Are the trees and shrubs in your yard ready for the winter winds and cold temperatures? Trees and shrubs that are healthy are going to fare much better through the winter, while those that are struggling now may struggle through the cold weather. Fortunately, I have a few steps you can take to give all of your trees and shrubs a little extra help in dealing with winter weather.
Winter's Effects on Trees and Shrubs
The branches of trees and shrubs are particularly vulnerable in the wintertime. During a heavy snowfall, snow can pile up on branches, breaking the weaker ones. Also, a young tree's trunk can start to bend under the weight of heavy snow or icy branches. In addition, a tree's trunk can suffer sunscald when the direct sunlight bears down on its south or southwest side in the wintertime. Even animals such as mice and deer can cause damage to trees and shrubs by gnawing on them in order to get nourishment during the winter.
Methods of Winterizing Your Trees and Shrubs
Put Down Mulch
Run to your shed and get out those bags of wood chips because it's time to mulch! Mulch helps to insulate the roots of your trees and shrubs. It prevents loss of moisture and helps to regulate the temperature of the soil. Put a 2-to-4-inch layer of mulch around your tree's trunk. Make sure the layer is level with the ground and not touching the trunk. The best time to put down mulch is after the ground begins to freeze but before the first snowfall.
To protect weak branches from winds and heavy snow, cover each of your young trees and shrubs with a large piece of burlap. Secure the burlap carefully around the base of your plant. Burlap is an excellent choice because of its breathable material. If you happen to see some snow piling up on a tree's branches, I suggest you gently shake off as much of the snow as you can to lighten the load. Every little bit of effort helps.
Wrap the Trunk
Maybe you've noticed some tree trunks with wrapping around them in your neighborhood. This is another way to protect a tree's trunk from cracking and other damage. You can find rolls of burlap wrapping strips in most garden stores. This wrapping can also deter insects, deer, and other animals from gnawing at a tree's trunk.
Create a Windbreak
If you have small trees or shrubs that are willowy and may suffer damage from the winter winds, create a windbreak. Put two posts into the ground on the north and west sides of your tree. Next, run a large sheet of burlap between the posts to block the wind from hitting your tree with its full force.
What to Avoid at This Time of Year
- Don't add fertilizer to your trees and shrubs; it will lead to new growth that will be particularly vulnerable to cold weather.
- Don't prune your trees; this will prompt growth that won't survive the winter.
As you're getting out the wool socks, coats, hats, and gloves from the back of the closet, don't forget to get your beautiful trees ready for winter as well! Thanks for reading. - Alan