Burlap wrap for shrubs

Container Plants As Gifts: Creative Ideas For Wrapping Potted Plants

Wrapping potted plants is a great way to add a personal touch to a gardening gift. Potted plants make great gifts for just about anyone, but the store-bought plastic containers and cellophane wraps lack imagination. Get more festive with these ideas for wrapping and decorating your gift.

Giving Container Plants as Gifts

A plant is a great gift idea and a versatile one too. Just about anyone will be pleased to receive a houseplant, potted herb, or a plant that can go into the garden. Even friends and family who are not gardeners can enjoy a potted plant.

A gift-wrapped plant is a rare type of gift that actually lasts. Depending on the plant type and how it’s cared for, a plant given to a loved one could last them for decades. Choose easy plants for those who don’t have a green thumb and something rare for your gardening friends who already have everything.

How to Wrap a Potted Plant

You could just give a gift plant as it comes from the store or nursery, but wrapping plants isn’t difficult. By wrapping it, you make the gift a little more special, personal, and festive. Here are some great ideas for decorating and wrapping plants as gifts:

  • Wrap the pot with a section of burlap and tie in place with a satin or lace ribbon for a contrast between rustic and pretty.
  • Use fabric scraps to wrap the container with ribbon or twine to hold it together. You can also use a rubber band to secure the fabric at the top of the pot. Then, roll the fabric over and tuck it into the rubber band to hide it.
  • A sock makes a great wrap for a small potted plant. Choose one with a fun color or pattern and put the pot in the sock. Tuck the top of the sock into the pot and then fill with soil and the plant.

  • Use wrapping paper or scrapbook paper squares to wrap a pot. Secure it with tape.
  • A great idea for grandparent gifts is letting the grandchildren decorate white butcher paper. Then, use the paper to wrap the pot.
  • Unleash your inner artist and use paints to decorate a terracotta pot.
  • Be creative and come up with your own gift-wrapped plant combinations or even add your own unique, fun twist.


Here in Connecticut we face a whole range of threats to our trees and shrubs during winter, both from the weather itself and from animal pests. Here are just a few of the things that can injure your plants during the cold months of winter:

  1. Heavy snow loads can break branches, especially if snow is shoveled or falls off your roof onto your plants
  2. Cold dry winds will dry out trees, especially conifers
  3. Sun reflecting off snow can scald and blister tree trunks and branches
  4. And of course deer will munch away on anything they can get to

The good news is that all of these things can be prevented. Here are our recommendations for how to protect trees and shrubs from the harsh winter weather.

Protection From Snow Loads

We recently got this client ready for winter by setting up frames to protect shrubs close to the house.

Build an A-frame over plantings and shrubs near the house so when snow comes off the roof they are shielded from the impact. This is a great use of some scrap plywood or planks. Cut them so as to form an A over the shrub, then either screw the pieces together at the top or install a couple old hinges so you can tuck it away for next year.

Protection from Wind, Sun and Deer

Build frames around shrubs next to the house where snow loads may come off the roof.

The most effective winter protection for trees and shrubs is burlap. Eco-friendly, biodegradable and strong, burlap is the MacGyver of protecting your landscape.

This functional fabric is ideal for protecting newly planted trees, late-planted trees with underdeveloped root systems, and trees subject to powerful winter winds, sunscald, and damaging hard frost.

How to Apply Burlap

There are two trains of thought on how to apply burlap.

Option 1 – Wrap the Plant

The final step will be to wrap burlap around these frames.

First, wrap the plant directly with burlap and tie it to itself with string or zip ties. This helps to mitigate the winter concerns previously mentioned but I don’t like that it’s in direct contact with the tree, shrub or conifer. My concern here is that the plant can’t breath and could trap moisture against foliage (especially on conifers). However, it’s a quick and easy way to provide protection and is better than no protection at all.

Option 2 – Build a Tent

The second option is a little more work but I believe it’s a better system. Instead of wrapping the burlap around the plant, use metal or wood stakes like you’re creating a fence around your bushes and/or shrubs. Try to close off deer access if you can and at a minimum put up one straight row to create a wind break.

