Winter weather can take a toll on trees, especially when they were recently planted. In addition to the freezing temperatures, pests, drought and high winds can all contribute to damage throughout the cold season. Fortunately, the majority of this damage can be prevented by implementing the following strategies for keeping trees safe throughout the winter.
Guard Against Drought
Although it may seem as though winter precipitation should be enough to keep root systems from running dry, it is important to water trees before the ground freezes over. Begin by placing mulch around the base of the trunk that will act as a sponge to hold water. Then, continue watering the trees through the fall until the first hard freeze arrives.
Wrap Them Up
Outdoor trees often need extra protection from the wind and the cold to encourage their growth. Wrapping the trunk of newly planted trees with burlap can provide support and protect the bark from cracking. During extreme cold, it may also be necessary to cover the tops of the trees with cold weather blankets and secure them up to the trunk.
Keep Them Pruned
During the winter, trees go into their dormant state which is the ideal time for pruning. Always begin making an undercut before finishing the prune from the top. This will help to stop the branch from splitting off and causing damage to the trunk.
Winter pests depend upon outdoor plants for much of their food, and fruit trees are especially vulnerable to insect and rodent damage. According to the University of Massachusetts, it is important to remove any fallen fruit that could attract insects and rake up fallen leaves to prevent fungal growth. Placing wire mesh around the base of the tree and keeping the surrounding grass short can also prevent rodents from damaging trees.
Throughout the winter, outdoor trees will be exposed to extreme weather and changes in the environment that can contribute to damage. By starting early in the season with tree care, one can be certain that their plants will be strong and hardy when they emerge from their dormant season.