Late Fall/Winter can be a harsh time for in your landscaping and trees. Injury is more prevalent and more severe when low temperatures occur in early fall or late spring, when there is little or no snow cover during the winter or when temperatures stay low for a prolonged duration. Pronounced fluctuations in temperature can be extremely detrimental to plants throughout the fall, winter, and spring. The following are a few tips to help your trees last through the winter and come back strong in the spring.
Fertilize Your Trees After the First Hard Frost
If you choose to fertilize your trees in the winter make sure you do so after the first hard frost to ensure that the tree is dormant. This will prevent the growth of tender shoots that will not have time to harden off before the freezing temperatures arrive. A well-timed shot of winter fertilizer will give your trees a jump-start on spring growth by ensuring the soil is rich with nutrients once the temperatures become warm again.
Wrap Your Trees
Protect any deciduous (leaves drop annually) trees from sun scald using paper wrap or plastic tree guard by wrapping the tree trunk up to the first branches. Be sure to overlap the layers and secure them with tape or twine. You can remove this wrap in early spring. It seems silly, but trees actually can benefit from being wrapped up during intense winter storms such as ice storms. If you have a forecast for an ice storm you many want to wrap your trees as a safety precaution.
Shake Off Snow and Ice From Your Trees
You don’t have to remove light snow from trees and shrubs—it’s the heavy stuff that can be damaging. Evergreens trees and shrubs are especially susceptible to having their branches broken after a heavy snowfall, because foliage allows the branches to collect large amounts of snow. You can use a broom to gently shake the branches and brush the snow away.
Keep Soil Temperatures As High as Possible
Many factors influence soil temperature. Moist soil holds more heat than dry soil, so frost penetration will be deeper and soil temperatures colder for sandy or dry (drought) soils. Snow cover and mulch act as insulators and keep soil temperatures higher. With newly planted trees, cracks in the planting hole backfill will allow cold air to penetrate into the root zone, reducing fall root growth or killing newly formed roots. To encourage fall root growth and to reduce root injury, mulch new trees and shrubs with 6 to 8 inches of wood chips or straw. If the fall has been dry, water heavily before the ground freezes to reduce frost penetration. Check new plantings for cracks in the soil and fill them with more soil.
Protect Your Trees From Animal Damage
Mice, rabbits, other rodents, and deer can all cause severe damage to trees in the winter. These animals feed on the tender twigs, bark, and foliage of landscape plants during the winter. They can girdle trees and shrubs and eat shrubs to the ground line. Deer can cause significant injury and breakage by rubbing their antlers on trees during the fall. If you have many trees or shrubs to protect, using screens and wraps may be too expensive and time consuming. In such situations, repellents may be the best solution. Remember that a repellent is not a poison; it simply renders plants undesirable through taste or smell.
A&A Lawn Care & Landscaping can prepare your trees, plants, and lawn to survive it’s best through the winter and be as healthy as possible in the spring.
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