Q. What precautions should I take to protect my arborvitae (Thuja) from winter damage?
Do I need to wrap the trees in burlap?
Keep your arborvitae trees consistently moist during the summer and fall and then give a soaking drink in the late fall before the soil freezes. Cover the ground around the base of the tree with up to a three inch layer of organic mulch but keep the mulch six inches from the trunk of the tree to reduce the likelihood of disease.
Arborvitae are prone to winter desiccation. If yours are planted in an exposed location, consider creating a screen that protects the trees from the prevailing winter winds and sunscald from the south and southwest. A burlap screen on stakes allows air circulation and is preferable to wrapping an entire tree, unless you live in an area of heavy snow and ice accumulation. A full encircling barrier can be used if you also need to deter animal pests.
Tall columnar forms of arborvitae are easily damaged by heavy snow and ice loads and wrapping the entire tree in burlap during the late fall is one solution in these circumstances. The objective is to prevent branch breakage, so rope, landscape wrappings or cloth can also be used to bind the upper branches together in a column. If deer damage and punishing winds are also considerations, then wrapping the tree in burlap may be the best solution to cover all these factors. Remove the covering in spring.
We have full details on caring for your arborvitae (Thuja) plants in our Guide to Arborvitae.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service