Young Tree Winter Stem Protection

One of the most essential things we can do to aid with establishment after planting is to protect the trunks of young trees from injury. It is critical in preparing a tree for a long and prosperous existence in the environment. The issue is, how do you safeguard your tree throughout the winter?

Winter exposes trees to a variety of threats, some of which may not be immediately apparent. More than merely cold air, we must be prepared for the harm that might be inflicted by the intense winter sun and tiny animal foraging. There are certain important procedures that may be done to preserve the trunks of young deciduous trees against these dangers and maintain a strong, solid trunk for decades to come. There are several kinds of wraps and cages available; selecting the proper approach is important to efficacy.
How to Keep Your Tree Safe During the Winter

Winter Hazard Protection for Young Trees

As winter draws to a close, two things begin to happen: the sun becomes stronger, and food becomes scarce for many of our four-legged companions. Though these conditions are unconnected, the harm caused by them may end in the same problem: patches of damaged or dead tissue on the trunk, which can lead to stunted growth, faulty trunks, and even tree mortality. We have far less we can do for the tree after this harm has occurred, therefore we should concentrate on avoiding the damage in the first place. Understanding how this damage occurs is critical for determining how to effectively avoid it.

How to Prevent Sunlight Damage to Your Tree

When warm, strong sunshine strikes a tree’s trunk and branches, it may heat up the bark to the point where it starts to break dormancy. This is a regular part of the process of trees waking up after a long, cold winter. However, if the air temperature remains below freezing, the bark will refreeze without solidifying. This may cause the bark and cambium layer to be damaged or killed, resulting in a sunken wound on the trunk. The tree may be able to grow over and heal the opening over time, although these wounds are often never completely closed.

To avoid this injury, we must ensure that the tissue never heats up in the first place. To do this, we must keep light away from the bark. We may do this by wrapping or covering the main trunk with a light-blocking material. This wrap should ideally be white or a light color to reflect as much light as possible while heating up as little as possible.

Wraps are available in a variety of fabrics; we suggest white polypropylene for covering trunks to avoid sunscald. Trees, regardless of material, should only be covered during the winter to prevent girdling the trunk or decay. We suggest covering once the leaves fall in the autumn and removing at bud break in the spring, from Thanksgiving to St. Patrick’s Day.

How to Keep Animals Away From Your Tree

The unwanted attention of animals is another major culprit for which we must be prepared. Rabbits will begin nibbling on the thin bark of young trees after all of the simpler, more nutritious food has been consumed. They may peel off all the bark they can reach, causing widespread girdling and possibly tree death. Deer antler rubbing on trees may also cause substantial harm. Trees with trunk injury may typically leaf out for many years after the damage, but if the wound is too wide and the link between the leaves and roots is not re-established, the roots will ultimately die of hunger.

We need a robust physical barrier to protect the bark from animals. Wrapping the trunk with tree wrap or wire mesh is one option. If we’re guarding against feeding, the mesh openings should be small: 12″ or less. Wrapping for deer protection should only be done using wire mesh, but the holes should be significantly bigger. If caging is required farther away, well-supported chicken wire with wider holes may be used.

When choosing how high to wrap or how tall to build cages, keep in mind that considerable snow buildup may soon render these precautions useless. Wire mesh may be kept on trunks all year to protect them from animals, but it should be examined for girdling and changed if necessary.

Young trees may encounter a variety of challenges during their early years in the environment; however, there are some easy actions we can take to assist prevent these concerns. Our ISA Certified Arborists and Board Certified Master Arborists will be delighted to advise you on the best techniques to maintain your landscaping investment and educate you on how to protect your tree in winter.

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