Preparing your Valued Trees for the Chills of Winter

The Tree-filled landscapes of winter mistakenly are thought to be asleep. Wintering trees are not sleeping but are simply still – truly counting the days until spring. Most of the growing points in the tree are protected inside jackets called buds. Only then will it be apparent whether the tree has put aside and saved enough resources to respond to the new season of growth.

Winter is a difficult time for trees. Trees must stand in the face of drying and cold winds. Food reserves are carefully conserved for the coming needs of spring. Water continues to move through the tree until it freezes. Any creature needing a meal chews and nibbles on the resting buds and twigs. Trees stand alone against all circumstances that the winter season can generate.

What can you do to help your valuable trees: A few things can help a tree be more efficient and effective in surviving the winter and thriving in spring. These small winter investments can pay off in a large way, yielding healthy and structurally sound trees.

  • Add a thin layer of composted organic mulch to blanket the soil surface. Mulch protects and conserves tree resources and recycles valuable materials.
  • Properly protect new trees that have not developed a corky bark and could easily be damaged. Mechanical injury from the environment, including chewing and rubbing by animals must be prevented.
  • Remove or correct clearly visible structural faults and deadwood. Try to make small pruning cuts that minimize the exposure of the central heartwood core on branches.
  • Take measures to protect susceptible trees from airborne salt spray by applying anti desiccant or erecting barriers. Protect root zones from being subjected to salt laiden snow and runoff.
  • Water the tree where soils and trees are cool but not frozen and where there has been little precipitation. Evergreens need to be watered in the fall. Winter droughts need treatment and water the same as summer droughts. However, it is easy to overwater in winter, so be careful.