Last winter was a tough one on many of our evergreens. Most gardeners had severe browning on many of their evergreen trees and shrubs, and some were even killed by the cold winter winds of winter.
This year, take some steps to prevent some of that damage. The problem comes when water isn't available for the evergreens to take up and cold winter winds draw too much moisture out of the plants. Since evergreens retain their leaves throughout the winter, they are susceptible to a variety of winter related problems. Their leaves are still living and need to be able to use and uptake water from the soil.
To help prevent desiccation this winter, first make sure evergreens are well watered going into winter. Luckily, this fall and early winter has had ample moisture, which will help trees and shrubs this winter.
Another method of protection is to help block the drying winter winds from hitting evergreen trees and shrubs. This should be thought about at the initial planting time and could be done by the placement of fences and buildings or other structures.
On existing trees or shrubs, burlap is a common wind deterrent. A barrier screen can be constructed of burlap or a similar material on the south, southwest, and windward sides of evergreens to help prevent winter injury. Stakes can be inserted into the ground and the burlap stretched between the stakes.
Evergreens can also be wrapped in burlap to protect from wind, leaving the top open to allow light in. If using this method, it is important to use a material like burlap that breaths unlike plastic or other solid materials. Keep in mind that these evergreens are still living, breathing plants and they still need light and air to photosynthesize. Also, be aware that wrapping the plant too tightly may result in further injury.
Anti-dessicant sprays can also be purchased and applied following the label's directions, but many studies, however, have shown them to be ineffective.