New Jersey winter plant health care and lawn care tips
Updated: Feb 13, 2022
Winter can be a difficult time for your trees, shrubs, and lawn. Contrary to what you may have heard, the pleasant NJ seasons (spring, summer, fall) are a critical time for your property, where your plants and lawn absorb moisture and work to store it for the winter. In fact, plants don't need water during the winter when they are well cared for in those months. With a little help from you or a Plant Solutions Arborist, your landscape will thrive this upcoming season, make a pledge to do right by your landscape with these six simple winter tips:
How to care for your landscape in the winter
Monitor recently installed plants
New plants installed in late summer/fall may need a little extra TLC to make it through the first winter. The transition to cold temperatures can cause new plantings to lift out of the soil. If this happens, push the plants back into the soil on a warm winter day and cover the area with a 1-inch layer of mulch or compost to help insulate.
Water your plants only if they need it and watch the temperature
Plants require a certain amount of water throughout the year. While you may not need to water as regularly during the winter thanks to lower photosynthetic rates and increased precipitation, it’s still important to keep an eye on soil moisture levels. If you have plants that tend to get dry more quickly — such as those under overhangs — check regularly to be sure they stay moist. Even if the plant is dormant, its roots still need moisture. And finally, be sure to use cold water; sudden changes in temperature can stress the roots, damaging the plant.
Protect tender plants with the right coverage
Winter frost and declining soil moisture can take a toll on less hardy plants. Treating with anti-desiccant will help these plants pull through winter. However, choosing the right material is important.
However, don't do these things in winter
Touch a frozen plant
It may be tempting to intervene, but you could do more harm than good. Freezing shocks plants, prompting them to relocate water from their cells to defend against the cold weather. This affects the plant’s tissue, and in effect, leaves the plant to freeze-dried. Outer dead tissue may be protecting live tissue underneath. Wait until the plant thaws to assess damage. Many hardy perennials are able to withstand cold temperatures and will rebound come spring.
Walk on a frozen lawn
If your lawn is frozen without a snow coating, avoid walking on it. The weight of your body will injure the grass blades and leave unsightly, discolored foot prints in the lawn. After a freeze, the water molecules within the grass blades expand, impairing their elasticity. When weight is applied to the blade, it breaks instead of bending, causing significant damage. To be safe, stay off the grass until it has had a chance to thaw.
Worry about curled leaves on broadleaf evergreens
Broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendron, laurels, and azaleas, will curl or cup their leaves when it gets very cold. This is a defense mechanism to prevent transpiration and dehydration. Curling reduces the available surface area for moisture loss. As the weather warms, the leaves will unfurl again. Using anti-desiccant will help protect Plant from winter injury.