Caring for Young Trees in the Winter

December 21, 2021

Now that young trees have been added to the landscape, it is time to prepare them for winter.  New trees need extra attention for the first two years. Winter can bring ice and snow which can weigh branches down causing breakage.  Snow cover insulates trees from wind and freezing temperatures.  Soil can expand and contract with repeated freezing and thawing, causing root damage.  These are reasons why it is important to protect young trees from the season change.

The number one killer of newly planted trees is drought stress.  Late season watering provides an essential resource to trees and conserves valuable root mass.  Your new tree is in transplant shock until it can extend its roots beyond the initial planting hole.  Watering will prevent newly planted root balls from drying out before they have a chance to grow and extend their reach next spring.  Check soil moisture by feeling the soil, if it is dry to the touch then add some water.

Mulch insulates the tree by keeping soil temperatures higher.  It protects the soil from frost and helps retain adequate moisture.  The mulch should be about 4 to 8 inches deep around the tree’s base, spreading it out at least 2 feet from the trunk.  It is important to not let the mulch touch your tree’s trunk because it needs to be exposed to open air all the way down to the soil line.

Young and very thin barked trees, such as maples and beeches, can be susceptible to sunscald in the winter.  This happens when a tree’s bark freezes in cold temperatures and is rapidly warmed by direct sunlight.  The internal and external temperature difference can cause cracks in the bark, leaving visible and permanent damage to the bark and compromising the tree’s health.  Applying a paper-based trunk wrap will block the sun’s rays and allow air in to reduce trapped moisture. 

Wrapping young trees in a breathable mesh or burlap will help them conserve their heat when temperatures drop.  The cover should be large enough to reach the ground.  To prevent putting too much weight on the tree’s delicate branches use additional support sticks to tent the cover.

Call Integrity Tree Care to make sure your trees are ready for every season by keeping your trees healthy, happy, and thriving.