New trees and shrubs take time to establish themselves, requiring regular care and maintenance after they have been planted. The addition of these trees and shrubs to a garden right before winter, while the best time to plant them, requires even more care to ensure they get through the season alive.
Knowing how trees and shrubs normally prepare themselves for a long winter is vital in caring for new trees and shrubs planted this winter.
Watering New Trees and Shrubs
Trees store up as much water as possible during the fall months because water in the ground freezes and becomes unavailable to them. So, watering your new trees and shrubs is one of the most important care steps you can take for these plants. Plant roots need to stay alive for the winter season, otherwise the plants die before springs arrives. During the fall months, and all the way up until the first frost, water the soil around your trees and shrubs generously.
Roots are especially important in winter care, because it is the roots that will determine whether or not the tree survives. When the ground is frozen a tree’s roots are unable to take up anymore winter and can dry out leading to rot and death. A filled root is able to sustain itself in earth, so daily watering for trees and shrubs is key.
Mulching New Trees and Shrubs
In winter the ground will freeze solid, but what most people do not realize is that only the top layer of ground is frozen, leaving earth beneath that roots are able to survive in. While a frozen layer of earth above a trees roots won’t outright kill the roots, it can prevent water reaching those roots and cause water loss at a higher rate as the temperature rises and falls.
To aid a tree or shrub’s ability to survive a long and hard winter, add mulch around the base of the tree. A generous amount of mulch will keep moisture in the earth beneath it and also provides a buffer from the snow, cold, and ice. This buffer acts as insulation, helping to regulate the soil temperature around these new garden additions. Along with regular watering, add mulching to your lawn management, lawn care routine, to reduce the risk of losing any plants.
Covering New Trees and Shrubs
Another way to give new trees and shrubs a fighting chance during the long winter months is by covering them with fabric or cloth. Realistically, any fabric or cloth can be used, but there are materials made specifically for this purpose that are both efficient and have a garden aesthetic. During any brief or prolonged freeze episodes, drape or wrap the new trees and shrubs in cloth, from top to bottom. Try to avoid contact with any foliage, but as long as you protect the majority of the plant it increases the chances of survival.
Covers that are used should be removed as soon as the risk of frost has passed, but the main purpose of this is to retain as much heat near the tree as possible. This tactic, in addition to mulching, will help regulate the temperature near the tree in order to reduce the amount of shock it will experience when temperatures drop suddenly.
As your tree matures it will be better able to regulate and manage the changes that come with the season, but at such an important stage trees need managed care if they are going to survive. The health, shape, and ability to thrive is all dependent on the first couple years of life.