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DNR: 7 tips to help yard trees survive the winter

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Fall colors
Minnesota enjoyed a glorious stretch of mild temperatures and fall color this autumn. Now, it's time to help your trees survive the winter.
Monika Lawrence | File for MPR News

Minnesota's mild fall is offering homeowners a bit of an extra chance to give yard trees a little boost heading into the winter.

"Make sure your trees are healthy when winter arrives by taking action now," said Jennifer Teegarden, a forestry outreach specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement Thursday.

Here are some DNR recommendations to help your trees survive the winter.

1) When conditions are dry, soak the soil around your tree weekly with water until the ground freezes to prevent the tree's branch tips from drying out.

2) Wrap the trunk of young, thin-barked trees such as maple and honey locust with commercial tree wrap or plastic tree guards to prevent frost cracks. Trunks can heat up in the sun and quickly freeze when temperatures drop, causing the bark to crack. Remove wrap or guard in the spring.

3) Remove tall grass around the tree's trunk to discourage rodents from feeding on bark.

4) Rake and remove fallen leaves and needles to reduce fungal diseases that can infect new growth the following year.

5) Protect the roots of newly planted trees from freezing by spreading a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree's trunk, keeping the mulch off the trunk.

6) Wrap burlap around small coniferous trees to protect the needles from drying out when exposed to the sun, wind and road salt spray.

7) Prune trees to remove multiple stems and weak branches that can fail during a heavy snow or ice storm.