Make sure to beat the stakes into the ground before frost sets in!

The key here is to keep the burlap 6”-10” from the plant and foliage so it breaths a little. Make sure the burlap is high enough to keep deer away. Also, if you use wood stakes you can just go crazy with the staple gun when securing the burlap. When you remove the burlap in spring, just roll it up and label a stake so you know where to put it next fall.

Wrapping Plants In Burlap: How To Use Burlap For Protecting Plants

Wrapping plants with burlap is a relatively simple way to protect the plants from winter frost, snow and ice. Read on to learn more.

Burlap Plant Protection

Covering plants with burlap can also protect plants from winter burn, a damaging condition caused by a combination of winter sunlight and depleted soil moisture. Burlap is more effective than plastic because it allows the plant to breathe so air circulates and heat isn’t trapped.

Burlap for protecting plants can be as simple as an old burlap bag. If you don’t have access to burlap bags, you can purchase sheet burlap by the yard at most fabric stores.

Covering Plants with Burlap

To cover a plant with burlap, begin by placing three or four wooden or stakes around the plant, allowing a few inches of space between the stakes and the plant. Drape a double layer of burlap over the stakes and secure the material to the stakes with staples. Most experts recommend that you not allow the burlap to touch the foliage if you can help it. Although not as worrisome as plastic, if burlap becomes wet and freezes, it can still possibly damage the plant.

In a pinch, however, it shouldn’t harm the plant to wrap in burlap or drape over the plant directly if cold, dry weather is imminent. Remove the burlap as soon as the weather moderates, but leave the stakes in place so you can cover the plant quickly in the event of another cold snap. Remove the stakes in spring when you’re sure freezing weather has passed.

What Plants Need Burlap?

Not all plants require protection during the winter. If your climate is mild or if winter weather includes only occasional light frost, your plants may need no protection other than a layer of mulch. However, burlap is handy to have around in the event of an unexpected dip in temperatures.

The need for protection also depends on the type of plant. For example, many perennials are hardy in winter, but even hardy plants may be damaged if they aren’t healthy or if they are planted in soggy, poorly drained soil.

Often, newly planted shrubs and trees benefit from protection for the first one to three winters, but are winter-tolerant once they are well established. Broadleaf evergreen shrubs such as azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons often require covering during extreme cold.

Potted plants, which are more susceptible to cold, may need several layers of burlap to protect the roots.

The Importance of Tree Wraps

Have you ever noticed long, vertical cracks on your trees and wondered when and how they got there? These fractures most likely occurred as a result of sunscald, which usually takes place during the winter and early spring. Sunscald occurs when intense sunlight warms the surface of the trees to the point of stimulating cell activity in the bark. At night a sudden drop of temperature causes damage to the tree, resulting in the long cracks visible usually on the south side of the tree’s trunk.

Fortunately, there is a way to prevent these cracks from forming on your trees: tree wrap. Tree wrap acts as a barrier against the sun by reflecting the light which cuts down on the heating process. The tree wrap allows the tree to remain healthy through all seasons. Tree wrap is the perfect solution for protecting your trees not only against sunscald, but also against insects, deer, and rabbits. Trees that sit near a driveway or street can also benefit from being wrapped in the winter to prevent damage from de-icing salt.

The steps to wrap your tree(s) are fairly easy. A good rule of thumb is to wrap the tree around Thanksgiving time, right before the harsh winter cold sets in. Simply take the tree wrap and begin wrapping at the bottom of the tree and work your way upwards. Overlap the wrap as you wind and once you reach the top of the tree’s trunk, secure the end with a staple or small tack. If you leave the wrap on in the summertime, insects and diseases will be tempted to move in, so be sure to remove the wrap by Easter time.

Don’t leave your trees vulnerable. Be sure to buy your tree wrap on our website before the winter seasons sets in! For any further questions on tree wrap contact the experts at Dayton Bag & Burlap today!

When you run out of garden space or you want to try something new, consider the burlap sack. These recycled coffee sacks will probably last one season but they can be plopped down anywhere and blend naturally into your surroundings. We’re growing herbs, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Lay them down, close them up after filling with soil and cut holes to fit your plants. Or use them upright like we did.

