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Niagara Falls
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Growing Together: Time to get your evergreens ready for winter

Over the last few weeks, I have been writing about different chores that need to be done in the garden before tucking everyone in for the winter.

I am not in a hurry for winter to arrive, but I am sure that one day soon this beautiful, warmer weather will be ending, and winter will be upon us.

Here are some more tips to help your evergreens make it successfully through the winter.

You should have stopped pruning your evergreens by the beginning of September. Pruning invigorates new growth and if the new growth has not had enough time to harden off before the cold weather, it will be more susceptible to damage during the winter months.

One of things that can affect your evergreens throughout the cold months is winter desiccation. This is where the foliage is losing more moisture than the roots can replace.

The best thing that you can do for all your evergreens is to make sure that you give them a slow, deep watering just prior to the ground freezing up for the winter. This is especially true for your broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons, hollies and boxwoods.

If the soil around the roots is moist going into the winter, then if we have an early February thaw, the moisture is right there, available to the roots.

People often ask if they must wrap their evergreens with burlap for the winter. The quick answer is “No.”

If you have planted the evergreens in the proper conditions, there is no need for wrapping them with burlap. Why plant an evergreen to enjoy the foliage colour in the winter and then cover it with burlap?

The only time they would need protection is if they are getting constant strong winds, such as at a lake, or if they are located close to a road where they are getting salt spray.

If this is the case, instead of wrapping the entire shrub, consider putting up a barrier just on the side that is receiving the heavy winds or salt. The best way to create a barrier is to insert in a couple of stakes and attach either a couple of layers of burlap between them or a piece of plywood.

Another possible winter hazard for pyramidal evergreens, such as emerald cedars and pyramid junipers, is that they can be damaged by heavy, wet snow, causing the multi-leaders to split apart.

To prevent this from occurring, some people will tie rope around the entire perimeter of the shrub, which does detract from its appearance. Instead, simply tie together some of the main stems from the inside of the shrub with a stretch tie or with something that will not cut into the wood (e.g. wire through an old piece of hose).

By following the above tips, your evergreens will be better prepared to face another winter.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.

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