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Evergreen Browning from Winter Burn

Winnipeg winters bring cold snaps, icy wind, and a blanket of snow – none of which are ideal for your trees and shrubs. While there are many causes of winter damage to trees, evergreens present their own challenges. Broadly, there steps you can take (preferably before winter hits) to protect your greenery during the winter season, but evergreens can be a bit more finnicky and require additional monitoring.

Signs of winter burn

The most apparent sign of winter burn is when your evergreens begin to turn brown, specifically on the needles. You may also notice that the browning needles are dropping at an alarming rate. While it is normal for the tree to shed some needles to make room for new ones, this should be fairly minimal.

Winter burn begins with the edge of a plant, and will slowly creep inwards towards the branches. This is how you can assess the severity of the burn on your evergreen.

So, what causes winter burn?

Frozen ground

The lack of moisture and hydration in the ground as a result of it freezing can be harsh on your tree’s roots, preventing them from accessing the soil nutrients they need. In turn, this dries the tree out and causes the browning in the needles.

To combat this, make sure to provide your evergreens with plenty of water during the later months leading up to winter. This will ensure that the roots are able to access the moisture needed for them to remain lush and green. When you fertilize as well before the winter hits, you’ll give your trees a chance to soak up the much-needed nutrients they need, and encourage stronger roots.

Sun rays

While we celebrate the sun when it comes out during the winter, the rapid heating and cooling on trees can have a detrimental effect on both the bark & spruce and pine needles. When coupled with a loss of moisture, the needles will continue to brown uniformly as a result.