Pyramidal Cedar Care for Winter

(Question)

I am in zone 4, and have several stand alone 12 to 14 foot high pyramidal cedars. They are planted along a forest line, but are exposed to winter wind conditions. We are also in a micro climate area with a fair amount of snow. Do we need to tie these for the winter? They were planted two years ago and were tied (under warranty) by the landscaper for the first two winters.

(Answer)

I’d suggest that you wrap the trees this winter.

I’m not certain if you mean that the landscaper tied the trees with twine (spiraling up the plant, bringing branches in close to the trunk to protect them from ice or heavy snow, which can cause significant damage) or wrapped them (e.g., with stakes, burlap or other materials). Both strategies are used to protect the tree from winter damage.   “Tying”, mainly protects against snow/ice, while “wrapping” also protects against wind and salt damage. Landscape Ontario has a very good article on winter protection for delicate plants  – this discusses both wrapping and tying.

I’m presuming that you have a good, hardy cedar – that your landscaper selected one that is hardy to zone 4 (although you mention the micro climate, which may mean that your zone is higher). For example, Thuja occidentalis ‘Pyramidalis’ is hardy to zone 2. This is likely not an issue, but if it is – wrapping would be essential.

 

Ohio State University’s Plant Facts: Thuja occidentalis notes that the cedar is particularly vulnerable to branch damage when there are heavy ice or wet snow loads – the dense foliage tends to catch and retain precipitation. The article also suggests appropriate ways of tying the tree for protection.

A couple of earlier postings on our website provide helpful general information and good links:

Finally, you might want to ask the landscaper whether he/she would recommend ongoing winter protection for the trees.