Nebraska’s harsh winters aren’t just brutal for us humans, but for plants, shrubs and trees, too. The extreme temperatures, snow, wind, salt, and even the sun can bleach and desiccate evergreen foliage, damage bark, and injure or kill branches, flower buds, and roots.
Rabbits, rodents and deer see your trees, shrubs and plants as a free salad bar when food is scarce, munching on bark, twigs and foliage.
The good news? There are a few things you can do to protect your plants from winter damage.
Protect Plants from Winter Damage
Healthy plants are more likely to get through winter unscathed. A plant that has struggled during the growing season, whether due to insufficient sunlight, water or nutrients, or heavy damage from insects or disease, will enter winter in a vulnerable state. Start your winter-protection strategy with careful care during the growing season and into autumn.
Don’t Forget Water
The roots of new plants haven’t had a chance to venture very far into the soil, so it’s especially important to water newly planted trees and shrubs thoroughly into fall, right up until the ground freezes. Don’t assume your plants don’t need water once summer has passed.
Pruning Dead Branches
This is the one piece of advice that is the most important: if you notice any fallen branches or dead branches, wait until the end of the winter before you prune them. For obvious reasons, pruning during the coldest part of the year is not a good idea.
However, if a fallen branch is posing a hazard, that’s a different story, and we suggest you call a professional to help.
In perennial flower beds, the answer for winter protection can lie in any of the organic landscaping mulches. Cedar mulch is a favorite, but there are other options (pine bark, wood chips, pinestraw, hay, straw, etc.). These organic landscaping materials provide a layer of insulation over perennial flower beds that helps protect your borderline-hardy plants from cold.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to use metal mesh to surround the tree. Also, make sure that your mulch is away from the base of the tree, and check it for evidence of any critters. You can spray trees or paint trees with repellant, but the most effective method is to hang heavy rags that have been dipped in concentrated repellant,