The Insulating Effects of Snow

Snow InsulationYou may have heard that snow is a good insulator for your landscape plants.  Well indeed it is!  A blanket of snow is composed of approximately ninety percent trapped air and ten percent water.  Snow serves the purpose of providing a protective barrier (insulation) separating plants from the lower temperatures around them.   Stored heat in the ground being radiated is trapped under the layer of snow; hence, maintaining plants at a slightly higher temperature than the surrounding environment. This creates the same effect as the insulation barrier in the walls of your home.   Mulch is also used as an insulating barrier for plants and the snow helps to further maintain the temperature of the soil.

Even when temperatures plummet the temperature under the snow will stay fairly constant around 32 degrees helping to protect underground roots from winter damage.   Besides forming a protective barrier, melting snow also provides a source of water for plants during the cold winter months.  With the frigid temperatures we have been experiencing it is good news that snow cover can be beneficial for your landscape and is nature’s natural insulator!

As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Fall & Winter Gardening Tips and Chores

Fall Garden Here is a review of some basic gardening tips and chores as winter approaches.

Watering During Fall & Winter:  Plants, especially evergreens require moisture throughout the colder months.  Moisture is often provided by occasional rain or snow cover (which also provides insulation for the roots of your plants).  It is a common misbelief that is unnecessary to water in winter; however, once the ground freezes it is difficult for water to percolate down to the roots.   Dehydration can result from the lack of water.    Deciduous trees go dormant but evergreens remain somewhat active and require some moisture for survival.  Water as much as possible before the ground freezes, especially if you have new plantings and if there is a period of drought water when the ground thaws.

Anti-Desiccant Spray:  Certain broad leaf evergreens such as cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, boxwood, euonymus, holly, rhododendron, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe and aucuba can be subject to severe winter burn due to water loss from the leaves by transpiration.   When the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees it is time to apply an anti-desiccant spray such as wiltpruf to protect these plants.  Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.) If there is a prolonged thaw in mid-winter it may be time to re-apply anti-desiccant spray to your broad leaf evergreens, especially if there are more prolonged freezing temperatures on the way.

Pruning Ornamental Grasses:   Ornamental grasses can add much interest to the winter landscape and should not be cut all the way back for winter.   It is best to cut your grasses back in late March to early April in order to protect the roots from frost which could do damage. If your grasses become unsightly by the end of the fall simply prune back the plumes and leave the rest for early spring. Another trick is to wrap a bungee cord about half way up around the center and let the grasses drape over keeping them upright and in place.

Weeding:  A little preventive weeding in fall can give your garden a good start to spring.  Some weeds tend to multiply in the cooler temperatures and if not tended to can be a nuisance in the warmer months.  On a milder day when temperatures are above freezing weeds can be removed easily and should be disposed to prevent spores/seeds from spreading elsewhere.  Also decaying foliage from perennials and around plants should be removed to as a preventive to fungal infection.

Frost Heaving:  In sustained below freezing temperatures followed by thaw the soil expands upwards from the ground causing plants to push upwards exposing the crown.  This is known as frost heaving.  Certain plants such as Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Liriope are especially prone to this type of damage. As a preventive measure apply a mulch finishing to your garden beds.  If frost heaving does occur slightly tap the soil back down and brush the mulch back around the exposed top of the plant to protect it from the cold.

Ice Damage to Branches:  If snow piles up on your evergreens do not immediately shake the branches for it could cause breakage and damage.  Try to carefully brush the snow away removing any excess weight.  If the tree or shrub is covered with ice permit nature to take its course and allow the ice to melt naturally. If your trees or shrubs do suffer any damage from winter storms it is recommended to remove any broken limbs to avoid stress and disease to the plant. This can be done when the weather allows.

Garden Tool Care:   Before storing your garden tools for winter clean them thoroughly with water and gently remove any built up soil to prevent corrosion. It is recommended to oil any moving parts on your pruners and loppers and spray any wooden handles on tools such as shovels with linseed oil in order to keep them from drying and cracking. It is also a good time to re-sharpen your shears, loppers and shovels so your tools will be all ready to go when spring arrives.

In Summary:  Some  simple preparation can go a long way especially in areas where winters are harsh.  I have found these techniques to be very worthwhile and productive over the years and they should do the same for you!    As always…happy gardening!

                            Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2013, All Rights Reserved

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Repost: Anti-Desiccant Spray on Broadleaf Evergreens In November

The temperatures are dropping rapidy here in the northeast and it is time to apply anti-desiccant spray to your broadleaf evergreens to proect them over the winter.  It is actually too cold today to apply.  Wait until the temperatures are going to remain above freeezing. (Read Below)

Anti-Desiccant Spray:  Certain broadleaf evergreens are susceptible to winter burn and drying from harsh winter winds here on Long Island.  Drying is caused by moisture loss from the leaves by transpiration and the spraying of an anti-desiccant can help to prevent damage to your landscape plants.  Anti-desiccant spray is organic based and lasts for approximately three months throughout the winter and helps to prevent water loss from your evergreens.  Apply an anti-desiccant spray to your broad-leaved evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe, aucuba and boxwood when the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees (around mid-November here in zone 7 Long Island). Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Be sure to read all directions on the label since anti-desiccants can cause photo toxicity on some narrow needled evergreens such as Arborvitae and Spruce that could cause more harm than winter burn.  Spraying in freezing temperatures will do harm to the plant.  Do not spray in freezing temperatures and allow time to dry before temperatures drop below 32oF or 0oC.

