What Are Some Common Injuries To Trees In Winter?

It’s not hard to overlook our trees in winter. Once they lose their leaves and the snow starts flying, they can easily be forgotten about. It’s especially true in January and February. But you may not realize that this is the time of year when our trees are susceptible to injury. 

Of course, we’re seeing our heavy snows, sub-zero lows, and high winds like we normally do. But severe weather events cause the biggest issues for trees and shrubs. And to make matters worse, they’re very difficult to capture in long-range forecasts.

So, to make sure that you’re prepared, let’s take a look at some of the things that damage trees in winter. 

Freeze Damage

Ironically, it’s typically when we’re nearing the end of the winter months when the danger really ramps up. One of the first things to worry about is extreme temperature changes.

The most common cause of freezing damage for trees in winter (in Michigan) typically happens in late winter/early spring. That’s when we often experience rapid warmups that increase dehardening followed by a sudden temperature drop. 

This is not only tough for trees to deal with, but shrubs can also feel the effects of rapidly changing temperatures. Just be sure to include your shrubs in your tree care plan to ensure that they survive winter, too.

Heavy Snow Can Break Branches

Those changing temperatures can also cause snowfall to get stickier and heavier, which is not good for tree limbs. Heavy snow causes trees and tree limbs to fall. All of the weight from the snow can cause branches to bend and eventually break. This can lead to power outages or property damage.

Your best defense is to use a broom to knock the snow off of the branches. Shaking the branches to get the snow off can do more harm than good.

Winter Drying

Winter winds can dry out evergreens and cause their needles to lose moisture. If you can’t water them as moisture is being drawn out from the trees living cells, it can result in permanent damage.  

The best way to prevent this from happening is by watering your trees and shrubs adequately in the fall. Mulching will insulate your soil and roots. This will protect them from severely cold weather. Or just get into the habit of planting only hardy species in areas of prolonged exposure, 

Safari Tree Can Help

The safest thing you can do is to hire a tree care professional. They’ll have the experience, expertise, and equipment to safely take down, prune and care for damaged trees. 

Safari Tree offers a 7-step tree and shrub healthcare program that’s designed for Michigan’s ever-changing climate. For more information on how Safari Tree can help keep your yard looking its best, contact us today.

Don’t Forget About Winter Shrub Protection Before The Snow Flies

Winter shrub protection may not be on your list of things to do before the snow starts flying each year, but it should be. Heavy snow, freezing temperatures, and cold blowing winds can wreak havoc on your woody plants. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to protect your shrubs all winter long.

A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground and can be deciduous (ones with flower buds) or evergreen. It’s their size that can make them more vulnerable to winter damage. Trees can typically take a little more punishment in the winter.

So, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to create a great winter shrub protection strategy for your yard.


One way to decrease the risk of cold damage is by planting shrubs that are native to Michigan like ninebark and viburnums. When selecting shrubs, trees, and other plants, check the Michigan hardiness zone map developed by the USDA. It divides growing zones into 10-degree F. (-12 C.) increments according to average winter low temperatures over a 30-year period.

Basing your shrub choices on where you live in the state will help you to pick the best possible shrubs for your location.

Watering Before Winter

Water shrubs deeply in fall, while soil temperatures are still warm. This is especially important to do if moisture has been scarce during the growing season. That water loss can hurt landscape plants during the winter months. 

For example, winter sun and wind cause the foliage of evergreen shrubs to lose moisture that is not replaced while the roots are frozen. But Alberta and Serbian spruce, hemlock, yew and arborvitae, and broadleaf evergreens, such as boxwood and rhododendrons are all susceptible.

Supplemental water will encourage strong root growth, which is the foundation of a strong, healthy plant, even after the stems have gone dormant. Try to apply enough water to moisten the soil 8 to 10 inches below the surface once a week until the ground freezes.

Make Sure You Mulch

This favorite spring pastime is something you may want to consider late in the fall. It will not only encourage root growth, but a layer of mulch can help protect your shrub’s root zone from frost penetration into the ground and extreme cold. 

And if you have newly planted shrubs (and trees), you should consider adding another 1-3 inches of mulch through the winter. This will give the roots a little added protection from the cold temperatures. You can remove the extra mulch layer in spring when growth resumes.

Burlap Screens For Better Protection

In this case, you may want to call them “brrrrrrrrrlap screens,” but all kidding aside, a burlap screen offers great winter shrub protection. winter shrub protection

A well-constructed burlap screen will not only help protect plants from winter winds but also those subject to salt spray from passing traffic. Simply wrap the screen around the potentially affected areas and secure it into place with a few garden stakes and bread ties. 

Safari Tree Can Help

Another way to make sure you’re providing the best winter shrub protection each year is by partnering with Safari Tree. Our 7-step tree healthcare program is designed for Michigan’s four-season climate. This care program gives you the maintenance that will allow your trees to flourish all year long. 

Contact us today to learn more about it.