Winter can be a hard time for trees, but a little bit of care will make sure that they survive and even thrive in the cold. It does take a little bit of extra effort, and a few of the techniques can be a little bit challenging for untrained individuals, but the results are worth it for those who value their trees. Proper care during the winter will even help to ensure that the tree does well in alter seasons, so no landscaper can afford to neglect them.
1- Early Pruning
The pruning process consists of identifying dead or damaged branches on a tree and removing them. Winter is a great time for pruning because the lack of leaves will make it easier to spot the branches that need to be removed.
In addition to getting rid of sick or dead branches, it can be a good idea to prune the ones that stretch over walkways if they look weak. Snow is heavy, and it can cause flimsy branches to break and fall out of the tree. That can be a serious hazard for people who are under the tree at the time, so it’s often best to be cautious and get rid of them in advance.
2- Thorough Mulching
Adding a layer of mulch around a tree offers a few advantages during the winter. It will keep the soil temperature low, so that a brief warm spell will not make the tree come out of dormancy too early. Some mulches will also improve the soil around the tree as they break down, which will help the tree to grow properly once the winter ends. In some environments, it will also stop weeds from spreading around the trees and competing with them for water and other nutrients after the ground thaws.
3- Watch for Pests
Rodents, deer, and other pests can cause problems for some trees during winter. Their normal food sources are unavailable at that time, so they will chew on bark as an alternative. It is possible to use bait to lure them away from the trees, although there are jurisdictions that ban that process. Alternatively, most dedicated tree and garden stores carry repellents that can be painted on a tree to keep animals away. It’s best to wait and watch for signs that animals are eating the trees before applying any repellent, in order to be sure that you choose one which will be effective against the culprits.
4- Try Watering
Snow and ice are just different forms of water, but they are not forms that plants can use to stay hydrated. Liquid water can actually be quite scarce during the winter, since the cold will freeze it and prevent the trees from harvesting it. If your trees show any signs of dehydration, it can be useful to water them to make sure that they are getting enough water to stay healthy. This isn’t necessary in every climate, but it is a fairly common problem, so it’s best to be on the lookout for signs of trouble.
5- Apply Antidesiccants
It is also possible to prevent dehydration by applying an antidesicannt to a tree. They’re available from most garden centers, and take the form of a waxy material that covers the leaves of evergreen trees. They prevent water from escaping from the tree through the leaves, which can greatly reduce the amount of water that the tree needs to take in through its roots. Combining this method with a layer of mulch is often enough to prevent dehydration entirely.
6- Regular Examinations
There are a lot of ways to prevent problems during the winter, but nobody can expect to predict and prevent everything that could go wrong with their trees. That means that it is vital to take a walk around the property and examine all of the trees on a regular basis. That will give you a chance to catch problems early so that you can take whatever steps are necessary to prevent them from destroying the tree. Simply look for anything that seems unusual or unhealthy. If you aren’t sure if there is a problem, you can take pictures and use them to do more research later.