Winter Is Here : How To Winterize Your Shrubs And Trees

Prune your plants to keep insects away this coming winter!

Winter Is Here : How To Winterize Your Shrubs And Trees

The crisp air and shorter days can only mean one thing – winter is coming. If you’re like most gardeners in British Columbia, you’ve spent the spring and summer months tending to your garden paradise. But now it’s time to shift gears and ensure your garden is prepped for the colder months ahead.

The last thing you want is your beloved trees and shrubs to become damaged or die during the winter. But don’t worry. With some preparation, you can help your garden survive until spring.

Over the next few minutes, we’ll walk through the key steps you need to take to winterize your garden properly. So grab your gardening gloves and a warm cup of cider – and let’s start.

Prepare the Soil for Your Trees and Shrubs For Winter

Begin prepping your solid by aerating.

When preparing your garden for winter, starting with the soil is crucial. Begin by aerating the soil around trees and shrubs to ensure proper drainage when the snow arrives.

You can apply a fertilizer designed for your plants to provide them with essential nutrients, but be careful not to use too much nitrogen for newly planted trees, as it can do more harm than good. For the best fertilizer recommendations, consult a garden centre.

To insulate the roots, spread mulch around the base of trees and shrubs, extending it as far as the branches. This will act as a warm blanket to protect the roots from freezing temperatures. Make sure not to pile the mulch directly against the trunk.

With the proper preparation – your garden will weather the winter beautifully. Come spring, you’ll be rewarded when your trees and shrubs burst into bloom, vibrant and healthy.

Prune Branches and Trim Bark

Use sharp shears for efficiency - but be careful when using them!

Trim away dead or damaged branches – they make easy targets for disease and pests over winter. Also, cut back branches that will end up touching the ground under snowfall. Snow-covered branches are prone to rot and decay.

When pruning, be careful and use clean, sharp shears. Cut branches above and below the branch collar for the healthiest pruning. The branch collar is the slightly swollen area where the branch joins to the main trunk.

Repurpose what you prune! Use trimmed greenery in holiday decor or wreaths. The fresh pine scent will make your home feel cozy for the season.

Prep Your Shrubs And Trees In Winter Or Else. . .

You are likely to experience headaches if you neglect your shrubs and trees during winter.

  • Snow and ice load: Heavy snow and ice can stress trees, causing breakage and falls.
  • Desiccation: Cold, dry winter winds can cause trees and shrubs to lose water through their leaves and needles, even when they are not actively photosynthesizing. This can lead to desiccation, which can damage or kill the plant.
  • Sunscald: The bark of trees and shrubs can be damaged by the sun’s heat during the winter, especially when the ground is frozen, and the plant is unable to take up water. This damage is known as sunscald.
  • Salt damage: Salt can harm trees and shrubs if large amounts accumulate from de-icing.
  • Animal damage: Deer and other animals can damage trees and shrubs by nibbling on their bark or by rubbing against them.
  • Fungal diseases: Fungal diseases can be more common in trees and shrubs that are stressed by winter conditions.
  • Bacterial diseases: Bacterial diseases can also be more common in trees and shrubs that are stressed by winter conditions.
  • Insect damage: Insects that can damage trees and shrubs in the winter include borers, scale insects, and mites.

Keep Trees and Shrubs Hydrated For Winter

As the season’s growth of your trees and shrubs has slowed, it’s still essential to provide enough moisture. Before the ground freezes, give them a thorough watering to ensure they have ample hydration to last through the winter season.

A good watering guideline to follow is the “5+5 rule,” which suggests providing 5 gallons of water along with an additional 5 gallons for each inch of trunk diameter.

Mulching around the base of your trees and shrubs will help the soil retain moisture. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch, kept a few inches away from the trunk, works well. The mulch will also provide insulation for the roots.

Wrap Vulnerable Trees For Winter

A burlap wrap might be just what you need to keep your shrubs and trees protected

Protect your trees and shrubs from harsh winter weather by wrapping their trunks with burlap, blankets, or commercial tree wrap. This is particularly important for smooth-barked and juvenile trees. You can also wrap the entire plant or build a screen around small evergreen shrubs using stakes, wire fencing, and burlap.

Winter will be freezing for your shrubs and trees - don't forget to water them!

Tailor Care to Specific Trees For Winter

Deciduous trees in your home might neet more pruning before winter.

Not all trees and shrubs require the same level of winter care.

  • Deciduous trees drop their leaves, so they won’t need wrapping to protect foliage. However, their bare branches are more exposed to the elements, so staking and pruning them is key.
  • Evergreens keep their needles year-round, so wrapping them in burlap protects them from winter burn and sunscald.
  • Alberta spruces require extra attention. Their dwarf size and vibrant green needles make them a favourite and more vulnerable. In addition to the usual winterizing steps, they wrap Alberta spruces entirely in burlap to safeguard their hands.
  • Shrubs vary in their winter hardiness. Delicate shrubs like hydrangeas benefit from wrapping, staking, and pruning. Heartier shrubs may only need light mulching. Check with local garden centers to determine specific needs based on the shrubs in your yard.

Prep For The Deep Freeze And Keep Your Plants Happy

Protect your shrubs and trees from the harsh winter.

By taking the time now to winterize your trees, shrubs and any remaining perennials, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you did your part to help them survive until spring.

And when those first warm rays of sun start to melt the snow and the earliest blooms start peeking out, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a healthy, thriving garden ready to burst into life again.

The winter may be long, but with the proper preparations done, you can rest easy and start dreaming of warmer, greener days ahead. Before you know it, your garden will be back in full swing.


Get your garden winter-ready with top-quality tools from Kel Lake Garden Centre! We’re BC’s one-stop-shop for everything gardening, from accessories to supplies. Plus, we offer fun and informative classes to take your gardening skills to the next level. Visit our website to see what’s coming up!

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