Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Category Archives: Winter Lawn Care

Winter Damage on your Landscape Plants

When we think of snow, we’re reminded of slippery roadways, shoveling, salting our driveways and walkways, sitting in front of a warm fireplace and often forget about the plants outside in the landscape.  Not all plants will have winter damage.  Sometimes the snow will act like an insulator and protect your plants against the cold temperatures and winds.  However, there are many other factors that can cause winter damage to plants that you may not have thought about.

What kind of winter damage can occur?

winter and snow damage to plantsIn general, the winter brings cold day time temperatures, less sunlight and moisture, potentially heavy winds and freezing nights.  Some plants are hardy enough to survive the cold winter months.  However, a plant weakened by summer stress may be more susceptible to winter and snow damage.

The first kind of winter damage to plants is called desiccation.  Desiccation occurs when the ground is frozen and plants cannot take up water, causing the leaves to dry out.   Water loss is greatest during windy, sunny and milder weather.  The leaves of broadleaf evergreens will curl inward and hang down when there is not enough moisture in the leaves.  You will notice the leaves start to burn around the edges and slowly work inward.  After turning brown and drying up, the leaves may fall off the branches.

The next type of winter damage to plants is “bark splitting” or “frost cracking”.  Heating and freezing on a daily basis, along with wind and bright sunny skies will cause the dehydrated bark to split open or crack.  The water inside the tree will freeze and expand causing the splitting.  This can cause injury or death to the tree.  Most of the smaller ornamental plants will recover from this by growing the bark back together again, but bigger trees may not able to recover.

winter and snow damage to plantsOne often overlooked form of winter damage to plants and trees is caused by salt.  Wind-driven salt sprays from road trucks can travel up to 150 feet. The salt can cause extreme damage to pine, spruce and fir trees.  Salt damage to evergreen plants causes the needles to brown from the tip to the base.  Trees that lose their leaves each year may be damaged as well, but the damage will not be noticeable until the spring of the following year when the plants do not leaf out or bud properly because of bud damage.  If rain or snow melt does not dilute salt placed on sidewalks or driveways, the soil becomes very salty and can easily damage plants.  Follow this link to our salt damage blog for more information.

Finally, there is ice and snow damage.  This can happen when there is excessive snow on landscape plants.  Snow can accumulate on plants naturally from a snowstorm, or it can be piled up on plants as we remove snow from our sidewalks and driveways.  Oftentimes we don’t have anywhere to put the snow and we throw it onto our landscape plants without realizing it.  This will put a significant amount of weight on the branches of your plants causing them to bend or break and impede the flow of nutrients and moisture in the vascular system of the plant.  This type of snow damage is difficult to identify and will not likely show up for several months into the growing season.

What can I do to help reduce winter damage to plants?

  1. Pick trees and shrubs that are hardy and good for the specific area you live in.
  2. We recommend an anti-desiccant application for all broadleaf evergreens on your property to help stop desiccation. An anti-desiccant spray will coat the foliage of the evergreen plants with a thin layer of an organic “sealant” to help them resist the drying power of winter winds and conserve the moisture vital to their health.
  3. Wrap your landscape plants with burlap or create a “screen” or “windbreak” around the plants that are susceptible to winter damage. This will help reduce the constant cold wind directly hitting the landscape plants and protect them from snow, frost and ice.
  4. Protect the trunks of the smaller trees from “frost crack” or “bark splitting” with a commercial tree wrap such as a polyurethane spiral wrap or paper wrap. The wrap should be applied in the fall, and should be removed prior to the spring.
  5. Fertilize your plants. The lack of proper nutrition can make your landscape plants more susceptible to winter damage. You should have your plants fertilized regularly in the fall to provide the necessary nutrients the plants will need for the winter.
  6. Water your newly planted trees and shrubs until the ground freezes and apply 3-5 inches of mulch to help insulate the ground around the roots of the trees and shrubs.
  7. Wait until the plants are dormant before pruning. Pruning while the plant is actively growing can cause the tree to grow more and put out new growth. This new growth will not survive the cold winter and can lead to disease or rot causing decline and permanent damage.
  8. After a snowstorm we recommend you brush off the snow from the branches of your trees and shrubs to protect from snow damage. Lightly knock off the snow with a broom. This will reduce the weight on the individual branches which will help reduce bending or breaking.   However, do not try and remove ice from your trees and shrubs after an ice storm.  This will most likely cause more harm than good to your plants.  Also, when shoveling or snow blowing the driveway and walkways, try not to throw the snow onto the landscape plants.  Put the snow onto areas that can handle heavy, wet snow.
  9. Finally, try to minimize your salt usage on your sidewalks and driveways as much as possible. Runoff can cause the salt that has not dissolved to run into your landscape beds, roads and sewers.

