4 Ways to Protect Trees and Shrubs from Winter Damage

Ways to Protect Trees and Shrubs from Winter Damage

Whether it’s the threat of cold weather, animals, or insects, you should take action to protect your trees and shrubs from damage during the harsh winter months. It’s not snowing yet in New England so you still have time to learn 4 ways to help your shrubs and trees survive the winter.

1. Choose hardy trees and shrubs

When you’re in the market to purchase trees and shrubs for your landscape, pick ones that can withstand bitter winter weather. Don’t forget to review the hardiness zones on the tags, which indicate which ones are best suited for New England weather. 

For example, boxwoods don’t handle the cold wind well. Gusts of cold air suck water out of their leaves causing them to turn brown and potentially die. You can cover them like the image above and help protect them from heavy snow.

However, if you buy a new home and there’s plant life sensitive to the cold you may need to be proactive.  

2. Insulate Vulnerable Shrubs and Trees

One way to be proactive is by insulating vulnerable trees and shrubs. The good news is snow serves as a natural insulator at the ground level, which moderates the soil temperature. The problem arises when there’s a cold winter with minimal amounts of snow, which does happen from time to time.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to manually insulate. How? You can use bark mulch, compost, straw, or even leaves! Just spread about a 5-inch layer around the base of the shrub or tree prior to the first freeze. And then don’t forget to remove it right when spring arrives. Another option is to use burlap coverings for vulnerable shrubs and cover them throughout the winter.

3. Remember to water

Contrary to what most people believe, it’s important to water your trees and shrubs right up until the first freeze. Why? Because it’s the hydrated trees and shrubs that are able to survive the winter. 

Therefore, during the fall, water all the way down to the roots. Once a week, ensure the water makes it down about 10 inches below the surface. This is important even if the stems are dormant. The extra water will spur root growth. And it’s the strong roots that will create healthy trees and shrubs.

4. Beware of animals or insects

Watch out for hungry animals or insects scrounging for food during the winter months. They will attack your plant life and cause damage. Your best bet to ward off these critters is by using repellants.

You can purchase deer and/or insect repellants in liquid form at most garden centers. Or you can go the natural route and try products made with predator urine or egg solids. The key is to apply early and often and always after snow or rain 

If you take this advice, you will be well on your way to protect your trees and shrubs from this winter damage!