April 13, 2015
Spring Burlap Removal
This year’s spring burlap removal project is complete.
Every autumn, for as long as I’ve been gardening, I’ve taken the time to carefully cover all my boxwood shrubs, various winter-sensitive plants, and outdoor ornamental urns to protect them from the season’s heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures, and damaging winds. And, every spring, when the ground begins to thaw, it’s all removed and stored away.
The outdoor grounds crew spent several days last week removing all the burlap and netting. The entire process is a big undertaking; however, knowing my plants are protected from the brutal effects of our Northeastern winters is a great comfort. And, seeing all the healthy, intact, rich green shrubbery and foliage at the start of spring is an even greater delight.
1 Every autumn, just after the first frost, but before the heavy snowfalls, all the shrubbery around the farm is covered in either burlap or plastic netting to protect them from the elements of winter.
2 Shrubs that are more winter hardy are covered in netting. Jute twine holds it in place at the top, while screws and stakes secure the bottom.
3 Netting protects the branches from splaying, but also allows these rich colored evergreens to be enjoyed during the winter season.
4 Smaller or more delicate shrubs that need more protection from the wind as well as the freezing cold are wrapped in burlap, which is sewn together over bamboo frames to keep it taut.
5 Burlap is a breathable, woven fabric made from jute or sisal fibers. Burlap can be purchased in large industrial rolls of varying sizes.
6 Once the temperatures were consistently above freezing, it was time to remove the protective coverings. Here, Phurba was removing the long sheets of burlap surrounding the tree peony garden.
7 It can get very windy in Bedford, New York. The burlap acts as a good wind barrier for any shrubs or plants which could be prone to wind damage and windburn.
8 In general, burlap is very strong and can withstand weathering and repeated wetting and drying with minimal loss of durability. This winter was pretty long and brutal however, and some of the burlap did show some damage.
9 When the burlap wind shields are erected, wooden stakes are pounded into the ground and burlap is pulled taut and secured in between the stakes and wooded strips using two-inch screws.
10 In spring, the burlap and all the supplies are removed gently, so as to preserve as much as possible for reuse next fall.
11 Here is one of the stakes that's put up to support the burlap from behind.
12 These are the wooden strips that help to sandwich and secure the burlap. They are also collected and reused when possible.
13 One by one, Phurba carefully removed each section of burlap - a much faster process than putting the burlap up, but still time consuming.
14 Once the burlap was off, whatever was reusable was rolled up and labeled for easy identification next fall.
15 The tree peonies remained largely intact within the confines of the burlap wind barrier - a great sight to see after such a harsh winter season.
16 The netting was also removed. The netting used was actually plastic nylon deer fencing, a very strong and flexible material that covers the shrubs well without crushing any foliage. It's available in the gardening section of The Home Depot in rolls of different lengths and widths.
17 The netting supports the shrubs, helps retain their shape and keeps any branches from splaying. I have been protecting my boxwood for many years and feel it is well worth the effort.
18 Once the netting was completely removed, it was also rolled up, labeled and stored.
19 American boxwood, Buxus sempervirens, is a bit more winter hardy than its cousin the English boxwood, Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa'.
20 Boxwood is often described as "man's oldest garden ornamental". It was first introduced to America from Europe in the mid-1600s. It's a very popular evergreen that can grow in almost any location as long as the soil is well-drained.
21 The supplies are on their way to be neatly stored until the first frost of autumn, when it will be time to wrap the shrubs all over again.
22 Then, it's onto the next location to be unveiled - the garden behind the Summer House.