Tips for using sacks in the garden:

~ Burlap/jute/sisal is a biodegradable material. It will rot out on the bottom after a month or two. Position your bags where you want them from the beginning to avoid what we call “sack the ripper”!

~ Sacks lend a soft touch to the landscape and work well in groupings. Maybe tie a piece of rope around the top to give it a cinched look.

~ Bee keepers love using jute. They burn the material to produce a long lasting and mesmerizing smoke to calm the bees.

~ Red wigglers like living around the jute and will actually break it down for you. Use it in your worm bins – shredded for efficiency. We also use a strip of it over our bedding in the bin to prevent fruit flies.

~ Control weeds by laying the burlap on top of problem areas. Add layers of newspaper underneath to prevent growth.

~ Store dry materials in the sacks but make sure not to create a home for unwanted animals.

~ Dogs like to lay on the burlap and we found that many coffee roasters in San Diego are now donating their bags to the Wild Animal Park to use for animal play, bedding and more.

Do you have any other ideas or uses for burlap in and around the garden?

Using Burlap in the Garden

Many of us are thinking differently about the Earth this week as Earth day approaches on Sunday. Did you know that OFS has a great stock of supplies to help you enjoy your garden?

Burlap, for example, makes a great, environmentally-friendly weed barrier. This inexpensive, natural jute fiber material provides months of protection against weeds and gradual degrades, adding nutrients to the soil when it decomposes. It is easy to use and economical.

When setting out seedlings, lay a strip of burlap on the ground and make holes through the fabric in which to place your seedlings. Permeable burlap also can act as mulch to keep the soil warm and moist. This permeable fabric can be covered with a traditional mulch if you do not like its look on top of the ground.

Anyone can have a small vegetable garden for salad fixings. All you need is a 6′ x 8′ plot, and even if you don’t have that much free space, you can plant vegetables in containers. Tomato and pepper plants do especially well in pots. You can also plant in square wooden boxes that you either purchase or make yourself. Wooden boxes can be a great solution if you live in an apartment. Containers can also be raised off the ground to allow easy access to handicapped gardeners.

Collect your garden’s bounty in burlap and polypropylene bags.

Burlap, propylene, and mesh bags are another helpful item to have in the garden, especially when it’s time to harvest your vegetables. These handy bags, most of which have a drawstring, come in a variety of sizes.

What are you growing this year?

All the wooden stakes, strips and shims get reused from year to year whenever possible. These one-and-a-half by one-and-a-half inch pieces were milled right here at my farm and have been used for several projects.
The stakes are used to create frames around the hedges and shrubs. And to make sure all the sections are level, the crew uses construction twine to create a level guide.
Here is a frame built along the boxwood lining the footpath in the sunken garden.
Each upright stake is secured with crews to the metal horizontal pieces.
The frames are built at least one foot above the hedge so even the heaviest snow doesn’t weigh the burlap down and crush the tender foliage. I decided this year, the frames should be built a little higher than previous years.
Rolls and rolls of burlap are needed to cover my hedges and shrubs each winter. After every season, any burlap still in good condition is saved for use the following year.
The area being covered is carefully measured, so the burlap pieces can be cut to size.
The project also requires rolls and rolls of jute twine.
The needles are specially designed for sewing jute. These five-inch long needles have large eyes and bent tips.
Because the hedges are wide, long pieces of burlap are sewn together to accommodate them properly.


