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Saturday, August 30, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 2/10/2010

Keep Jack Frost from harming plants, trees

Better bundle up. It will be a blustery week. And don't forget about the plants in your yard. Biting, subzero windchills can zap the moisture out of their leaves as fast as you can say Jack Frost, and lots of snow can break branches.

Constant bitter-cold wind isn't good for your skin, so imagine what it can do to the shrubs around your landscape. Winter wind damage shows up as dry, yellow edges on the leaves in the spring. You usually will see this damage on the outside of the plant; the inside leaves will be a bit more protected.

You might get chapped hands and lips in the winter, and your plants get chapped leaves. There are waxy products you can spray on the plants' leaves. This works for a few weeks but must be reapplied throughout the frigid months.

You also can protect plants with a windbreak. Some home gardeners use large plastic barrels with the top and bottom cut off to surround large rhododendron shrubs. Others use clay irrigation tiles to protect small boxwoods or even young saplings from the brutal wind.

Another simple trick is to wrap the vulnerable broadleaf shrubs with burlap. Pound stakes around the plant first, then wrap it tightly with burlap. Check your work throughout the winter to be sure little critters such as mice haven't created their homes inside the wrapping. They can nibble on the trunk and limbs, causing even more damage.

Layers of heavy snow can be damaging too - more than four inches on the branches may cause them to break. Limbs may fall on power lines, causing you to be in the dark. Don't try to cut those limbs yourself; it could be dangerous. You can take care of lower shrubs and trees yourself. Find your broom and knock off the snow before the weight gets to be too much for the branches to hold.

Get comfortable with your pruners in the winter months to keep your shrubs and trees in good shape and prevent breakage. If you keep the plants in sturdy condition, they will be able to handle the extra weight of the snow.

Look for broken and damaged limbs. Those are the first to go. Next, keep a symmetrical shape for your plant. Always use clean, sharp equipment, cutting on a diagonal as close to the trunk as possible without pruning off the thicker collar found on each limb. These tricks will help keep Jack Frost from leaving his mark on your landscape.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at:

kheidbreder@theblade.com



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