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How to Winterize Your Trees

Winter has arrived! Here in the Midwest, we’ve reached freezing temperatures, and even have some snowfall! I love winter, but there certainly is a lot to do in the garden to prepare for the cold.

Winterizing is the best thing you can do to ensure that your tree or shrub stays healthy through the cold season and comes back full force next spring, especially if you’ve recently added some young flowering trees or shrubs to your landscape this year.

Colorado Blue Spruce

Colorado Blue Spruce

As fall turns to winter the temperature drops and the soil freezes, making your trees and shrubs uncomfortable and unstable. The root system of a young tree can become seriously damaged by the fluctuating temperatures of winter. Additionally, the bark that protects your tree becomes prone to splitting. There are only a few steps you have to take to winterize your trees and shrubs and make sure they come back thriving.

1. Mulching

Mulching is the cheapest and easiest way to protect your plants through winter. I recommend mulching all of your perennials, shrubs and trees, and anything else you want to return next year. Mulching keeps the roots warm and provides much-needed nutrients.

2. Pruning

Get rid of all the excess dead, diseased and over-bearing branches in late fall. This encourages new growth in the spring, decreases the threat of storm damage and discourages disease and insects.

3. Fertilizing and Aerating

Make sure you fertilize your trees and shrubs with all the essential nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. Also, aerate your soil, especially if it is compacted and not very well drained. Compacted soil suffocates the roots and retains water, which can drown your plant.

4. Wrapping

If you live in a region with cold, windy and long winters, you may want to consider wrapping or covering your tree. You can either cover the entire tree with a protective burlap tree cover, or you can wrap the trunk in tree wrap plastic.

Trees are a wonderful addition to any landscape. A small amount of planning and care is an investment that will yield a big return next season.


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