Q: In previous years, spring snows have damaged my evergreen trees and shrubs.  What can I do to protect them?

 The cold weather is still upon us and it is possible that we may see some snow and ice in our near future.   Spring storms can be particularly hazardous to evergreen trees and shrubs, but there are several ways to protect these important assets in the garden.

 Although snow laden trees can look picturesque serious damage may occur due to heavy snow or ice accumulation on branches.  Following a snow storm, brush the snow from your evergreens as soon as possible using a broom in an upward sweeping motion.  If there is ice accumulation, prop up the ice covered branches and let the ice melt naturally rather than trying to remove it from the brittle branches.  Attempting to remove ice from a shrub or tree can cause damage to the plants vascular system.  If broken branches or limbs do occur, it is a good idea to remove them as soon as possible.  This can help prevent further damage or breakage to the bark.  

If you have found that your broadleaved evergreen shrubs, such as Azalea, Rhododendron and holly, are noticeably dry due to winter winds and bright sun, try using an anti-desiccant spray.  These products will help protect plants from moisture loss and winter burn.

Lastly, don’t forget about watering!  During winter and early spring dry spells, water newly planted and established evergreens, especially on the south and west sides of the house.  Evergreen plants transpire water from their leaves whenever the air temperature is above 40° F.