Snow Warnings and Care of Landscape Plants

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March Snowstorm

The seasons have been shifting in the northeast, leaving many homeowners in much dismay when it comes to winter garden maintenance. Winter storms can hit late winter into early spring, causing more distress to plantings once they have experienced warmer than normal temperatures. As we await another winter storm, there are some precautions you can take to ensure the vitality of your landscape plants and protect them from possible damage.

SNOW WEIGHTED TREE BRANCHES: Most evergreen trees and shrubs can handle snow build-up on their branches, but in the instance of a heavy snow, the branches may become weighted down. Certain Arborvitae are susceptible to the weight of snow pulling down on them and may have already experienced sagging branches. Further damage can easily be avoided by wrapping the branches together with arbor tie. The cloth tie cannot be seen from the outside, will prevent future damage from another snow, and the tree will look unscathed.

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Arborvitae and Snow Care

BROKEN OR DAMAGED TREE BRANCHES: Before an approaching storm, try to walk outside and inspect trees and shrubs on your property for any broken or damaged branches. If you do spot a damaged branch, tie the two split halves together by wrapping them tightly together with arbor tie. Start by wrapping the two halves tightly together and continue wrapping above and below the crack for extra support. If caught in time, the cambium (or growing layer) of the plant will repair itself and fuse the two parts of the damaged branch together. I have personally saved split branches on holly, azalea and arborvitae using this technique and the plants have recovered beautifully. Identifying these issues now and tending to them prior to the snow can mean the survival of your plant.

arbor tie

Arbor Tied Split Branch on Holly

SNOW REMOVAL: While it is tempting to go outside and start removing snow from weighted branches it is also a good time to exercise caution. Under the snow-covered branches could also be a frozen layer of ice.  Any manipulating of the frozen branches could result in easy breakage and permanent damage to your tree.  A helpful tip is to very carefully dig snow from around trapped branches and allow them to spring back up on their own. Never shake branches with ice.  It is best to let nature take its course and allow thawing to occur. The branches will gradually regain their shape as the ice melts preventing any harm to your landscaping.

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Snow Removal From Branches

SPRING BULBS AND SNOW:  Just as your spring bulbs are emerging, a late winter snow storm in March can cause much distress and uncertainty. Besides having to tend with the snow, there is some reassuring news!  While mulch protects dormant bulbs from cold, once they start blooming, a covering of snow will act as an insulator. The snow will help to hold in the natural warmth from the soil and provide protection. Once the snow is gone, you can continue to enjoy your bulbs!

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Spring Bulbs and Snow Cover

As mentioned previously, plants are very resilient, and with a little care can bounce back and recover nicely after a major snow. With a March snow on the way, warmer days may not look promising at the moment, but Spring is right around the corner!

Informational Links:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening on Facebook
Landscape Design by Lee on Facebook
A Guide to Northeastern Gardening Blog

NEGardening on Twitter

My Published Books: 

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer

Landscape Design Combinations

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2017. All Rights Reserved.page-divider-autumn

Protecting Broad-leaved Evergreens for Winter: Anti-Desiccant Spray

Broad-leaved Evergreens

The temperatures are dropping rapidly here in the northeast and it is time to apply anti-desiccant spray to your broad-leaved evergreens to protect them from winter damage.

What is desiccation?:   Certain broad-leaved evergreens are susceptible to winter burn and drying from harsh winter winds here on Long Island and anywhere where winter temperatures drop below freezing. Desiccation, or extreme drying is caused by moisture loss from the leaves by transpiration. A precautionary measure for this drying is the use of an anti-desiccant, which can help to prevent damage to your landscape plants.  Anti-desiccant spray is an organic based spray application that lasts for approximately three months throughout the winter, and helps to prevent water loss from your evergreens.

Which plants should be sprayed with an anti-desiccant?: 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 Thanksgiving 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.)

When to Apply: Apply anti-desiccant when the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees (late fall/early winter). Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours.

Dangers: 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.

How often should I apply anti-desiccant?:  Sudden warm spells can trigger your evergreens to open their pores allowing for more water loss. If there is a winter thaw part way through the season it is recommended to re-spray your plants but only if the temperatures are to remain above freezing for at least 24 hours.

Where do I purchase anti-desiccant?:  The most commonly used brands of anti-desiccant are Wilt-Pruf, Vapor Guard and Transfilm that can be found in nurseries and garden centers. There is a new brand of anti-desiccant on the market which requires only one application. Ask your landscape professional for more information.

Informational Links:
A Guide to Northeastern Gardening on Facebook
Landscape Design by Lee on Facebook

NEGardening on Twitter

My Published Book: A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer on Amazon

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2016. All Rights Reserved.page-divider-autumn

Book Announcement! My First Published Book!

FotorCreated BOOK PROMO 2 600 pixAfter two years of working on my book I am excited to announce that it is finally published! A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer is a comprehensive guide to gardening in plant hardiness zones 3-9.  My goal for the book is to share information on a number of gardening topics based on my experiences as a landscape designer over the years.BOOK PHOTO

A Little Bit About the Book:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening is a comprehensive guide of valuable information on plants hardy in a range of zones from 3-9, and gardening techniques backed up by my own personal experiences as a professional landscape designer, along with answers to frequently asked questions. Learn about landscape design principles, butterfly gardening, deer resistant plants, long blooming perennials, globe and weeping evergreens, flowering trees and shrubs, native plantings, shade gardening and more. Whether you are a novice or experienced gardener, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening will help you to create your own dream garden. Come along on my journey into the world of gardening!

