Winter Protection Trees & Shrubs
First winters in a new environment can be a concern if there is not adequate snow coverage on the roots as they are the most cold susceptible part of the plant. If by mid-November there is not at least 4” – 6” of snow around your plant, cover with 8” of flax straw in a 3’ circle. (Wheat straw can be used but is more attractive to rodents.)
Evergreens and marginally hardy shrubs benefit from the use of screening with burlap to protect from winter wind.Put 4 stakes in the ground around the plant to make a square frame. Staple the burlap to the frame ensuring the branches are not touching the burlap. Plants generally do not like to be rubbed or continuously touched. Leave the top open to allow snow to drop in and cover the roots. Marginally hardy plants may also benefit from placing bags of leaves around the stem for extra insulation. If you are trying to start trees in more open areas or are toying with less hardy varieties, it is a good idea to surround the stem with insulation for the first several winters. A reasonably priced way to do this is to use stucco wire. Make a narrow fence approximately 2’ wide around the tree with the wire. Fill the structure with flax straw. Place a jar of mouse poison sideways near the stem to deter any winter snackers. The top branches will stick out, but they are the hardiest part of the tree. Once the tree is established, this will no longer be necessary.
Plants should be insulated near the end of October or early November and then unwrapped in early April. You do not want to leave the wrappings and insulation on too long because it could cause stem rot from warmth or moisture.