June 13, 2013
Q. I have a Japanese maple I planted this spring. I was told it should be wrapped in burlap for the winter. When should I do this, after the leaves have fallen, or before a severe frost?

A. Your Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a young tree and should be protected from frost.
The most effective way to do this is to drive stakes around the perimeter of the tree and attach burlap to the stakes, making sure it reaches right to the ground and forms a circle around the tree. It is not necessary to cover the top, unless the tree is fairly tall and is above the width of the material; the burlap can be kept open. Depending on your location, you may find that rabbits are more trouble than the frost. If animals are a problem, the Japanese maple should be wrapped in burlap each winter to protect if from the animals. However, these beautiful trees are sensitive to the cold, so protection is necessary. You may wrap the burlap around the tree any time now and do not be in a hurry to unwrap it in the spring, as it tends to leaf out early and may suffer from the frost at that time.

June Streadwick
Master Gardeners of Ontario

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