The fall and winter are some of our favorite times of year. Football…the opportunity to see family and friends during the holidays…and, the beautiful fall weather (especially those cool temperatures!). And, with the fall/winter season come fallen leaves, cold and windy days, and broken tree limbs. Those cold and windy days can be a concern if you didn’t do any preparation for winter tree care on your property.
Believe it or not, cold, winter days can wreak havoc on a tree’s stress level. First, the rapidly changing temperatures here in Georgia can stress out a tree during the winter months. These variations can cause cracks (called frost cracking) or lead to damage on the side that receives the most sunlight due to the varied temperature on each side of the tree. Second, due to the wind and lack of rain at times, drying out can be a problem. Last, branches break during the winter. Wood becomes more brittle due to the cold and there’s a higher likelihood the branches you’ve worried about will break.
But, there are a number of things that you can do during this fall and winter season to prepare your trees for the winter climate here in Georgia. Here are four winter tree care tips:
Water: While it’s probably not wise to water your trees on a cold winter day, we’d recommend that you water trees, especially new ones, throughout the fall, at least until the ground freezes. Once the ground freezes, you run the risk of damaging the tree, so stop watering. However, if during the winter, there is a warm day or period of time during the winter with no nightly freezing, water newly-planted trees or trees you may be concerned about, especially if in a drought. Otherwise, hold off until the spring.
Mulch: One of the simplest things you can do to prepare your trees for winter weather is to add a new layer of mulch. A thin layer of mulch will provide insulation to the soil and tree’s roots against those cold winter nights. Also, the mulch helps slow down any water loss that may occur because of those windy days. Don’t pile mulch directly against the tree’s trunk because it can become a home for woodland creatures. To prevent that, wait until the ground freezes the first time to add this layer of mulch.
Protect: As we mentioned earlier, the cold weather can cause cracking in the bark or upper layers of the wood of the tree. To prevent this, you can cover a tree’s trunk with tree wrap. This process starts at the bottom of the tree and overlaps layers by a third. This process ends just above the lowest branches. Then, remove the wrap in early spring. There are also plastic tree guards that can be purchased and used as well or you can paint the tree trunk white if you’re ok with how this make look in early spring.
Prune: As trees become dormant for the winter, this can be the ideal time to inspect or prune your trees. Pruning during the winter prevents disease, prevents you from overheating, and gives you a great time of the year to inspect your trees for damage.
There are other things that can be done as well, but these 4 tips will go a long way in protecting your trees this winter. As always, if you need help with winter tree care, pruning or removing trees from your property, don’t hesitate to contact us.