Winter Damage And Spring Planting

Michael Hatcher

May 1, 2018 12:00:00 AM

Spring seems to be taking its time arriving this year, even here in the Mid-South. With below average temperatures lasting throughout March and April, as well as a number of late and sometimes unexpected frosts, many gardening plans have been put on hold. Although we did not have a particularly harsh winter, it does not take an arctic blast to injure plants and vegetation. The impact of winter damage can sometimes be hard to see, however, and can vary greatly even within a single landscape. Michael Hatcher & Associates has a few simple steps you can take this spring to check for signs of life, along with tips to help revive your landscape so it can look its best before the summer heat arrives!  

Know what to look for

Signs of life - or death - will look different depending on the type of tree, shrub, or flower. For example, buds swell on trees and shrubs, but on roses, the stem color changes from a dormant brown to burgundy and then green. New growth on perennials will appear in the center of the plant. Scratch tests can be used on trees, particularly young ones that have been planted in the last few years. Before any buds break open, scratch the outer bark of a twig and check the color - green signifies health, while dark brown or gray indicates damage or death.

Patience is a virtue

Give your landscape plenty of time to develop before declaring it irrevocably damaged. This is perhaps the most important step in determining the status of your landscape before spring planting or pruning occurs. Not all plants will have a flush of new growth at the same time, and you are better to wait it out and see what happens rather than make a hasty error in judgment. Patience is key! Check out similar plants in nearby landscapes for comparison to your own, and remember that some plants even resprout from the roots after growth above the ground dies. Small amounts of fertilizer can also help a struggling plant along.

Prune to make way for new growth

Shrubs and small trees that have dead branches amongst the new growth should be pruned with a careful hand. Michael Hatchers & Associates have an experienced team able to provide services like these for both residential and commercial properties. Though the plant may look a little odd in the short-term, pruning the dead branches will encourage growth. By midsummer, that new growth can be lightly pruned to give a more even appearance. Many hedge plants, as well as boxwoods and hollies, respond well to this type of pruning.  

Recognize and remove winter burn

Some plants will come out of the colder months with winter burn, which is often indicated by bronze-colored leaves. If you notice this color on the outer edges of a plant, a light pruning will often be all you need, and you will usually find some green growth underneath. If there is only the odd branch here or there, simply cut it out. To encourage a full recovery from winter burn, plants should be fertilized in early spring and take care to provide adequate moisture and good drainage throughout the growing season.

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Choose replacement plants carefully

Winter damage can quickly take out plants that are growing in harsh or stressful conditions to begin with. If you find yourself having to replace damaged or dead plants, choose those that are rated for our hardiness zone - Memphis and the surrounding area is mostly made up of zones 7a, 7b, and 8a. Our team can choose the proper plants and install them in any part of your landscape.  It is equally important to provide healthy conditions conducive to growth for your plants. Without the proper light, hydration, climate, nutrients, and space, your plantings will not be able to reach their full potential.

Know the frost dates

For the Mid-South, the last spring frost is generally around the end of March into early April. But as this year has shown us, that is not always a guarantee! By knowing the average time for the last frost of the year, but also paying attention to current weather trends (which can change from day to day), you will be able to plan your spring planting accordingly. We strongly advise homeowners to be patient and wait until the ground temperature warms before planting any tender seasonal plants. Trees, shrubs, and perennials for landscaping can be planted in the springtime. Michael Hatcher & Associates can plant anything from trees and shrubs to seasonal plant installations as part of our landscaping services.

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Step into spring with Michael Hatcher & Associates

Our team is composed of skilled and experienced employees trained in maintaining both residential and commercial landscapes to their full potential. Our designers create plantings that complement each other and add visual appeal to your property. As a year-round service, we offer a wide range of landscaping services around the greater Memphis area, including:

  • Commercial and residential property management
  • Turf and bed chemical applications
  • Landscape design and installation services
  • Landscape lighting services
  • Irrigation installation and service

If any part of your landscape was damaged by cold temperatures and unexpectedly late frosts, our trained horticulturists and experienced staff can provide guidance and create a customized plan to get your flowers, shrubs, and trees looking healthy again in no time. To learn more about what the team of landscape professionals at Michael Hatchers & Associates have to offer you and your home or business,  call us today at 901.755.3207 or click here to begin the path towards a healthier, more beautiful backdrop to your life or work environment.

Michael Hatcher

Written by Michael Hatcher

Michael Hatcher is president of Michael Hatcher & Associates.