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Winter prep for new plantings: apply an antidesiccant

Winter prep for new plantings

With all the rain we’ve been having lately, it’s hard to believe that we’re talking about how to keep moisture in your evergreens and shrubs over the winter (somebody please tell Mother Nature that it’s April showers), but indeed we are. We asked Erik J. Bednarek of EJB Designs, LLC—who has over two decades of expertise, including managing the landscape and sites of public parks and communities as well as residences—what we should be doing to prep our gardens for winter’s deep freeze. Bednarek shared that to avoid winter damage, utilizing an antidesiccant in December and again during the January thaw can help protect new plantings.

An antidesiccant is a protective coating that wards off windburn and winter dehydration, ensuring a happy, healthy garden once spring comes 'round again. Bednarek recommends using Wilt-Pruf (available at home improvement stores and on Amazon), which is a non-hazardous "milky spray, resembling soap," that wears off after it has done its job. 

It's not for every plant. You need not apply it to Blue Spruce and other waxy-blue conifers that have a natural coating, African violets or slow-growing dwarf plants, but it's beneficial for mountain laurels and other ornamentals, evergreen shrubs like boxwoods, hollies, rhododendron, azaleas and conifers, including arborvitae, cedar, cypress, juniper and pine.

What to do:

  • Apply an antidesiccant when temps are in the 40s to 50s and your foliage is dry. Because the leaves need time to dry, check to see that no rain is in the forecast for a few days afterwards.
  • Wait until December to spray conifers, and then apply again during the January thaw. Trees should be fully dormant warns Bednarek, otherwise the spray will trap water in the leaves rather than the roots.
  • Spray the leaves of the plant completely. You needn't treat the roots.

If you’d like a customized landscape plan (and who can blame you?), EJB Designs, LLC can develop a Landscape Management Program for homeowners with larger properties. The firm provides property assessments and monthly monitoring to help residents understand the long- and short-term measures they should be taking to maintain their gardens, particularly after new installations.

Mulching, water use, plant care, snow management, general maintenance practices are all addressed, as well as ways to make your landscape more sustainable. They’ll help answer—and remedy—questions like: Do you have drainage issues? Is your property susceptible to slip/fall hazards in the winter? How many plants or lawn areas do you typically have to replace after every winter? Oftentimes, EJB Designs’ expertise results in a cost savings for homeowners. 

For more information or to start your program, visit


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