Posted: December 07, 2023

Mature trees stand sturdy and strong. They seem to be impervious to the elements as winter sets in, while you bundle up in extra cold-weather gear like a thicker coat and a hat and gloves to stay warm.

When Old Man Winter delivers harsh, bitter winds and heavy snow and ice, the well-established trees can usually handle it. They have adapted to the local conditions and are settled in their soils, especially if they’ve been well cared for over the years.

But young trees or recently transplanted trees aren’t as established. Conditions like sun scalding, discoloration, die-back, and frost heaving can occur. And excess snow, ice, and salt can certainly be cause for concern when a new tree is taking root.

Preventing winter injury on newly planted trees and protecting plants from frost can help young trees survive the season so they can continue to beautify your Massachusetts home landscape for years to come.

Let’s talk about ways you can protect newly planted trees before the coldest season arrives.

How Do You Winterize Newly Planted Trees

How do you protect newly planted trees in the winter? There are multiple steps you can take to ensure your trees are safe and secure before Old Man Winter arrives.

In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do this fall to give your trees a boost, no matter what the Massachusetts weather delivers – everything from just wet and cold days to thick snow, heavy frost, and freezing temperatures.

Follow these tips when protecting plants from frost.

Should You Water Newly Planted Trees In The Winter?

Since newly planted trees don’t have a deep root system that can reach the water that is deep in the soil during winter, they need hydration. From October through mid-November, water your young tree’s roots well before the ground freezes.

During a milder winter, you can add a few winter waterings as well, especially if you see any browning needles on your evergreens.

Should I Cover A Newly Planted Tree In Winter?

Newly planted or young trees, as well as trees with thinner bark, can benefit from a little winter tree protection.

Why? To prevent sunscald, which is when the sun heats up the tree’s bark for a short period of time, but then once the clouds return and the cold sets in, it can lead to cracks. You might see evergreen needles suffer as well when this happens as they soak in the sunlight and then immediately dry out.

To protect trees, you can wrap them. Wrap the trunks of deciduous trees or trees with thin bark with plastic tree guards. Protect the trunk from the base up to the lowest branches.

For arborvitae and other evergreens, you can wrap them in burlap. To do this, loosely wrap the tree from the lowest branches to slightly above the highest peak and secure it with twine at the top, middle, and bottom.

Wrapping evergreens with burlap can also protect against winter deer browsing.

Do Newly Planted Trees Need To Be Covered During A Freeze?

When it comes to freezing temperatures, fruit trees are most susceptible to frost damage.

Temperatures below 32 degrees signal a coming frost. This is when you want to cover your tree.

To protect smaller trees, put stakes in the ground around the tree and drape it with a sheet, burlap, frost blanket, plastic, or other cloth during the day before the freeze. Ensure the cover goes all the way to the ground to help hold heat around the tree.

Winter Protection For Newly Planted Trees In Cape Cod

Remember these key tips to prevent cold damage on newly planted trees:

  • Keep watering with a slow drip irrigation system if possible as late into the fall as you can, especially on evergreens, to minimize winter drying and desiccation.
  • Treat evergreen plants with trans film/vapor guard two to three times starting in November and continuing through January.
  • Wrap exposed plants with burlap to minimize winter drying and salt damage from strong ocean winds.
  • Prune trees to lessen/mitigate weight-bearing limbs. Making crown reduction cuts to improve air movement.

Cold Damage On Newly Planted Trees

When you experience winter injury on newly planted trees, you want to act as quickly as possible to nurse those trees back to good health.

After a heavy snow, gently shake or knock excess snow from the branches of your trees before it freezes in hard clumps. Don’t do this if they’re encased in ice, though, or you could cause damage.

After a freeze is over, water your tree thoroughly a couple times per week over the next few weeks to help it regenerate growth and prevent long-term freeze damage.

After a harsh winter, apply fertilizer to your young trees to ensure they receive essential nutrients.

At Hartney Greymont, we have both ISA and Massachusetts certified arborists located in Needham, Concord, Danvers, Cape Cod, and the surrounding areas. Give us a call to help prepare your trees for this winter season.

Here’s How You Can Tell If A Tree Branch Is Dead Or Dormant.

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