Preparing Your Trees and Shrubs for Winter - Scientific Plant Service Skip Navigation

Preparing Your Trees and Shrubs for Winter

prepare trees and shrubs for winter

Learn what you can do to prepare your trees and shrubs for winter.

Although trees will remain dormant through winter, they are not immune to the cold and dry conditions. Although they may not show it, trees do experience the stress of harsh winter weather. A lack of water does the most damage, and letting a tree head into winter with dry roots can signal significant spring problems. They may look normal in the spring, but trees that have weakened over the winter will often die back in late summer. If you want to help keep your trees and shrubs healthy year-round, follow these tips for preparing your trees and shrubs for winter. 

Watering Trees and Shrubs To Prepare For Winter

Keep watering your trees when the soil is dry until the ground begins to freeze. Watering your trees is essential because water acts as an insulator for the tree and the soil. Soil that stays moist will be warmer, and plant cells plump with water are less susceptible to damage from the cold. 


Mulch is a vital part of preparing your trees and shrubs for winter. Add a layer of organic mulch in the fall to protect the soil from moisture loss and help regulate soil temperature throughout the winter months. A plant space more exposed to freezing and thawing is also prone to cracks in the soil, which dry out a tree’s roots. Mulch acts as a blanket that prevents this damage. Proper mulching is no more than two inches of mulch over the soil and no mulch against the tree trunk or shrub stem.

Preparing Young Trees for Winter 

Young or newly planted trees are extra susceptible to drought injury during winter. To avoid damage, make sure your young trees and shrubs are properly watered through summer and fall up to when the ground freezes. Proper watering is deep and infrequent. Make sure the entire root zone is moist and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Caring for Evergreens

Evergreen trees, although beautiful in the winter, can lose water through their needles after exposure to that dry winter air. This means that they need more stored-up water going into the winter season to make up for what they will lose. Cold, dry winds can strip moisture from evergreen trees faster than their roots can absorb it. Because of their vulnerability, applying an anti-transpirant to the needles or leaves will help prevent the plants from losing more water that the roots could absorb.

Invigorate Roots

Deep root fertilization in November or December invigorates the tree’s root system which in turn invigorates healthier shoot growth next year. Scientific Plant Service’s custom-blended deep root fertilizer includes all macro and micronutrients plus mycorrhizae, a specialized fungus that attaches to the plant’s root system and helps the plant absorb water and nutrients.

Guard Against Salt Damage

Heavy accumulations of deicing salts from surface application or sprays, especially along roadsides or sidewalks can cause leaf and needle scorch and may kill buds and branch terminals. If you are using de-icers, use only enough to melt the snow or ice. If the area receives sunlight, less salt is required to accomplish melting.

Ice and Snow Damage

Heavy snow or ice can damage trees and shrubs. Gently remove snow from shrubs with an upward movement of a broom. Do not attempt to remove ice from shrubs because ice-laden branches are brittle and more likely to break. Wait until buds begin to expand in the Spring before pruning dead or broken branches.

Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare

Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.

We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

This entry was posted on Friday, November 6th, 2020 at . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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