The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends taking steps to help yard trees survive the winter.

“Make sure your trees are healthy when winter arrives by taking action now,” said Jennifer Teegarden, DNR forestry outreach specialist. “When conditions are dry, soak the soil around your tree weekly with water until the ground freezes to prevent the tree’s branch tips from drying out.”

Teegarden also suggests the following:

  • Wrap the trunk of young, thin-barked trees such as maple and honeylocust with commercial tree wrap or plastic tree guards to prevent frost cracks. Trunks can heat up in the sun and quickly freeze when temperatures drop, causing the bark to crack. Remove wrap or guard in the spring.
  • Remove tall grass around the tree’s trunk to discourage rodents from feeding on bark.
  • Rake and remove fallen leaves and needles to reduce fungal diseases that can infect new growth the following year.
  • Protect the roots of newly planted trees from freezing by spreading a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree’s trunk, keeping the mulch off the trunk.
  • Wrap burlap around small coniferous trees to protect the needles from drying out when exposed to the sun, wind and road salt spray.
  • Prune trees to remove multiple stems and weak branches that can fail during a heavy snow or ice storm. Contact a certified arborist for help or to answer questions.

Trees that are suited for local growing conditions have a better chance of surviving the winter. Consider this in the spring when selecting trees to plant.

Visit the DNR’s Tree Planting and Care Web page at http://www.mndnr.gov/treecare/caring-pruning.html for more information.