Protecting Your Landscape Against Winter Burn


Desiccation is the technical term for what is more commonly called "winter burn". Desiccation is defined as removal of moisture. In the case of trees and shrubs this most often occurs when the ground is freezing, the sun is blazing and no moisture is available as the ground is frozen.  Desiccation most often happens in plants that have more shallow root systems, require consistent levels of water and still have needles or overwintering leaves still attached.


As the landscape becomes more and more valuable to our homes and businesses we can hardly afford to let this winter burn scenario devastate our once beautiful trees and shrubs.


Here are some helpful ways to help protect these assets:

  • Water around the root balls one to two times per week right up until the ground freezes.


  • Apply a thick layer of wood chips, mulch or even leaves around your plants.  This can be liberal (such as 8 inches thick) but make sure to remove the mulch in the spring.


  • Prune out non-productive branches as this will help ensure that all needed moisture goes directly where it is most needed in the spring.


  • Cover the entire plants (preferably with burlap) where size allows for you to do so.


  • Apply environmentally, user friendly chemical sprays that act as a barrier to help hold moisture in during the winter transition.  Best results are found by applying an early winter treatment and again, a late winter treatment to provide better transitional protection.

Plants to be most concerned about in cold climate areas (such as us in southeast Michigan) include:

  • All types of yew shrubs

  • All species of Rhododendron and Azalea

  • Certain types of Spruce and Pine

  • Hemlock

  • Cypress

  • Certain species of Arborvitae

  • Most types of Boxwood shrubs


Need help? Contact the arborists at Branch Tree Service.  We provide a wide range of services and treatments helping to ensure your landscape is protected against "Winter Burn". Timing of treatments and or cultural service is very important so contact us today!


We offer year round assistance to keep your trees and shrubs safe, healthy and beautiful all year long.

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