19 December 1, 2010

Each week, people come into the store with questions. If enough people ask the same question, then I figure it is something that I should address in this column. The question this week is about how to prepare your Arborvitae for the winter.

Arborvitae is a multi-branched evergreen that comes in many shapes. Some varieties grow upright and some even grow in the shape of a ball. The fact that they are multi-stemmed make then easily broken by a heavy snow load. A wet snow with a lot of accumulation will cause the branches to lean towards the ground. If the snow load stays on the plant, the stem can actually break. Many of you will brush the snow off the branches once the snow has stopped. However, damage can occur during the storm. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here is what you need to do.

If you can keep the snow from pulling a stem away from the main trunk of the plant, you will be far less likely to have damage to the Arborvitae. The easiest way is to wrap the entire plant with burlap. Starting at the base of the plant, you will wrap the burlap around the plant. Each layer of burlap should slightly overlap the previous layer. Keep wrapping until you reach the top of the plant. The burlap is then held in place by wrapping twine over the layers of burlap. Now, any heavy snow will cause the entire plant to lean. Eventually, snow will fall off the plant. This can happen even while it is snowing. The result is that no individual stem takes the brunt of the snow load. You may still need to brush the snow off the plant at the end of the storm, but you will still have prevented damage from the snow.

You also need to pay attention to shrubs that are going to be artificially exposed to a heavy snow load. When you are dealing with 12 inches of snow on the driveway or sidewalks, you want to get the snow off those surfaces. A snow blower or a plow can move a lot of snow fast. However, if that snow is thrown or pushed onto plants, then the plants can be damaged. If you are the one who is going to be doing the snow removal, make sure that the snow blower is not directing snow onto the plants. If you are shoveling the snow, a heavy load of snow thrown by a shoveler can damage a plant too. Sometimes, just marking the plant with a stake is enough of a reminder of where there is a shrub. This is particularly important if you have someone who is plowing your driveway. Marking the area of the shrubs helps to remind the plow operator of the location of the shrubs.

Prevention can go a long way in protecting your shrubs. If you start now, you just might beat that first snowstorm!

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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