Winter can be downright murder for your trees, even the heartiest conifers. Without proper preparation, they can sustain damage that will weaken them over time and cause other damage to your property. Fall is the best time to get your trees ready for the ravages of winter, before the cold temperatures, wind, and precipitation make it impossible!
The soil around your trees expands and shrinks as the temperature fluctuates, and this can cause irreparable harm to the root system. It can be so bad that young saplings, with roots that haven’t been anchored into the soil, can be heaved out of the ground. Three inches of mulch around the base insulates the roots, moderates the soil temperature, and preserves moisture.
Use Tree Wraps
“Sunscald” isn’t a term you’d naturally associate with winter, but it’s a problem that can scar trees for life. The usually dormant plant cells are brought out of their sleep by the direct sunlight, warming up the tissue. When the temperature falls at night, the cells are quickly refrozen, killing them. The resulting injury can leave an ugly discoloration and scarring.
Tree wrap is a light-colored paper that you wrap in overlapping layers from the bottom up. It reflects the sun’s rays and keeps the trunk a consistent temperature.
The wind and heavy precipitation weighing on the tree can cause death or already dead branches to break and fall off. This can cause costly damage to the tree, your home, or your vehicles. A good pruning is done before winter can remove the branches that won’t make it through the next ice storm.
If you cut off the wrong branches, though, you can weaken the structure of the tree. Pruning done by a professional will target the right branches without accidentally removing the healthy parts of the tree.
Water The Trees
Even as the weather gets colder, you should still be watering your trees, especially if the fall has been dry. Trees are going to need a lot of water before their long winter’s nap, as it does more than give them sustenance: water-engorged cells handle the cold a lot better. The roots also get some extra protection, as the moist soil stays warmer longer than drier soil. If you’ve added some mulch, even better!