Winter Tree Care

Trees that were planted within the last three years in your landscape are susceptible to sunscald in the Colorado winter months. Trees with thin bark barriers, like ash, maple, honey locust, or fruit trees are at risk for a longer period of time. Now is the time to protect them before it’s too late. Our drastic temperature changes over the winter months can be very damaging to the ability of trees to move water and food. Wrapping trees is a simple, yet effective way to help protect your trees and prevent serious damage.

Sunscald takes place with extreme weather and moisture changes. For example, this past week, we enjoyed a sunny 60+ degree day, followed by blizzard conditions at night. We all know that temperature swings and sudden weather events are not uncommon in Colorado. The winds and freezing temperatures can be detrimental to your landscape.

So how does sunscald take place?

There are three main culprits that contribute to sunscald in deciduous trees:

  1. Deciduous trees lose their leaves so the trunks are no longer shaded.
  2. Dramatic changes in temperatures like winter days and frigid nights.
  3. The winter sun that is low in the sky receives the sun’s rays more directly on the trunk.

Come spring, a tree that has suffered sunscald will be particularly vulnerable to other issues like fungi, organisms, and insects.

The best solution to protect your trees is to use a tree wrap that can be found at our sister company, Fossil Creek Nursery. This hearty crepe paper insulates the tree and should be applied for the first few years after planting the tree in your landscape. Keep your trees wrapped through the winter months, but remember to remove it in the spring. You’ll be dealing with a whole host of other problems if you leave it on into the later spring and summer months, like insects or disease.

Winter watering is also imperative through the Colorado winter months. Watering helps supply the trees with the water required through the extremes. You can hand water the trees or use a soaker hose, starting in the fall. Slow, deep watering is best. Look at your tree and measure the trunk diameter. For each inch of thickness, water 10 gallons. Remember a tree’s root system can spread twice or even three times as wide as the height of the tree. Your sprinkler will not provide water to your new tree from October until late April and often it can be quite dry.

Keep up with winter watering from now through to March, up to twice a month. You’ll want to pay attention to how much moisture we have been getting, because sometimes you may only need one deep watering per month. Mulch is also an excellent way to keep vital moisture in.

Hopefully these helpful tips will keep your trees looking great and ready for spring. Feel free to contact the professionals at Alpine Gardens with questions about your winterizing your landscape. It is also a great time to make plans for your outdoor oasis for next season.