A Little Bit About the Author:

Lee Miller is a professional landscape/garden designer involved in the horticultural industry since 1996. Having started a gardening blog in 2010, she is the author of over 150 articles on general gardening, landscape design principles, gardening tips, planting, pruning, garden maintenance, feature plants and more. Her published book, “A Guide to Northeastern Gardening”, is an accumulation of information touching on a wide variety of gardening topics, all backed up by her own personal experiences.

Previews and further information are available on the following links:

Updated for 2016: Now in Amazon Softcover!

Amazon Kindle

Also here is a link to the full story behind the author and the book. I hope to share my gardening experiences with you!

As Always…Happy Gardening!

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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Got Snow? – Winter Garden Maintenance

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Snow Covered Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar

While winter is here and I look out at my evergreens buried under a blanket of snow, it is a good time to review some basic maintenance tips to prevent possible damage to your landscape plants.

SNOW REMOVAL:  While it is tempting to go outside and start removing snow from weighted branches it is also a good time to exercise caution.  Under the snow-covered branches could also be a frozen layer of ice.  Any manipulating of the frozen branches could result in easy breakage and permanent damage to your tree.  A helpful tip is to very carefully dig snow from around trapped branches and allow them to spring back up on their own. Never shake branches with ice.  It is best to let nature take its course and allow thawing to occur.  The branches will gradually regain their shape as the ice melts preventing any harm to your landscaping.

BROWNING OF EVERGREENS: You may be noticing browning on some of your evergreen trees. Browning in the center is perfectly normal and is how a tree sheds old needles to allow for new growth in spring.  Needle shedding usually happens in the fall but is frequently much more noticeable once the snow arrives.  Browning anywhere else on the tree such as on a leader or outside branches can be cause for concern.  If an entire branch turns brown it could be that the branch is broken and should be removed when the weather allows to avoid stress and disease to the plant. Browning could also be the result of “winter burn” which I will discuss below.

WINTER BURN:   Winter burn is the drying effect of winter winds which can cause evergreens to appear brown. I have been getting a lot of questions this winter season regarding winter burn on evergreens such as Arborvitae, weeping and upright Blue Atlas Cedar, Cryptomeria and Golden Oriental Spruce.  The narrow needles/foliage on these evergreens are even more susceptible to this effect.  The abundant snow and reflection of rays from the sun also serves to magnify this phenomenon.  This browning of the needles or “winter burn” should correct itself once the weather starts to warm and water is able to get to the cells of the plant and once again activate the chlorophyll within.  If the tree is well established it should most likely fully recover and start to push out new growth as the temperatures rise. As an extra note, your broad-leaved evergreens such as rhododendron, cherry and skip laurel, boxwood and holly (to mention a few) should be sprayed with an anti-desiccant spray before winter arrives.  See Anti-Desiccant on Broad-leaved Evergreens in November for more information.

Stay warm…winter is almost over.

As Always…Happy Gardening!

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

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Long Island Blizzard Tree Care Tip

snow on branches

Well we finally got that snow we’ve been lacking and a lot of it!  We officially got 19.8 inches of snow here on parts of the south shore and more elsewhere on the Island.  If you have ventured out you will notice tree limbs drooping due to being over weighted with snow and the first reaction is to brush them off… but beware.

For the best care of your trees with snow-covered branches first allow the sun to start melting the snow and the branches will gradually start to pop back up.   If you are able to gently brush off the snow do so but if the snow is frozen on the branches let it melt naturally in order to avoid tree breakage.   The tree branches are very fragile right now and can be damaged easily.

Stay warm.  Spring is on its way!

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

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Preventing Tree Damage from Snow & Ice

WinterAs winter progresses there is an increased threat of snow and ice build up on the branches of trees and shrubs in the landscape. If snow piles up on your evergreens try to carefully brush it away as soon as possible before freezing to remove the excess weight from the branches. If the snow does not remove easily do not shake the branches. This can cause breakage and damage. If the tree or shrub is covered with ice permit nature to take its course and allow the ice to melt naturally. If your landscape does 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.  Preventive measures that can be taken to avoid winter ice damage include keeping your trees properly pruned throughout the year.  Fast growing trees and trees with horizontal branching such as ‘Bradford’ Pear are more prone to damage from excess weight.   Prune away any weakened or overweight branches in fall before snow arrives.

Frost Heaving: In freezing temperatures soil around your plants may be subject to frost heaving. This is when ice forms underneath the soil and expands upwards from the ground causing plants such as perennials to push upwards exposing the crown. Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Liriope are especially prone to this type of damage. As a preventive measure apply mulch finishing to your garden beds. To remedy, slightly tap the soil back down, and brush the mulch back around the exposed crown of the plant to protect it. Following these few simple steps will help to prevent any unwanted winter damage to your landscape plantings.

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

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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.

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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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