Winter is a particularly tough time for tree care, whether you are a homeowner or a tree care professional. The weather is particularly difficult to predict, so you never know what you need to prepare for and what you can skip this year. The best thing that you can do is prepare for the worst case scenario beforehand.
Remember that trees are dangerous during the winter months – they are weak, they are vulnerable, and the weather can bring them down. So what can you do to prepare yourself (and all of your trees) for the months ahead? Here are the first 5 steps you should take:
5. Perform A Basic Clean-Up
- Eliminate leaves from your lawn
- Ensure that all lawn ornaments and furniture are cleaned up
- Take your time to look around as you clean
The first thing you want to do is clean up around your yard, eliminating any debris from your plants. You can put these into a compost pile or recycle them as you wish. This will eliminate the risk of infestations and any diseases spreading, according to This Old House.
The next step you want to take is to eliminate any lawn ornaments and furniture that could fly during a particularly fierce storm. Anything that is heavy enough to cause damage to your trees needs to be tied down or put into storage.
During your clean up, make sure to inspect your trees for any signs of damage or disease. You should contact a professional if you see anything you don’t understand and make sure that you tackle every disease or problem as early as possible – the winter won’t always kill them.
4. Prune Away Dead Branches
- Can shape your tree
- Only use the best tools
- Contact a professional for the best job
Prune your trees if you see any dead twigs or smaller branches. Pruning any more than that requires you to use bigger tools or make more cuts requires you to contact a professional. Taking matters into your own hand may cause more damage to your trees and make their job even harder, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Consider that pruning is vital to your trees and something that you won’t need to do every year. However, you need to remove branches that are dead and will fall if heavy snow sits on top of them.
For smaller cuts, you can use a hand pruner and do clean, precise cuts. Ensure your tools are cleaned and you are very deliberate with your cutting.
3. Wrap Your Trees
- Prevents sunscalding
- Fights off diseases
- Prevents bark damage
One of the most important things that you can do for your trees before the winter months is to wrap your trees in protective coatings. These are available at any home improvement store. One thing you should know to do is to wrap from the top of your tree towards the bottom. If you do it the other way, the protective coating will hold water in the folds, which can lead to decay.
According to This Country Life, “Wrap it up as far as the lowest branches, then secure it with tape, wire, or twine. Avoid cinching rope and wire too tightly. When the tree starts to grow again in the spring, those bindings can become embedded if not removed. And never leave the wrap on for longer than necessary, because it could trap moisture and create a haven for pests. A tree wrapped from end of November through March should be just fine.”
Just make sure that you check up on the tree throughout the winter and ensure that the wrap stays in place.
2. Winter Watering
- Water throughout the winter months
- Ensure to deep water into the soil
- Use mulch to retain moisture
Moisture tends to go by the wayside in the winter months because we believe that trees get their water from snow and ice – but they do not.
Sure, they get some water when they melt, but often the water gets warm before the soil does and the water runs right off the soil. This is why you need to ensure that the water penetrates deep into the soil and provides proper nutrients and hydration for the rest of the tree.
According to Backyard Boss, this is most important for younger trees that require more water. However, it is also important to do it for trees that will deliver fruits or flowers during the summer months. These trees tend to do a lot more in winter and therefore use up more water.
Mulch will help you to do this – add a fresh layer of mulch around the base of your tree (but not up it) so that you know the water will stay where it needs to be.
1. Consider Planting New Trees
- Perfect time for new tree growth
- Can help roots grow stronger
- Best for bare root trees
For some trees, the best time to plant them in is the winter months when everything looks dead, but a lot of the internal work happens.
According to Sustainable Resources, “Winter is one of the best times to plant a tree. Many excellent varieties are available at your local nursery, with some of the best trees available in the winter. Your new tree will use the winter dormant season to establish new roots. When spring arrives, your tree will be on its way to providing shade for generations to come. While it may seem obvious that planting a tree is a good thing, here are some reasons which may not have not occurred to you. Well-placed trees can save you money on your utility bills. In the summer trees shade your roof and windows and also cool the air around your house as they breathe.”
If you are considering planting a tree, make sure you do your research.
If you believe that you have a problem with your trees or in your yard, give us a call today at (269) 216-6811 and we can set up a time to visit you and your beautiful trees to see just what the problem is – and how we can help you. Even more, if you have been facing issues with your trees and you just want to make sure that they have the best chance of survival into the next season, contact our professionals. There is no job too big or too small.
Header photo courtesy of Rebecca Siegel on Flickr!