Prepare Your Trees for Winter | Blog | Front Range Arborists

Prepare Your Trees for Winter

Your trees provide more than just beauty to your landscape design.

They can help lower your heating and cooling costs, provide food and habitat for wildlife, and even add value to your home. So, it is important to include them in your winter preparation plan.

Winter can wreak havoc on your beautiful trees. Take these simple precautions to help them weather the harsh cold, snow, and ice that comes with the season.

Clean it up

Cleaning up your trees and the areas surrounding them is a great way to start your winter preparations. Late fall is the ideal time to remove dead or fallen trees and dead branches. Some cleanup projects will be easy to do on your own, while removing large fallen trees or dead branches from high limbs may require the assistance of a tree company. While you are cleaning up your trees, take notice of any new saplings and if they need to be removed or relocated.


Depending on when you do your pre-winter cleanup, pruning may be part of the process. The purpose of pruning is to remove damaged or dying branches and to improve the form of the tree. One of the benefits of pruning is it gives trees the strength they will need to support the heavy weight of snow and prevent falling branches.

Keep in mind trees should be pruned after they have gone dormant. When pruning, remember to do so just outside the point where a branch joins a larger one. For large jobs, don’t hesitate to call in some professional help.


The bark of some trees—especially young ones—is affected by winter sunscald when they are exposed to rapidly changing weather conditions. On those glorious sunny winter days, the cells on the bark open up but slam shut when the temperature drops back down again. A tree that has sunscald can be susceptible to diseases that keep the trunk from growing and producing as much fruit as a healthy tree. The only way to avoid sunscald and the other conditions that can damage the bark is by wrapping the trunk. The trunk of your trees should be wrapped to just above the bottom set of branches. Remove the wrap in the spring.
Wrapping your trees can also prevent mice and other hungry rodents from chewing on your trees. If paper wrap doesn’t do the truck, cover the base of the tree with a wire mesh wrap, buried a couple of inches into the ground to prevent pests from digging through it.


Placing mulch around the trunks can help your trees survive winter for two reasons. First, the mulch will retain moisture to help insulate the roots. Second, it will help moderate the temperature of the soil. During harsh winter conditions, soil can expand and contract, damaging the roots and pushing saplings out of the ground.

To avoid providing winter bedding for mice, we recommend placing your mulch once the ground has frozen. Pile two to four inches of mulch around the trunk; taking care not to place mulch directly against the trunk of the tree. When mulch is applied too close to the trunk, it can limit air flow and encourage fungus to grow.

Recycling tip
Rather than disposing of your fallen leaves, consider recycling them by placing leaves around the base of your trees instead of mulch.


Arm your trees for the winter by boosting the soil around them. A slow-release fertilizer that is rich in nutrients can provide your tree with the strength it will need to survive a harsh winter and prevent diseases.


Planting in the fall may seem counterintuitive, but it really is the ideal time to place new trees in the ground. The cool temperatures of late fall and winter encourage the development of roots in new trees that will be ready to grow quickly, come spring.

When selecting trees to plant in the fall, keep in mind trees wrapped in burlap are perfect for fall planting. Bare root trees should be planted after they have gone dormant.

Ongoing Care

Throughout the winter, be mindful of your trees when performing maintenance in their vicinity. Using products that contain sodium chloride to melt ice may harm your trees, as it impedes their ability to take in necessary moisture, nourishment, and oxygen. Look for products that contain potassium, magnesium chloride, or calcium instead.

When snow accumulates on branches, it can strain the limbs. Gently remove the snow to lighten the load. Ice build up should be removed by melting off with hot water, if possible. Never break off ice build-up.

The cold and ice of winter can be harsh on your trees. By taking the time to perform some simple preventive measures, you can ensure they survive the winter unscathed and be ready to bloom again in the spring.

For assistance with your pre-winter preparations, contact Front Range Arborists. Our team of professional arborists provides a full range of services for all of your tree and turf care needs.

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