Winter is Stressful for Trees, Too!

Sick of this winter? Who isn't? But, we aren't the only ones that become stressed out by winter - snow fall, rain, sleet, ice, and the works. Trees are designed by nature to endure tough conditions, but that doesn’t mean that trees can’t suffer winter damage. Winter is a tough time for any living creature. This is why many trees shed their leaves and go dormant in the winter, just like a bear hibernating.
 
But even with the best natural adaptations, winter storms and snowfall can mean broken limbs, stripped bark, and even uprooting. Evergreens lose extra moisture from their needles in the wintertime.
 
Here are some tree tips that will help you keep your trees safer through the months of cold and snow.
 
Plant hardy varieties that can tolerate the weather. When you’re planning your tree planting, research the weather in your area and choose your trees and shrubs with winter in mind. Choosing the right trees that can stand the winter conditions where you live is half the battle.
 
Prune your trees carefully. Most arborists agree that winter is the best time for pruning. The trees are dormant, and there’s less shock to the tree from pruning. Also, with no leaves on deciduous trees, the arborist can see more clearly the shape of the tree and spot any dead or diseased branches.
 
Pruning removes potentially exposed limbs that can suffer damage in a heavy snowfall. Winter is also a good time to check your trees for signs of disease or other problems, as more of the tree becomes visible in the winter.
 
Aerate the soil around the roots. This should be done before the freeze sets in. It improves the circulation of air and water in the soil and strengthens the tree roots, making them better able to weather the storms.
 
Stop fertilizing the trees in early autumn. This gives the trees a signal that winter is coming and lets them prepare for the hard days. As the tree becomes dormant, the need for fertilizer declines, so for that reason as well fertilizing in the late fall and winter does little good and is a waste of fertilizer and time.
 
Check your trees after a heavy storm. After the storm is over, examine your trees for signs of damage. Remove broken or damaged limbs immediately, especially if they present a hazard of injury from falling objects. Restoring a storm-damaged tree to health can take some time, but usually it can recover well.
 
Finally, the best approach is to consult with a qualified tree care professional to handle winter storm dangers and damage.