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We discussed winterizing your trees, your lawn, and your flowers in the past. Another part of your lawn that may require your help to make it through the season is your shrubs. You might not think they need much help, particularly if you are only using them for borders and hedgerows. However, while shrubs can survive on their own for the most part, they will need your help to survive a severe winter.
Preventing Frost Damage
Before winter kicks in, you can still see damage to your shrubs from frost. frost can cause your shrubs to be uprooted, killing them off. This is fairly easy to prevent, only requiring that you put down a thick covering of mulch before it gets too cold. 2-4 inches of mulch should be enough to moderate the temperature around the plants and to protect the shrubs throughout the winter.
Ice and Snow Protection
This can be a major problem for shrub. While they can deal with light snows, heavy snows can cause hedges to collapse and branches to snap. For tall and narrow shrubs, you can wrap them tightly into a column, preventing the ability of snow to collect on shrub. Wider, broader shrubs will not be able to be tied up, so they will need to be protected by an A-frame structure. These can be constructed easily, or purchased. However, there is a limit to how big you can make the A-frame, and and shrubs that you can’t fit in a structure will need attention throughout the winter. Particularly with broad hedgerows, you’ll need to monitor them and knock off snow and ice when the hedges begin to struggle under their weight.
Ice is also an issue. Particularly for shrubs under the eaves of the house, water will drip down and ice up the shrub. Prevent this by covering the shrub with an A-frame, or simply a tarp sloped away from the building to direct water.
Specifically when it comes to younger, newer shrubs that have been planted in the last year, shrubs can be dried out from cold winter gusts of wind. Protect them by hammering some heavy stakes into the ground and constructing a barrier using burlap or plastic sheeting. This will both protect them from the wind as well as insulate them from some of the cold.
De-icing salt is great for making travel easier, preventing slipping and sliding on pathways. It’s poison to plants though, and can damage them severely. Use the same idea as with wind protection, but instead of burlap or plastic, use erosion-control fabric that will deflect the salt but will not deteriorate from the salinity and chemicals.
So give your shrubs a hand to make sure they survive the winter in fine shape. These precautions can be taken care of over the course of a single weekend, so you won’t need to devote too much time to making sure your shrubs look healthy in the spring.