Many customers think that tree maintenance work slows down during the winter. However, arborists work the entire year, and we can be swamped with work during the winter! It’s because we can perform some types of tree care work better during the winter, performing tasks during the coldest months of the year to prepare your trees for the spring.
Why Winter Is An Ideal Time For Tree Trimming
Winter is a great season to trim trees because it’s the easiest season to do this job. Without the leaves in the way, an arborist can see the structure and the shape of the tree much better, positioning us to remove any branches affecting the overall growth patterns. Diseased and dead branches are also easier to spot and remove.
In winter, as the light of day becomes shorter, trees go into dormancy. All the processes that work towards transferring sunlight into usable energy for growth come to a halt. It’s why the leaves fall off the branches in the first place, but dormancy is the ideal state to trim a tree for more reasons; no other activities are going on within the tree so trimming won’t interrupt or affect growth or feeding.
The cold weather of winter also protects trees after trimming. Any cut into a tree makes it vulnerable, and there could be an opening for infection. Fungi and pests can enter these wounds and eat away at the soft tissue. In winter, much like the trees they target, most pests go into dormancy. Bacteria, fungi, and insects are less likely to be around to infect a trimmed tree.
Winter Wrapping Of The Tree Trunks
Another ideal job for winter is wrapping the trunks. Though we ideally would do this in the fall, our team can perform it at any time through the winter. It can be life-saving work for the tree because the winter sun will often thaw the moisture in an exposed trunk during the day. When the cold night air refreezes the tissue, the tree may be affected by a condition called sunscald, where the rapidly contracting bark cells rupture to create cracks in the trunk.
To reflect sunlight and heat off the trunk, arborists will often cover trees with paper tree wrap. Working from the bottom, we wrap the trunk in overlapping layers, covering one-third of the trunk at a time. We stop wrapping just above the lowest branches and remove the covering in spring.
Other Tree Care Tasks You Can Perform In Winter
While tree trimming and wrapping are the two most important winter work, taking care of the small things can help your trees make it through winter and return healthy and strong in the spring. If a tree on your property stands close to a road, driveway, or walkway, set up protection from road salt. Salt interferes with the roots, preventing them from absorbing and sending water, oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the tree. You can set up a barrier made of a material like burlap or select ice melt products without sodium chloride.
Homeowners can also prevent snow from accumulating on their trees. Too much weight can break the branches; to remove the white stuff after a heavy snowfall, gently push it off limbs using upward movements with a broom or shovel. Don’t try to break ice off branches, however – if necessary, call an arborist to assess the situation!