Do you want to make sure your young shrubs and trees survive winter not just alive, but thriving? Winter can be hard on plants, even those as sturdy as landscape trees. The following are a few things you can do to ensure they make it into spring healthy and ready to grow.
#1: Remove the weakest wood
Fall isn't generally the time for heavy pruning, but it is a good time for a few maintenance cuts. After the leaves drop from deciduous trees is especially good because you can better see the branches to assess any damage that occurred over summer. Remove any that are dead or rubbing together. Also, look for and remove weak branches, such as those that join the tree at less than a 45 degree angle, as these can break easily under heavy snow.
#2: Shape your shrubs
The shape of your shrubs can determine how well they handle snow and ice weight. Evergreen shrubs are most at risk, but deciduous shrubs with dense branch structures can also be damaged. The best shape for these shrubs is a rounded or pointed top, depending on the plant variety and your personal aesthetic. This allows snow to slide off the plant. A flat or even worse, a concave top will trap snow and cause the shrub to split and branches to break. For the same reason, don't brush snow off shrubs -- the downward motion can break branches. If you must remove the snow load, use a broom to gently brush up the branches.
#3: Provide a blanket
Not an actual blanket – a mulch blanket. This is especially helpful for younger trees and shrubs since mulch protects the roots against temperature fluctuations and frost heave. Spread a 3 inch layer of mulch over the ground to cover the root zone, but don't push it right up against the trunk. Wood chips, bark, pine straw, or even regular straw works well for mulching around trees and shrubs.
#4: Wrap against weather
Certain trees are prone to winter wind or sun damage. Evergreen shrubs can become wind-burned. Wrapping them in burlap can protect them, just make sure it's removed before temperatures rise in the spring. Always leave the top open for air circulation. The trunks of newly planted trees can also split on sunny but freezing days. A tree wrap placed around the trunk prevents this problem.
For more help, contact a tree service company like Arborcare Tree Service in your area.