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Your Evergreen Trees Are Probably Dehydrated in Winter: This is Why

evergreen tree in winter needles covered in snow

Winter carries a host of different opinions. While some people may enjoy cozying up indoors with a blanket and a nice book, others may miss their outdoor adventures under the blazing sun. Whichever the case may be for you, when it comes to your evergreen trees and shrubs, winter often means one thing: working extra hard to fight dehydration.

Dehydration can lead to:

  • Yellowing/browning of needles and leaves or marginal leaf burn
  • Browning starting at tips of needles
  • Wilting, damaged leaves
  • Worsened health into the upcoming seasons

If you have evergreen trees or shrubs, it’ll be important to keep an eye out for the following stressors. To help you prevent the unsightly symptoms, we’ll be discussing the causes for dehydration and what you can do now to help your evergreens fend off this seasonal battle.


Culprit #1: Winter Burn

Evergreen needles work to nourish the plant (transpiration) –> not enough nutrients or moisture can be replenished –> evergreen becomes dehydrated –> browning needles

Unlike deciduous trees, evergreens continue working in the winter. By storing nutrients throughout the year, they’re able to stay green, keep their foliage, and continue growing even in the winter months… in the ideal world, anyway.  

Although they’re able to continue working in the winter, evergreens’ unique ability comes with a cost: a greater need for water/nutrient expenditure. Both resources are challenging to get, thanks to the frozen ground and no easy access to roots.

And it gets worse: when bright sun or harsh wind join in with the winter ground, evergreens are faced with the balancing act of trying to stay nourished while replenishing that lost moisture.

Without access to the soil, evergreen trees & shrubs in winter rely on the stored nutrients in their needles. This typically ends with the lost battle you witness with your own eyes: drying & browning evergreen trees or shrubs (aka too large of an eyesore in your winter landscape).    

>> Learn more about the impact of winter burn


Culprit #2: Rock Salt & Ice Melts

snowflake on tree in winter

Rock salt sounds like an easy solution to frozen grounds in winter, but for evergreen trees that is far from the truth. While rock salt & ice melts can seamlessly make our lives easier, they can be detrimental to the livelihood of trees & shrubs in winter.

Salts inevitably dissolve into soil. The problem is, evergreens can only afford to take bare minimum. When evergreens absorb too much sodium, not enough nutrients they actually need are able to feed into them, which often leads to malnourished trees & shrubs in winter.

Even above ground, simple contact of rock salts can be harmful to evergreen trees & shrubs. Similar to winter burn, salt burn dehydrates evergreens. It pulls the water out of the plants’ needles, buds, and branches which results in dehydration as well as other signs of salt damage.

>> Find out more about how salt can harm your trees in winter


Here’s What You Can Do For Your Trees & Shrubs in Winter

As is the case for all tree & shrub care, the best way to keep your evergreens hydrated in the winter is through early prevention, before disaster strikes. The good news is there is a way to incarcerate both culprits, winter burn and rock salt, before they have a chance at harming your evergreens and causing winter injury. (Bonus: It’s 100% organic and biodegradable!)

Our Winter Protection Program helps your landscape in terms of both aesthetics and long-term health. By having a Certified Arborist apply an anti-desiccant spray, your evergreens will have protection against winter desiccation.

A winter protection plan can protect against:

  • Winter burn (no browning or dying)
  • De-icing salt damage
  • Drought stress
  • Leaf scorch
  • Root system issues

And not only do they help remove the chance for an eyesore, they add a more polished and brighter look that wasn’t there before.

Protect Your Evergreen Trees & Shrubs in Winter

evergreen trees in winter storm

Our Winter Protection Program armors up leaves with a waxy, natural coating, shielding evergreens against the revenging implications winter forces their way. Comparable to the lotions and humidifiers we use to remoisturize, the barrier helps evergreen trees & shrubs maintain moisture and stay resilient in the dead of harsh winters.  

Get started today by reserving an appointment online or by calling us at 703-573-3029.

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