Protecting Young Trees During the Winter Months

With the onset of the winter months, there are numerous factors that can cause damage to a young, newly planted tree. However, this doesn’t mean that all efforts to grow a tree are in vain. In fact, there are ways to protect vulnerable trees so that they remain viable long after the cold months of winter have blown away.

Mulch is a simple and inexpensive way to protect and winter-proof a young, newly planted tree. In addition to providing a barrier of protection against wind, freezing temperatures, and frost, covering the base of the tree with mulch also helps trees retain heat from the soil. Because mulch acts as an insulator, it can also prevent damage to a young tree by upheaval. If air temperatures fluctuate too sharply, the soil may be subjected to repeated thawing and freezing patterns. This can cause damage directly to the root or can agitate the soil and cause the upheaval of a young tree. The addition of mulch to the base of the tree helps decrease the chances of this kind of damage.

Many young trees are also susceptible to sunscald during the winter. Sunscald is an injury whereby healthy bark becomes damaged and cracks or peels, causing a fissure within the tree. Sunscalding can be prevented by covering the trunk with a wrap or a plastic tree guard. These preventative measures help by reflecting the sun and insulating the young tree with a soil temperature warmer than that of the air temperature. An
Austin tree removal specialist can help you determine if a tree is no longer viable due to sun scalding. Consider that the earlier the onset of the winter temperatures, the earlier one should wrap the tree. Mid to late fall is a good average. The wrap can then be removed in the spring. Additionally, consider that the chances of avoiding damage caused by sunscalding increase if the tree is wrapped during the winter months for several consecutive years.

Young trees need protection from the weight of ice and snow, too. Wrapping branches with burlap may add an extra layer of protection from cold weather conditions. Staking may also provide additional support, including preventing upheaval . Contact any Austin tree trimming specialist for advice on how to support your growing tree when ice or snow is expected.

If salting is something that’s routinely done where you live, consider planting a tree away from areas that may be heavily salted, such as near roads, or at least far enough away such that salt cannot be sprayed by passing traffic. Also, avoid planting a tree in a high salt content runoff area. If landscaping options, such as where to plant, are limited and you must plant in an area that is likely to be heavily salted, consider choosing a plant that is tolerant of salt content or adding burlap as a protective barrier. An Austin arborist can help you determine which species are most salt tolerant.

Animals seeking shelter or food during the cold winter months may also pose a threat to a young, newly planted tree. An underfed deer population may resort to feeding off the branches of a tree if other food options are unavailable. They may also cause damage to the tree by rubbing their antlers against it during rut. Either repellant or perhaps even a fence may be solutions for protecting trees against deer. Mesh wraps or other guards may be necessary for smaller animals, such as mice or rabbits, which can also damage young trees in spite of their small size.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

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