Conclusion

There are many ways your trees and shrubs can be damaged during the winter season.  The good news is there are options available to help minimize stress and winter damage to plants.  If you are in our service area and have any questions about protecting your plants this winter, please feel free to call our office at 908-281-7888.

Protecting Your Plants During Winter

protecting plants during winterWinters in New Jersey have become more severe in recent years, causing damage to trees and shrubs annually, this why protecting plants during the winter is important.  Damage includes bent or broken branches, split trunks, desiccation, dead tips and deer damage.  All plants have vascular systems which carry essential nutrients and water throughout the plant.  When this system is compromised we can see various stages of damage to your winter landscaping.  The weight of snow and ice can bend or crack these systems causing the flow of nutrients and moisture to be interrupted.  Freezing temperatures and high winds can cause desiccation injury.  These issues can cause discoloration of foliage and may result in poor growth and die back.  In severe cases, injury can be seen immediately, while other injuries may not become apparent until later in the season when the plant is under other stress, like from the summer heat or drought.

Tips for Protecting Plants During Winter

protecting plants during winterFor protecting plants during winter, we recommend an anti-desiccant application for all of the broadleaf evergreens on your property.  Desiccation refers to the drying out of a living organism.  In your landscape plants, winter desiccation injury occurs when plants lose moisture from the leaves and do not have the ability to absorb water from the frozen soil.  This results in drying out and discoloration of the leaves.  An anti-desiccant, also called “anti-transparent” is a liquid spray applied to the foliage of evergreen plants to slow the rate at which moisture is lost.  The liquid is sprayed onto the foliage until it is completely covered and there is slight run off of material.

Next, in protecting your plants during winter, you may wrap your plants with burlap.  For small plants you may wrap the burlap over or around the plants and secure it with twine. For moderate to large plants, it’s best to drive stakes into the ground around the plant and then secure the burlap to the stakes by staples. This creates a “screen” or “windbreak” around the plant.  Burlap and stakes can be purchased from most garden centers, improvement stores, nurseries and co-ops.

The bark on trees should be wrapped to reduce “buck rub.”  “Buck rub” is when a male deer rubs its forehead and antlers on a tree’s bark.  These abrasions to the bark caused by the deer may damage the vascular system inside of the trees.  Protect the trunk with a commercial tree wrap such as a polyurethane spiral wrap or paper wrap.  The wrap should be applied in the fall, and must be removed prior to the spring.

When there is a tremendous amount of snow on trees and shrubs, we recommend you brush or shake off the snow from the branches as soon as possible.  Lightly brush off the snow using an upwards motion with a broom.  This will reduce the weight on the individual branches, helping reduce bending or breaking.   However, do not try and remove ice from your trees and shrubs after an ice storm!  This will most likely cause more harm than good to your plants.  It is best to let ice melt naturally.

protecting plants during winterFertilize your plants each fall will help in protecting plants during winter.  The lack of proper nutrition can make your landscape plants more susceptible to winter damage.  You should have your plants fertilized regularly to provide the necessary nutrients the plants need for the winter.

Water the plants throughout the fall even as it gets cooler out.  In the fall, plants are still growing and require good soil moisture to do so.  Keeping the soil around the roots moist until the ground freezes will ensure the plants have adequate moisture going into the winter.

Another helpful tip in protecting plants during winter is maintaining 2-3 inches of mulch in your landscape beds.  This will insulate the soil and help regulate soil temperatures throughout the year. Please note that mulch should not be piled high on the truck of trees or covering the shrubs. This may lead to decay and damage in the future.  For more information please click this link to our blog on proper mulching techniques.

