How to protect trees and shrubs in the winter

When winter rolls around here in Sudbury, ON, you may be wondering how to protect the trees and shrubs you’ve worked hard to cultivate throughout the growing season. Follow these tips to help ensure that your landscaping makes it to spring unscathed. 

Keep winter in mind when planning your landscaping 

The first step to making sure your shrubs and trees survive the winter is to plant ones that are appropriate for your region. Use this handy map to see which hardiness zone you live in, and then select plants that are tagged for your zone. 

Hardiness describes a plant’s ability to withstand the lowest temperature that is likely to occur in a given area. Choosing plants that are hardy for your region is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your landscaping makes it through the winter. By taking winter into account when designing your landscaping, you can reduce the effort required to winterize your shrubs and trees. 

When you’re planning a new garden, try to plant in places that are sheltered from the wind. If possible, put your most delicate plants in an elevated section of your garden. This will help prevent them from being exposed to the coldest air, which tends to accumulate in low areas. 

How to protect trees and shrubs from cold damage 

Preparation is key to protecting trees and shrubs from winter weather. Proper watering during the growing season will help them cope with dry winter

soil. When the cold hits, winterizing your shrubs and trees can prevent them from getting dried out by harsh gusts. 

Homemade wind shelters are great for protecting trees and shrubs. Start by hammering stakes into the ground around them. Then, wrap burlap around the stakes. Staple the burlap to the stakes to secure it. 

Young shrubs and trees are especially vulnerable to wind damage. If you have young trees, use twine to tie burlap around their trunks. To prevent animals from nesting in the material, wrap it with chicken wire. 

You can also build a shelter to winterize shrubs planted near the road, which are at higher risk of dehydration because they are exposed to salty de-icing treatments. It’s best to use erosion-control fabric rather than burlap because it has finer mesh and won’t allow as much salt to get through. 

To winterize shrubs that are tall and narrow, wrap twine around them. This will prevent ice and snow from accumulating on the branches, which can weigh them down and cause them to break. 

How to protect trees and shrubs using mulch

Mulch is helpful for protecting trees and shrubs against temperature fluctuations, which can cause them to freeze and thaw throughout the winter. Lay a few inches of mulch around the base of your shrubs and trees – especially newly planted ones – to help prevent the soil from losing heat and moisture. It really is that simple. 

Mounding Roses During Sudbury Winters

The technique of mounding plants up for the winter is familiar to many of us, and it can be used to protect a range of delicate plants including tender roses.

In the event that the winter proves too cold for the rose canes, the lower 8-12 inches should be protected so that the plant will be able to grow back from healthy stems and buds. Pile a bucket or so of soil or finished compost over the centre of the plant and leave the canes to support the plant as you add the soil. Cut the roses back to about 2 feet before doing this to make it easier to get to the crown.

You can simply remove any damaged or weak wood in the spring if the winter proves mild, and you'll have a larger shrub, often with more blooms, than if you'd cut the entire shrub back. Butterfly bushes, rose of Sharon, and big leaf hydrangeas can also be treated with this technique.

Things to consider...

  • Evergreens planted in the past year
  • Broad leaved evergreens including: rhododendrons, broad leaved hollies, boxwood
  • Any plants right next to heavily salted roads or sidewalks
  • Evergreens exposed to particularly strong winds
  • Anything planted since the start of September
  • Perennials which are only marginally hardy
  • Japanese maples
  • Any woody plants that die back to near the ground each winter including:
  • Tender roses
  • Butterfly bushes
  • Big leaf hydrangeas (blue and pink varieties)

Not too sure how to protect your plants this winter? Get in touch with Futurescape Landscaping.