How to care for trees in winter

How To Care For Trees in Winter

Cold stresses take a number of forms. The first is the effect on mature trees of a rapid change between daytime heat and night time freezing. These temperature variations can lead to stresses within the tree between the outer bark and inner wood leading to cracks called frost cracking or southwest injury (the side receiving the most winter sunlight).  (See image)

What to do
In most situations, there is very little that can be done to prevent frost cracking. And, in many cases, the tree is able to repair itself although the cracked area remains vulnerable and subsequent cracking at the same place can cause major damage. In the case of young trees and trees such as palms and other tropicals, the tree owner might consider wrapping the bark as part of the fall maintenance procedure. offers special Cold Weather Tree Blankets for this purpose. And to further prevent winter damage as well as to reduce moisture loss, an application of Wilt Pruf can be very beneficial.

Another cold stress is the impact of sudden early frosts on late growth. Late season tree growth is vulnerable because it does not have the same time as established growth to prepare for cold. Ice crystals can rupture the cell walls on the new tips of branches leading to die off the following season.

What to do
To avoid this, you should avoid pruning until after the tree has gone into dormancy in the fall. Pruning too soon might encourage new growth and increase the risk of frost damage.  Also, avoid using fertilizers with high amounts of quick-release Nitrogen.  Trees can certainly benefit from proper fall fertilization (e.g. TreeHelp Fall Fertilizer), but it is important to know what to avoid.

At times during the winter, particularly for evergreens, drying out can be a real problem. Winter drought occurs when a tree loses more water than it can absorb from frozen ground and is especially acute during the early spring when the ground remains frozen while the spring sun begins warming the rest of the tree. Windy conditions can also worsen the problem.

What to do
While there is no sure fire solution to winter drought, you may be able to control the problem by laying down a thick layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree in late fall before winter's onset. The mulch can help to slow moisture loss and runoff while acting as a temperature buffer for the roots.

The Problem
Branches are more vulnerable to breakage during the winter. Particularly for deciduous trees, the wood hardens and becomes somewhat more brittle and susceptible to wind damage. Then there is the problem of ice and snow accumulation which affects both deciduous trees and evergreens alike.

What to do
The key to minimizing branch breakage lies, once again, in good fall tree maintenance, particularly pruning. Pruning weak and vulnerable branches and removing one limb of a pair sharing a deep "V" crotch can make the entire tree less susceptible. One solution for very small trees and shrubs might be to cover the entire tree with a sturdy tent-like housing. And, for larger evergreens, you might think about using rope to tie up and reinforce branches.

Close-up of injury caused by "cone-clipping" by squirrels
Canadian Forest Service

During the winter, trees can become a target for rodents foraging for scarce food. Apart from deer in the more rural areas, the two major culprits are mice and rabbits both of which chew bark and can girdle trees.  Squirrels can also become a problem.   (Click here for information about an interesting technology that repels squirrels.)

What to do
To guard against mice, leave a space between the mulch and the trunk of the tree and check frequently. If mice are proving to be a problem, you may have to think about setting out bait. Follow package directions carefully. Rabbits can be deterred by wire mesh enclosures. Commercial paint-on repellents are also available. Consult your local tree care center for details.

When adding new trees, purchase only those species native to your area's hardiness zone.  Trees native to areas even one zone milder than yours might experience significant stresses during your region's winters.

Maintain good tree upkeep throughout the year.  Strong healthy trees will always have an easier time than weak and damaged ones.

Do a post spring inspection of your trees every year.  Promptly treat any damage that you find.

In preparing for winter, remember to prune only after your trees have entered dormancy after the risk of new growth.

Apply a good fall fertilizer that promotes root growth over leaf growth.

Lay a layer of mulch down around the bases of your trees to moderate temperature fluctuations and moisture loss.   Don't forget to leave a space between the mulch and the trunk of the tree to discourage mice.

Check occasionally during the cold season for signs of rodent damage.  Use bait, enclosures or repellents as necessary.

Winter Tree Care | Bioadvanced

Although trees are dormant during winter, they're not protected from the elements like a hibernating animal that holes up in a snug spot. Trees experience the raw intensity of the cold season. Wintry conditions can be stressful on trees, especially newly-planted or young trees that lack mature defense mechanisms such as a wide, spreading root system or thick bark. Learn how to protect trees and help them survive the winter season and thrive in years to come.


In late fall to early winter, add a thin layer (no more than 2 inches) of organic mulch beneath your tree's drip line. Mulch insulates soil and tree roots against temperature extremes and slows water loss from soil. Don't pile mulch directly against the tree trunk. Wait to mulch until the ground freezes to prevent mice from making your mulch their winter quarters.


