Because evergreens accumulate more snow and ice during winter weather events, the likelihood of breakage during these storms is higher. Evergreens also transpire water through the foliage on warm winter days, which can lead to desiccation. Here are some suggestions from the certified and licensed arborists at Tree Artisans aimed at helping you take care of your trees during the winter. Routine pruning should be carried out to promote strong growth habits and to remove poorly attached branches. On plants with multiple stems or poor growth habits, support systems such as cables or temporary wrapping with soft twine offer the plant support during the winter.
Ensure that soil is moist before the onset of freezing temperatures. Mulching the root zone of evergreens conserves soil moisture and moderates soil temperatures. This will help reduce the risk of desiccation.
Don’t neglect your trees when it’s cold outside and they are dormant. A lack of attention can predispose trees to winter injury and storm damage. Trees that aren’t properly pruned to remove dead wood and structurally weak branches can lead to significant property damage during a storm. Efforts to maintain tree health during the winter can improve vitality and reduce unnecessary risk.
Tree Artisans recommends that you follow these practices:
- Identify and manage over-wintering pest populations
- Prune dead, broken, and interfering branches
- Check for structural weaknesses and install cables or braces (if warranted)
- Replenish mulch to give root systems an extra layer of warmth
- Wrap evergreens to prevent animal damage and keep de-icing salts away
Make sure to have your trees inspected by a certified arborist. Winter can wreak havoc on your trees. Careful inspection of the trees and shrubs on your property can help prepare them for the months ahead. Inspections are part of a managed health care plan for trees and shrubs and can prevent expensive plant replacement costs down the road.
A tree cable is a length of extra-high-strength steel attached between branches with bolts in the upper crown of a tree. They are installed on multi-stemmed trees or when there is a large outstretched limb. Cables limit the movement of the supported branches so they are less likely to fail during extreme weather.
Spring is a critical time for maintaining tree health and ensuring a great growing season. Here is our checklist to help you get ready for spring while it’s still winter:
- Cut back herbaceous plants and remaining winter interest perennials
- Remove dead plant material, leaves, and branches
- Edge planting beds in preparation for new mulch
- Create a shallow edge to avoid damaging existing plant roots
- Don’t place soil against the stem of woody plants
- Top-dress beds with new mulch (a 3" to 4" layer)
- Keep mulch away from the stems of woody plants
- Apply dormant horticultural oil sprays just before new growth begins
- Fertilize plants and adjust soil pH as needed
- Monitor for early spring insects
- Prune plant material that blooms on new wood
- Plant trees and shrubs
- If you live in an area experiencing a drought, delay planting until the fall
Foliar diseases caused by fungi are common in winter. As leaves appear, be sure to notice anything unusual in the foliage of your trees.
Some signs of an issue include:
- Discolored or dead spots on leaves
- Unusual coating on the leaf surface
- Browning or yellowing on the outer margins of leaves or along leaf veins
- Bumps or pustules on leaves
- Loss of needles on conifers
Virtually any tree species can be impacted by foliar diseases. Infected trees can be unsightly and tree health issues may arise when loss of leaves occur. Effective management varies according to the underlying problem, so trees with symptoms should be inspected by a certified arborist.