Trees, although the stoic guardians of the back yard, can be damaged by extreme winter weather. Heavy snow can pile up on branches and cause them to break. Broken limbs can cause disease in the spring. Heavy winds can catch in the branches, buckling weakened trees. Animals, hungry during the winter, will eat at the bark of a tree, exposing it to bacterial infections. Wrapping and binding the tree and setting up wind barriers can lower the chance of damage.
Water the tree before the first frost to protect the roots of the plant against drought. Winters are dry in many areas, and your tree may suffer if it does not get enough water before the cold sets in.
Wrap the tree trunk using a tree wrap such as black plastic, burlap or mesh hardware cloth. Dig around the tree down 2 to 3 inches and bury a portion of the wrap under the dirt to protect against small rodents. Wrap the tree 18 to 24 inches above what the projected snow line will be for the winter.
Prune away dead or damaged branches from the tree before the winter frost. This reduces the chances of spring or winter infection of the tree from fungus and bacteria.
Tie small branches against strong old leader branches using cloth or nylon stockings. This protects against heavy snow damaging weak branches.
Assemble wind barriers on the south, or southwest and windward sides of trees to protect against winter winds. Allow enough room around the tree for sunlight and a small amount of wind to reach inside to dry the branches.