Evergreens are prone to the damaging effects of winter burn. Leaves and needles can dry out (desiccate) from wind or lack of moisture in the air or soil. The dry winter winds can evaporate their moisture in spite of their wax coatings, and the frozen soil also prevents the roots from absorbing water to help in moisture replacement. Evergreens are particularly susceptible because their leaves never stop losing water, even during their dormant season. When leaves evaporate more water then the roots take in, you’ll see damaged foliage.
During winter, the ground surrounding the root system freezes, which decreases or stops the uptake of water. Warm spells in late winter can make this problem worse. When the weather turns warm and sunny while the ground is still frozen, evaporation increases and discolored or burned foliage starts to appear. Winter burn shows up as brown, red or orange, dry foliage or needles and becomes apparent as spring arrives. Some or all of the foliage may be affected, with areas on the sunny side most severely damaged. Trees by sidewalks, driveways and roads may show more damage from winter burn because airborne chloride particles in road salt settle on needles and breaks down their wax protection.
Most plants can recover, and our certified arborists can assist you in the process.
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