Trees help to improve and maintain the quality of water, soil, and air and to remove pollutants from the air. Protecting them is very important.
This is where tree wrap comes in. “What is tree wrap and how do I use it?”, you may ask.
Tree wraps are long, thin bands of material that wrap around a tree trunk to protect it from various environmental dangers, especially the dangers of winter. Extreme temperature fluctuations from the sun reflecting off the snow, and certain pests all threaten the health and safety of your trees.
Continue reading to learn more about how you can utilize tree wrap products in protecting your trees from the elements.
What Is Tree Wrap?
What is tree wrap? Tree Wrap is a commercial product used to wrap a tree trunk from late fall to the last frost of spring, providing a protective layer to the bark underneath.
The simple process of wrapping a young tree protects it from the wide temperature swings from day to night and the resulting injuries during the cold months. There are other reasons to apply tree wrap.
Why Should You Wrap A Tree Trunk?
If you ever wondered “What is tree wrap and how do I use it?”, now you know what it is. Tree wrap is not only for protection from extreme temperatures, there are more reasons for its use.
Reasons to bind trees with tree wrap:
The first and most important reason to wrap a tree is to avoid sunburn, which occurs during winter and early spring. Sunburn is damage that refers to the tree’s bark freezing in cold winter temperatures, only for the area’s temperature to rise rapidly, causing visible permanent damage to the bark.
High-intensity sunlight warms tree bark on winter days. This heating of the bark causes the cells to come out of the dormant state, thereby stimulating cell activity.
When the sun goes down or the temperature suddenly drops, these active cells and conductive tissues known as the xylem and phloem die.
The resulting lesion appears as a sunken, discolored crust. Over time, it can peel off or flake off to reveal dead tissue underneath.
Trees on the south side of buildings are more vulnerable, especially on the southwest side of the tree. For this reason, sunburn is also known as a southwestern winter injury.
Wrapping the tree in tree wrap can minimize the direct heat of the sun experienced by the tree’s bark, allowing the tree to heat up at a rate that does not damage it.
Windburn can cause the inner tissues of the bark to fade, causing the bark to become discolored and unhealthy. Wrapping the tree in tree wrap can act as a windbreak for the tree, resulting in slower moisture loss from the bark.
Many trees are susceptible to pests of one form or another like rabbits and squirrels, with most pests attacking the trunk system of younger trees. Installing a tree wrap may not completely solve the pest problem, but will slow it down sufficiently so you can find a pest control solution.
Just as wrapping can protect trees from wind, cold, and pests, it can also protect logs from equipment commonly used in construction and landscaping. Instead of a mower scraping off the protective bark layer, a mower’s first contact escapes the applied tree wrap layer.
5. Protection From Cold
The next reason to wrap a tree is to protect it from further fall and winter damage. As part of winter tree care in northern climates, certain species of deciduous trees need to be wrapped for protection.
The advice applies primarily to new trees or seedlings.
6. Thin Bark
It is also recommended to wrap with trees that have a thin bark structure, including soft maple, ash, willow, and crab apple.
Tree wrapping is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent potentially serious health problems. Cracks in the outer bark due to frost cracking or other problems such as damage from a lawnmower, for example, increases the likelihood of insects getting under the bark.
These little critters can cause damage to the inner layers known as the inner bark where nutrients and water are transported from the roots to the leaves and the cambium which is the part of the stem that grows and produces new bark and wood.
It is not recommended to wrap trees all through the year because this provides insects with a place to hide from the elements and will cause damage to the bark and trunk.
When To Use Tree Wrap
A very crucial consideration when using tree wrap is when to apply it. Wrapping trees periodically protects trees from sunburn in winter and early spring.
It’s generally recommended to apply the tree wrap in the fall when the tree starts to enter dormancy which is usually around November and remove it in early spring when the temperatures start to rise again, sometime around April. An easy way to remember this is to wrap your tree on Thanksgiving and remove it on Easter.
How To Use Tree Wrap
You have learned what tree wrap is and why you should use it so let’s go ahead to find out how to use it:
- Start at the bottom of the tree trunk and start wrapping the material around the tree. This varies by the type of wrap, but one of the easiest materials to use is a special tree foil designed for this purpose.
