Winter Burn on Evergreens: Prevention and Guide

Harsh winter conditions can cause northern trees like evergreens to become damaged for several reasons. Therefore, winter burn is most common in evergreen trees. Early spring is the soonest you can diagnose this problem in your evergreen trees.

If you’re unsure whether your tree is affected by winter burn, our tree service professionals in Fairfax, VA, are just a phone call away to help you figure it out.

What Is Winter Burn?

During photosynthesis, water is released as moisture in the air—a process known as transpiration. When the plant can’t replace that water, it starts to dry out. In evergreens, this is called winter burn. Usually, you will notice it during late winter or early spring.

It appears as browning on the branches and needles that gradually move inward to the center of the plant. Most winter burn damage is found on the south-, southwest-, or west-facing side of the plant.

In some cases, winter burn may be fatal for the plant. However, the more likely scenario is that you’re going to lose a lot of branches and need to trim back to the healthy plant. 

Can You Prevent Winter Burn?

You might not be able to control the weather, but there are some steps you can take to prevent damage to your trees. In particular, you can save your evergreens from winter burn by following our advice below.

The first thing to know is that plants turn brown due to dehydration. When the ground is frozen, the plants cannot take in the water they need to sustain themselves. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep them from drying out.

One way to prevent winter burn is to wrap the tree in burlap. Ideally, this prevents excess transpiration, which may reduce the risk of winter burn. You may also want to try anti-transpirant sprays, though there is no guarantee they will work.

You may also look for a cause for the winter burn besides freezing temperatures alone. Direct sunlight will cause the trees to transpire more. Therefore, trees in the shade are at a lower risk for winter burn. Plants in undesirable locations like driveways, sidewalks, and other public areas are especially susceptible to winter burn.

The best way to prevent winter burn is to get a tree that isn’t prone to cold weather damage. Evergreens like Sitka spruce and Colorado blue spruce trees are far less likely to suffer from winter burn.

Is Winter Burn on Evergreens Treatable?

The good news is that winter burn won’t kill your evergreens in most cases. However, you will likely lose a good bit of foliage in the rehabilitation process since you won’t be able to save the already-dried branches or needles. But with proper trimming, fertilizer, mulch, and watering, your evergreens will be just as green as ever in no time.

Considerations before hiring a professional tree service:

  • Do they have experience reviving damaged trees?
  • Do they have the proper licensing and experience if your tree ends up needing to be removed?
  • Did you find them by referral, or do they have good online reviews?
  • What is their price, and how long is their quote good for?

Picking a reliable tree service with experts at the ready doesn’t need to be complicated. That’s why the Woods Tree and Landscaping team is here to help with all your winter burn and evergreen tree worries. Call today for a free quote and regain control over the health of your precious trees.

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