By Nancy Penrose

Are your trees ready for winter? Cold weather, winter sun and wind, can damage trees in many different ways, especially foliage that is isolated and exposed to the elements.

During winter, temperatures often fluctuate from daytime warmth when the sun is out, to nighttime cold air and freezing.

Daily changes in temperature can cause tree bark cells to rupture, which can lead to cracking between the outer bark and inner wood. If not too severe, most trees will be able to repair the damage.

Cracking can be prevented by insulating the tree bark using a fabric blanket. The blanket is wrapped around the tree to protect it from the cold weather, while still allowing it to breathe. The blanket will also let in moisture and light.

The cold can also damage late growth, which can result in die-off. The best way to minimize this type of damage is to prune a tree after it becomes dormant.

You should also prune during the fall to prevent snow and winter storms from breaking branches.

Mulching is another way to protect trees when it gets cold. The mulch will help insulate the tree and its roots. It will also minimize water loss. Mulching should take place after the ground freezes.

If you have young trees, their bark may need to be protected from rodents, mice and rabbits. Tree bark is a food source for small animals, especially during the winter. Protect the bark with chicken wire, guards and repellents.

When snow starts accumulating on the branches of big trees, it will need to be removed. Take the snow off gently to prevent branch and tree damage. If ice starts forming, it can be rinsed away with warm water by connecting your garden hose to a hot water faucet. Be careful not to scald the tree. Implementing proper tree care for your landscape, privacy trees, and big trees will help them make it safely through the winter.

Nancy Penrose is owner of Big Trees Inc. (, (tree nursery Snohomish, WA), one of the largest Seattle tree nurserys (learn more about Big Trees at, specializing in large trees for sale and transplant tree service. For more tips on tree care or installation go to See our video at and connect with us on Facebook at