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As you plan for the holiday season, take a moment to wrap up something special in the landscape. Don’t worry – it won’t take more than a few moments out of your busy schedule – yet wrapping a young tree to tuck it in for winter is an easy way to keep your sapling strong.  

Winter can be a rollercoaster of warm days and cold nights, wreaking havoc on young, thin barked trees not old enough to form protective, thicker bark. Sun hitting trunks on south and west sides warms the thin bark and cells underneath, causing them to lose their cold protection. As nighttime temperatures plunge, these cells freeze and burst, resulting in sunscald, an area that will be prone to disease in summer.

Sapling fruit trees are vulnerable to sunscald, as well as lindens, honeylocusts, ashes, oaks, maples, and willows. Protect them for the first two to three years they’re in your landscape by wrapping them with tree wrap in before Thanksgiving. Mark your calendar to remove the wrap around April 15. 

Wrap from the ground upward, overlapping each layer over the lower one by one-half-inch until you reach the lowest branch. Use tape to hold the wrap in place, making sure the tape doesn’t stick to the trunk.

How much wrap do you need?  Jeff Dinslage from Nature Hills Nursery in Omaha, Nebraska, helped me with the answer. 

“If we use Crinkle Paper tree wrap as our example, it’s four inches wide.  A two-inch diameter tree has a circumference of about six and a quarter inches.  If  you figure on one inch of overlap each time you go round the tree, you have an effective width of  three inches per wrap.  That is four wraps every foot.   A five- foot tree will take 20 wraps around the trunk, for a total of about 10.5 feet of wrap per tree.

“To secure the wrap, turn it back into itself or tie with jute twine.  What kind of twine can you use to tie up the tree wrap?  Any bio-degradable twine should work.”

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