Tricounty News

Tree care this fall

(Water trees and perennials)

Trees and other perennial plants are visibly stressed this fall primarily because of drought conditions from the past two or more years. Tree stress symptoms include abundant seed production, leaf scorch, early fall colors, leaf drop, limb die back and yellowing or browning of leaves/needles. Trees and shrubs, especially conifer trees and trees and shrubs planted in the last three years should be watered generously until the soil freezes. Mulching newly planted trees will help reduce winter root damage.

Young maples and thinned-barked trees may benefit from some kind of sunscald protection to prevent the bark from cracking this winter and spring. This protection is usually in the form of a plastic tube or tree wrap (remove in spring). These practices can also help in reducing winter animal damage. Other fall management practices which will help reduce winter damage to trees and shrubs can be found at

Protecting trees from rabbits, mice, voles and deer is a major concern in some landscapes during the winter. Mow or remove tall grass to reduce mice and vole damage. If the bark is removed or severely damaged around the tree, it will die. Protective physical barriers such as tree tubes, hardware cloth or fencing can be done when practical.

Odor, taste and visual repellents can be used to repel many wildlife species, but may have inconsistent effectiveness. Human hair, soaps, garlic oil, hot sauce and animal repellents can be applied to branches and foliage to discourage browsing. Weather, application frequency, animal population and feeding pressure affect the success of repellents. Some animals become desensitized to the repellent, so you may want to alternate repellents. A web resource that reviews prevention and control of wildlife damage can be found at

If you’re unsure what is causing problems in your landscape, Extension has a great web site to help homeowners diagnose tree, shrub and plant problems or identifying a weed or insect. This site also has links to the UM Plant Disease Clinic and Soil Testing Lab.

Fall is also a good time to plant trees (water till the soil freezes). Recommended trees for all regions of Minnesota can be found at The best time to prune trees is during the dormant season from January to March. Flowering shrubs can be pruned in the summer after flowering.

Gary Wyatt is an Agroforestry educator with University of Minne
sota Extension.