Winter desiccation, also known as winter burn, is a common type of winter injury that occurs in vegetation when the amount of water lost by chilly winter winds exceeds the amount of water the plant can draw up through the frozen soil. The results are slow-to-green lawns or dead patches, perennial plants that are slow to emerge in spring, and browning/yellowing leaves and needles in evergreens and broad leaf trees.

winter desiccation

A boxwood shows signs of winter desiccation.

However, winter desiccation can be deterred by maintaining proper vegetation precipitation during the late fall and early winter months and by using natural water conservation agent and soil amendment H2OExcel from Brookside Agra.

One of the primary ways to deter winter desiccation is to provide adequate water and nutrients to vegetation for as long as the ground is not frozen. Experts suggest one inch per week of water or saturation to a depth of 12-18 inches.

H2OExcel can help to reduce soil surface tension and allow hardened soils to absorb water and nutrients 3-5 times faster. Made from a proprietary blend of desert plant extracts, H2OExcel will not harm plants, animals, or humans. It has been proven to boost plant strength and yield, as well as increase root mass and length, all while using less water and fertilizer.

“Increasing any plant’s winter hardiness should include a good nutrient upload going into dormancy. H2OExcel can help to increase the amount of plant-available forms of nutrients that are delivered to vegetation prior to winter dormancy. In addition to reducing water surface tension, H2OExcel completes the system needed by microbial life forms to convert existing soil nutrients into plant-available forms,” says Tony Arro, Brookside Agra director of sales – specialty products. “H2OExcel also helps water to infiltrate the ground deeper and more efficiently. This increases the amount of water available to the plant throughout the winter, even when there is ground cover and freezing conditions. As long as there is adequate moisture in the root zone, desiccation can be reduced.”winter desicattion

H2O Excel can be safely blended with fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. It’s ideal for use on golf course fairways and tee boxes, crops, landscaping, turf, and fruit and vegetable gardens. H2O Excel’s product ingredients are on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Additional expert-recommended options to manage winter desiccation include:

  • Using a burlap barrier and straw to cover vulnerable vegetation and deflect wind.
  • Spreading a two-inch layer of organic mulch around the plant to cover the entire root system and reduce moisture loss.
  • Watering vegetation on warm days during January, February, and March.
  • Observing plants in the spring when the ground begins to thaw and watering as needed if the rainfall is less than an inch per week.