How to Care for Newly Planted Trees through Winter

Newly planted trees can eventually add great color and valuable cover to any landscape. But winter’s harsh conditions can hamper, delay or completely derail their development. There are several things you can do to help these new additions to the landscape survive and thrive in colder temperatures.

Water Newly Planted Trees Until the Ground Freezes

The roots of trees continue to grow until the ground freezes in winter. If the weather is dry, continue to water newly planted trees until the soil freezes. Small trees usually require watering for one or two growing seasons. It may be necessary to periodically water large trees for three or four years.

Protect Young Trees from Rabbit Damage Over Winter

The most effective way to prevent rabbit damage to small trees in the home landscape is to place hardware cloth fencing around vulnerable plants. To adequately protect trees, the fencing material needs to be high enough that rabbits won’t be able to climb or reach over the fence after a heavy snow. In most cases, a fence that stands 24 to 36 inches tall should be sufficient. To prevent rabbits from crawling underneath the fencing, pin the fencing to the soil with u-shaped anchor pins.

Small trees can also be protected by placing white corrugated or spiral tree guards around their trunks. Since the weather in late fall in Iowa is unpredictable, it’s best to have the protective materials in place by early to mid-November. After a heavy snow, check protected trees to make sure rabbits aren’t able to reach or climb over the fencing or tree guards. If necessary, remove some of the snow to keep rabbits from reaching the trees.

More Information

Learn more about the care of newly planted trees in this article: Care of Newly-Planted Trees

Last reviewed:
September 2022