Protecting Tree Bark in Winter

Valuable trees in your landscape can suffer damage to the bark from winter sun, mice and rabbits eating bark, deer antler rubbing and scarring from weed whips and mower decks.  If the  bark on your younger trees is still intact, it’s not too late to protect them with inexpensive, easy to install white plastic tree wraps.

Most of the damage to tree bark from winter sun occurs from mid-February to early April  when the sun’s rays are growing stronger day by day.  Sunlight bounces off the snow pack onto the south/southwest side of the trees on sunny days.  Think about it.  After a winter spent largely indoors, an outing in the late winter sun can cause sunburn to our faces, such as that experienced by skiers around the outside of their goggles.  Much the same thing can happen to thin and tender tree bark.

Taking one minute to install a white plastic tree wrap to the bottom 4 feet of the trunk of a young tree will prevent the sunlight damage called sunscald.  A white wrap also reduces rapid temperature fluctuations which can stimulate premature sap flow.  On thin barked young trees premature sap flow in a day followed by a rapid drop to near zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower can cause a rupture of the bark that becomes visible weeks later in early spring.

This is severe damage to the tree, and is usually prevented by installing a white plastic trunk protector.

Leif Knecht wraps a tree Tree trunk protectors

The use of a dark colored material to cover the tree bark can actually aggravate bark damage due to the greater temperature fluctuations of the dark colored materials.

We have good inventories of four different styles of white plastic tree bark protectors available at the nursery office.  We are open 9 am to 4 pm – M-F in February and the first half of March.  We’ll have longer hours thereafter.  It only costs a few dollars to protect your valuable young trees.  It’s pretty disappointing to wish you had.  A really nice feature of the tree wraps that we sell is that they can be re-used for 3-5 winters.  Be sure to remove the tree wraps each spring about the time you mow your law for the first time.

 

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