Q. What are some things I can do to reverse or alleviate winter burn damage?
Narrow-leafed conifers and broad-leafed evergreens are susceptible to winter burn, i.e. when the leaves, particularly their edges, turn yellow or brown. This effect is caused by the plant loosing more moisture by transpiration than can be replenished from the frozen soil. Cold winds can accentuate the problem. Very often the more expose side of the plant shows most damage. Salt, from snow-removal, can also cause burn.
There are several steps that can be taken to minimize winter burn -
1. Water plants regularly in late fall and early winter until the ground has frozen.
2. Erect a barrier of burlap around the plants.
3. Provide a layer of mulch around the plant
4. For broad-leafed evergreen, apply an anti-desiccant spray.
5. Do not prune plants after mid-summer. Also, stop fertilizing in early fall. The reason for these precautions is that new growth is particularly susceptible to damage.
When spring comes the damaged plants may recover without any input from you. If the plant is severely burnt you may want to remove any damaged branches. Wait until new growth has started so that the extent of the damage can be properly assessed. If the plant suffered from salt damage then water heavily (2'' water) in early spring when the ground has thawed.
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