Keep trees, especially newly-planted ones, well-watered through fall – until the ground freezes. Before freezing temperatures, remove irrigation bags surrounding the tree trunk. If a warm spell thaws trees and soil, water newly-planted trees, especially if your region is in the midst of a prolonged drought.


Winter sun and wind create drying conditions for broadleaf evergreens, such as Pieris, Rhododendron or Mountain Laurel. Spray an anti-desiccant, which covers leaves with a waxy coating, to reduce moisture loss.


When winter sun thaws a tree trunk by day and cold night air freezes it, bark cells can rupture, creating cracks in the trunk. This condition is called sunscald. To protect trees, cover trunks with crepe paper tree wrap. Working from the bottom, wrap the trunk, overlapping layers by one-third. Stop wrapping just above lowest branches. Remove the wrap in spring. You can also paint the tree trunk white or wrap it with a white plastic rabbit guard. Sunscald occurs most often on trees planted on west or south sides of buildings.


Rabbits and voles love to gnaw the bark on young trees. Typically they'll consume outer and inner bark, exposing inner wood. If chewing damage occurs halfway around the trunk, the tree likely won't survive. Block rodents by wrapping trunks with plastic tree guards, starting at the bottom and working upward. Be sure to wrap past the snow line. Remove the wrap in spring. Another option is to cage trunks with chicken wire, which will also prevent deer from rubbing. Once bark matures and develops fissures, the small critters usually stop chewing.


Keep rock salt (sodium chloride) away from trees. Rock salt interferes with roots' ability to absorb water, oxygen and nutrients. Choose ice melt products containing calcium, potassium or magnesium chloride.


Accumulating snow on tree branches can break them. To remove snow, gently push it off limbs using upward movements. Don't try to break ice off branches. Instead, use a garden hose connected to a hot water faucet, but take care not to burn the plant.


Winter provides a great opportunity for inspecting and pruning trees. You can easily see the tree's structure and identify problem branches. If trees overhang perennial or vegetable gardens, pruning those trees in winter won't damage your plantings. Pruning during dormancy can also prevent disease spread, since disease organisms are also dormant. Learn more about how to inspect trees for potential hazards, as well as when to prune trees.

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Tree care in winter

Tree care in winter is just as important as in other seasons: low temperatures pose a high risk to woody plants.

We carry out snow retention

If there is little snow in winter, the roots of trees can freeze hard, and in spring they will thaw for a long time, which in turn leads to a limitation of water supply and, consequently, a slowdown in the start of vegetation. Therefore, in winters with little snow, it is very important to carry out snow retention around the root system of the tree.

Protecting against frost cracks and burns

Frost spots occur mainly on the southwestern side of the trunk due to the fact that here the sun's heat activates the juices on sunny winter days and the subsequent cold night temperatures lead to freezing of the bark. To avoid this, the trunks are covered with a protective agent and protective screens are installed on the southwestern side of the trunk to prevent too much heating.

Arbo-Flex - protection against thermal damage

To prevent the formation of frost cracks and burns in autumn, tree trunks are whitened with lime. However, lime is an unstable protection, it is easily washed off and erased. So by the end of winter and the beginning of spring, when trees are most susceptible to thermal damage, lime applied in autumn will lose its protective functions. Arbo-Flex is much more reliable and effective, it stays on the bark for more than five years, but it cannot be applied to wood at temperatures below + 10 °C.

Who needs special attention?

Most of all, weakened plants that grow in unfavorable conditions, under which the shoots do not have time to lignify by winter, suffer from thermal damage. Also at risk are trees growing in open areas.

[stextbox id="alert" bgcolor="78C4FF" cbgcolor="78C4FF" bgcolorto="78C4FF" cbgcolorto="78C4FF"]Beech, elm, oak, maple, ash are most severely affected by frostbites, linden and horse are somewhat less affected chestnut. Coniferous species are considered frost-resistant, and birch, willow, aspen, alder, and mountain ash are considered to be frost-resistant.[/stextbox]

Branches, twigs, stems of young trees break under the influence of the necklace. The least resistant to it are white locust, elm, oak, maple, wild rose, ash.

Protect against rodents

Trample snow near trees after each snowfall. In dense snow, it is more difficult for mice to make moves and move around. The most effective protection for trees is wrapping the trunks with mesh materials made of plastic or metal . Such nets are installed from the ground itself (slightly deepening, by 2-3 cm) to a height exceeding the average annual level of snow cover in your area. Mesh materials protect not only from mice and voles, but also from hares and beavers. The only inconvenience is that they need to be reinstalled every year so as not to interfere with the growth of the tree in thickness.

