Protecting Your Trees and Plants in Winter on Long Island

Driving around the East End of Long Island, you may be noticing trees and plants covered up for the winter. Why? What does this do? Can this help my trees and plants through a season of harsh weather? Fox Tree Service president Bart L. Fuscoa Certified Arborist and Registered Consulting Arborist—explains.

The Question: Why do people burlap their trees and shrubs in the winter?

The Answer from Fox Tree Service president Bart L. Fusco: We have a great deal of plant material planted on Long Island which are non-native.  They are very prone to winter injury due to the drying out of the leaves and buds. As the cold winter winds, especially near the coast, drive against the plant material, moisture is given up and not replaced. This desiccation often kills large areas of the foliage and turns many evergreen plants brown.

Protecting the plant material can be accomplished in one of two ways. First is to surround the plant with a wind-proof barrier. Burlap is the most common material used to wrap the plants.

Burlap Tree East HamptonBurlap to protect plants in winterWhen the plants to be protected are short, burlap will work best.

Burlap to protect Hedge in East HamptonHowever, many trees and shrubs are too tall to adequately cover and protect them, so applying a protective coating is the best solution.

Protective Barrier SouthamptonThe second way is to apply an anti-desiccant to the plant material a few times during the winter.

North Hempstead Winter Plant ProtectionNeither of these methods will stop the plant from freezing, but the intention is to stop the water loss, which is a goal that can be accomplished.

If a property has many non-native species or broad leaf evergreen plants such as Rhododendrons, it is best to keep the plants hydrated as long as possible into the fall. This allows the plants to be better prepared before the ground freezes, at which time moisture can no longer be moved through the vascular system and into the leaves and buds.

Have questions about the trees in your yard or caring for your trees this winter? You can contact Fox Tree Service in Suffolk at  631-283-6700, and in Nassau at 516-921-7111, or visit online at