Try and keep deer from feeding on your trees and shrubs during the winter.  Have the trees and shrubs in your landscape sprayed with a winter deer repellent application?  A treatment of a product called Deer Pro Winter during the fall or early winter can last up to four to five months.  In extreme cases, you or your landscaper can wrap your plants with burlap or put up deer fencing to protect plants during the winter.  In some landscaping, it may be recommended to have the trees and shrubs all sprayed monthly with a deer repellent throughout the season to minimize deer damage.

Conclusion

The best defense against any problem is a healthy landscape.  The healthier and stronger a plant, the better its ability to recover from minor injury.  However, even healthy plants can decline due to winter injury.  This is why following the tips above and protecting plants during the winter is extremely important.  If you are in our service area and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 908-281-7888.

Salt Damage to Plants and Snow Removal Tips

Salt Damage to Plants

Each year, we apply more than 15 million tons of rock salt nationwide to help de-ice roads, walkways, and driveways.  While the salt makes it much safer for us to travel in the winter, it is important to understand the impacts it can have on your lawn and landscape.

If you live on a busy road or salt your own driveway and sidewalk, you’re probably well aware of the salt damage to your lawn.  When roads get salted by your town, they are most likely using rock salt, which is primarily made of sodium chloride. The salt works great for melting ice and making our roadways safer to drive on in the winter by lowering the freezing temperature of water. However, for your lawn, salt damages the turf primarily by drawing out the moisture (drying it out) and making it turn brown.

What many homeowners may not be aware of is that salt can also damage plants, trees and shrubs.  Wind driven salt sprays from road trucks can travel up to 150 feet.  Salt damage to plants can be extreme when it comes to pine, spruce and fir trees.  Salt damage to evergreen plants causes the needles to brown from the tip to the base. Trees that lose their leaves each year may be damaged as well, but it will not be noticeable until the spring of the following year when the plants do not leaf out.  If rain or snowmelt does not dilute excess salt placed on sidewalks or driveways, the soil becomes very salty and can damage the plants easily.  A good tip to help prevent salt damage to plants is to learn to control where you are applying the rock salt.  Avoid applications of rock salt directly into your lawn and landscape beds.  Also, minimize applying rock salt to areas that will run off into your lawn and landscape.

Although you can’t control what gets applied to your street, there are some options that you can use on sidewalks and driveways to help minimize salt damage to plants and your lawn.  Magnesium, Calcium, and Potassium chloride are all options that are more effective and safer for your plants, but come at a higher cost than rock salt.  In addition, Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium are all nutrients that are beneficial to your lawn and landscape plants in varying quantities.  You can also try to improve traction by using sand or kitty litter.  Some homeowners put up a burlap screen or snow fence along walkways and driveways to block salt from getting onto the lawn and preventing damage.  If you do use rock salt this winter, try to minimize usage on your driveways and sidewalks, especially near the edges if possible to reduce salt damage to plants and turf.

It is very difficult to reverse salt damage to your plants, you might want to consider replacing the plants and some of the surrounding soil as an option. If your lawn is damaged, remove 4 inches of soil and reseed the areas.

Snow Removal Tips

This has to be near the top of every homeowner’s least favorite chore, unless you have a company come out to remove the snow for you!  Whether you have a snow blower or shovel, you still have to bundle up in your snow gear and head out to deal with whatever mess Mother Nature has decided to give us.  Prior to using any equipment this winter, make sure you follow a few steps to prepare.  Inspect your shovels for cracks or breaks and replace if necessary before the first snowfall.  If you have a snow blower, make sure you have the proper gas for the machine.  It’s always a good idea to start the snow blower to make sure everything is working properly before the first snowfall.  Speaking from experience, it’s never fun to find out your carburetor is clogged right after a large storm!  Also be sure to check that oil levels are correct and the belts don’t have any breaks or cracks.  If you find anything that needs repair, it’s better to have it done before you really need it.

When removing snow, you want to pay attention to where you are putting it.  By just throwing snow out of the way, you may be adding additional snow onto your landscaping plants. The added weight of the snow can cause damage to those plants, potentially snapping branches or causing some plants to lean unnaturally.  So the next time you are out there shoveling or snow blowing, pay attention to where the snow is piling up and try to avoid your landscape plants.

