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Should You Wrap Your Tree Trunks in the Winter?
While trees are resilient, some trees are susceptible to damage during the winter months, so they may need a little extra protection. Our expert arborists in Atlanta recommend wrapping your trees before winter temperatures drop to keep them healthy and strong for the next growing cycle.
Why Do Trees Need Wraps?
You might think that your trees need protection from the cold of winter, but the real culprit is the sun. On clear days, tree trunks warm up with direct exposure to the southern winter sun, but at night the temperatures drop significantly. During the fall, tree cells go dormant, but this direct sunlight on a warm winter day can cause these cells to reawaken prematurely. These cells are not able to stand up to the nighttime winter temperatures, so they become weakened and damaged. This permanent damage to the bark is called sunscald. In addition, the constant temperature fluctuations from warm days to extremely cold nights will cause the bark of a tree to expand and contract, which can lead to deeper cracks and damage.
Which Trees Need Wraps?
Young trees are the most susceptible to sunscald. Their bark is thin and easily affected by the fluctuating temperatures of winter. New trees that receive direct sunlight should be wrapped for their first few winters to protect them. Older deciduous trees (ones that annually shed their leaves) that have thin bark can also be affected by sunscald. In the southeast, this may include ash, birch, cottonwood, honey locust, maple, oak, peach, and willow trees. Pay particular attention to trees that have recently been exposed to direct sunlight after removing structures or other trees that may have protected them in the past. Evergreens planted near susceptible trees can also protect them from sunscald by filtering the light and heat from the sun.
How Do Tree Wraps Work?
A light-colored wrapping paper, fabric, or plastic is used to protect tree trunks and lower limbs from sunscald. This wrap reflects light away from the tree to prevent the surface temperature from rising during the day, reducing bark expansion, and avoiding sunscald. Tree wraps must be applied properly to keep moisture out, which can also cause damage to the tree.
Wraps should only be used during the months where freezing temperatures are likely, from late fall through early spring. If wraps are not removed in the spring, insects will flourish, causing pest damage to the tree or interfering with its natural growth cycle.
Yellow Ribbon Tree Experts can assess your trees and determine which ones need to be wrapped this winter. Our trained and knowledgeable tree experts can prepare your trees for the winter with wrapping, pruning, bracing, mulching, and fertilizing.