Evergreens are not just our favorite plants for holiday decor, they are the stars of most winter landscapes, towering atop hillsides, and inspiring awe in the garden when many other plants have taken the cold season off to rest. They are hardy, yes, but not bullet-proof when it comes to dealing with winter’s harsh conditions. To get a better idea of how your evergreen beauties can be hit hard with winter burn, it’s handy to know how they survive such extreme conditions in the first place. 

Evergreens are the few plants that hang onto their foliage all year long, requiring tons of moisture to retain those perky green needles we all know and love. Some of winter’s hardest conditions—like blistering winds and bright sun exposure—pull much needed moisture from these plants, and with the ground frozen, the roots are unable to draw moisture up when they need it the most. This drying out is called winter burn, and can seriously damage your younger trees and shrubs if not tended. You can also see winter burn on boxwoods and rhododendrons. 


Dees Nursery-Oceanside-evergreen tree protection-winter burn exampleHow to Spot Winter Burn

You don’t have to be a gardening pro to notice something is off with your evergreens. The first thing you will spot with winter burn is discoloration of needles or leaves at the tips, gradually spreading inward to the trunk of the tree or shrub. This is a result of dehydration, and may not even be noticeable until late winter or early spring. Parts of the tree that are exposed to wind and direct winter sun will be hit the hardest by winter burn, so ensuring you take preventative measures is your best bet for keeping the green going all year!


How Can I Stop Winter Burn from Ruining My Evergreens?

As a gardening champion, you have the power to stop Jack Frost from rubbing your evergreens the wrong way. Here are some of the best methods to keep your plant babies safe this winter from burn:



Of course, mulch! A super-easy way to insulate your evergreens from that dry winter air is with the use of a good-quality mulch. Mulch acts as an insulator for the roots and protects them from changes in soil temperature as well as water evaporation. Mulching can also help prevent frost heaving, caused by the continual contraction and expansion of the soil as it freezes and thaws. For the best mulch, choose a loose organic matter like cedar, bark, or hardwood pine.


Dees Nursery-Oceanside-evergreen tree protection wrapped treesWrapping

Smaller evergreens can be protected over the winter months with burlap wrap, canvas, or even snow fencing, preventing harsh winds and direct sunlight from causing damage. Leave extra room for the branches of your trees to breathe a bit, and remove all wrap promptly in the spring, or when the threat of frost and freezing temperatures have passed.  



Indulge your evergreens in a deep watering before the ground freezes to prevent winter burn. Doing so will give your plants the chance to drink up as much water as they can and be well-equipped to handle the dry months ahead!



Sometimes our plants need a little help keeping all that moisture locked inside their leaves through the winter months. Wilt-Pruf is a great product that you can spray on your evergreen branches to help them retain moisture and keep them looking fancy and fresh by springtime. Visit us today to pick some up!


Dees Nursery-Oceanside-evergreen tree protection-pruning off dead tree materialHow Do You Fix Winter Burn on Evergreens?

If you are in the unfortunate position where winter burn has affected your evergreen gems, don’t panic. Start by checking the affected branches to make sure they are still alive. If the branches have not survived, they will need to be removed. Only prune dead branches and avoid leaving large gaping holes when possible. 


A Quick Word About Salt Damage

Another thing to watch out for this winter is how salt might affect your evergreens. We rely heavily on de-icing salt to keep sidewalks, driveways, and roads safe, but evergreens situated too close can become injured from exposure. The biggest threat from salt is that it inhibits your plant’s ability to absorb water, which is already a big problem in freezing temperatures. Try planting evergreens away from driveways or roadsides if possible, but if you cannot move larger plants, you can set up a burlap barrier to stop salt from coming into contact with your evergreens. 


Looking for more advice on preventing winter burn on your evergreens in the Oceanside area this winter? Head on down to The Dees’ Nursery & Florist, and chat with us today!