Winter is here, and many of us have been active with standard winter maintenance: shoveling, plowing, and ice removal. Have you taken much time though to evaluate the condition of your shrubs and trees though? A harsh winter can do some serious damage to your beautifully landscaped bushes and trees.  With a little extra care prior to the winter season, however, you can easily combat some of that damage.

The Damage Winter Weather Can Cause to Trees and Shrubs

Snow and ice cause many types of damage to our trees and shrubs. When the soil is repeatedly frozen and thawed out again, it expands and contracts. This is known as frost heaving, and it causes damage to roots, new plantings, and shrubs. Rodents can also cause major damage in the wintertime to trees and shrubs. Rabbits, mice and deer feed on the bark, foliage, and twigs. If you've ever experienced this, you know that they can eat a bush right down to the ground. Deer can cause additional damage when they rub their antlers on trees.  The powerful strength of those antlers can cause breakage or injury.

How to Prepare Trees and Shrubs for Winter Weather

·         Prevent frost heaving: Add a four - six inch layer of mulch around trees and shrubs to keep soil temperatures more consistent.

·         Protect tree limbs from snow and ice damage: Small trees and clump trees, like birch, are most susceptible to winter damage. Wrap small trees or the leaders together using strips of tough cloth or carpet. (A local carpet supplier may be glad to provide you with carpet remnants.) Of course, these strips need to be taken off  in spring to allow for the stem to move freely. 

·         Protect trees and shrubs from rodent damage during winter: Wrap quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth around the trunk of trees. Extend the cylinder a few inches below the ground and 18-24 inches over the anticipated snow line. These measurements account for protection from mice and rabbits. This cloth can be left on the entire year but should be large enough to accommodate some growth for the trunk. Plastic tree guards are also a great option for small trees. Another popular option for trees is repellents with thiram. Shrub beds can be protected well from rabbits with chicken wire. 

With these tips in mind, be sure to add tree and shrub upkeep to the usual list of winter maintenance activities like shoveling, plowing and ice removal.  Your home will surely have the best curb appeal in the entire neighborhood!