Useful Ideas On Landscape Winter Protection


Proper precautions are necessary for successful wintering of perennials, bulbs, ornamental shrubs and trees, fruit trees and berries, where reasonably severe Winters are normally expected. Seasons vary and the home owner who is just starting is sure to get valuable advice from his neighbors who have had many years experience under similar conditions. ‘What is more, they are practically all willing to give a helping hand to anyone who asks them about their problems.

Not all plants succeed under varied soil conditions and, as one proceeds northward, more and more plants become doubtfully hardy or are a total failure. If you have some of the rather tender shrubs or trees for your locality, including roses of the everblooming, tender types, there is one thing you should specially strive for and that is to get the new wood reasonably well ripened before very severe weather sets in. In a rather dry Fall, wood ripens well and yet, if it should be unseasonably dry just after the first heavy killing frost, good watering is advisable to get the normal amount of sap in the plants. In innumerable instances, evergreens planted near buildings, where they get rainfall from one direction, often receive serious Winter damage. Such plantings, if well soaked, before the freeze up are seldom damaged. During most years, evergreen plantings near foundations need watering. In addition to the unfavorable locations, the heating units have a tendency to dry out the foundations which in turn dries out the soil.

Snow is an ideal protection, but over a vast part of America it cannot be depended to stay reasonably steady. So often after a big Winter thaw, the thermometer plummets to well below zero and the frost sinks deep in the ground. This is the time that a well-mulched planting proves its real worth. With the ground only slightly frozen, if at all, the roots are reasonably active and can start functioning in the early Spring when bright, sunny, windy days, coupled with sharp frosts at night, have a very drying effect on vegetation. This is the time many choice narrow-leaved evergreens, rhododendrons, plus many others, suffer serious browning and even killing in some instances, while their roots are still frozen solidly.

Magnolias of the soulangeana type and sweet cherries, when grown near their northern limit, should have their trunks wrapped with burlap, to prevent trunk damage by cracking or sunscald. If you are attempting to grow these in such localities, magnolias are far more successful if grown as big shrubs with branches near the ground. Sweet cherries should branch low to begin with, even if, when the trees get larger, a few lower limbs have to be removed.

Mulching of Fall-planted stock is especially needed as, in this way, frost does not get in until after the new year in many instances, and with the advent of Spring new growth starts vigorously.

Strawberries should be mulched with straw or other material as soon as the ground freezes and growth stops. At. this time it is often possible to remove some perennial weeds in berry plantations that have been overlooked previously since more time can be spared at this time of the year.

In regard to roses, sorts that are normally hardy in your locality, barring iron-dads, need only a light mulch around their bases and yet there are seasons when this advice does not hold good. If it has been a late, wet Fall, with vigorous growth that has not matured properly, many plants will need special care, particularly if a severe cold snap follows. In most Falls of this kind that is what happens and it is advisable to remove climbers from their trellises, lay them down carefully and cover with loose leaves or evergreen branches. Those with stiff canes may be tied in a compact unit, wrapped with excelsior and burlap.

Hybrid teas should be mounded with a foot of soil where near zero or lower temperatures are to be expected. Polyanthas, though hardier, and many floribundas, should have the same treatment where below zero temperatures are the usual thing. Otherwise, only a light mulch around their bases is all that is needed.

As a precautionary measure, the use of snap mouse traps, baited with apple seeds, placed under small boxes, with v-shaped slits at each end, will prevent any possibility of mouse damage. This may be done well in advance of plant protection.

Perennial plants in the borders should be handled according to nature’s way. Under natural conditions the leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs fall gradually among plants, not on top of them, until they are snugly protected. By dumping a lot of mulch on the plants, many are smothered before they really become dormant and the material even heats during mild spells, doing serious damage. Foxglove and canter-bury bells especially resent this and often (lie out completely. The same is true of ninny large-leaved perennials.

Regarding Spring bulbs, if the Fall is dry, dig the bulb beds to the depth desired for planting, removing the ground and soaking the bottom thoroughly, after loosening the bottom, if the ground is heavy. Then, as soon as the ground is dry enough, plant the bulbs, replacing the soil until half full. Tramp firmly and replace the balance loosely. Then do not protect until the ground freezes well. If done too soon, mid-Winter growth frequently occurs and much Spring bloom is ruined.


Holland bulbs may be planted much later than is normally possible if the prepared beds are mulched heavily and late arrivals planted on any reasonably mild day. The mulch should then be replaced and left until late January or February, depending on the lateness of planting when it should be removed to let the ground freeze well, replacing only when a heavy fall of snow renders it necessary. Under this method, I have planted tulips as late as Christmas with perfect results.

Lastly, but of not least importance, do not be fooled by a few seductive, Springlike March days and remove a lot of protection from your plants which a late freeze is apt to destroy. It is far better to be a little late than too early. In addition, if you can remove the protection on a dull day, when rain is expected, plants will do much better as, in this way, they are not exposed to strong sunlight immediately.

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