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Winter Protection for Trees & Shrubs

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Here in Northeast Ohio, our trees and shrubs face a whole range of threats during winter, both from the weather itself and from animal pests.

  • Cold dry winds can dry out trees, especially evergreens
  • The weight of heavy snow and ice breaks branches, leading to a damaged and unsightly plant
  • Road salt and spray damages leaf tissue on evergreens
  • The deep freeze of winter causes evergreen leaves to desiccate and “burn”, leaving them brown and crispy
  • Sun reflecting off snow can scald and blister tree/shrub trunks and branches
  • And deer will devour anything they can reach (we all know that there’s no such thing as a “deer proof” plant!)

The good news is that all of these things can be prevented with just a little planning and effort.

Protect Trees & Shrubs from Winter Wind, Snow and Deer Damage

The most effective winter protection for trees and shrubs is burlap. Eco-friendly, biodegradable and strong, burlap is like duct tape for your landscape.

Burlap fabric is ideal for protecting newly planted trees and shrubs, trees or shrubs that were planted late in the season (they tend to have underdeveloped root systems), and trees exposed to drying winter winds, sunscald, snow loads and damaging salt. Plus, deer won’t eat it so plants protected by burlap will make it through winter in one piece.

How to Apply Burlap

There are two ways to apply burlap to your trees and shrubs.

Option 1 – Wrap the Plant in Burlap

The quick, easy way to protect your trees and shrubs is to wrap burlap around the plants and tie it closed with twine.

This option helps protect plants from deer browsing, sunscald and drying winds, but the drawback is that the burlap is directly in contact with the tree or shrub. That could trap moisture against the foliage on evergreens and prevent the plant from “breathing”. And simply wrapping a plant won’t necessarily protect it from heavy snow loads. Still, it’s much better than no protection at all and if you’re late in getting your winter protection in place, it’s the only option.

Option 2 – Build a Burlap Tent

This method takes a little more work but is well worth the effort.

Instead of wrapping the burlap directly around the plant, build a “tent” frame around your shrub or tree using metal or wood stakes and wrap burlap around the frame. If you use wood stakes, you can staple the burlap right to the stakes to keep it in place.

Keep the burlap 6”-10” from the plant and foliage so it can breathe a little. Make sure the burlap extends high enough to keep deer from browsing on the plants inside the tent.

You can also use a burlap fence as a wind break – just set up a row of stakes and attach the burlap.

Of course, you’ll need to drive the stakes into the ground before the soil freezes! So if the snow’s already started flying and the ground is rock hard, go with option 1 instead.

Not sure exactly how to do it? Uncertain which trees or shrubs need protection? Need help getting it set up? Just give us a call at 440-564-1374 and we’ll take care of it for you.

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