If there is a prolonged thaw in mid-winter it may be time to re-apply anti-desiccant spray to your broad-leaved evergreens, especially if there are more prolonged freezing temperatures on the way.  Following this simple procedure can prolong the lifetime and vitality of your landscape plants.

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2013, All Rights Reserved

Winter Burn on Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine)

Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine)

Hurricane Sandy caused damage to many evergreen trees here on Long Island and along the eastern coastline. The Eastern White Pines seemed to be most affected by the high winds and salt spray off the ocean and are showing signs of decline now in the month of December.High winds cause excessive transpiration (water loss) from needles of the pine causing them to turn reddish-brown, giving the tree a dead appearance.

There could be hope for the tree before it is taken as a lost cause.  Search for evidence of green viable buds.  If you see any green within the needles (see below) then the tree has a chance of bouncing back in the spring providing the winter isn’t too harsh. As water gets to the roots and needles of the tree there is a good chance that new growth will start to emerge.   Deep root feeding your damaged pines in late March (early spring) can also help to promote new growth.

pine damage

Winter Burn on White Pine

Pines naturally shed their older needles once a year usually in Fall or Spring and go through a major shed every three years.

For your damaged pine it could take up to three years for the tree to fully recover as it drops old needles and replaces with new but the tree could eventually make a full recovery.

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2012, All Rights Reserved

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Winter Ornamental Grass Care

Ornamental Grasses:  Winter cold and snow can harm the center of ornamental grasses causing them to “hollow out”.  To protect ornamental grasses such as ‘Miscanthus sinensis’ Maiden Grass or Dwarf Fountain Grass ‘Hameln’ avoid the temptation to cut them all the way back in Fall.  Instead keep the roots well protected  and wait until late March to early April to cut them back fully. If your grasses become a bit unruly by the end of Fall (November-December zone 7) then just cut back the plumes and leave the rest for early spring. Another trick is to wrap a bungee cord about half way up around the center and let the grasses drape over keeping them upright and in place. Ornamental grasses can add much interest to the winter landscape and be enjoyed all winter long. For more information visit: Fall-Garden-Maintenance-Pruning-&-Dividing-Ornamental-Grasses-and-Perennials

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Anti-Desiccant Spray on Broadleaf Evergreens In November

Anti-Desiccant Spray on Broadleaf Evergreens In November

Anti-Desiccant Spray:  Certain broadleaf evergreens are susceptible to winter burn and drying from harsh winter winds here on Long Island.  Drying is caused by moisture loss from the leaves by transpiration and the spraying of an anti-desiccant can help to prevent damage to your landscape plants.  Anti-desiccant spray is organic based and lasts for approximately three months throughout the winter and helps to prevent water loss from your evergreens.  Apply an anti-desiccant spray to your broad-leaved evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe, aucuba and boxwood when the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees (around mid-November here in zone 7 Long Island). Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Be sure to read all directions on the label since anti-desiccants can cause photo toxicity on some narrow needled evergreens such as Arborvitae and Spruce that could cause more harm than winter burn.  Spraying in freezing temperaures
will do harm to the plant.  Do not spray in freezing temperatures and allow time to dry before temperatures drop below 32oF or 0oC.

If there is a prolonged thaw in mid-winter it may be time to re-apply anti-desiccant spray to your broad-leaved evergreens, especially if there are more prolonged freezing temperatures on the way.  Following this simple procedure can prolong the lifetime and vitality of your landscape plants.

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Pruning Butterfly Bush

Buddlea (butterfly bush)

Butterfly Bush

Pruning Buddleia (Butterfly Bush): When doing your fall clean-up avoid pruning Butterfly Bush all the way back here in zone 7 where winter is approaching.  If  a severe winter is on the way this practice could be detrimental to your plant.  Rather,  wait until late winter/early spring (March-April) to perform this task.  At that point you may prune your plant all the way back and promote fresh new growth for spring.  Buddleia does benefit from a severe pruning in the start of the season to promote larger and more frequent blooms.   It is also beneficial to prune off dead and faded flowers on Butterfly Bush once the flowering season has completed (August/September) in order to put energy back into the plant and promote more blooms into fall. For more information on buddleia (butterfly bush)  visit…http://landscapedesignbylee.blogspot.com/2011/03/pruning-buddleia-butterfly-bush.html

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2012, All Rights Reserved

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