When winter arrives, your trees still need care. Although trees are dormant this time of year, what you do can help to protect them from snow, ice, and cold temperatures. Here are some winter tree care tips to help you this season.
Water until the soil freezes
Just because the warmest days of the year are behind us doesn’t mean you should stop watering. Fall can, in fact, be a dry season. What’s more, trees’ roots continue to grow and require water and nutrients until the ground freezes. One winter tree care tip we have is to water your trees throughout the fall and early winter until the ground fully freezes. In our area, this can be as late as the end of December.
Newly planted or young trees that still have a small root mass especially need continued watering. And, when it comes to watering, go for low and slow so that you deliver the water directly down to the tree’s root zone. How often and how long you should water depends on tree species, soil type, and our weather conditions. You can check the soil and your tree’s foliage to determine if your tree is over- or under-watered, or you can consult one of our experts for guidance.
Add mulch for protection
Before the heavy snows and ice arrive, mulch around each tree with two to four inches of wood chips, bark, or other organic material. This mulch insulates against temperature extremes while also nourishing the soil and preserving moisture levels. Be sure to keep the mulch layer at least three inches away from the base of the tree trunk to allow the tree to properly breathe. Mulch also helps to hold in moisture, from watering, rains, or melting snows.
Prune in winter
Winter is an ideal time to prune because trees are dormant. Pruning can help the health and
shape of your trees, and it can also reduce the risk of damage to the tree from a winter
snowstorm or ice storm. Pruning cuts should be left uncovered, and proper pruning cuts should
be made just outside the branch collar. Advanced Tree Care’s arborist and professional staff can
help with proper pruning of your trees and shrubs, including identifying which types of trees
can only be pruned during dormancy.
Prune, cable, or brace branches
Winter snow and ice can weigh tree branches down, stressing weak branches. If tree branches are close to your house, driveway, or sidewalks, err on the side of protecting your property. Consult with Advanced Tree Care on pruning, cabling, or bracing these branches to prevent damage. In addition, avoid parking under or near branches that are heavily laden with snow or ice. Falling branches cause a lot of damage.
Trees and branches can sag under the weight of winter’s snow and ice. While it’s tempting to shake off your trees or branches after a heavy snow, resist doing so. You can damage your trees, contributing to weak spots or breakage.
Hold the salt
Heavy winter road salting can take its tolls on trees, especially those on parkways or near driveways. This is where plowed snow accumulates, and as it melts, the salt seeps into the soil and the tree’s root system.
You can protect these trees by moving some of the salted snow and distributing it more fully around your yard. You can also help these trees once winter is over by watering them thoroughly. Watering them helps to reduce the salt accumulated in the soil and lessen any damage.
Protect from rodents and deer
Hungry animals might turn to tree bark and branches when foraging in the lean winter months gets tough. Discourage nibblers with rabbit or deer fencing if you notice signs of damage on bark. Sometimes, mice can also take up residence in deep mulch around the tree base, so be sure that mulch is at least three inches from the base.
Tips for newly planted trees
Stakes or ties can provide some stability for newly established trees, but these items should be removed in winter. Trees will establish more quickly and develop stronger trunk and root tissue without these aids. Many trees, though, especially those that lose their leaves and have thin bark (like Japanese maples) can benefit from tree wrapping. This thin plastic layer protects trees from cold temperatures and sunscald, which is when warm winter sun heats up bark for a short time before temps drop back down at night or in stormy weather. If you have evergreen or arborvitae trees, you should wrap these in burlap, especially if fully exposed to the wind or went through a drought in the warm season. Advanced Tree Care can help with winter tree care, including preparing your young trees for the season.
Advanced Tree Care combines top-notch equipment, cutting-edge technology, and well-trained staff to provide emergency tree removal and tree maintenance services. With a presence in nine counties and two states, we work daily to provide unparalleled customer service, safety, and efficiency—as well as the expertise to beautify your landscaping and community. Advanced Tree Care isn’t just our name—it’s also our purpose!