December 15, 2015
Burlapping the Boxwood Allee
The great “burlapping project” continues at the farm.
As many of you know, I am a big supporter of burlapping shrubbery for the winter. The burlap insulates the plantings, keeping them safe from damaging winds, heavy snows, and freezing temperatures. Last week, I shared photos of some of the boxwood being covered around my Winter House, but the biggest burlapping project is down by the stable, at my long Boxwood Allee.
In the past, we’ve covered this allee using burlap and teepee-like frames constructed out of bamboo. Last year, we also used plastic netting over the stronger American boxwood, which can withstand harsher weather conditions better than the English variety. Because last winter was so severe, we decided to use stronger materials this season, and go back to covering everything with burlap.
Here are photos…
1 For the long Boxwood Allee, we decided to use wooden stakes and metal supports to secure the burlap covers.
2 A length of twine was used to create a guide, so all the uprights were straight and level.
3 The twine was attached to two taller metal rods over the section of boxwood being covered.
4 Frames were built using eight to 10-foot tall wooden stakes planted securely into the ground with the metal supports attached horizontally on top.
5 These supports were screwed onto the stakes every eight to 10-feet. Shorter metal supports were used to bolster some of the stakes.
6 These wooden stakes measure about one-and-a-half inches by one-and-a-half inches square.
7 A steel post pounder was used to drive the metal supports into the ground.
8 Constructing the frame for the burlap took several days, but will be well worth the effort during cold snaps, high winds and snow storms.
9 As with all the burlap projects on the farm, everything was sewn together with jute twine.
10 Diagonal stakes were also screwed into the uprights for additional support. This was done at all the section ends.
11 And also every few feet along the entire Allee.
12 These short wooden stakes were pounded into the ground along the Allee to provide points at which the burlap would be fastened.
13 More jute twine was used to make sure everything was straight and level.
14 All the wooden stakes, strips and shims were milled at the farm, and get reused from year to year whenever possible. Even scraps of wood can be repurposed for various projects.
15 All the sewing was done using five-inch long craft needles specifically made for working with jute.
16 Because the burlap comes in 48-inch wide and 60-inch wide rolls, it was necessary to sew lengths of burlap together, so it would be wide enough to cover the boxwood. Burlap is inexpensive and available at garden centers.
17 The long pieces of burlap were carefully measured to fit each section. After it is removed in spring, it will be labeled, folded and stored for use next year.
18 Once the frames were built and the burlap was sewn together, it was time to drape the fabric over the boxwood.
19 The heavy burlap was placed by hand over the frames, one section at a time.
20 Here, you can see the seams where the burlap pieces were connected.
21 Building the frame at least a foot taller than the boxwood protects any heavy snow from weighing down onto the tender foliage.
22 The smaller wooden strips were already positioned on the ground ready to fasten the burlap at each stake.
23 To make it taut, the burlap was pulled down and attached to the ground stakes with screws.
24 Sandwiched between the stake and a wooden strip.
25 Additional wooden strips were attached to the ends.
26 At the bottom, any extra burlap was gathered, pulled taut, neatly tucked in and secured with more stakes, and strips.
27 Here is one finished edge of the Boxwood Allee, facing the stable.
28 Here is the other side.
29 As you can see, the burlap still allows the boxwood to "breathe", and get sunlight, which is important even during the colder months.
30 A finished corner of the Boxwood Allee.
31 I've been burlapping for many years and find that it is really the most reliable way to protect my hedges and shrubs. Covering this allee with burlap gives me comfort that all will survive the coming winter unscathed.
32 It also looks very pretty.