Although you might think that your trees and shrubs don’t need any extra care for winter other than the usual trimming and pruning, there are several other important steps you need to take to make sure your plants not only survive the winter conditions in New Jersey but thrive in the spring and future seasons. Cold temperatures, strong winds, heavy snow and ice, and dry conditions can all negatively affect the health of your trees and shrubs. If you have fragile or young plants, this winter preparation is particularly important. Even though winter is still a few months away, the Tree and Shrub Care Program from the professionals at Harvest Lawn Care can help make sure your plants are healthy and prepared.
One of the first and most important steps in winter tree and shrub maintenance is to replenish the mulch around the base of your plants. Adding a new layer of mulch will help to protect and insulate the roots of your trees and shrubs from the cold temperatures as well as the freezing and thawing process that comes with snow and ice. You could use typical wood chip mulch, but if you want to save yourself some money and a trip to the hardware store, try using leaves you have raked up from your yard and shredded! Just make sure to not place mulch too close to the trunks of your trees and shrubs, as this can cause rot and disease to infect your plants. Additionally, mulch will provide your trees and shrubs with nutrients as it begins to break down over time.
Another crucial step for winter tree and shrub maintenance is to trim or prune your plants. This process helps to keep your plants in the shape that you want them, but also curbs overgrowth, and encourages stronger, healthier growth in future seasons. You should only trim your plants after they have gone dormant, however, because trimming before this will cause the plant to produce new growth unable to withstand winter conditions. You can recognize dormancy in your deciduous trees and shrubs when all their leaves have fallen.
In addition to replenishing mulch and trimming, you need to make sure your trees and shrubs have plenty of water to survive the dry, cold conditions that occur in the winter months. For evergreen trees that keep their foliage all through the winter, such as cedars and firs, proper hydration is especially important. Moisture will also help the soil to retain heat, protecting your plant’s roots from ground-penetrating frost.
You should continue watering your plants as usual during the early fall months, but after a few weeks, you should stop watering in order to prompt your trees and shrubs to prepare for the winter. Just like trimming too early, watering too late can signal your plant to keep producing new growth that won’t be winter-hardy. Once your trees and shrubs have gone dormant, you should give them one last, deep watering to provide your plants with all the moisture they need for the cold months ahead.
Anti-desiccant treatments are very important for protecting the foliage of your plants. As previously discussed, retaining moisture is critical for trees and shrubs in the cold and dry winter months, particularly for evergreen species. Desiccation, or drying out, is one of the main causes of damage to evergreen plants in the winter, but this can easily be prevented with anti-desiccant applications. Anti-desiccant treatments help to lock moisture inside the plant by creating a protective layer around foliage that limits how much water is able to escape the tree or shrub. Several treatments of anti-desiccants may be necessary for areas with particularly cold winters like New Jersey.
Other treatments to consider are fertilization and dormant oil applications. Fertilization will help to nourish your trees throughout the fall and winter seasons, while dormant oil applications will protect your plants by curbing overwintering insects and their eggs, preventing future problems with bugs like aphids and spider mites before they begin.
If you expect snow or ice, consider building a small structure over any fragile or young plants in your lawn. This will help protect your new plants from the heavyweight and potential contact with ice and snow. You might also need to add a tree wrap to these plants or any tree and shrub species with thin bark, which can be easily damaged by sunscald and temperature fluctuations.
To make sure your trees and shrubs are prepared for the upcoming winter conditions in New Jersey, call the professionals at Harvest Lawn Care. Our Tree and Shrub Care Program can help to make sure your plants make it through the winter and are healthy for years to come. You can visit our website to view all of our tree and shrub care services, as well as our lawn care, flea and tick, and commercial service options. Please reach out to us on our contact form for more information or give us a call at 800-800-LAWN. And be sure to read our monthly blog for more educational articles about taking care of all your yard’s needs!