If you’re like most people, you probably don’t do anything to prepare your trees for winter. While established trees can survive cold temperatures without being winterized, taking some extra steps now will help ensure that they’re in optimal health next spring. Without winterization, your trees may be in poorer health and more susceptible to disease once the weather warms up again. Here are some simple steps you can take to prepare trees for winter.
Water Your Trees Before the Ground Freezes
Trees go dormant in the winter, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need water. Tree cells need to remain hydrated and the best way to do this is to water your trees all the way up until the ground freezes. Even during winter, you may want to water your trees on warmer days if there hasn’t been much snowfall.
Fall is an excellent time to fertilize your trees. Our arborist services can help prepare trees for winter with deep root feeding, which keeps them healthy during the dormant period and enhances their growth in the spring and summer months. Using a certified arborist for fall fertilization is a good idea, as doing it yourself with the wrong formulation can result in late season growth.
Consider Trunk Wrapping
Young trees and trees with smooth or thin bark, including honey locust, crabapples, maple, and linden, should have their trunks wrapped in the fall to help them withstand winter sun exposure and temperature fluctuations. Sunscald and frost cracks damage the bark on these trees, which can leave them susceptible to fungal infections. Use flexible white tree wrap that protects the entire trunk, up to the first branches. Once freezing temperatures have ended in the spring, the wrap should be removed.
Refresh Your Mulch
Spring isn’t the only time to mulch your trees! You should refresh mulch in the fall too—just make sure you don’t mound the mulch around the base of the trunk. There should be about two to three inches of mulch over the root zone, which will provide much-needed insulation from frigid winter weather and improve water absorption. Rather than running out to your local garden center for bags of mulch, you can use the leaves you raked up instead for an environmentally-friendly solution.
If you want to prune your trees in the fall or winter, it should be to remove dead, dying, and diseased branches and to improve your trees’ overall branching structure. Water sprouts and basal sprouts can also be removed in the late fall and early winter, but green wood pruning should be limited, as you don’t want your trees to spend their energy reserves on healing these wounds.
Learn More About How to Prepare Trees for Winter
Our tree wellness program takes a comprehensive approach to the health of your landscape and includes a year-round management plan to keep your trees thriving. If you’d like to find out how to protect your trees this winter, contact us today at 610-840-2655 to schedule a consultation with a certified arborist.
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