If you enjoy gardening, it's crucial to take the necessary precautions to protect your trees as cold weather looms. Most areas of the country experience at least one freeze during the winter months. You have the option to move to warmer climates in January, but your rooted friends outside don't! However, with the proper care and knowledge of how to protect your trees during the winter months, there is no reason you can't enjoy your plants and trees for many years to come.
General Winter Protection
Well-established trees have a much better chance of survival than newly planted ones that are still establishing their root system. New root systems are less stable, and they are less adept at gathering water and nutrients from the ground. Whenever you plant a new tree, be sure to research and ensure that it can survive a winter climate. You also need to give it plenty of time to get settled in before winter strikes to ensure its root system is strong.
For weaker trees, it is important to prune limbs. The weight of snow and ice accumulation will break off weak branches and cause more problems down the road. Broken branches leave your trees vulnerable to things such as insect infestations, as well as giving bacteria an easy way to infiltrate your tree.
If you have an evergreen tree, there are some things you need to do to prepare them for the cold weather, as evergreens don't become as dormant as other trees. One thing that you must do in order to ensure your evergreen survives winter is to surround it with at least three inches of dirt or mulch before the first freeze. This extra layer of dirt and mulch allows the evergreen to get the proper amount of water and nutrients that it needs, preventing from damage due to low temperatures.
Protecting From Salt Damage
If you have trees near the road, another potential source of damage is from the salt used to treat the icy roads during winter. If too much salt travels from the road to your trees, it causes your tree to start absorbing the salt, which the tree will absorb. Salt traveling through the tree will eventually damage.
To avoid this fate, if you can, make sure you plant your trees far from roads. If you have already planted trees, you can use burlap to make a guard for your tree by walling in your tree where salt is liable to hurt it.
Keep An Eye Out For Signs Of Water Damage
Other factors to consider when caring for your trees in winter include taking into account how wet of a fall you had in your area. If you had a very wet summer and fall, the root systems of your plants and trees will suffer. Often, the soil will appear green from algae growth, and the roots will rot.
Other signs of over watering are wilted and limp limbs or leaves, no new growth, lower leaves appearing yellowish, and new leaves turning brown.
If you notice water damage, do your best to revive your tree before winter moisture sets in. Remove any algae and take care of root rot the best you can. Often a professional landscaping service will be able to help you deal with root rot, so you don't have to yourself.
If, on the other hand, fall and summer were particularly dry, be sure to water the root systems well to ensure the proper distribution of nutrients before winter.
Learn as much about your region and its climate to ensure that you can protect your trees through the cold winter months. If you have unique or especially fragile trees and are unsure of if they will require special protection, get in touch with a landscape professional. They have the knowledge to help you protect even the most unique and fragile of plants.