Landscape Logic: Wrap and water your trees to protect them against freezing winter temperatures
To protect young trees, the general rule of thumb around the country is to wrap them in late November and remove the wrapping in April. But here in Colorado, we know that weather patterns and calendars don’t always line up. Freeze can, and recently did, occur early in the fall. But don’t despair if your tree got caught without a blanket in October. If you planted a new tree this fall or have a young tree in your landscape, it’s not too late to wrap it. Despite the cold temperatures we’ve already seen this fall, it’s still important to protect your trees from winter damage.
Changes in temperature, especially those crazy days when the temperature drops 20 degrees in two hours, can cause frost cracks or split bark. The tree bark can also suffer sunscald, which are burns caused by sun exposure once the leaves have dropped, leaving the young bark vulnerable.
There may already be damage from the season’s first frost, but wrapping now can help protect young trees against further damage.
If you’ve got an evergreen tree with brown needles after an extreme temperature change, don’t despair. We won’t know the extent of the damage until spring, so don’t give up on your tree or shrub yet. Be patient; keep watering and caring for it. When temperatures go below freezing, don’t water the soil. But you can mist the needles to help protect them and possibly mitigate the damage. As we’ve seen with trees hit by previous deep freezes, needles may be damaged but the buds that contain spring growth may have been spared.
Dr. James Klett, of Colorado State University, and certified arborist Patrick O’Meara shared expertise for this week’s landscape tip.