With the beautiful weather this last weekend I am guessing you were outside in the yard. One thing that is certain is that as the snow has melted away it is very apparent that the long, hard winter has really done a number on our plants. You may see damage to young trees and shrubs caused by rabbits and deer nibbling on tender bark and branches. The deep snow cover may have also thwarted your efforts to protect plants with wire or tree guards by providing a nice ladder for the critters to climb and reach above any protective covers. Heavy snowfall may have caused broken branches. Early spring is a great time to get out and access the damage. Prune any broken branches back towards the main stem of the plant to just before the next branch starts.
Another culprit that we are seeing a lot of is winter burn to evergreens. Winter burn is often seen as browning of the foliage on the south/west sides of evergreen shrubs like arborvitea and boxwoods. Dry conditions of previous seasons combined with periods of extreme cold and wind made conditions perfect for winter burn this winter. If you see this type of damage, the best course of action is to be patient and see what happens. If the damage is not too severe the plant may still green up at the tips of the branches. Otherwise the plant can also be trimmed back to the live, green growth. In some cases the entire plant may be too damaged or even dead, requiring replacement. If you are unsure what do, bring in several photos of your damaged plants and the staff at Sargent’s Nursery can make recommendations.