There is probably no other classification of tree more deeply associated with the end of the year and winter than evergreen trees. Beyond the obvious example of Christmas trees, evergreen trees and shrubs are some of the only living things that can be found in full color, during the dead of winter. In the snowy, cold, foggy or muggy environments of December, January and February, evergreens introduce beauty to a barren, gray, landscape. From the deep green of Norway Spruce, to the bright red berries grown by the festive Holly shrub, caring for your evergreens before the semi-dormant season of winter will ensure their health and long term vitality.
Right off the bat, the most important thing when caring for evergreens at year end is moisture. You absolutely do not want the ground around your evergreens to dry out during fall and winter. This is especially true with recently planted evergreens, whose roots are still getting established. You may not be able to save some less hardy evergreens that are exposed to conditions outside their normal growth temperatures (like an emergency polar vortex), but providing all of your evergreens with ample moisture to store during winter will give them the best conditions to live as long as they should.
Cold air holds less moisture than the warmth and humidity of summer, meaning that there is a dearth of prevalent moisture that evergreens can use during winter. Unlike deciduous trees that lose all of their leaves during fall and go completely dormant, evergreens don’t go completely dormant and their leaves stay living throughout the winter. If evergreen leaves start to show signs os drying out, or begin to fall during during, then that is a sign that something may be starting to go wrong, that your evergreen may be dehydrated, and you should start to take measures to prepare for winter.
You can water your evergreens until the ground freezes, which means that you can keep your evergreens watered all during fall, and into the early winter. If we are having an unseasonably warm fall and winter, then take that as an opportunity to ensure that your evergreens have ample moisture to tide them over until the springtime. Ensuring sufficient moisture not only makes sure that your evergreens will maintain health and vibrancy during the winter, but will be an investment into the health of your evergreens all year long.
If you have new evergreens that are still establishing their roots, or were planted late into the season, then there is another way to help them along through the cold months beyond watering. For newly planted or less hardy evergreens, try wrapping them in burlap, or another breathable fabric, before winter storms or days of high winter wind. This extra layer of protection will give another layer of added defense to your evergreens, giving them the best chance at growth the following year.
A well landscaped home with winter scenery in mind can create a winter wonderland of beauty, right in your back yard. Intentionally planted evergreens not only can save you on heating bills, but also elevate your mood in the dark of winter, and give you something to look forward to—the growing season of the next year. Why not plant something that will shine through the snow? Make sure that all of your evergreens are watered throughout the fall and early winter, and enjoy the benefits of your evergreens for years to come.
Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today for our full selection of evergreen trees and shrubs, now 50% off (Updated: 10/15/21)!