The hardy cedar is a popular and attractive evergreen for home landscapes.
The best part: These trees are fairly easy to grow and maintain.
But winter is a harsh season for quite a few trees, cedars included. Knowing how to care for cedar trees during these colder, brisk months can extend the lives of your precious evergreens so they can continue to boost your property value and you can keep enjoying them without worry.
Evergreens like cedars add so much color and beauty to the winter landscape.
There are some main types of cedars across the country, and each one has some different likes and dislikes when it comes to how to care for cedar trees.
Here are a few of our favorites from coast to coast:
Caring for most trees, including cedars, starts with a nice layer of mulch. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch at the base of cedar trees can help protect shallow roots, reduce the depth of frost in the soil, retain soil moisture, and ensure they can take up some water through the more frigid months.
How to water cedar trees depends on the type of tree you have and your region of the country. A professional arborist can advise you of proper watering for your specific cedar tree.
How often to water new cedar trees is another story. Young or newly planted trees tend to be more susceptible to drought injury -- even during winter. So watering them is a bit more important until they are established and hardier.
Winter doesn’t just bring cold temperatures; it also brings snow and ice … and sometimes lots of it.
As winter precipitation accumulates, it gets heavy. This weight can put a lot of pressure and strain on cedar tree branches, causing breakage and possibly misshaping the tree.
Many times, cedar trees can’t recover from these conditions come springtime. This is particularly true for younger trees. This is why protecting cedar trees in winter is important so they continue to add eye-pleasing greenery to your yard.
While cedar trees can handle winter weather, there are a few things you can do to help them along.
To protect trees from damage caused by snow and ice, wrapping cedars in burlap is a good idea for some cedar types. This is especially important on the sides of trees facing the most wind and sun exposure, meaning they’ll be hit hardest by winter storms.
Wrapping some burlap or plant-safe netting around stakes placed close to the tree keeps the branches close together so that heavy snowfall or ice accumulation can’t bend them too extremely. You can also loosely wrap the tree itself.
Wait until snow has arrived in your area and is regularly sticking to the ground before wrapping your trees. Remember, never wrap a tree or tie any material too tightly around branches or trunks or you risk harming or girdling the tree.
While wrapping cedars in burlap can help protect branches from breakage, removing the wrap promptly when the time is right is very important.
Usually, detaching burlap when the winter frost and freezing temperatures are approximately 80 percent over is a good idea. Think roughly November until April as a good timeframe for tree wrap, depending on your region and tree type.
Some cedar tree needles will turn brown and fall from the tree every year. This is a typical needle shedding process your tree goes through.
However, any extreme condition -- think drought, heat, cold snaps, insect infestations, root rot, etc. -- can put your tree under stress and exacerbate the problem and explain why cedar tree branches are turning brown.
Cedar trees will shed some of their older, less efficient needles every autumn. Prior to shedding, they will change color from healthy green to yellow, orange, and even brown, depending on the species. New growth will replace these needles the next spring. Your tree may lose a bit more needles one season over another. This is normal.
But if whole trees or entire sections of trees have needles changing color, particularly at a time of year that isn’t typical -- spring or summer, for instance -- this could be cause for concern. Keeping an eye on the situation and consulting an arborist if you’re concerned is how to save a dying cedar tree.