Secrets to Tree Care in the Winter

With the wintry weather upon us, it’s time to schedule some winter tree care and maintenance. Learn what you can do to winterize your oaks, maples, pines, elms, etc. for frigid winds and possible snowstorms.

Water & Mulch

Drying out can sometimes be a problem in winters – especially for Evergreens. Trees like these lose more water than they absorb from a frozen ground, which weakens their ability to withstand freezing temperatures. For tree care in winter, water them by using a hose on a slow trickle (without a nozzle) twice a week for ten to twenty minutes. For mature trees, use a soaker hose and spread it out on the ground as far as the branches of the tree extend.

Apart from watering, protect the roots from potential thaw/freeze cycles by mulching. Spread a layer of mulch (preferably organic material like woodchips) underneath the tree’s dripline, which is the area covered by leaves during summers. Go about 2-3 in deep around the base of the tree before the ground freezes, and avoid piling up the mulch against the trunk as it can smother the tree’s roots.


Newly-planted and thin-barked trees are vulnerable to sunscald during winters. Sunscald is a form of winter damage that can occur when trees experience a drastic fluctuation between daytime sun exposure and nighttime cold, which can cause the tree bark to become dry and even crack. It can also occur when other circumstances cause a rapid temperature drop, such as when the sun is blocked by a building, hill, or cloud. Sunscald leads to the death of the active tissue under the tree’s outer layer of bark.

Regular tree wrapping is a simple addition to your winter tree care routine that can prevent this from happening. You can buy a burlap wrap to secure your trees from sunscald. We recommend applying the wrap only on susceptible trees. Make sure to focus on the newly planted Evergreens; they’re easily exposed to the sun because of their needles. Wrapping these and other vulnerable trees as you perform tree care in winter can help prevent snapping limbs.

Protect & Coat

In the winter months, snow and ice can cause a problem if the weight increases too much for delicate or young trees. Snowy days and icy conditions cause for build up winter weather on branches, causing for damaged or broken limbs. The best way to protect these trees is by removing the snow and ice as soon as you can. Removing snow from tree branches is as simple as liting the branches and pushing the snow off while ice can be removed with a hose that is hooked to a hot water faucet.

Most of the adverse effects of cold weather stem from the activity of shrubs losing moisture through the pores located on their leaves. In winters, dry wind and air combine to speed up this effect, causing leaves to increase their demand for water from the roots for survival. However, the roots usually aren’t able to keep up with the increasing demand, which causes leaves to turn brown and die – a process known as desiccation (winter burn).

To put an end to this vicious cycle, include anti-desiccant in your winter tree care plan. Anti-desiccants (also known as anti-transpirants) coat the lower and upper foliate in a wax coating that allows the leaves to retain their moisture. It’s best to apply anti-desiccants on days when it’s not that cold, with no rain or wind forecast for a few days. Applying anti-desiccants will give delicate plantings and shrubs an added layer of protection.


Tree branches (especially on young trees) are much more prone to breaking during the winter season due to the accumulation of ice and strong winds. Pruning is a technique that helps minimize structural damage and loss of fragile branches. Proper pruning removes damaged limbs, encourages fruit and flower production and promotes tree health, all of which improve the aesthetic appeal of a tree.

Prune any dead or diseased limbs you spot on your trees. Make your cuts below the dead/ infected area, and cut the flush to the collar – the bark’s ridge where the branch connects with the tree trunk. If you come across two limbs crossing one another, prune out the smaller one, since the bigger limb has a better chance of surviving.

If pruning seems too big of a task, it’s always a sensible idea to get in touch with professional arborists for winter tree care.

J & D Tree Pros offers tree pruning services of the highest standard, as set by the Tree Care Industry Association. We handle tree pruning and tree removal for commercial and residential properties, and it sees every tree winter care job through – from quote to completion. We are an insured tree service company and can show certificates of insurance upon client’s request.

Call Now at (919) 467-7997 to get a free estimate for your winter tree care service, tree removal, tree trimming, or stump grinding need.


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