How to Protect Trees & Shrubs From Winter Damage

add stakes and burlap around trees and shrubs to prevent breakage

Delaware winters often treat us to harsh conditions that can be just as hard on our landscaping as it is on our skin.  Winter winds, freezing temperatures and sun can severely damage trees and shrubs. Cold temperatures can dehydrate and desiccate evergreen foliage, damage bark, injure branches, flower buds and roots.

The winter hazards for trees and shrubs are many; snow, ice, sunscald, salt used for deicing, and increased animal damage due to increased food shortages. That is why it is wise to take precautions in order to save your landscaping and avoid costly losses of trees and shrubs.

Burlap has long been an affordable, eco-friendly and biodegradable material use by many landscapers for a number of purposes. It is endurable and perfect for protecting trees and plants from winter’s wrath. Burlap is ideal for protecting recently planted trees, trees with underdeveloped root systems, and trees subject to powerful winter winds, sunscald, perpetually moist conditions and the infrequent, yet damaging, hard frost.

How to Prevent Wind Break Using Burlap and Stakes:

  • To protect trees and shrubs from wind break or burn, use burlap and three wood stakes that are one foot taller than the tree.
  • Hammer the stakes with a mallet six inches into the ground at the southeast, southwest and northwest corners of the tree or shrub’s planting area, spaced six inches to one foot away from the foliage.
  • Measure the distance between the three stakes and cut appropriate sizes of burlap  (you may need several if your stake are over four feet)
  • Stable the end piece of the fabric to the stake positioned at the southeast corner at one foot intervals starting at the ground level and being sure that the burlap is tightly stretched at each staple point.
  • Stretch the burlap from the southeast stake to the southwest stake and repeat (stapling from ground level at one foot intervals and once again, be sure to stretch tightly at each staple point).
  • Repeat the stretching and stapling to the northwest stake.

Wrap Trees and Shrubs With Burlap to Prevent Winter Damage:

  • Use a tripod ladder if needed to reach top of tree and a clothespin to secure the open end of a bolt of burlap to the top of the tree’s central leader or highest branch.
  • Allow bolt of burlap to run from the top of the tree to the ground.
  • Wrap the burlap around the tree trunk and continue to wrap from bottom to top, overlapping the layers by about six inches and be sure to allow breathing room by wrapping just snugly enough to keep it in place, but no too tight.
  • Once you reach the top, cut the bolt of burlap with a utility knife and secure the burlap to the central leader or highest branch with another clothespin.
  • To Secure the burlap, tie three pieces of twine around the burlapped tree – one at the top, one in the middle, one at the base.
  • Remove the clothespins.

Plants react differently to winter stress and each winter provides a different set of stressful conditions, but they possess a remarkable ability to withstand extremely severe winter conditions, especially when protected properly.

DiSabatino Landscaping offers a wide range arborist and tree care services contact us at (302) 764-0408 to set up a complimentary consultation or visit us on the web at