How To Care For Trees In Winter

Although trees in winter are dormant, they are still exposed to the cold temperature and harsh elements winter brings. It is important to provide your winter trees with the proper care to survive the winter and flourish in the spring. Below are ways you can care for your tree in winter.

Water Your Trees In Winter:

Most homeowners don’t think about watering their trees in winter but winter trees need water as well, especially if you live in a mild climate or if the tree is young. The best rule of thumb for watering a tree in winter is to apply the same amount of water as you would in the summer but apply only once every 20 days if there has been no soaking precipitation. Make sure to water during the day when it is above 40 degrees to allow the water to soak in before the temperature drops at night.  And make sure to pay extra attention to your Evergreen trees; because Evergreens retain their needles they are more likely to feel the effects of drying winter conditions.

trees in winterSpray Your Evergreen Trees In Winter:

Most of the negative effects of winter stem from the fact that trees and shrubs lose moisture through their pores which are located on their leaves/needles. During the winter months, the dry air and wind accelerate this effect leading to leaves increasing their water demand from the roots in order to survive. However, the root system usually has a hard time keeping up with the leaves’ demands. The result: leaves and needles turning brown and dying. This cycle is called winter burn, or desiccation.

Anti-desiccant treatments can solve this destructive cycle. Anti-desiccants coat the upper and lower foliage in a protective wax coating reducing the moisture lost through the leaves. Similar to the moisturizers, lotions, and humidifiers we use to keep our skin hydrated in the winter, anti-desiccants provide trees & shrubs with the protection they need to flourish during winter instead of fighting to survive. On an aesthetic note, this means no more brown and dying evergreens!  Learn more about Anti-Desiccant Treatments and schedule an evaluation with a certified arborist today by calling 703.573.3029 or by booking online.

Tree Wrap This Winter:

Sun scald is winter damage that is commonly seen on young trees, newly planted trees, and thin-barked trees (cherry, crabapple, honey locust, linden, maple, mountain ash, plum). Sun scald caused the tree bark to dry and crack. The University of Minnesota explains that “On cold winter days, the sun heats up bark to the point where cambial activity is stimulated. When the sun is blocked by a cloud, hill, or building, bark temperature drops rapidly, killing the active tissue” creating sun scald.

To combat this you can wrap your susceptible trees with tree wrap this winter. We suggest purchasing burlap tree wrap and following simple application tutorials online to protect your trees in winter.

Salt Damage On Evergreen Shrubs

Salt Damage On Evergreen Shrubs

Keep Rock Salt Away From Your Tree In Winter:

The salt used to melt ice and snow on the roads and walkways, typically sodium chloride, can have a devastating impact when it comes into contact with trees and shrubs. When the road salt enters the soil water can be pulled out of the tree roots dehydrating the tree. Salt caught up in the air can also coat the tree pulling the water out of the needles, buds, and branches further dehydrating the tree/shrub as well.

If you have control over what kind of salt your tree is exposed to opt for Magnesium chloride instead. Using this type of salt on your driveway and walkways can keep your tree from experiencing damage from the typical sodium chloride. If your trees are close to the road and will be exposed to sodium chloride all is not lost. Remove the salt you can see and make sure to provide your tree with enough water to flush out the soil and its system.

Trees In WinterRemove Snow From Branches This Winter:

The light snow typically won’t do damage to tree branches. It’s when the snow really starts to pile up that you need to take action to keep branches from breaking. Your first instinct may be to shake the branches to get the snow off but this can actually cause more damage by snapping the brittle winter branches of the trees. Instead gently brush the snow off of the branches of your trees in upward strokes. To reach higher branches, GENTLY use a broom in an upward sweeping motion to remove snow. Make sure to focus on Evergreens; snow easily piles up on these trees because of their needles

Trim Your Tree In Winter:

A question we get asked a lot is whether tree trimming can be performed in the winter. The truth is, although trees and shrubs are generally forgotten during winter, the dormant season is the optimal time to trim and inspect your trees.

As an example, dead branches and structural issues in large shade trees can be easily identified and properly pruned in the cold months.  Branch defects and structural issues are also plainly visible with the absence of leaves.  Furthermore, when selective pruning of live branches is necessary, the dormant season is the best time of year for such actions to take place. Maintenance efforts in your trees now can pay off big come the stormy seasons ahead when the winds start to blow. Learn more about tree trimming and schedule tree trimming evaluation with a certified arborist today by calling 703.573.3029 or by booking online.

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Samantha Huff

Samantha Huff is the marketing coordinator at RTEC Treecare. She enjoys learning about the technical aspects of trees and the insects and diseases that prey on them. She hopes that these articles can help homeowners gain control of their tree and shrub maintenance by being aware of the signs and symptoms of unhealthy trees.
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