This winter has been particularly harsh on evergreens. You are probably seeing brown and dried sections on conifers like juniper, yew and arborvitae as well as on broadleaf evergreens like boxwood, rhododendron and holly.
It could be salt damage if the plants are close to a road. When salt is blown onto plants, it draws water out of the leaves or needles, causing them to dry out. There’s usually more damage from airborne salt than salt in the soil.
However, you might experience salt damage if salt-laden snow was plowed or shoveled into the root zone. Flush the area with water, once soils dry out a bit.
Winter wind is a more common reason for damage, leaving needles and leaves dried out. Either way, take a look at your twigs. If stems are still flexible, they are still alive. Leave them be.
Sometimes, they will re-leaf or re-needle, but it might not be until May when evergreens start to actively grow. They may grow from the tips as well. Do not fertilize these plants as they are already stressed.
Ground covers like vinca, wintercreeper, and ivy also might not be looking their best. Rake out dead leaves and trim back any brittle, dried stems. These ground covers can be pruned heavily and still will put out new growth.
Garden Tip is courtesy of Heather Prince, The Growing Place, 630-355-4000, www.thegrowingplace.com.