Winter can be particularly harsh on trees, especially young or newly planted trees that lack the defenses of thick bark or a wide/deep root system.
Here are some things you can do for you freshly planted trees to ensure they last through the cold months.
A thin, 2-inch, layer of mulch insulates the soil and roots against the unforgiving cold and slows the loss of water. In the late fall or early winter, after the ground has frozen, place your mulch below the dip line of the tree but not directly against the trunk. Avoid mulching too early so mice don’t make a home inside.
Did you know winter is considered a time of drought? Any moisture in the ground is made unattainable to the plant life. Make sure you’re watering your tree thoroughly through the fall until the ground freezes to ensure it’ll have enough water to last through the chilling winter months.
Wrapping your tree can help it to avoid the common stresses of the cold. When the sun warms the trunk in the day, and the cold air freezes it at night, the cells can rupture causing cracking in the trunk of the tree. To avoid this, cover the trunk in crepe paper tree wrap in the fall and remove it in the spring. You can find this on Amazon or most of your local home improvement stores.
Protect your trees against small rodents like rabbits and voles that like to eat the outer and inner bark, exposing the inner wood of the tree. Plastic tree guards that are put in place for the winter months and removed in the spring, keep these small pests from killing your new trees. Once a tree is mature, most critters aren’t as interested anymore. You should also protect your young saplings from deer rubs by caging the trunks.
With all the ice that accompanies the snow in the winter months, many people use salt to keep their sidewalks and driveways free and clear. Just make sure that salt can’t find its way to your trees. Salt can interfere with the trees ability to absorb the water, oxygen and nutrients they need to survive. To be safe, choose products that contain potassium, calcium or magnesium chloride.
The winter can bring heavy, wet snow that will weigh down and often break weaker, small branches. To avoid this, gently push the snow off in an upward motion, but avoid trying to break ice off. If you feel you need to remove ice, do so with warm water.
Despite popular belief, pruning done in the winter has several benefits. Equipment can get closer on the frozen soil and you don’t need to worry about disrupting other landscaping in the area. Trimming in the winter puts less stress on the tree, allowing the tree to focus on a more robust new growth in the spring and healing in the summer months. Removing dead wood from your tree in the winter can keep your yard work to a minimum after the spring storms come and open up the tree to provide more sunlight to the grass below. As an added bonus, since organisms are dormant, it prevents the spread of disease.
For a trained arborist, trimming in the winter means all leaves are off and they can easily see the structure of your tree. There are two types of pruning, crown reduction and structural pruning. Crown Reduction is when branches are selectively removed to reduce the weight and length of the tree to lessen the risk of limb failure. Structural Pruning is the removal of rubbing, diseases, and crossing limbs to promote a proper, healthy structure within the tree so that what’s left can grow better and keep seemingly small problems within the trees structure from growing with the tree and becoming large problems in the future.
Due to the common misconception that tree work can’t be done in the winter months, there’s a surge of work in the warm months, leading to longer wait times for the homeowners. In actuality, as you just read, trimming is often times better in the winter, with the exception of Maple trees. Call now to schedule your tree trim or removal.