Outdoor Plants and Winter Damage – What You Need to Know

The cold spells and frosty conditions we get here in northern Utah can wreak havoc on your outdoor plants. Winter damage is a real problem for many local gardeners, and not all plants survive when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

 

Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent winter damage to vulnerable outdoor plants. Here’s how to protect your landscape and make sure it bounces back next spring – no matter how brutal the weather gets this winter.

 

Causes of Winter Damage

 

Winter damage affects the landscape in a number of ways:

 

  • Early cold spells can threaten specimens that aren’t prepared for winter
  • Frozen soil can prevent plants from drawing in enough moisture
  • Dry winds combined with bright wintertime sun can burn foliage and crack tree bark
  • Alternating freeze-and-thaw cycles can make plants heave out of the ground
  • Mid-winter warm periods can cause plants to come out of dormancy too early

 

Identifying Vulnerable Outdoor Plants

 

Landscaping trees, shrubs, rose bushes and plants that are native to Utah or that are hardy for our region can usually get through winter unscathed.

 

However, some landscape plants may not be so lucky. Winter damage is more likely to occur in:

 

  • Species at the boundary of their viable hardiness zone
  • Container garden plants
  • Newly-planted deciduous trees and shrubs
  • Broadleaf evergreens

 

How to Mitigate Winter Damage

 

Want to make sure the harsh Utah winter weather doesn’t take too much of a toll? To protect your vulnerable plants, follow these garden center tips:

 

Provide insulation against the cold.

Applying a three- to four-inch layer of mulch can help newly-planted landscaping trees and shrubs get through the winter.

 

Keep an eye on soil moisture.

If you discover dry soil, plan for a thorough watering on a day when the outdoor temperature is above 40 degrees.

Consider wind protection.

To guard against drying winter winds, you may need to erect a windbreak or wrap vulnerable shrubs and landscaping trees.

 

Wait for signs of recovery in the spring.

Some outdoor plants take longer to recover from winter damage than others. Resist the urge to prune or remove any specimens until the end of spring arrives.

 

Encourage healthy growth.

When you see new growth emerge, you can easily identify dead branches that are in need of pruning. After you prune, fertilize to speed up the healing process.

 

Are you worried about winter weather damage to your landscape? Millcreek Gardens, serving northern Utah and the Wasatch Front, is here to help. Our friendly and knowledgeable garden center staff can offer more pointers on how to protect your outdoor plants.

 

For expert advice and answers to all of your questions about indoor and outdoor plants, head to Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City today.