- Overlap the wrap by about a third as you go up the tree. Stop once you reach the lower branches of the tree.
- The wrap should hold the tree firmly, but not too tight. Avoid using anything that wraps around the entire trunk (i.e. twine, tape, wire ties) that can cause a potentially fatal girdling of the tree.
Some people also choose to tuck the wrap back under the uppermost three or four wraps/layers and pull it taut.
- Don’t glue the tree itself, just the bark
Tree Wrap Materials
The wrap is available in different materials depending on the brand purchased. The four most popular types are;
1. Polypropylene fabric
2. A paper product
3. Corrugated cardboard and
Each has its pros and cons.
1. Polypropylene Fabric
This material has some stretch, allowing for a secure wrap, and it breaks down after some time to prevent tree girdling. However, one disadvantage of this type of tree wrap is that its distinct white color will stand out like a sore thumb in your garden before the snow flies.
This material typically consists of layers of Kraft paper with an asphalt-based adhesive between them. Known in the industry as wrinkled paper tree wrap, it breaks down faster than polypropylene fabric.
Due to this shortened shelf life, you will need to buy new wraps more frequently.
3. Corrugated Cardboard
This is the same material used to make boxes, which are made in thinner, more flexible layers and cut into thin strips. An advantage is that the color is very similar to the bark of many trees, but it does not hold very well in wet areas.
Burlap is not often used to wrap trees. Burlap or jute is simply the same material used to make sacks or to wrap tree root balls.
You can find it in the store’s craft section, cut into strips. It’s cheap to buy and easy to find, but anyone who’s worked with it knows the chaos it creates with rough edges.
The tree wrap varies in colour depending on the material. Most are light in colour, either white, beige, or tan, to reflect sunlight off the tree’s bark.
Reflecting sunlight helps moderate the temperature of the tree bark and keeps it from getting too hot. You can buy tree wraps at home and garden centres, large department stores, and online retailers.
Depending on the brand and material chosen, a $10 roll can wrap a few smaller trees.
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There are differing opinions on the use of tree wraps and whether they are beneficial to the trees or cause more problems. The main argument against tree wraps is that those who plant and care for trees properly do not need them.
Here are some tips on how to plant trees properly:
1. Plant trees so that the root opening (where the top root emerges from the trunk) is at or just slightly above the soil surface.
2. Never mulch above the root opening.
3. Water liberally as needed.
4. When pruning, make cuts that are flush with the collar of the branch bark and leave them untouched so they can plug the wound and preserve the trunk from disease and rot. For best results when pruning, deciduous trees should be pruned in late fall and early winter.
If your purpose behind the tree wrap is to prevent insect damage or bark removal by animals, it is best to use Spiral vinyl tree protectors which are specially made tree straps to prevent insect damage then build a small cage around the trunk using wire mesh.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tree Wrap
How Do You Protect Your Trees In Winter?
There are three ways to protect your tree during winter: apply tree wrap, mulch around the base, provide enough water
How Is Sunscald Treated?
You can help treat sunscald in trees by keeping your tree irrigated and fertilizing only if your soil calls for it.
What Can I Use Instead Of Tree Wrap?
Tree guards work as a good alternative to tree wraps. Tree banding is also great.
How Long Should You Wrap A Tree?
Trees should be wrapped for at least two winters and species with thin bark, for up to five winters or more.
Should You Wrap A Tree With Damaged Bark?
Tree wrap use is no longer recommended as a treatment for wounded trees.
What is tree wrap and how do I use it? It’s all very simple, as you’ve seen.
Wrapping a tree protects it in several ways: Protects the bark from damage or cracking that can occur during winter, protects against damage from lawn care equipment such as trimmers and mowers, prevents damage from wood-boring insects, and keeps pesky squirrels, rabbits and deer in the neighborhood from eating the tender bark when their food sources are limited.
Apply tree wrap in the fall as the tree slows growth for the season and remove it in spring when temperatures start to rise.