important to make sure they remain healthy through the winter months.
Water the Roots
The best protection against damage is moderate moisture in the soil. Evergreens continue to lose water and be susceptible to damage from sun scald or windburn throughout winter. We are having a dry fall, so continue checking the soil under evergreens, watering as needed until the ground is frozen.
In general, if the soil is dry 2” under the surface, it’s time to water. If the soil falls apart when pinched, water is needed. Make sure the water gets through the mulch to the soil. For newly planted trees, slowly soak the area all around the tree between the trunk and the drip line. For new evergreen shrubs, slowly water the root ball and the ground around the shrub. Allow water to pool and sink in at least three times.
Mulch the Soil
Adding organic mulch will help conserve moisture by slowing evaporation. Mulch also helps eliminate weeds and controls soil temperature. Stone and gravel used as mulch does not improve soil quality or moderate soil temperature. Plastic sheeting can create sterile soil conditions. You want to add organic matter to encourage beneficial microbe activity and improve the soil as the mulch decomposes.
Keep a 2-3” layer of mulch around trees and shrubs. For trees, the mulch should cover the root zone out to the drip line. This is often impractical, so aim for a 6’ diameter ring of mulch. Always pull mulch back several inches away from the base of the trunk. ‘Mulch volcanoes’ trap moisture, encouraging disease, rot, rodent, and insect problems.
Wear the Coat
Some evergreens planted in windy or sunny sites may need to be treated with an anti-transpirant spray like nontoxic Wilt-Stop. After the evergreens go dormant from cool temps, apply the spray in daylight while temperatures are still above freezing. Wilt-Stop creates a protective film from dry, winter winds, sunscald, and salt damage. This coating is a natural product derived from pine resin that will gradually wear away in 4-6 months.
For cedar, cypress, juniper, and arborvitae wait to spray Wilt-Stop until late fall when these plants have had a chance to harden off and the moisture in the foliage has retreated to the root system for the winter. Application to boxwood and rhododendron can be done well into winter, as long as it’s a sunny day when temperatures are above freezing. One application usually is sufficient. Always follow the directions on the label.
Wilt-Stop works on freshly cut evergreens as well. To extend the life of Christmas trees, wreaths, swags, and winter greens in porch pots, spray thoroughly with Wilt-Stop. Allow indoor decor to dry before placing inside your home. We will have Fraser fir trees, wreaths, swags, custom porch pots, and fresh-cut greens in our Holiday Shop, open November 1 – December 23, Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm, Aurora & Naperville. Merrily meander through our shop for tree trimmings, outdoor, and indoor décor!