Winter Preparation Series: Young Tree Trunk Protection

Do you have a young or newly planted tree? If so, you should consider protecting the trunk against critter damage this winter, let us show you how.

We can’t predict what kind of conditions winter will bring, but we can be prepared and protect our young trees from possible critter damage. In winters with heavy snow accumulation food sources for critters such as mice, voles, and rabbits become scarce. As a result these creatures will sometimes eat the young soft tissue around the base of the tree effectively girdling the tree and causing it great harm.

Before it snows we suggest installing a physical barrier around the trunk of the young tree. This barrier can be corrugated plastic drain pipe (preferably light colored) or small (¼ inch or less) mesh screen, such as hardware cloth. It is also important to avoid direct wraps against the tree as they can retain moisture, promoting rot and hiding insects. Place the barrier into the ground 2-3 inches below the soil surface so critters can’t easily pick up or dig underneath.

Mulch is beneficial for trees.  It insulates from the cold and helps retain moisture.  However, keep mulch away from the base of trees to prevent hiding places for voles and mice.  The same

holds true with ground covers. Rabbits, mice, voles and other critters can use groundcover plants and mulch as protection while they chew on the base of young trees. 

Next, make sure the barrier is going to be about 2 feet higher than the expected snowline so critters can't perch on the snow and reach over.

After your barrier has been installed correctly be sure to monitor it periodically throughout the winter to ensure it maintains its integrity. After winter is over remove the plastic barrier and save it for next season. If you are using a small mesh screen you can keep it on year round but make sure to remove it after a few years before the trunk begins to touch the screen.     ­­­­


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