There’s nothing worse than planting trees only for them to become damaged by freezing temperatures, snow, and ice during the winter months. If you live somewhere with a cooler climate, you may experience this type of tree damage more frequently than those who reside in warmer areas. With that said, you might have to take extra precautions to protect your plants and trees from unnecessary damage this winter. Whether your trees produce fruit or ornamental foliage, you should know how to prevent winter damage to your trees.

Extremely Low Temperatures

Extremely low temperatures can cause permanent damage to your plants and trees; therefore, you must learn how to prepare and manage your garden during the winter months. Fortunately, trees that are suited to your hardiness zone and established prior to winter will stay dormant throughout the cold months. However, you may have issues with your trees when the temperatures rise above freezing for several days, then drop back down.

Potential Damage

If your area experiences extended periods of excessively cold temperatures, evergreen foliage may suffer from leaf burn, which causes leaves to turn brown or yellow. Furthermore, deciduous trees might experience twig or shrub damage from the sub-zero temperatures.

Frost cracks can appear on any tree, which happens when temperatures fluctuate drastically and cause the water inside the tree to expand and contract. Unfortunately, these fluctuations cause the tree bark to snap and split, leaving visible cracks in the branches.

Heaving is another type of damage that may occur during extreme temperature fluctuations. When the water in the ground repeatedly freezes and unfreezes, trees can uproot from the soil and lean or tip over.

As you probably know, the high winds that come with extremely cold temperatures can also cause damage to your evergreens and conifers. When the wind is so strong that it dries out the foliage and soil, a tree can no longer replenish the moisture in its leaves. As a result, the foliage may appear brown, yellow, purple, or another shade that indicates damage. Fortunately, new growth will come eventually, but the discoloration could remain for quite some time.


There’s not much you can do to stop cold temperatures, but you can prepare your garden accordingly by using windbreaks on your newer trees to prevent total exposure to cold air. You can make a windbreak by applying stakes and burlap around the trees.

Furthermore, a regular fertilization schedule is helpful when it comes to protecting your trees. Ideally, you should stop fertilizing in August to give your trees a chance to harden their growth and prepare for the cold months. You should also make sure your plants are well-watered throughout the growing season to ensure they establish deep, robust roots; this will help keep them safe and sturdy throughout the winter.

Rodent Damage

Rodent damage is another common problem gardeners experience during the winter months. Because most plants are dormant and lose their foliage in the winter, rodents like rabbits, mice, squirrels, and more may struggle to find food on the ground. As a result, they could chew through the branches and trunks of your trees.

Potential Damage

When an animal chews through a branch or tree trunk, many people recognize this type of damage as girdling. This damage is incredibly detrimental to your trees as it can kill everything above the chewing point.


Interestingly, you can use chicken wire to prevent rodents from getting to your trees. Another way to help reduce rodent damage is to install a bird perch that will attract birds of prey. These birds may guard your tree and help with rodent control.

Hail Damage

Hail typically occurs along with bouts of rain, and it can damage much more than just your trees. Believe it or not, hail can cause serious damage to your car, home, trees, and other structures on your property.

Hail forms when it begins to rain, but the storm pushes water droplets into the upper atmosphere, where they freeze. As the droplets continue to layer, they become large ice balls. The storm will hold these hail stones until they become too heavy, then they fall to the ground.

Potential Damage

Hail is most common toward the end of winter, into spring and through summer, but it can occur at any time. Hail storms can seriously damage plants because new growth is easy to crush, and foliage may appear torn and tattered after hail has gone through.


Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to prevent hail damage as you never know when a storm could hit. After the storm subsides, inspect all of your plants and trees to determine what you can salvage and what you should replace. Furthermore, you should trim damaged branches and remove them from your trees to prevent them from getting in the way of new growth.

Salt Damage

Salt damage is another common type of damage that occurs during the winter months because large trucks move through the area, dumping salt on the roads to clear any ice. Although this is a good thing for drivers, it isn’t necessarily the best thing for your plants and trees.

When large trucks drive through dumping salt on the roads, that salt can spread a couple hundred feet out from where it was dropped, moving into lawns and flower beds. As a result, the salt can cause damage to plants and trees.

Potential Damage

Salt can actually burn grass, leaves, and other foliage, which may lead to leaf scorch. Also, salty soil can stunt new plant growth in the next growing season.


Although you can’t stop the trucks from scattering salt to melt the ice, you can add a gypsum conditioner to your soil in the spring to combat any salt that made it into your yard. Additionally, you should rinse your plants with plenty of water to remove excess salt before the growing season is in full swing.

Now that you know how to prevent winter damage to your trees, you can confidently look for maple trees for sale. You can avoid most of the potential damage to your trees with these suggestions, but the weather can be unpredictable. Don’t get down on yourself if you experience some loss as a gardener.

How To Prevent Winter Damage to Your Trees

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