4 Ways to Protect Trees and Shrubs from Winter Weather

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It’s 23 degrees and blustery — would you head outside without your warm gloves, coat and hat?

Your trees and shrubs are pretty chilly out there, too. You’ve invested time and money in your green friends.

Have you thought about winter shrub protection? Are you preparing trees for winter?

Better get to it. Here’s what to do.

How Winter Stresses Your Trees and Shrubs

winter stress on trees

We know what you’re thinking. Don’t trees and shrubs hibernate for the winter? What's the fuss?

They do. But have you noticed how brutal Idaho winters can be?


  • Dry winds and winter sun can dry out conifer needles and broadleaf evergreen foliage.

  • Winter sun can be pretty bright, and hot enough to heat up dark tree bark. That hot bark can crack when the temperature drops suddenly at night.

  • When a sneaky midwinter thaw hits, plants are tricked into waking up. That tender new growth is vulnerable to the next freeze.

  • Critters like rabbits, deer and mice get hungry when food is scarce in the winter. Your trees’ bark is a welcome buffet.

  • Winter can be fickle, alternately freezing and thawing, heaving new plants out of the ground and leaving their tender roots exposed.

So, What To Do?

We’re glad you asked.  There are things you can do about winter shrub protection and preparing trees for winter.

Bring On The Mulch

You might just think about mulch in the spring, but it’s great winter protection. Kind of like that extra quilt you toss on your bed for the winter.

Add four inches or so of bark mulch around the base of your shrubs and trees for a layer of toasty insulation.

This will help the soil stay frozen, to prevent heaving during freeze and thaw cycles.

Pro tip: keep the mulch a few inches away from trunks to prevent rot and discourage critters from chewing. Which brings us to…

Keep The Critters Away

deer eating shrubs in winter

Hungry mice and rabbits love tender young bark. It’s like  that chocolate cake you sneak to the kitchen for after bedtime.

Protect the trunks of vulnerable young trees with tree guards. They’re made of plastic or wire. Find them at a garden center or hardware store.

Do deer love browsing on your hedges and shrubs? Wrap them with burlap to deter munching.

Sorry, Sunscald

The bark of young trees is also susceptible to sunscald. Sure it’s winter, but there are still plenty of sunny days that can dry out and burn bark, causing permanent, visible damage.

Wrap the trunks of young trees with paper tree wrap.

This also protects against frost cracks, which happen when dark bark heats up in the sun then quickly cools off in the chill of night.

Extra Help For Evergreens

protecting evergreens in winter

If you have evergreens in windy, exposed areas, consider building a windbreak to protect them from drying winter wind.

You can also wrap shrubs in burlap to keep their needles healthy. Wrapping them also helps protect from damage from road salt sprayed by passing plows.

Protect Your Landscaping Investment With Outback

At Outback Landscape, we know you have a lot invested in your property’s trees and shrubs. Don’t let the wrath of winter do them in.

Need help with winter shrub protection and preparing trees for winter?

Give us a call.

Located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, we serve residential and commercial properties in Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Pocatello, Idaho, as well as Bonneville, Madison and Bannock counties.

Contact Outback Landscape at 208-656-3220, or fill out the contact form to schedule an onsite consultation.

We’d love to hear from you.

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Image sources: snow covered trees, deer in shrubs, evergreens in winter