Protecting Your New Shrub

The job is almost finished. A little prevention can sometimes save you from a disaster.

Wind, Heat and Sun Protection

Depending on the shrub and its circumstances you may need to protect it during its first year or two if it is sited in an open area exposed to prevailing winds and/or sun.
Erect screening to shield it from strong winds. Fasten a length of burlap, snow fencing or commercial garden fabric such as natural burlap, shade cloth, or white polyspun floating row cover to posts on the windy side of the shrub about 6 feet from its stems to divert strong air currents, yet allow air circulation around the shrub. If bright sun is a temporary threat rig the shade cloth or fleecy row cover over the top of the shrub.
Newly planted or transplanted shrubs are also in danger from losing too much moisture through transpiration from their foliage because of transplant shock if they are planted in the sun in the heat of summer. To minimize this stress, coat the foliage beforehand by spraying leaves thoroughly with anti-transpirant spray.

Soil Protection

The health and longevity of all shrubs, but especially newly planted, young ones, is profoundly affected by the condition of the soil they are planted in. Do all you can to assure that their soil is rich in organic matter, free from compaction by rain, foot traffic or construction and yard care equipment, well-draining, and free of competing plants such as lawn grass.
Maintaining a year round 3 or 4 inch layer of orgnic mulch will assure soil health and shrub prosperity. In the winter mulch insulates the soil against extreme temperature fluctuations--alternate freezing and thawing--that sometimes heave the soil and disturb shrub roots. As the organic material decomposes over time, the action of earthworms and the weather incorporates it into the soil to enrich and aerate it to prevent compaction. Replace depleted mulch regularly.

Protection from Pest Animals

The tender bark of young shrubs is often damaged by critters. Both deer and rodents such as mice and voles chew on it during the winter when other food sources are scarce.
Keep living groundcovers such as ivy or pachysandra away from shrub stems. Surround newly planted or transplanted young shrubs with a circle of chicken wire or hardware cloth to form a protective barrier around their stems. If your area gets heavy snowfall, make the cage tall so that animals standing on several feet of snow can not reach tender twigs and stems. Delay spreading winter mulch until after the ground freezes so that rodents are denied a cozy nesting area.
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