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Winter Tree Care Tips

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Co.

When trees fall and wreck cars, homes, and roads, it can feel random and unpredictable. But there are steps you can take to keep you and your trees safe – and with winter storms just around the corner, fall is the time to do it.

“Now that most trees in the area have lost all of their leaves, it’s a good time to check in on your tree’s health,” according to Rick Close, arborist with The Davey Tree Expert Company.

“By preparing your trees now, you’ll spend less time reacting in spring to any damage. Plus, your trees will emerge healthier and perform better when they awaken from dormancy. On the flip side, if trees enter winter stressed, their problems will only worsen,” notes Close.

Here are Close’s top five tips for homeowners to get your trees winter storm-ready:

  1. Mulch, Hydrate and Feed. Mulching, watering and fertilization are important throughout the year, so head outside while you still have time to get your trees the nutrients they need for the long, wintry months. Close urges homeowners to add at least a 2-4-inch blanket of mulch over as much of the root zone as possible. Apply a slow-release fertilizer to help keep trees nourished all winter long. Come spring, your trees will be blooming and ready to show off. And don’t forget about giving newly planted trees one last deep watering.
  2. Dormant Pruning. Removing dead, diseased, or unsafe branches helps trees maintain a safe structure and tolerate high winds. Certified arborists specialize in knowing just what branches to remove (and how to do it) to reduce hazards. Well-maintained, properly pruned trees are less likely to break and cause damage in heavy wind, rain and snow.
  3. Keep pests away. Inspect your trees for pest damage or infestations. Consult an arborist to examine the trees and determine which ones would benefit from a dormant oil treatment. Apply dormant oil in the fall to stop insect larvae from developing further. While dormant oils eliminate harmful pests, they’re less toxic to beneficial bugs. In spring, you’ll have fewer bugs gnawing on fresh tree buds and fruit.
  4. Inspect. If you see a tree bending or drooping because of snow and ice accumulation, think twice before shaking the branches. Branches coated in ice can become quite brittle – shaking them can cause damage or breakage. Also, since trees are flexible, suddenly knocking the ice weight off may cause branches to snap back, potentially damaging the tree. A properly pruned tree should be able to withstand heavy snow and ice.
  5. Hold the Salt. Rock salt damage can make winter unpleasant for your trees. If you have trees on your property that are located close to sidewalks, driveways, or roads and are prone to have salt runoff near them, applying gypsum now would be beneficial. Applying the gypsum to the soil area around trees, plants and lawns now will help reduce the damage from the get-go.

Follow these tips to help your trees stand strong all winter long.

winter broken trunk tree

Established in 1880 and headquartered in Kent, Ohio, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides research-driven tree services, grounds maintenance and environmental consulting for residential, utility, commercial and environmental partners in the U.S. and Canada. If your trees need help, contact your local arborist at https://www.davey.com/residential-tree-services/find-a-local-office/. Email Rick Close at: richard.close@davey.com.

Davey Tree is the eighth largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with over 11,000 employees. Become part of the Davey legacy and apply today.