Each season of the year necessitates a different approach to caring for your trees. The strategies that see your trees through the hottest days of the summer or the first frost aren’t the same ones that help nurture prolific budding in spring! We’ve compiled this list of 6 easy, DIY tips for winter tree care to help get your trees safely through the harshest winter storms and set you and your landscape up for the best possible success in the spring and throughout the year.
We tend to associate dry conditions with hot, summer weather, but winter can have its dry spells, too (depending on where you live). So, it’s important to keep the amount of recent precipitation in mind and to take the opportunity to water your trees on warmer days (because if the ground is completely frozen, the water won’t be able to get down far enough into the soil to be absorbed by the roots). Be careful watering with warm water, if you are tempted to do that – water shouldn’t be any warmer than room-temperature, because water that is too warm can burn your trees.
Homeowners often wonder when to prune trees. Winter is a great time for pruning, as long as you wait until after a solid freeze and do it before the springtime temperatures begin to warm up. If you prune your trees after there’s been a good freeze, you’re not in any danger of damaging any new growth, and since most pests are dormant in the winter, there’s very little chance of any of them taking advantage of fresh cuts to the branches to move into your tree. A well pruned tree will weather harsh winter winds, snows, and ice better than an unpruned tree, because any dead or damaged branches will already have been removed.
Protect (Some) Trees from Freezing
Many trees do just fine with typical winter weather (especially if you have trees that are native to your area – they’ll be well-adapted to the climate). But some trees, particularly young trees or those that come from more tropical areas, can benefit by being wrapped ahead of severely cold temperatures or strong winter storms. You can wrap trees in plastic or in burlap, depending on the tree and depending on what you have available.
Mulching around the base of your trees can help to nourish them throughout the winter (if you mulch before the ground freezes) and protect the trunks and the root systems from damage due to severe cold. But it’s important to mulch properly – in a donut shape, not in a volcano shape, around the base of the tree trunk.
Avoid Your Trees with Ice-Melting Products
Rock salt, dissolved into the ground, can alter the acidity of the soil around your trees and make it hard for your trees to maintain proper moisture levels for months after winter has passed. Chemical deicers can do even more damage. So, whenever possible, keep snow melting products far away from your trees and their roots.
Brush Heavier Snow Off Branches
You can (gently!) brush accumulated snow off of tree branches if you are worried that the snow will be too heavy and will break the branches. Use a broom, and gently move the branches UP to knock the snow off. Don’t try to remove ice or hard, old snow off of branches, though, because the risk of breaking the branches is too high if the snow is already frozen on the branches.
Follow these tips to protect your beautiful trees through the tough winter months and set your trees up for a successful spring!