Rodents pose the greatest danger to gardens at the end of winter

It will help to protect trees and Arbo-Flex from rodents - the animals simply do not perceive the bark covered with it as something edible.

In more detail about the problems that rodents deliver and methods of dealing with them, we have already told in one of our articles.

Removing dead branches

In winter, you can perform sanitary pruning - removal of dead branches. Other therapeutic and preventive measures are best done in spring and summer, when the tree is in the active growth phase and can successfully (with good immunity) respond to damage or the introduction of auxiliary or nutrient elements into the soil. Problematic (fatty, competing, intersecting) branches, since they are alive, are recommended to be removed at a temperature not lower than -8 ° C or to postpone pruning until spring.

Work at height. Pruning

[stextbox id="info" bgcolor="78C4FF" cbgcolor="78C4FF" bgcolorto="78C4FF" cbgcolorto="78C4FF"]In snowy winters, care must be taken to prevent crown breakage under the weight of snow. For example, thuy branches are tied together to avoid collapse.[/stextbox]

What to do after freezing rain

If the branches of a tree have been broken off by freezing rain, the resulting wounds must be treated. It is better to entrust this matter to specialists . They will make a clean cut, disinfect the exposed wood with a fungicide and cover it with a special insulating layer. Even if the wounds are at high altitude, arborists will get to them without injuring the tree itself, and take the necessary measures.


In winter, when tree branches are bare and easily accessible for inspection, skeletal branches are checked for safety for the surrounding area. Also, this is a great time to install Cobra - crown harness.

We order a landscape project

It is best to do design work in winter: landscape designers are less loaded at this time, and it is more convenient for the customer himself - by the beginning of the spring season, the project will be ready and you can start its implementation. The creation of landscape project can take from 20 days to three months, depending on the complexity and composition of the project documentation.


Winter problems of trees

Severe frosts (for certain species), as well as sudden changes in temperature, cause disruption of physiological processes in plants.

Tree care during the leafless period

The tree may have problems in the root system zone (then it falls out with the roots), in the trunk zone, which causes breakage at the site of damage, as well as in the crown zone , in which case branches and competing trunks fall.

Old wounds from broken branches. What to do with them?

There are situations when wounds on a tree, obtained, for example, as a result of the breaking of large branches by a strong wind, could not be treated immediately after their occurrence. Several months have passed. What to do?

Winter garden maintenance | How to prepare trees for wintering?

How to prepare the garden for winter? How to take care of the garden in winter? These questions are asked by many people who are not indifferent to their garden. Although all traditional cultures can easily adapt themselves to the onset of cold weather, they also need outside help. Winters can be the most unpredictable, so for easy adaptation of plants, you need to properly approach their care. A favorable wintering of the garden depends on the activities carried out in the fall for easy adaptation.

The specialists of our nursery " DivoSad " are always ready to help you prepare your site for the next season. More information can be found on the Garden Maintenance page.

In order to prepare the garden for the winter period, a number of certain procedures should be carried out already in the autumn. What actions need to be taken will be indicated below.

Cleaning leaves in the garden

Leaves left in the garden can serve as a good breeding ground for many diseases, as well as the reproduction of pests that will have a negative impact on growing crops in the next year.

Fallen leaves are an ideal wintering ground for many pests and bacteria. Therefore, you should prepare the garden for the winter as soon as possible and get rid of its leaves, whether they are leaves of shrubs, trees or flowers.

What to do with the collected leaves and where to put them

  • You can collect the leaves in one compost heap for faster disposal;
  • you can use the foliage in the mulching of the soil of flower crops to protect it in the winter;
  • if the foliage is infested with pests, then you should get rid of it as soon as possible. Burning or removal outside the garden are ideal solutions in this case.

Getting rid of carrion

Not only fallen leaves, but also fruits can harm the soil of the garden. Fallen fruits can serve as a source of soil contamination with fungal diseases. The fungal disease moniliosis is one of the most common soil diseases, which can not only adversely affect it, but also completely destroy the future crop.

But it is not only fallen fruits that need to be removed from the garden: trees should be carefully examined and rid of already unusable fruits.

Unlike leaves, fruit should not be piled up to rot, let alone left in the garden. A harmless way to get rid of them will be a deep hole. The dug hole can be filled with fruits only 20-30 centimeters.

Preparing conifers

All coniferous trees and shrubs in the garden also require special preparation to successfully overcome winter conditions. Snow falling on needles can damage and break off future shoots of plants, therefore, since autumn, it is necessary to pull the branches of coniferous plants with a strong rope (twine) as much as possible, fixing them well. This will make it easier to shake off the snow from such plants as necessary.

