The signs indicating a tree is dead or dying can vary depending on the type of tree. Dead branches or cracks in the trunk are universal signs. Some of the less obvious signs are mushrooms on the base of the tree, raised soil near the bottom of the tree, and missing bark.
To keep your trees healthy and strong, there are methods for winter tree protection against winter’s hazards. Such as severe weather, lack of food for animals and rodents, and salt put down on roads to keep them from icing over.
Here are some methods to consider to keep your trees healthy.
The healthier your trees are going into winter, the more likely they will withstand what the season brings.
Water loss during winter is a major concern. So be sure to water your trees thoroughly in the weeks leading up to winter’s first freeze. Once winter arrives, trees less than two or three years old will need to be watered during periods when the ground isn’t frozen.
Put a layer of mulch on the ground around your trees. Leave three to six inches clear around the base of the tree and spread the mulch out to the circumference of the tree’s limbs.
Stop pruning trees in August. Pruning will encourage new growth and will inhibit the tree from going dormant.
Inspect your trees for signs of disease. Look for cracks and holes in the bark, leaf discoloration, and signs of decay. If you see signs of disease, removal of the tree before the disease spreads or it falls down in winter weather is advised.
Trees can be wrapped using burlap or wraps purchased from a garden center. Clear plastic is not a good choice as it can cause sun-scald.
There are pros and cons to wrapping trees, so consider them all before deciding whether and when to wrap your trees. Here are some of the reasons people opt to wrap their trees.
Minimizes Damage from Animals
Deer, rabbits, voles, and mice love to eat the soft tender bark and twigs of trees. Wrapping trees will likely keep deer and rabbits from using your trees as a snack.
However, it likely will not help with the voles and mice. Plus, they may even decide the wrapping creates a warm and cozy place for them to live.
Minimizes Ice Damage
If you live in an area that suffers from ice storms, wrapping evergreen trees that do not lose their leaves in the winter may be a good idea. Wrapping can keep ice off their branches that can cause them to break (and which might not grow back).
Trees that lose their leaves in the winter, do not need to be wrapped. Deciduous trees recover better than evergreens.
Helps Keep Moisture In
Since moisture loss is a concern in winter, some people opt to wrap their trees to keep moisture in. Wrapping the trees does help. For young trees, wrapping is likely a good idea since they need to maintain an adequate amount of water to stay healthy through the winter.
For older trees, wrapping will also keep the moisture in, but you will run the risk of too much moisture building up. Too much moisture can cause the tree to rot.
Helps Prevent Discoloration of Lighter Leaves
Cold wind and sun can cause the leaves on young yellow-leafed evergreens to dry out and become discolored. So if you have these light leafed trees in your landscape, wrapping them is a good idea.
Helps Prevent Damage from Salt
Some trees are sensitive to salt spray, so if you live in an area where salt is put on the road in winter, wrapping your sensitive trees can help. For a list of landscape trees along with their tolerance or sensitivity to salt, you can find one here.
If you live in an area that experiences high winds, protect any top-heavy trees you have by attaching them to stakes to help provide support. Remember to leave enough slack in the line between the stake and the tree to allow the tree to move freely. Tying it too tight will weaken the tree.
During winter, food gets scarce for deer, rabbits, and rodents. For younger trees that still have soft bark, installing tree guards can help keep them from being eaten. If they eat too much or cause too much damage, the tree will need to be removed.
Keep in mind that if it snows where you live, you will need taller guards to prevent access from deer or rodents standing on top of the snow.
What To Do If Your Trees Take Damage
Damaged trees can become a serious safety issue. One that needs to be taken care of before it hurts someone or someone’s personal property.
If you notice a tree that has branches that are hanging down, has cracks in the trunk or is leaning to the east, it is time to call a tree specialist. The tree may need pruning or it may need to be removed.
Put These Winter Tree Protection Tips Into Action
No matter what season it is in your area, it is time to put these winter tree protection tips to use. Even if it is just preparing for next winter.
If it is winter where you are, check your trees for damage after heavy winds or rain, lightning, snowfall or when ice accumulates. Especially if you have trees that have branches hanging over your house or where you park your car.