Many of us assume that trees and shrubs are big and strong enough to take care of themselves over the colder months. Yet the harsh winter weather can affect all plants, particularly those that have recently been planted.

So what can you do to protect your trees and shrubs over winter? You will be happy to know that it doesn’t take much to help them survive and thrive during the next few months.

Protecting established trees and shrubs during winter

Most well-established plants will be able to withstand even the harshest elements. If you have any trees with stakes or ties, check them to make sure the wind hasn’t loosened them. If so, the tie may damage the bark as it rubs up and down. Tighten them again if you need to. You will also need to check if any ties need to be loosened. As the trunk grows, it expands and ties that are too tight can harm the tree and restrict growth.

Remember that stakes should only be left in place for approximately 18 months. They are not meant to support the tree for the rest of its life – simply help it establish itself in the soil to begin with. If your tree still isn’t anchored after 18 months, you will need to do some investigation. It is likely that there is either a problem with the tree itself or the way that it was anchored originally.

How to care for new trees and shrubs

Have you recently planted a tree or shrub? If so, it is important that you regularly check on them to make sure they are firmly staked and tied. Otherwise, strong winds can rock them back and forth until they become loose, stopping them from being able to anchor themselves and potentially damaging their roots.

Using mulch is a great way to retain moisture in the soil around your trees over the winter months. This is best done in autumn or spring but with this December being unseasonably mild, adding a layer of mulch now will be fine.

Clear heavy snow from fragile tree branches

Snow may look pretty but a lot of that pretty white stuff settling on tree branches or the top of shrubs equals a lot of weight to withstand. Excessive snow can lead to branches breaking. Shake off snow or gently knock it off to lessen the load.

Pruning trees and shrubs over winter

When trees lose their foliage you can see their branches much more clearly, so it makes perfect sense that winter is the ideal time to prune deciduous shrubs and trees. Remove any dead or diseased branches and take full opportunity of your plants’ lack of leaves to shape them exactly as you want.

Branches and limbs risking your property?

If any of your trees’ branches or limbs are hanging over your house, garage, car or path, now is a good time to either cable, brace or prune them to stop them from causing expensive – and potentially dangerous – damage to your property.

Alternatively, if you are concerned that they are diseased or dead, we would strongly recommend getting them removed as quickly as possible. It takes only one storm or gusty day to do some serious damage.

Are you worried about your trees this winter?

If you are concerned about any of your trees and how they will fare this winter, please do not hesitate to get in contact. We are happy to provide professional advice on any aspect of tree care and london tree surgery in general.

Written by

Toby Douglas is the founder of Take A Bough Tree Care. After university in Aberystwyth, Toby made the decision to study Arboriculture at Merrist Wood, in Surrey. In 2001 he successfully completed a National Certificate in Horticulture, and a National Diploma in Arboriculture, then worked for two years subcontracting to large and respected companies in order to gain the practical experience to compete successfully for both private and corporate contacts once Take a Bough Tree Care was launched

"We always arrange for Toby to come once a year to cut back overhanging tree branches and a big ivy hedge on our house. "
Sir Peter

How can our expert tree surgeons help you?

Read about the tree surgery methods and processes that can resolve your tree issues.