As the nights become longer and we put our gardens to bed for the winter, we should turn our attention to our larger garden investments; our trees and shrubs.
The winter elements can be tough on some trees especially those that are tender, newly planted or young. Let's see what we can do to help them get through the season!
We protect our perennial gardens from the winter with mulch, and we should do this for our trees too. Adding a layer of leaves, bark, straw or wood chips as mulch around the base can help protect the roots by insulating them against the snow and ice.
When food becomes scarce, the wild animals may decide to make a meal of your trees' bark. Wrap the trucks with tree protectors or tree wrap for protection against rodents, rabbits and deer.
If you have fruit trees, after all the leaves have fallen, spray the tree with dormant oil and lime sulphur to help prevent insects and diseases.
Wind can be your tree & shrubs' worst enemy. Ensure they don’t get dried out by the wind by adding stakes around them and wrapping burlap and then twine around those to create a wind break.
To wrap, begin by spiraling burlap material from the base upwards, using an extra pair of hands or clothespins to hold it in place as you spiral- do not wrap the material tight against the tree or shrub as that can cause 'burning'. Then wind your twine from the top (tie it off at the top) downwards to secure- you may want to spiral the twine back up the tree or bush for extra security.
This will also help keep branches safe from breakages and young trees from bending from strong gusts.
Deicing salt used on walkways, driveways and roads can eventually kill a tree. Direct your salting away from the plantings as much as possible. Use the same technique as above and wrap your planting with burlap and then tie them with twine them to secure the wrap. Using stakes may not be necessary if your tree or shrub is sheltered from strong winds.
Snow & Ice
Snow and ice buildup are a less common issue though we are seeing ice storms occur more often. The weight of a heavy snowfall or buildup of ice can physically break branches. Some trees and bushes like evergreens and rhododendrons will be protected by a staking and burlap wrapping to bring their branches in closer to the trunk or use winter wrap netting to keep the snow from accumulating.
Timing & Other Tips
Stake your trees before the ground freezes, but wrap them after the ground is solid.
If you like to decorate your trees with Holiday lights, that's ok! Wrap up your trees and shrubs after you remove the lights in January.
Around the first hard frost be sure to give your trees a good soaking of water to help prevent drying out during the winter.
Do not wrap your trees too early or you will rob them of precious sunshine and may run the risk of creating a nice winter den for rodents.