Garden disease prevention

Plant care in the winter garden also takes place. After harvesting fallen leaves, it is recommended to treat the surface of the garden and all growing shrubs with fungicidal preparations. Copper sulfate solutions (at a dosage of 0.3 kg per 10 liters) and urea solutions (at a dosage of 0.5 kg per 10 liters) are used as such agents. It is recommended to process not only the shrubs themselves, but also for the prevention of the surface area of ​​the garden.

Loosening the soil

By loosening the soil around shrubs and flowers, you can also get rid of pests and bacteria living in it. When loosening, sleeping pest larvae rise to the surface of the soil and remain on it, while they become vulnerable to winter frosts and die.

Loosening the soil around growing trees should be done to a depth of about 20 centimeters, around shrubs - 10 centimeters, and around flowering plants - 7 centimeters. This procedure should be carried out with special care, for fear of damage to the root systems of the plants themselves.

Removal of vegetation

Not only fallen leaves and fruits, but also the remains of plants and shrubs should be removed from the surface of the garden. Cut grass, dry branches, lichens, dead plant remains - all this is also a source of disease in a growing garden. It is recommended to burn such unsuitable vegetation.

Caring for the structure and quality of the garden soil

It is in autumn that the garden should be improved. So, the improvement of the structure of heavy soil should be carried out at the very beginning of autumn. For this purpose, sand, humus, compost are laid on the surface of the soil, and then they are dug together with the soil to the depth of one shovel bayonet. The addition of such substances is carried out one bucket per square meter.

If the soil is too light and loose, add compost and humus, and then dig. During digging, minerals and fertilizers should also be added to normal, fairly fertile soil in the proportion of 1.5 buckets per square meter.

It should be noted that if the soil is normal and does not require digging and improving its structure, then it should not be done in vain. Indeed, in its process, it is possible to damage the soil and harm the microflora, while killing all the nutrients in it. If the digging process has nevertheless been started, then at least large clods of earth should not be broken and turned over.

Thus, preparing the garden for winter requires a lot of trouble. It is enough to take care of plants and trees on time, then there will be no problems.

Improvement with moisture and mulching

Another important condition for soil nutrition is the sufficient presence of moisture in it. Therefore, in late autumn, it should be moistened. This will help prevent soil, shrubs and trees from drying out, protect root systems from frost, and increase overall frost resistance.

It is best to irrigate before the first frost, but after the garden has been cleared of fallen leaves.

One shrub and one young tree require about 3-4 buckets of water, one mature tree - about 5 buckets.

It is very important to water gradually, waiting for the water to soak into the soil. The water temperature should be 5 degrees above atmospheric air. After watering, it is necessary to immediately mulch with peat, humus or compost.

Preparing inventory for the next season

Inventory should also not be left unattended. Before removing it, it is necessary to:

  • clean off dirt and soil residues;
  • rinse as needed;
  • sharpen blunt elements;
  • decontaminate.

Preparing trees and shrubs for the onset of winter

How can trees be preserved in winter so that they successfully survive frosts and begin to actively develop in the next period? Favorable wintering of trees in the garden requires special responsibility. Tree care before winter includes the following activities:

  1. Removing the catch rings. For the winter, all previously installed hunting belts or rings should be removed from the trees. Disposable devices should be burned immediately, reusable devices should be washed and put away in a protected place before the next harvest period.
  2. Pruning fruit trees. Pruning of trees and shrubs should be carried out even before the onset of the first frost for sanitary purposes. If pruning is performed during frosts, then such an event will bring a lot of damage to the trees, because the cold negatively affects the wood, it becomes more fragile and prone to damage. All dry, dead branches, shoots susceptible to diseases and pests, as well as broken branches should be removed from trees and shrubs for the winter period. Intact branches that grow inward or cross and tangle with each other are also pruned. The resulting sections should be treated with a fungicide solution to prevent fungal diseases.
  3. Removal of dry bark and lichens. It is these areas that are the "home" for pests, so if you find them, you should get rid of them as soon as possible. Removal should be done with a wooden scraper.
  4. Whitewashing process. Whitewashing protects trees from strong temperature changes and pests - factors that can lead to adverse consequences for a tree. The procedure is the final step in preparing the tree for winter. Whitening should be done only after removing the trapping rings, pruning shrubs and ridding the soil and plants of unnecessary dead bark and lichens. Whitewashing is usually done on the entire lower part of the tree from the very surface of the earth. The material used is a mixture of copper sulphate, lime and water. For a more durable whitewash, it is recommended to add wood glue.
  5. Rodent protection. Young plants are most affected by rodents. To protect them from mice, hares and other rodents, it is recommended to protect the plant with a special mesh purchased at the store.

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