In a previous post, we discussed planting trees and shrubs in the fall, picking the right one, where to plant it, and how to nourish it. After putting effort and money into your landscaping design, you’ll want to ensure that they are protected against the elements so that they are strong and healthy in the spring. As soon as the first frost hits, which is around October 13th in Independence, it’s time to start taking protective measures for your trees and shrubs. Our landscaping crew can give you all of the tools and knowledge necessary to keep your greenery and roots safe against cold, snow and ice, sun, salt, and rodents.


Young trees, as well as mature trees with thin bark, such as cherry, maple, or mountain ash, are susceptible to sunscald, which occurs when the bark deals with inconsistent, changing temperatures. You will recognize this condition on areas of dead bark, which have an elongated, sunken, dried, or cracked appearance. This is commonly seen on the southern side of trees. Also pay attention to any trees that have been transplanted from a shady area into a sunny location. Protect your landscaping from sunscald by wrapping tree trunks with a commercial wrap, tree guard, or any light-colored material. Young trees will need to be wrapped for at least two winters. Sunscald can be repaired, but be sure to contact a professional landscaping team who can do it safely.

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Evergreen Discoloration

Whether a tree or shrub, evergreens are susceptible to discoloration or browning during the winter due to various reasons:

  • When sun and wind causes a loss of leaves or branches and the roots are unable to replace lost water.
  • Inconsistent temperatures or a change in sunny days to cloudy days can cause new growth to begin and then any new foliage is injured or killed.
  • Any new foliage that grows during a period of sunny days, the chlorophyll is destroyed which can result in bleaching.
  • If colder weather hits in the early fall and trees or shrubs haven’t fully acclimated to winter weather, it can cause injury or death of tissue.

There are several ways to prevent this damage from happening and our landscaping team is more than happy to assist. The first thing to consider is where the trees or shrubs are planted in the first place. They should not be planted on the southern or southwestern side of your home, where they can be exposed to high winds and bright sun. If you can’t move the greenery, construct a barrier from burlap (on all sides if necessary) that will protect the plant from wind and sun. If discoloration has already occurred, wait until the spring to help prune back any damaged areas.

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Root Injury

As we discussed, new trees need plenty of water. When winter comes around, moist soil takes longer to freeze because it holds more heat. Snow and mulch will also keep heat in the ground and protect the roots. Because roots take longer to become dormant and are less hardy than branches and stems, plenty of water and six to eight inches of mulch will ensure that the roots stay as warm as possible before cold temperatures really set in. Keep an eye on the soil surrounding the trunk and watch for cracks. Fill in any cracks with soil.

Snow and Ice

The main worry with snow and ice is the weight being too much for young branches to support. Even though there may not be a lot of snowfall in Independence, it is still important to protect young trees. This can be done by wrapping trees to protect them from snow and ice. Our landscaping company will use a tree wrap that insulates the trunk and keeps snow from accumulating on the branches. Another option is to tie evergreen branches together with twine or consult with an arborist who can cable branches together.

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Salt Damage

Salt that is used to de-ice driveways, sidewalks, or roads can increase damage from various causes. Salt runoff can be absorbed by the tree and damage the foliage, and salt spray can also cause damage to the stems of the tree. The best way to prevent this is by not planting the tree or shrub in locations where salt is frequently used. Burlap barriers can provide some protection from salt spray or runoff. Your initial landscaping design should include plans that take salt damage into consideration.


Not all damage caused to trees is from the elements. Mice, rabbits, and deer can all feed on twigs, bark, and leaves of trees or shrubs. Some animals will eat the entire circumference of a tree trunk or eat shrubs down to the ground line, and deer can cause significant damage simply by rubbing their antlers on the trees. To protect against animals, wrap trunks with a mesh hardware cloth. The mesh should reach two to three inches below ground level to prevent mice from digging and up to 18 to 24 inches above the projected snow line to prevent against rabbits. For larger animals, use a repellent that contains thiram. Either spray the plant with it or soak a heavy rag with the repellent and hang it near the plant.

Planning ahead can prevent many common issues that young trees and plants struggle with. The landscaping team at TLC Nursery & Outdoor Living will ensure that everything that is planted in the summer will have the right protection against cold winter temperatures. If you have any questions, want some specific advice for your backyard or lawn, or are interested in snow and ice removal, give us a call today.