From covering the windows with plastic to servicing your snow blower, there are several steps you as a homeowner need to take to prepare for winter. Specifically, the snow and chilly temperatures can wreak havoc on the immature trees in your yard. If you don’t care for young trees properly, there is a strong possibility they won’t survive the nasty Midwestern winters.
Don’t risk inadvertently injuring or even killing any immature trees in your yard. To help you, here are a few simple tips to help your trees survive and thrive during the winter.
Caring for the Roots
First and foremost, it is important to care for the root system. The root system of young trees is underdeveloped. This means young trees typically need to be watered more often than mature trees. Unfortunately, it can be nearly impossible to water your immature trees on a regular basis throughout the winter.
For this reason, it’s vital that before the first thaw you provide the tree with thorough soaking. After the first freeze, apply a two- to three-inch layer of organic mulch around the young tree. The mulch should be spread three inches away from the trunk.
As the winter progresses, there will be days when it is unusually warm and the ground thaws slightly. Take these opportunities to water your young trees. Remember, even a small amount of water will help ensure the tree survives the winter.
Preventing Pest Damage
Squirrels, mice, insects, and pests of all kinds are desperate to find food in the winter. Pests will feed on the bark and twigs of your immature tree. When this occurs, the tree may not be able to survive the damage. Luckily, there are several simple things you can do to prevent pests from making a meal out of your fragile trees:
- Surround the immature trees with mesh hardware cloth. Dig a small trench at least three inches below the ground to ensure any rodents cannot dig to access the subterranean roots.
- Apply a repellent to the trees. There are several repellents available that will deter both rodents and deer. You will need to reapply the products several times throughout the winter.
- Wrap the immature tree in burlap, as this is another effective way to deter deer. Make sure the burlap isn’t wrapped too tightly to allow for tree growth.
Avoid using any pesticides to keep rodents, deer, and insects away. You might wind up accidentally poisoning your or your neighbor’s pet.
Preventing Sun Scald
Another common problem, sun scald, typically occurs on the southwest side of any tree, including your fragile, immature trees. When the sun shines on the tree or the sun is reflected off the snow onto the tree, the heat will cause the bark to thaw.
After the sun sets and the temperature drops, the newly thawed bark will begin to freeze rapidly. This leads to severe damage, cracks, and cankers that can dramatically weaken the bark. These cracks and cankers also easily allow insects and bacteria to invade the tree.
Luckily, there are several simple ways to prevent sun scald. For example, you can wrap the tree in crepe paper or commercial tree wrap, which is available at your local hardware store. Another simple way to protect the immature tree from sun scald is to cover it with a thin layer of diluted white latex paint.
The light color will reflect the sunlight off the tree, and the diluted paint will help protect the bark from the colder temperatures.
With a little extra attention and care, you can help your immature trees survive the winter. If you have any more questions about your trees and landscape, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Smitty’s Tree Service.