The average Minnesota winter is pretty brutal for all living things, between the sub-zero temperatures, even colder wind chills, massive snowfalls and ice build-ups. But at least we can take refuge in our nice heated homes and bundle up when we go outside; the plants in our landscapes aren’t so lucky.
When you plant trees and shrubs in your Minnesota landscape, it’s important to remember that just because a particular plant is MN-hardy doesn’t mean it’s invincible. Certain outdoor maintenance measures may need to be taken to prepare your trees and other plants for the worst of winter weather. Read on for some helpful tips on how to prepare your landscape plants for winter.
5 Important Tree & Shrub Winterization Tips
- Deep Water in Fall – An important tree winterization process in Minnesota is to make sure that your trees get enough water in the months leading up to winter. Younger trees, in particular, are vulnerable to sustaining winter damage if they don’t drink enough water during fall. However, even your bigger trees will need to be deep-watered down to the roots if there’s been a summer drought. Continue to water your trees throughout fall until the ground freezes.
- Don’t Fertilize in Fall – As Minnesotans know all too well, we often have a very brief fall before winter sets in. It’s important that new growth on plants is able to harden during the fall months so that it can survive through winter, when trees and shrubs enter a dormant period. If you continue applying fertilizer to your lawn and garden after summer, you’ll wind up stimulating new plant growth too late in the season for it to harden off for winter. You should leave six weeks between your last round of fertilization and the first fall frost, which usually occurs in early to mid October in Minnesota.
- Avoid Fall Pruning – Pruning plants is a good form of health care during spring but can be harmful later in the year. Much like fertilizing, pruning your trees and shrubs will result in new growth. Therefore, pruning in late summer or during fall is a bad idea, since that new growth is unlikely to harden sufficiently to survive winter. If you didn’t get a chance to finish all of the pruning you wanted to do by mid-summer, wait until winter, when trees are dormant, to continue pruning your landscape plants.
- Insulate & Protect Trees – Trees, particularly those which are newly planted, face many dangers during the winter in Minnesota. Extremely low temperatures, windstorms, ice build-up and feeding by deers or other animals can all cause critical damage to young trees in winter. Fortunately, proper tree winterization can prevent many of these issues. To insulate the roots of your trees, make sure to cover them in a thick layer of mulch. To protect the trees themselves, either cover them in tree wrap or place plastic guards around their trunks to shelter them from both wild animals and the elements.
- Shield Evergreens From Winter Burn – A condition which most commonly afflicts evergreen trees and shrubs, winter burn is caused by a combination of high-speed winds and insufficient soil moisture during the dead of winter in Minnesota. Winter burn can cause substantial foliage damage to the plants in your home landscape, leading to serious health issues. To prevent winter burn, winterize vulnerable trees and shrubs by wrapping them in burlap to hold the wind at bay. For added protection, try to install wind blocks to shield your evergreens.
Profession Landscaping Design + Build for a Winter-Proof Landscape
Working with a team of experienced landscape architects will allow you to design an outdoor property that’s ready to handle Minnesota’s intense winter weather. Connect with Ground One today if you’re interested in professional landscape design + build or outdoor maintenance services in the Twin Cities area!