Prepare Your Trees for Winter

Prepare Your Trees for Winter

We all know what we need to do to prepare our homes for winter. But do we give any thought to our trees? Most people don’t, but we all should. Below are some tips on what you should do to prepare your trees for winter.

How to Prepare Your Trees for Winter

WATER. Your trees need as much water as possible to make it through the winter months. Moist soil stays warmer than dry soil, which helps to protect the tree’s roots. As an added bonus, with lots of water, your trees’ cells are better able to fight against the cold’s damage. Generously water your trees before the ground freezes. Watering is especially important if the fall has been light on rain.

MULCH. Once you’ve watered, add a layer of mulch to seal in this moisture. A 2”-4” layer is best. Do not place mulch directly next to any tree trunks, since the base of any tree needs to breathe. Apply the mulch in the shape of donut (vs. a volcano). Lastly, wait to mulch until the ground has frozen – otherwise, you may find critters in your mulch!

PRUNE. The ideal time to prune your trees is after their leaves have fallen but before the first snow or ice event. Look for dead or dying limbs, weak branches, and hanging or leaning limbs. If any limbs or branches appear to threaten your home in any way, trim or brace them to provide some stability. If there’s an issue that’s beyond your comfort level, call a professional arborist.

STAKE. If any of your trees are in a windy spot or are top-heavy, consider staking. Stake your trees using wide pieces of a strong, weather-resistant material (think canvas or rubber). Be sure to stake in a way that allows the tree’s trunk to sway and move freely. Doing so will enhance strong trunk growth.

SKIP THE SALT. If you use a product to melt ice near your home, avoid using a rock salt-based product. Salt can interfere with a tree’s root system and with its ability to absorb much-needed water, oxygen, and nutrients.

WRAP. “Sunscald” is a type of tree injury caused by fluctuating winter temperatures. Strong winter sun can thaw tree bark during the day. However, if night temperatures drop to freezing, these thawed cells can rapidly refreeze. These changes cause rupturing and cracks in the tree’s trunk, which cuts off the water supply to the top of the tree. A tree’s active cells and conductive tissues die, which can cause scarring. Sunscald most often affects thin bark trees such as ash, fruit, maple and willow trees. You can prevent sunscald by wrapping trunks with crepe paper tree wrap (like this product) or by painting trunks with diluted white latex paint. When wrapping a tree, wrap upward, overlapping layers by one-third. Remove the paper when winter is over.

The Bottom Line

Don’t forget your trees as you prepare your home for winter! Water, prune, and mulch at a bare minimum. Staking and wrapping your trees can also help them survive the winter months. Don’t hesitate to call a professional arborist if you’re unsure of how to best care for your trees.

If you need a recommendation for someone that can help care for your trees, please let us know! We are always happy to help with anything related to your home — for life!

For more tips on caring for your home and yard, be sure you’re getting our weekly blog roundup.

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