Damage control in the garden

The Green File - Mark Cullen

Published on April 20, 2014

Mark Cullen demonstrates some of the damage that can be done to your garden after the winter. In his column he gives tips on how to identify and deal with damage in your garden after the winter months.


1. Winter burn. The dead foliage on the south and west sides of your yews, holly, boxwood, and other evergreen shrubs was not the result of a cold winter so much as they just got sun burn in March. The sun is remarkably powerful as we approach spring. As it reflects off of the late season snow it can burn the outside foliage of the aforementioned shrubs. The answer to this ‘problem’ is to do very little. A vigorous brush with a gloved hand will shake loose some of the brown foliage, but for the most part your evergreens will look fresh as a daisy come late May-early June when new growth pushes past the dead, brown foliage.

2. Salt damage. There are three prime areas of salt damage in our gardens this time of year: grass that has been burned at the margins of the driveway and on the boulevard by the street; plants that have salt-laden soil near their roots; and the west-facing foliage of cedar hedges and the like which received the brunt of the westerly winds and the salt spray that it carried off of the road. 

3. Snow damage. The weight of a wet snowfall may have pulled your cedars and junipers down to the ground, like they are saying a prayer. Ask them to say one for me, as my cedar hedge is not looking too spiffy right now. I suggest that you either pull normally upright evergreens into an upright position and secure them there using long two by two inch stakes or guide wires secured in three positions with tent pegs hammered into the ground. The wires should pass through a section of old garden hose about 30 cm long where they meet the woody portion of the trees to prevent damage from the tense wires.