Trees do so much for you. They beautify your landscape, provide cozy shade, oxygenate the air, and boost home value.
No wonder taking care of them is so important! Trees seem to stand so tall and strong on their own. They are the giants of your landscape. They almost seem invincible.
But just like a new puppy, young or newly planted trees need some special care and attention, too, so they can grow healthy roots and a solid structure.
This is especially true in winter. The coldest season can be tough on all of us, trees included. Harsh conditions like cold winds, bright sun, bitter ice, heavy snow, and frost can pack a punch.
Protecting trees from cold weather starts by following these 4 care tips, so you can extend their lives and maximize the many benefits they bring to your home.
How To Protect Newly Planted Trees From Winter
Why Do The Colder Months Impact Winter Tree Care So Much?
Extreme winter conditions, such as ice storms and winds whipping through at sub-zero temperatures, can weigh branches down, risking breakage.
Snow cover can actually insulate trees from the wind and sub-zero temperatures, so a lack of snow makes them more vulnerable.
Repeated freezing and thawing of soil can also cause soil to expand and contract, causing root damage.
Think sun can’t hurt trees in the winter? Think again. On a cold winter day, the sun can heat up a young tree’s bark, stimulating activity. Then when a cloud comes in and blocks the sun, bark temperature drops rapidly, killing that active tissue.
And all these conditions add to plant dryness. On top of that, dry conditions going into winter can make tree tissue more susceptible to cold damage, especially on evergreens.
Mother Nature certainly doesn’t hold anything back during this season. For adequate winter tree protection, follow these 4 important tips.
- Watering. Newly planted trees don’t have a root system that’s well established enough to reach the water that is deep in the soil during winter. But just like people, trees need hydration, too. Water your trees’ roots adequately before the ground freezes in October and through mid-November, so your tree is full before winter hits. During a mild winter, you can add a few waterings, particularly if you’re seeing any browning on your evergreens.
- Mulching. Mulch acts as an insulator to keep soil temperatures higher, which is one way to keep trees warm in the winter. It also helps prevent cold air from penetrating the root zone of newly planted trees to reduce fall root growth or kill newly formed roots. Place a 4-inch layer of mulch around your tree’s base, spreading it out at least 2 feet from the trunk. Mulch protects your tree’s soil from frost and helps retain water so your tree’s root system receives adequate moisture. Remember not to let the mulch touch your tree’s trunk.
- Wrapping. Newly planted or young trees, as well as trees with thinner bark, can benefit from a little winter tree protection. This is because of the possibility of sunscald, which is when the sun heats up the bark for a short period of time, but then leaves it cracked and dry when clouds return.
Evergreen needles can suffer as well, soaking up sunlight and then immediately drying out. Wrapping trees in winter can help. But which trees you wrap and how you wrap them varies based on tree type.
- Pruning. The dormant season, or the few months of winter when trees grow much slower, is a great time to prune. This practice removes dead, damaged, or dying branches that can steal energy from spring growth and does so at a time that reduces the chances for spreading disease.
How To Protect Newly Planted Fruit Trees From Frost
Young and newly planted trees of all kinds need winter tree protection -- fruit trees included.
Unprotected fruit trees are particularly vulnerable to frost damage, which can take a big toll on your tree’s long-term health. While some fruit trees tolerate cold weather better than others, all could use some fruit tree winter protection.
Fruit Tree Freezing Temperatures
You may be cold in winter whether it’s 45 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But for your fruit trees, there’s quite a difference in how they react to various temperature ranges.
Temperatures ranging between 32 and 45 degrees produce hormones that suppress fruit budding. This allows warmer temperatures to tell the tree when it’s time to bud. Temperatures below 32 degrees signal a frost, and tells you it’s a great time to cover your trees.