When the topic of caring for our trees comes up, we usually think about spring, summer, and fall. For some reason, we forget all about how to make sure our trees survive the winter.
You might think, “Trees have made it through winter since the dawn of time, so I am sure my trees will be fine.”
But that’s not the case. We’ve seen people lose trees to snow and ice and too much and too little moisture. That’s why we want to give you some time-tested tips to help make sure your trees keep thriving.
Here are four simple tips that will help you help your trees survive the cold of winter:
The winter months are great times to prune! When the leaves have dropped, it’s easier to get a full view of your trees. Diseases typically don’t spread in the winter like they do during other seasons, which makes winter pruning optimal.
According to Danny Lauderdale, Specialized Nursery and Greenhouse Agent, tree pruning is best used to prevent branches from rubbing, remove excess and broken branches, double leaders, and narrow v-shaped crotches. As a homeowner, you should limit yourself to pruning small branches. If work has to be done off the ground, call a professional.
When removing large branches that require a pruning saw, three cuts should be made to ensure that bark is not stripped away. Make the first cut on the underside of the branch about a foot out from the trunk, being sure to cut halfway through. The second cut is made outside the first cut and is made all the way through. The final cut will remove the stub left. At this point, don’t make a flush cut with the surface of the trunk. Remove this stub just outside the swollen area where the branch emerges from the trunk.
Pruning in this manner results in the fastest closure and does not injure the tree trunk. If completing the cuts yourself seems daunting, J&D Tree Pros can help.
Trees should never be topped! Topping is not a correct pruning technique, and you should question anyone who tells you to top trees.
Another part of winter care is simply tree inspection. Invite a professional arborist to come over and look at your trees. With the lack of foliage, it will be easier to assess their condition, including if you’ve had any ice that may have caused damage.
A good arborist will look for the following things:
- Weak Branch Attachments – are all the branches fully attached and receiving sustenance from the truck?
- Insect Damage – are there any insects that could be feasting on the tree and causing it to stress?
- Cabling and Bracing – do your trees require additional assistance in standing up? If so, when was the last time the cabling or bracing was inspected?
In the winter, trees can receive less water, causing them to become brittle and dry. Ice and snow accumulation can also create additional stress on trees as they try to carry the weight. Would you be surprised to know that the Raleigh metro area receives an average of 7” of snow each winter? Between the snow, ice, and colder conditions, trees can have a pretty hard time, and if not careful, you can lose them. In fact, ice can increase the weight of a tree branch by up to 30 times!
When snow or ice does occur, head outside and check the trees. Brush off whatever snow you can, but remember that it may cause branches to break. Take proper precautions and seek out a professional to help if the tree is posing a hazard.
TreeHELP.com, in Toronto, Canada, says this, “The key to minimizing branch breakage lies, once again, in good fall tree maintenance, particularly pruning. Pruning weak and vulnerable branches and removing one limb of a pair sharing a deep “V” crotch can make the entire tree less susceptible. One solution for very small trees and shrubs might be to cover the entire tree with a sturdy tent-like housing. And, for larger evergreens, you might think about using a rope to tie up and reinforce branches.”
Mulching is an essential part of protecting your trees. It helps to retain soil moisture to restore and improve soil nutrient levels, increases winter soil temperatures, and overall structure. Don’t forget to leave a space between the mulch and the trunk of the tree to discourage mice from making your mulch their wintery home.
We want you to win with your trees, even in the cold, blustery months. Give us a call. We’d love to come out and provide an honest assessment to help ensure your trees are ready for spring.