The winter months can be hard on your young trees. Beginning in the fall, the two biggest dangers for a tree are damage from animals and unpredictable weather. In the autumn, deer enjoy using a tree trunk to rub the fuzz off of their antlers, often stripping the bark completely off. If deer visit your property, preventive measures are to fence young trees off or fit a length of corrugated gutter material, cut lengthwise, around the trunk. This can be tricky. If you’re not careful, the cut edges of the gutter pipe can damage the trunk as well.
Both options will protect your tree for years. Secondly, the extreme temperature swings we experience in the Tri-lakes area confuse our poor trees. Warm daytime temperatures coax trees out of dormancy, causing them to pull moisture up from their roots. Then at night as temperatures plummet, the fluid in those cells freeze and cause the cells to burst. The result is a split up the trunk that damages the tree’s vascular system and leaves a scar that will last the life of the tree. This damage is almost always seen on the side of the trunk receiving southern exposure. In the fall, it is advisable to wrap your trees’ trunks in a breathable material that will insulate them against the highs and lows of winter. There are many products on the market, one such product is shown here (not an endorsement).