Fall is a great time of year to plant trees and shrubs. The soil is still warm, but the air is cool, so the roots have a chance to get established before the coldest months of winter. However, if planting in November, especially in colder parts of the country, you might want to take extra precautions to protect evergreen trees and shrubs from winter. Unlike deciduous trees and shrubs, evergreens still transpire water through their needles throughout winter. If the roots aren’t firmly established in the ground because the tree was planted in late fall, the needles may dry out. This means that the roots won’t be able to take up enough moisture from the soil to keep the needles hydrated, and when the needles are exposed to cold, drying winds, they will brown and eventually drop. This could deform or actually kill the tree. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your evergreens in late fall.
Wrap them. Wrap your evergreen trees with burlap in fall. The burlap won’t protect the tree from cold temperatures, but it will buffer the wind and help keep the needles moist. You can also drive four stakes in the ground around the tree or shrub and wrap the burlap around the stakes. The goal is to stop the wind from reaching the plant.
Water them. Keep your evergreens well watered into early winter. As long as the soil isn’t frozen, the roots can take up some water. If you have a dry stretch in late fall, water the trees well and mulch them with pine straw or bark mulch to help preserve the soil moisture.
Spray them. Spray your trees with an antidesiccant spray. These sprays are designed to coat the needles with a waxy substance that will help prevent them from drying out. Spray when the air temperatures are above 40 degrees F and repeat during a warm spell in midwinter.