While we enjoy the shade, beauty, and environmental contributions of trees and plants, they do have their share of enemies. Adversaries like insects, freezing weather, deer, and gnawing rodents can seriously harm them. Mourning a dried and drooping skeleton is more than a sentimental response when your livelihood depends on supplying healthy plants.
Protecting Your Trees
How do we protect them from this diverse brigade of attackers?
Experienced nursery workers know that the care of healthy trees and plants is a year-round job.
Many nursery managers, tree farmers, and home gardeners have experienced the devastation of extreme winters. Tree and shrubs suffer mightily with the effects of early and late frosts, variable temperature ranges, blizzard-like winds, and sub-zero temperatures that accompany winters.
According to gardeners.com:
- Early cold spells can damage tissues before they can harden for the coming winter.
- High winds can dry out plant tissues and evergreen foliage.
- Frozen soil prevents trees and plants from replacing the water they lose through evaporation.
- Midwinter thaws cause plants to leave dormancy to grow new shoots, which die quickly with the next cold period.
- Variable and alternating temperatures literally “heave” new plants out of the ground.
- Deer, rabbits, and mice gnaw the base of plants when other food sources have frozen.
Preparation for Winter
- Healthy trees and plants are more likely to survive winter than ones that struggle because of limited sunlight, water, or nutrients. Make sure they have enough of each.
- If insects have had their way in the summer, the plant is ill-prepared for winter. Protect them from insect infestation.
- During late summer, it is a good idea to stop pruning. New growth stimulated by pruning will delay dormancy and cause damage.
- Stop fertilizing six weeks before the earliest frost date.
- Keep watering until the ground freezes.
Deciduous trees lose leaves and go dormant for the winter. While these tend to withstand typical winters well, young ones need extra care. Gardeners.com suggests:
- Add a 3 – 4″ layer of mulch to protect shallow roots of young trees.
- Surround trunks with tree guards to discourage deer and rodents.
- Add a wrap to young trunks for protection.
Conifers and Evergreens
- Provide a windscreen in case winter winds become substantial.
- Remove excessive snow from overladen branches.
- Wrap young shrubs with burlap to discourage deer snacking.
Be prepared this winter. It may be another rough one.