Trees are the crown jewels of a completed and beautiful landscape. They add interest and texture. They also represent a significant investment, as new trees can cost several hundred dollars. When you have new trees installed in your landscape, the first year is the most crucial for setting your tree on the path of a long, healthy life. Winter is often the challenge for new trees. Here's what you can do to make sure your new tree survives through the first winter.
Your tree will need a little extra insulation during the winter. Before the first frost, spread a thick layer of mulch over the ground around the trunk of your tree. Mulch helps to prevent the roots from experiencing fast freezes and temperature fluctuations. Make sure the mulch doesn't touch the bark of the trunk, as the moisture in the mulch can damage the bark.
2. Protect the trunk
If you live in an area where the temperature goes up and down drastically, your tree will need bark protection. When temperature drop below freezing at night but warm with the sun during the day, the cells in your trees back can rupture and lead to dead patches and vulnerability to infestation from insects. A simple plastic wrap can help keep this from happening.
Plastic wraps can also help protect tender young bark from becoming food for foraging rabbits and deer. These animals rip off the outer bark, leaving the interior of the tree exposed. if too much bark is removed, the tree will no longer have the ability to transport nutrients up and down the trunk. It will slowly die over spring when the roots are no longer able to get food from the leaves during photosynthesis.
3. Keep watering
Trees need water even when the weather gets cold. Many people make the mistake of only watering when the weather is hot. Trees need moisture to last through the winter. Water helps to protect the roots from permanent damage when the ground freezes. Provide deep watering every few days into late autumn. Once the ground is frozen, you don't have to water, but it helps to water when you have a warm spell above freezing.
4. Remove snow and ice
If you have a heavy snow storm, clear snow from the branches of your new tree. Heavy snow can cause permanent changes to the shape of young branches, affecting your tree's growth pattern for years to come.