22 November 10, 2010

In the last couple of columns, I have told you about protecting your plants from the winter winds. Broadleaf evergreen shrubs are particularly susceptible to damage from the drying effects of the wind. As we prepare these plants for the winter, we tend to forget other plants that can be damaged in other ways. Let me tell you about some other plants you will need to protect for the winter.

Many of you have trees planted in your yard. Trees can be an expensive investment. You want to do all you can to protect them. Trees are not as likely to be damaged by the winter wind. They have a thick bark that cuts down on the winds’ ability to pull moisture out of the bark. However, the sun can do damage to these trees. The damage done by the winter sun can be fatal to these trees particularly when the trees are young. Let me tell you what you need to do to protect these trees.

Trees that are flowering trees are susceptible to damage from the sun. This would include flowering cherry, flowering pear, crabapple trees and all of your fruit trees. As the sun beats down on the trunks of these trees during the winter months, the sun warms the bark. As the sun sets, temperatures tend to drop quickly during the winter months. This sudden change in temperature can make the bark on the trunk crack or even pop loose. If this happens often enough during the winter, the bark can loosen all around the circumference of the tree trunk. If this happens, the tree loses its ability to take up water and nutrients. Come the spring the tree can die.

If you wrap the trunk of the tree, you can prevent this sudden temperature change that causes the bark to crack. The old standby is a paper material that comes in a roll. Starting at the base of the tree trunk, you begin wrapping the trunk in a circular pattern, slightly overlapping the material. Keep winding the tree wrap until you reach the first set of branches.  At this point, you can cut off at the roll and use duct tape or any other similar tape to hold the wrap in place. There is also a white plastic tree wrap that has spiral cuts the length of the plastic. All you need to do is start placing the plastic wrap at the base of the tree and continue to wrap until you reach the first set of branches. If there is excess material, you can cut it off with scissors or pruners. The plastic wrap holds itself in place. Both of these materials slow down the warming and cooling process caused by the sun and the nighttime temperatures. This will prevent the damage that can kill your trees. We have both of these products in our store.

Many of these trees have a high sugar content that makes the bark a winter food source for rodents. The tree wrap also helps to prevent the rodents from chewing off the bark and potentially killing the tree.

Frank from Amesbury had e-mailed in a question last week. He had his lawn hydroseeded last month and now the grass is growing but the leaves are covering the grass. He was wondering what he should do about removing the leaves. At this point in time, getting the leaves off will help the germinating grass seed. However, the soil is wet and walking on the soil could pack down the soil. I think the best bet is to let the soil dry a bit and then lightly rake or use a leaf blower to get the leaves off the grass. In retrospect, having the hydroseeding done in September would have solved the problem because the grass would already be established before the leaves fell. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20!

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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