Winter has arrived and this means many months of snow and ice are ahead. When trees shed their leaves and go dormant for the winter, this is like how bears hibernate; they are both sleeping through the cold and waiting until the warm spring weather comes back. But unlike hibernating bears, who are safe and snuggled up in a warm cave somewhere, trees are left to withstand the harsh, cold elements throughout the entire winter. This means that they are more impacted than you might believe.
It is easier for mature trees to be able to handle the long winter months due to their extensive root system and thick bark. But saplings and other newly planted trees are not yet fully equipped with these natural defenses to handle the cold. No matter if you have new or older trees, following our tips will help them prosper during the cold Canadian winter ahead. Our team at Five Star Tree Services has come up with some winter maintenance essentials for your trees that will give them an extra hand over the winter.
One Last Water
Getting one last good watering in before the ground freezes is helpful to newly planted and young trees. Always make sure to water your tree slowly and gently. This allows the water to seep down into the root system as opposed to it running off the top and freezing.
When you use mulch, it acts like a barrier between the tree roots and the cold snow, it helps to insulate it. When you are applying mulch, make sure you spread it around the base of the tree so that it is no more than 3 inches deep. You also need to make sure to spread the mulch all the way to the drip line surrounding the tree. Make sure to not exceed 3 inches around your entire tree and keep the mulch away from the trunk of the tree.
Wrap Tree Trunks
There is a condition called sunscalding that can occur during the winter months. This happens when there is a temperature change that happens quickly. You might notice it when the sun warms the trees, which thaws the bark but during the night, when it gets cold again, it causes the melted water in the bark to rupture, causing cracks in the tree’s trunk. Young trees are especially susceptible to this happening. To help stop this from happening, it is best to wrap your trees with tree wraps or a plastic guard. It is advisable to wrap the trunk from the ground up and stop just below the first branch.
Shelter Your Trees
Young or newly planted trees are fairly defenseless for the first handful of years. Older and more mature trees have had time to develop a strong root system and hardy bark that help to protect them against things like animals and the freezing cold. If you want to help your little sapling along this winter, you can build a shelter that can handle having snow piled on it. You can also periodically use a broom to brush off the snow that accumulates on a tree’s branches. But try to avoid breaking off any ice that has formed on the branches, as this can actually end up hurting the tree if you accidentally break one of its branches instead.
Keep Road Salt Away
It’s no big secret that the use of road salt is detrimental to trees. When it gets on them, the end result come springtime is a dead tree, or at least, a severely damaged one. As much as you can, protect your trees and limit their exposure to salt over the winter.
Protect Your Trees
Winter is not only limiting for trees, but for a lot of other animals as well. This includes rabbits, mice, moles, squirrels, and other furry little creatures, who like to use trees as a food source during the summer months. During the winter, this food is now cut off when the trees go dormant. This only leaves the tree’s bark as an alternative food source for these critters. They seem to especially like young tree bark to chew on over the winter. In order to stop this from happening, you need to protect the bark with things like a fence surrounding your tree, wrapping the trunk with a plastic guard or hardware cloth.
The best time to prune any tree is during the winter months when the tree is dormant. Pruning allows you to rid the tree of any excess branches and control disease. Winter pruning is highly beneficial and lets your tree improve branch development in the spring.
Always make sure to avoid products that are known to hurt trees, especially ones containing sodium chloride. Products like that cause negative reactions in trees or any plants, as it hinders their water intake. Instead, look for products that have potassium, calcium, and magnesium chloride.
How Five Star Tree Services Can Help
For newly planted and young trees, it is especially important to help them through the winter as best you can. We here at Five Star Tree Services are here to help you get your trees through the winter. If you require Toronto Tree Care, make sure to give us a call at (416) 990-3355.