We know that snow removal from driveways, roads, and sidewalks is important, but don’t forget to also remove snow from your landscape plants to prevent injury.  After each snow fall, spend a few minutes inspecting your landscape plants and do your best to brush off the snow if there is any heavy build up.  Only remove the snow if it comes off easily, otherwise wait for warmer weather to melt it.  You may end up doing more harm than good by forcing snow off the plants.

If you are in our service area and have any questions about salt damage to plants and turf, or snow removal advice, please feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888

Anti-Desiccants: Everything You Wanted to Know About Protecting your Plants During Cold Weather

What is desiccation?

In biology and ecology, desiccation refers to the drying out of a living organism. In your landscape plants, winter desiccation injury occurs when plants lose moisture from the leaves and do not have the ability to absorb water from the frozen soil. This moisture loss may cause your plant’s leaves and stems to dry out, resulting in discoloration of leaves and even death to stems and branches.

What is an anti-desiccant spray?

An anti-desiccant is a material applied to the foliage of evergreen plants to slow the rate at which moisture is lost.

How is an anti-desiccant spray applied?

An anti-desiccant, also called “anti-transparent” is a liquid spray.  It is applied using a pump system which moves the material through a hose end sprayer.  The liquid is sprayed onto the foliage until it is completely covered and there is slight run off of material.  It will take about two to four hours for the material to dry.  Once dry, it adheres to the target area and is in place to protect your plants.

Here is a video of anti-desiccant being applied:

How long will an anti-desiccant spray last?

Anti-desiccants are typically applied in November and December, and will last for a couple of months. The material gradually wears off and will be gone by springtime. In areas that experience cold harsh winters, like New Jersey, multiple treatments are recommended to ensure the material is in place to protect the plant all winter long.

Do I need an anti-desiccant spray?

If you live in New Jersey and have broadleaf evergreens (plants that keep their foliage all winter) then the answer is yes.  New Jersey can have drastic fluctuations in temperature as well as high winds during the winter, both of which can accelerate moisture loss in plants.  Anti-desiccant applications are very beneficial for plants exposed to wind and/or full sun that will lose moisture faster than ones which are protected from the wind and in shade.

Warning- Not all plants should get anti-desiccant treatments. Do not spray an anti-desiccant on waxy-blue conifers such as blue spruce.

What can I do to protect my plants from winter injury?

The first step is an anti-desiccant application.  This will help your plants hold moisture by providing protection against evaporation and slowing down moisture loss. It will also protect the foliage from accelerated moisture loss due to wind.  This spray will break down over time, so it’s a good idea to have the trees and shrubs treated regularly in the winter to extend the anti-desiccant spray longevity.

Next, you may wrap your plants with burlap.  For small plants, you may wrap the burlap over or around the plants and secure it with twine.  For moderate to large plants, you may drive stakes into the ground around the plant and then secure the burlap to the stakes using staples. This creates a “screen” or “windbreak” around the plant.  Burlap and stakes can be purchased from most garden centers, improvement stores, nurseries and co-ops.

There are also rolls of tape that can be purchased to wrap around the bark of smaller trees.  This will help reduce splitting of the bark that can be caused by large changes in temperature during the winter.  Split bark can cause damage or disease to the interior (cambium) of the tree, leading to permanent injury or death.

Water the plants throughout the fall even as it gets cooler out.  In the fall, plants are still growing and require good soil moisture to do so.  Keeping the soil around the roots moist until the ground freezes will ensure the plants have adequate moisture going into the winter.

Another helpful tip is maintaining proper mulch levels in your landscape beds.  2 to 3 inches of mulch will insulate the soil and help regulate soil temperatures throughout the year.  Please note that mulch should not be piled high on the trunk of trees or covering the shrubs. This will lead to decay and damage in the future.

Conclusion

An anti-desiccant treatment should be applied to your broadleaf evergreens prior to and in many cases during the winter months to minimize moisture loss.  Minimizing moisture loss will not only maintain the look of your landscape throughout the winter but will also reduce stress on your plants.  In areas with high wind, like New Jersey, a burlap wrap is also recommended for certain broadleaf evergreens which are susceptible to winter damage.  It is best you do everything you can to protect your landscape from winter damage and overall plant health going into the winter can play a key role. Improve your plant’s health during the year with proper cultural practices and regular fertilization to maintain a beautiful landscape.

If you are in our service area and have any questions about protecting your plants this winter, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888