Our great "burlapping" project continues at the farm.
As many of you know, I've been covering shrubs and hedges with burlap for many years to protect the branches from splaying and even breaking from the weight of snow and ice. Every season, our wrapping methods become easier and more streamlined, giving me peace of mind during the cold weather months.
I feel it is equally important to protect my outdoor garden ornaments from the harsh winter elements. A winter freeze, alternating with thaws, could crack or crumble any kind of stone, or cement, especially if it is antique. During this time, all my outdoor containers, planters, and birdbaths, are drained, and covered in the same burlap used for my live specimens. Here are some photos of this process.
I have many outdoor containers at the farm. These are two smaller planters on my terrace parterre – they’ve been emptied of plant material and soil and are now ready to be fitted with burlap covers.
Because stone and cement are porous and sensitive to harsh elements, the urns are first covered with plastic. Heavy duty trash bags fit perfectly over these smaller vessels.
Wilmer and Carlos unroll the burlap. This is the same burlap we use to cover my boxwood. When we can, we reuse burlap from seasons past; however, it is also available in giant rolls of 40-inches or 60-inches wide.
Carlos cuts enough burlap, so it can be doubled for extra protection. Also called hessian, burlap is made in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India from jute, a tall, grass-like plant grown for its strong fibrous stalks.
Wilmer wraps the burlap around the plastic covered urn.
Then, using the end of a screw driver, he tucks the fabric as far under the container as possible.
Once the burlap is secured underneath, Wilmer begins working on the rest of the urn – pulling the burlap snug around the container.
To sew the burlap, we use jute twine – the same twine we use for so many of our outdoor projects. I love using jute twine around the farm – it is 100-percent bio-degradable and recyclable.
The needles are specially designed for sewing jute. These five-inch long needles have large eyes and bent tips.
Starting at the bottom, Wilmer makes small knots along the opening to hold the burlap together as he sews.
Here is a closer look at one of them – very simple and easy to make. Wilmer is an excellent burlap sewer, and has been covering my urns for several years.
There was a lot of tucking involved, and a lot of knotting.
And, then he began sewing.
Wilmer sews from the base to the top, making sure the burlap fits snug around the container as he goes.
At the top of the urn, Wilmer makes one more knot, and it’s completed.
The same process is done for the other urn. First it is wrapped in plastic, and then in burlap.
Then, the burlap is tucked underneath and several knots are made along the opening to keep it together.
Wilmer sews the opening closed using jute twine and a large needle.
Finally, Wilmer sews the top of the urn, so the entire container is wrapped snug for the cold season ahead.
The burlap nearly conforms to the shape of the urn.
These two urns look like sculptures.
Next was a pair of urns in my back courtyard behind my kitchen.
Plus a large antique birdbath.
This birdbath was covered in the same way as the urns, but because it is so large, it needed special industrial strength plastic sheeting instead of a trash bag.
The plastic was also tied near the top and bottom to keep it secure and to prevent water from seeping inside. Now it is ready for its burlap cover.
Because these urns are also larger than the ones on my terrace, the burlap is draped over the top of each vessel and then sewn on two sides.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it takes just one cracked urn from the elements of winter to learn this lesson. For me, it’s all about precaution.
Wilmer also made sure the burlap protected as much of the bottom of each vessel as possible by carefully stitching one end and then connecting the twine to the other side.
Nice sewing, Wilmer!
And in the end, my outdoor planters and urns are protected from the heavy ice, damaging moisture, and high winds. There are still quite a few to wrap – what should we burlap next? How do you protect your outdoor planters in the winter? Let me know in the comments section below.