Chhewang is a fast sewer. Here he is sewing long sections of burlap together for the hedges surrounding the herbaceous peony bed.
Our burlap covers last up to three seasons depending on the weather. This year, many of the covers had to be remade, which lengthens the process a little more.
And remember, these boxwood specimens also grow a little more every year, so the covers and frames have to be adjusted every season.
Once the section is completely sewn, the heavy burlap is placed by hand over the frames, one section at a time.
This is one end of the hedge – all the burlap is pulled taut and sewn neatly.
Here, Pete attaches wooden strips every two to three feet along the bottom of the hedge. The strips are about six to eight inches long – just long enough to accommodate two or three screws that will keep the burlap secure.
Meanwhile, not far from the peony bed, the crew begins framing around the gardens outside my Winter House. We cover all the big boxwood shrubs and the shorter boxwood hedges that surround them.
This bed has a small boxwood hedge – just outside the servery windows. More twine is used to ensure the stakes are straight and level.
And here is the finished framing around the terrace fountains.
Pete carefully walks around the giant boxwood, unrolling a length of burlap as he goes.
Phurba helps from the other side and cuts the burlap to fit. The crew has gone through the process several times – it is a well executed production line.
These wooden stakes are placed in between every three of the boxwood shrubs along the pergola.
The stakes are placed sturdily into the ground at least several inches deep. Phurba uses another stake to make sure the pounded upright is straight and secure.
Two-inch screws are used to connect the stakes of each frame.
Here is the pergola frame waiting to be covered with burlap. Here, we used spare sections of bamboo for the horizontal supports – nothing goes to waste at my farm.
Back at the peony garden, the burlap is all done. As you can see, the burlap still allows the boxwood to “breathe”, and get sunlight, which is important even during the colder months.
Here is the entrance to the peony bed after all the burlap is secured.
Once completely wrapped, the burlap is pulled tightly against the frame and hand-sewn closed.
Here is the sunken Summer House garden – all done.
And the boxwood in front of my Summer House is also complete.
And here is a section of the terrace parterre completed – everything is tight and secure. It’s always so beautiful in its own way – like a burlap art installation. Various birds love to nest in the big bushes, so I add a few holes for our avian friends.
Here is one side of the pergola done. This pergola is one of the first things I see when arriving home.
And here is the back side of the pergola – all the burlap is well attached at the bottom of the row.
The entire process of wrapping all the boxwood shrubs, hedges, and various other plantings, takes several weeks to complete, but it is well-worth the effort to protect all these beautiful specimens. My boxwood is now ready for the winter weather ahead.

To Burlap Or Not To Burlap… That Is The Question!

I feel strongly that evergreens are an integral part of every garden. As a landscape designer I use evergreens in many ways, to provide structure in a garden with a hedge or to provide a focal point at the corner of the garden to name a few but in all situations the most important thing about the evergreens I use is that they are in fact ….EVERGREEN!

So it really breaks my heart to see gardens everywhere scattered with burlap.

Winter damage

The thinking behind this popular practice is to protect the evergreens from winter sun and drying winter winds. This can sometimes be an important thing to do for young evergreens, especially ones planted late in the season but it should only be done for the first season. Also in many cases it’s not necessarily the winter wind but the evergreens inability to draw water from the frozen ground. The winter landscape can replicate desert conditions making the plants susceptible to winterburn. Properly watering the evergreens in the fall and all the way up to the ground freezing will help prevent the winterburn from happening.

Wrapped with twine

Another reason many burlap evergreens, especially cedars, is to prevent the winter snow and ice from splitting them as any branches bent by snow and ice will not return to normal in the spring. The best way to prevent that from happening is to wrap the cedars with twine (see photo) or I prefer fishing line. It’s almost invisible, keeps the evergreen tight to prevent the snow from weighing on the branches and allows you to still have winter interest.

Evergreens aside, the one ornamental tree that should be protected with burlap in the winter is the Japanese Maple. The best way to protect this tender tree is to water well into the fall and after its leaves have dropped, put 4 wooden stakes in the ground around the perimeter of the tree and then wrap the stakes with burlap to create a screen. The stakes should be about 1.5′ to 2′ away from the trunk. Kudos to my customer Kevin from Pickering for doing such a good job protecting his Waterfall Japanese Maple (pictured left)!

We still want the tree to get the snow cover but want to protect the tree from the winter wind until it is established. This should only be done for the first 2 years until the tree is established. Another case where location matters due to the winter wind patterns. I am still sad that I cannot have a Japanese Maple in my front yard due to its North East exposure. Note I have yews planted instead of cedars for that very same reason.

Simply put, plant the right tree in the right spot, water well into December and use fishing line to wrap evergreens. All my secrets to a burlap free garden!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *