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The Home Depot

Tree and Shrub Winter Maintenance Guide

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Seasonal > Tree and Shrub Winter Maintenance Guide
Tree and Shrub Winter Maintenance Guide

Did you know that the care you give your trees and shrubs doesn’t stop when the weather gets cold? It’s true! There are things you should be doing for your plant life that will help them withstand the long cold winters so that they can flower beautifully in the warmer months.


While the specifics of what plants can and can’t endure vary depending on the species of vegetation you have on your property, there are a few general problems that plants can face during the winter: extreme temperature fluctuations; extremely cold temperatures; frost or freeze cracks; winter burn. Extreme temperatures are problematic for plants because plants often don’t like to have to rapidly adjust to two different climates. An unseasonably warm day after a succession of cold ones could put stress on your plants. Frost cracks, also known as freeze cracks, are lengthwise splits in the surface of the tree. They happen when sudden temperature changes cause the outer layer of the wood to contract more quickly than the inner layer.


Your plants can also be susceptible to the byproducts of winter weather. Snow and ice can weigh down branches, causing them to break. The salt used to melt winter snow and ice can cause problems, too.


If you’re at a loss as to what you should do to preserve your outdoor vegetation, you have come to the right place. This tree and shrub winter maintenance guide will address many of the questions you may have.

  1. 1.Are Any of your Plants Too Close to your Home or Power Lines?

    Did you know that the care you give your trees and shrubs doesn’t stop when the weather gets cold?

    By allowing the trees and plants on your property to grow close to power lines or other utilities, you could be setting yourself up for some major inconveniences. In fact, you could even be putting yourself in danger. Brittle, dried out trees can crash into power lines; and the same goes for branches that are heavy with ice and snow. Overgrown shrubs and other plants can cause problems with underground lines and cables. Be a responsible homeowner and check your vegetation to make sure it is trimmed back.

  2. 2.Have you Checked your Plants for Signs of Damage or Disease?

    Chances are, you know how your plants look and grow when they are healthy. Before the cold weather moves in, inspect them thoroughly. Look for signs of infestation, damage or rot. Don’t be afraid to bring in a professional to examine your trees and shrubs.

  3. 3.Do you Know About the Benefits of Pruning?

    Pruning your trees and shrubs rids them of dead or damaged ends so that the parts that remain can keep growing healthy and strong. Prune away unwanted areas after all the leaves have fallen so you will have a better idea what you are looking at.

  5. 4.Have you Winterized your Irrigation System?

    If you have an irrigation system, it must be prepared for the coming cold weather. Failure to winterize your irrigation system could result in parts becoming cracked, damaged and unusable. Shut off the water supply to your irrigation system. Blow out any tubing and store it in a warm, dry place.

  6. 5.Do any of your Plants Need Special Winter Care?

    Be knowledgeable about the plants and trees that you have. Some plants are sturdier and can withstand cold weather, but others can’t. If you know that temperatures are going to drop way below freezing, bring what plants you can indoors. If you can’t do that, try wrapping them in plastic. If you live in an area that is known to have cold winters, you may even consider getting rid of extra delicate plants in favor for ones that can stand the cold.


    When it comes to preparing for cold weather, don’t forget your plants! They can’t walk or talk, but they can feel the effects of the cold like any other living thing.

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