You can plant shrubs in the ground
or in containers.
- Build a temporary wire frame around tender shrubs -- the species most likely to suffer winter damage in your area -- and fill it with straw or leaves for winter protection. Like padding a carton of valuables, this provides insulation from winter's worst cold.
- Do not plant boxwood and other brittle-stemmed shrubs near the foundation of your house. Heavy, wet, melting snow or chunks of ice can slip off the roof and flatten shrubs residing below.
- Wrap boxwood and other evergreen shrubs with burlap to prevent winter burn. When the soil is frozen, the sun is bright, and wind is strong, evergreens lose moisture from their exposed leaves and cannot replace it through frozen roots. The foliage scorches to brown and the stems may die back -- or even worse, the whole shrub may die.
Burlap, although far from elegant, makes a neat coat for the shrub and ensures that you will have a nice-looking plant waiting for you when spring arrives. This also works for coniferous evergreens like arborvitae. Be sure to water these shrubs well in the fall so they'll have plenty of moisture stored.
- Deadhead hybrid rhododendrons and mountain laurels to increase next year's bloom. Once the flowers begin to fade, use your thumb and forefinger (or pruning shears) to cut off the soft, immature flowering cluster. Just be careful not to damage nearby buds or shoots, which will soon be sprouting into new branches.