Cool-Season Shrub Maintenance

The look and health of your shrubs often depends on how well they are maintained year-round. However, it's especially important that shrubs receive a little more care and attention before the winter season settles in to prevent damage from intense weather conditions.  

Follow these three steps to keep your shrubs strong and in optimal shape so they can handle all that winter will bring.


Because most shrubs' dormancy occurs during the winter months, cool-season maintenance is key. For most shrubs, dormancy occurs as the days shorten and the ground temperature drops, suspending growth to enable plants to live off stored energy.

Pruning during the dormant winter season helps reinvigorate plants because it leaves extra root and energy reserves for the rest of the plant to use throughout winter. The pruned areas will then promote new growth once the shrub comes out of dormancy.


Staking is one of the most important steps to take when it comes to maintenance. This is particularly important for young shrubs and trees, as harsh winds and heavy snow can loosen a shrub's or tree's root system, causing it to die off during winter months.

To stake shrubs, it's best to drive two stakes into the ground across from each other on either side of the plant ' each at least as tall as your plant. Using a smooth rope or rubber-coated wire, wrap around the tree and tie to each stake so tension is pulling in opposite directions. After a few years of staking, your trees and shrubs will have developed a sturdier root system, and will no longer need to be staked.


While simple, insulating serves a very important role in maintaining the health and strength of your shrubs' root systems. To insulate, sprinkle a few inches of mulch around the base of your shrubs to ensure a warm barrier.  

Depending on the types of shrubs in your yard, you can often reuse the clippings from your pruning efforts toward insulating the base of your shrubs. Some shrubs, like holly or berried shrubs can even make for great DIY decorations just in time for the holidays.

The Dirt from Troy-Bilt®
November/December 2016