After a spring, summer, and fall of hard work caring for trees on your property, you may think that you have the winter off. Think again.
Sure, trees are dormant during the chilly winter months. But that doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable to damage from the elements, pests, and improper handling.
If you want to know more about how to maintain your beautiful trees in the cold, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for eight must-know winter tree care tips. Let’s dive in!
1. Focus on Watering in the Fall
If you want to know how to protect trees in winter, you have to start preparing in the fall. Before the ground freezes, make sure all of your trees get plenty of water. This is especially important for new trees.
If there are any irrigation bags around your trees, remove them. And if you have warm days where the ground thaws, take the opportunity to provide plants with a little extra hydration.
2. Be Sure to Mulch
Applying mulch in late fall or early winter is a great way to winterize trees and protect them from harsh, drying winter temperatures. Here’s how:
Get rid of any old mulch, grass clippings, or whatever else will get in the way of your fresh stuff. Prune away any up-growing roots.
Choose Your Mulch
Purchase a good-quality mulch. A medium texture is best for tree health.
Spread your fresh mulch around each of your trees. A four or five-foot diameter works best. Any mulch outside of an eight-foot diameter loses its nourishing powers.
Continue spreading until the mulch is about two inches thick (four inches maximum). Make sure that it’s even all the way around.
Build a Barrier
Use some stones to create a barrier around each circle of mulch. This will help keep it in place during bad weather.
How Mulch Helps
Mulch insulates your tree’s roots and helps your tree stay hydrated. Wait to spread mulch until after the ground freezes because it prevents squirrels and mice from stealing the materials for their nests.
3. Wrap up Tight for Ultimate Tree Care
Imagine the harsh sun drying you out during the day, and the chilly winds freezing you by night. That’s what it’s like for your poor trees in winter!
This vicious cycle damages tree bark on a cellular level, causing cracks in your trees’ trunks. This visible damage is called “sun scald”, and it’s not pretty.
But don’t stress, you can avoid it by using tree trunk wrap. Start at the bottom of the trunk, and overlap the wrap as you move up, stopping at the tree’s first branches. Think of it as a cozy, protective blanket for your trees which you can remove in the spring.
4. Protect Your Trees from Pests
Your trees may not need to worry about caterpillars or leaf miners in the winter, but they do need to worry about deer, rabbits, and voles. These critters are energetic and destructive during the winter months.
Smaller animals like rabbits will gnaw at both the inner and outer bark of young trees. This exposes the inside of the tree, and if they do extensive damage, the tree will die.
Deer, on the other hand, like to rub against the bark, which is also endangering for young trees. They may also batter the tree to make noise that attracts potential mates.
Keep your delicate trees safe from pests by using a plastic tree guard. You can also surround the tree with chicken wire, giving it a protective cage.
5. Banish Built-Up Snow
Trees look beautiful with a layer of snow on their branches. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for them.
After all, snow is heavy. And more than a dusting on branches can make them snap.
Remove excess snow by gently brushing it off. If your trees are bogged down by tons of ice, don’t try to break it. Use warm water to melt it away.
6. Spray Those Leaves
The harsh wind and sun of winter may damage your trees’ leaves. Thankfully, anti-desiccants can help.
These sprays create a wax-like coating that shields leaves from the elements. It also stops leaves from drying out too much.
7. Hold the Salt
Rock salt is a great way to melt away stubborn and dangerous ice around your property in the winter. But it’s not so great for your trees.
Rock salt is made of sodium chloride, which absorbs into the ground. When it hits a tree’s roots, it affects the way it can absorb precious nutrients, moisture, and oxygen. So, this winter, say no to rock salt and choose a product with magnesium chloride, potassium, or calcium instead.
8. Prune Regularly
Pruning your trees may sound like a spring job. But when you really think about it, winter is the perfect time to get some marvelous pruning accomplished.
After all, in the dead of winter, you can see each tree’s structure without obstruction. You can inspect each branch for damage and identify which areas need removal.
Plus, you can easily trim branches in areas that may damage other plant life in the spring or summer. Pruning during the winter is safe for your trees and even prevents the spread of diseases.
Feeling nervous to prune on your own? Hire a professional tree-trimmer!
But make sure to avoid scams. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you provide your trees with excellent care, you can enjoy their beauty for decades to come. After all, even a long, cold winter can’t damage your trees if you take the proper precautions.
For the best results, remember to water and mulch around your trees in the fall and early winter. During the frosty months, be sure to protect your trees from pests, temperature-related damage, and rock salt. And don’t forget to prune regularly to keep your trees healthy and prevent the expansion of dangerous diseases.
Need some help with your tree care, no matter the season? Don’t stress! Contact us directly for assistance.