Growing Concerns: Time to protect trees and plants for winter

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It is December and the colder weather will be here soon and now is the time to wrap or protect your plants.

If you have trees that were planted this year, then you need to make sure that they are supported with a strong sturdy stake. Ideally you need two stakes with one on either side. One should be in the direction of the winds. The stakes should be set just outside the root ball and in the ground at least three inches but more is better. The stake should reach two-thirds of the way up the trunk of the tree to prevent it from snapping in the wind. It is best to use jute to tie trees to stakes as it will break down before it damages your tree.

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Stakes for standard or grafted trees, such as hydrangea standards or lilac standards, need to come up through the top of the tree to provide support so ice and snow will not weigh down the top and snap it off.

Japanese maples planted on the north or west side of a property that are not protected by a fence or building within four feet will need to be protected with burlap or other fabric. To wrap a Japanese maple, you need to use stakes to create a box or triangle around the tree. The stakes need to be taller than the tree and driven into the ground so they will not get blown over. Staple the burlap to the stakes to create a protected area inside. If your tree is small enough, I like to use more of a tee pee shape than a box.

You will also see cedar hedges covered in burlap. There are two reasons for this. If the hedge is exposed to road salt, the burlap helps protect it from salt and snow damage. It also prevents damage from deer. Cedars are a favourite for deer. They will feed on them all winter and by the time spring comes, you will not have much of a plant left.

Some gardeners spend a lot of time protecting their plants. I leave my garden to fend for itself, but I do make sure that I stake all my new trees.

Take advantage of the sun and finish putting your garden to bed.

Denise Hodgins is a professional gardening coach in London. Send your questions to [email protected]

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