As more and more trees drop their leaves, we can see the signs of fall turning to winter everywhere we go. As Maryland’s trees prepare to go dormant, now is the time for winter tree protection.
Going dormant is a natural way for trees to get ready for winter’s freezing temps, drier weather, and lack of water. During this stage, they stop growing and start conserving energy.
With our help in providing effective winter tree protection, we can help our home’s trees make it through this tough period and come out during spring stronger and more beautiful than ever.
That’s why we’re happy to offer you these 7 fall tips for winter tree protection.
- Start with younger trees first
Another important winter tree protection tip is to prioritize your younger trees. Since younger trees have thinner bark and less developed root systems, they are more susceptible to winter problems. They are also more likely to be damaged by ice, snow, and wind.
Given that they require the most care, focus your efforts and attention first on younger trees and then move on to older, more mature trees.
- Wrap the tree’s trunk
Even though they may look peaceful in the winter, trees face a number of winter challenges, including sunscald and frost cracks.
Sunscald occurs when the bark of a tree is exposed to direct sunlight, causing the outer layer to heat up and the inner layer to remain cold. This temperature difference can cause the bark to crack and peel.
Frost cracks happen when the sap in a tree freezes and expands, causing the tree to crack. These cracks can be deep and damaging, and they often occur on the south or southwest side of a tree, where the sun hits it the longest.
To prevent this bark damage, consider wrapping the trunks of your younger trees up to the first branch. Leave this wrap on until April for best winter tree protection.
- Add mulch to the base
The winter climate can be stressful for trees, as there is less rainwater and more extreme temperatures.
One way of helping your trees deal with these extremes is to add organic mulch near the tree’s base. This helps to improve water absorption, insulate against extreme temperatures, and cut back on soil evaporation.
Best practices include applying 2 to 4 inches of wood chips, organic mulch, or bark near the tree’s base. Be sure not to put the material right up against the tree’s trunk.
- Use leaves as mulch
As you’re gathering up those beautiful autumn leaves into piles, consider saving them to use as mulch.
Instead of disposing of them, you can place them around the trees and let them decompose naturally. If the season is particularly windy, try blending the fallen leaves first with a mulching mower. This helps retain the nutrients while making the material a bit denser.
- Prune during late winter
If you are considering having a tree service prune your trees, winter is the best time to do it.
Removing dead tree branches is simpler during later winter after the trees have gone dormant. This can help with tree health and also aesthetics as you can improve the form.
If you are doing the pruning yourself, try to prune outside the branch collar (where one branch connects with a larger branch). Also, if you don’t have a reason to remove a branch, then just let them be.
- Keep them hydrated
Freezing temperatures mean putting the hose away for the winter. Before you do so, get your yard ready for the winter by giving all of your trees and plants one last big drink of water.
For this winter tree protection tip, water each tree from its trunk to the farthest reach of its branches. This ensures that water gets down to each of the roots. Drip the water out slowly with your hose or sprinkler.
- Wait for warmer days to water
While we are used to colder winter tree protection months, you may still have a relatively warm day here and there. When looking for a time to water your trees, aim for days with no snow and with high temps above 40° F.
Though your trees are dormant, they do still need water. Take advantage of longer dry periods, especially those where we’ve had more than two weeks without snow, and then water.
Get your trees ready for winter with Beautiful Country Tree Services
From tree pruning and tree planting to hazardous removals and storm damage cleanup, Beautiful Country Tree Services is here to help keep your property safe and pristine.