Winter Tree Protection: Three Proactive Tips

Even though trees take a rest and slow their growth in winter, us tree lovers aren’t off the hook when it comes to caring for our plants.

In fact, taking proactive steps to maintain your trees during winter is crucial to ensuring they’re all set for a successful growing season.

Don’t let tree care get off track in winter. Below, read about three winter tree protection tips that keep trees healthy.

Deer repellent

Severe weather isn’t the only winter threat to worry about. Hungry deer, which don’t have many menu options in the colder months, flock to our trees for food. As they eat, deer remove foliage and may shred down tree bark. Plus, male deer use tree trunks as a scratching post for their antlers, which can do quite a bit of damage.

How to keep deer away from trees

From physical barriers like fences to distasteful deer repellent spray, there are a few tried and true ways to keep deer off your trees. Here are three ways to control deer browsing in winter.

Dormant oils

Some insects settle on our trees in winter. While that might sound harmless, it means they’re in a prime spot to infest trees come springtime. That’s where dormant oil comes in—it’s applied to trees in winter to essentially smother overwintering pests.

How late can you apply dormant oils?

Timing is key for effective dormant oil application. Read here to find out when and how to apply dormant oils. If you need more background, the handy video below answers common questions like what is dormant oil and what dormant oil is used for.


Desiccation is the scientific way of saying moisture loss or dryness. For trees, particularly evergreens, desiccation can happen in winter when harsh elements strip water from tree foliage faster than roots can replace the water.

What is anti-desiccant?

Anti-desiccant is a spray used to stop trees from drying out in winter. When applied to trees, anti-desiccant locks in moisture and slows the process of water loss.

When to apply anti-desiccant

It’s important to find the sweet spot when you plan to apply anti-desiccant in winter. Spray too early, and you can disrupt the tree’s natural process of transporting water from roots to stems. Wait too long, and you risk winter injury. The best time to apply anti-desiccant is when:

  • The tree is dormant, usually before the harshest winter months
  • The tree is dry, and there’s no upcoming rain in the forecast
  • The temperature is above freezing

Want one-on-one winter tree care advice from a professional?

Contact a local arborist for more information on our preventative tree care services to keep your trees healthy this winter.

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