It’s easy to presume trees are sleeping through the chilly season. But the truth is, they are more than just hibernating—in fact, they are experiencing the full intensity of the winter weather. Just like with humans, trees can go under stress in wintry conditions, particularly the young ones. Learn how you can assist your trees in weathering the winter cold and thriving in the years to come. Many tree service companies can help you with these tasks, although they are certainly within the ability of most property owners.
Add no more than two inches of natural mulch around the drip line of your tree. Mulch does wonders in insulating tree roots to give the tree a fighting chance against extreme temperature. It also slows the process of water loss from the soil, keeping it moist. Avoid mulching directly toward the trunk and wait until the ground freezes, or rats will use the mulch as their home for the winter.
Keep watering your trees, especially young ones, until the soil freezes. Remove any irrigation bags around the trunk before the freezing temperatures kick in, and water newly-planted trees after a warm spell thaw the soil. When watering your trees, do it slowly and allow the ground to seep through.
Sun scald is common among trees, especially ones planted on the west or south sections of buildings. It is a condition brought about by daytime sun thawing a tree trunk followed by night air freezing. The freeze-thaw process can cause bark cells to rupture and leave cracks in the trunk. This is especially common with young trees. You can use a white rabbit guard or tree wrap to prevent sun scald in your trees. Wrap the trunk from the ground up and stop when you reach the first branch.
Young trees are usually the prey of rabbits and voles as they like to munch on their barks. After gnawing the outer layer, they can expose the inner wood making the tree susceptible to diseases and even death. In some worst-case scenarios, the damage goes through half the trunk, leaving no chances of survival for the tree. By wrapping the trunk with plastic guards, you can help protect the tree from wildlife invasion. Wrap the tree starting from the ground, working your way up. You also have the option to cage trunks using chicken wire. This can protect the trunk from deer. You can remove the wrap once spring breaks.
Whatever you do, do not use rock salt around trees. Sodium chloride disrupts the roots’ ability to absorb water and other nutrients from the soil. If you need to melt ice, use products with calcium, potassium, or magnesium chloride.
Snow on tree branches can be heavy and break them eventually. Remove the snow by pushing the limbs in an upward motion. Do it gently and don’t try to break ice from the branch. Use a hose with hot water coming out but be sure not to hurt the plant by burning it.
Winter is an excellent opportunity to inspect and prune trees. Without the leaves, it is easy to see the tree’s shape and structure and determine broken or damaged branches. Dormant pruning can prevent diseases from spreading and protect other living plants beneath them. Winter is the best time to make decisions about any branch that needs to go.
Contact Stallworth’s Tree Service Huntsville for more information about winter tree care.