How Do I Care for My Trees in Winter?

By Nancy Penrose

Winter can present some challenges for trees and one of the most common questions we hear is, “Do I need to do anything with my trees during winter.” Occasionally we see trees die in the winter from unusually cold temperatures, or breakage from the weight of heavy wet snow. There are a few simple practices you can take to ensure your trees survive the winter and continue to from and flourish year after year.

1. Prune areas of concern.

With tree limbs that extend over a house, fence, parked cars, etc., you’ll want to watch out for areas that appear to be heavy or weighted down. Pruning is important for removing dead limbs as well as thinning to reduce the weight on branch ends. Pruning in the late fall just after deciduous trees drop their leaves, is an ideal time to prune. As with most things, if you are doubt, consult your local professional.

2. Protect Young Trees from Freezing

Young trees are more at risk from damage from unusually cold winter temperatures. Sudden drops in overnight temperatures can cause the sap in the tree to freeze. Damage occurs on the lower southwest portion of the trunk when the morning sun quickly warms the frozen sap, causing it to expand and the trunk to split. This is known as frost cracks or southwest winter injury. To protect young trees consider wrapping young tree trunks with tree wrap or cardboard on exceptionally cold winter nights.

3. Mulch

A 2-inch layer of mulch is an excellent way of maintaining the right amount of moisture and warmth for a tree. Be careful not to over mulch. Over-mulching, with a large mound of mulch all around the tree, can hold moisture against the trunk of the tree and cause it to rot. Lightly mulch and leave some room for the tree to breathe at the base of the trunk.

4. Year-Round Maintenance

Keeping your trees healthy during the spring and summer can go a long way towards helping your trees survive the winter. Monitoring irrigation water, mulching, and structural pruning are all great ways of accomplishing this. Consulting a tree professional and following good maintenance guidelines will ensure you have trees that will grow for years to come.

If you have any questions about caring for your tree, you can always contact us at Big Trees Inc. at 360-563-2700 for consultation on your tree maintenance needs.

Nancy Penrose is the owner of Big Trees Inc., located in Snohomish, WA in the Seattle area. The company is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Seattle area with over 120,000 trees available in over 300 varieties. They not only deliver young trees, but also mature trees in a wide range of sizes. Some types of trees available include spring flowering, deciduous, evergreen, and privacy trees. The company also does tree transplanting including large trees. Their blog can be seen at or They can be reached at 360-563-2700.

Big Trees Inc.
10928 Springhetti Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296