If You Don't Prepare Your Trees For Winter Now, You Will Hate Yourself Later

By: albertaarb - October 30, 2014

Prepare trees for winter with these helpful tips. From protecting plant health to winter storm preparation, it's important to fully ready yourself for the often harsh northern winter. Understand the many different ways that you can prepare now, so you won't hate yourself later.

Pruning - Preparing Trees for Winter Growth

Pruning is important to maintain the health, structural integrity, and beauty of your trees and shrubs. Winter is a great time for pruning and is especially important for fruit trees such as apple or cherry trees. Evergreens like pine and spruce can be shaped, as can hedges. Winter pruning is especially important for Elm trees, which can only be pruned from October 1 to March 31 by provincial bylaws.

Hazard Assessment - Winter Storm Preparation

Having trees assessed by professionals can prevent problems before disaster strikes. Arborists can assess possible hazards like structurally unsafe trees, at-risk branches, and other weaknesses. Preventative maintenance can remove these potential risks before wind and snow can cause further damage to plant or property.

Mulching - Preparing Trees for Winter Cold

Place a two to three inch layer of mulch around new or smaller trees to protect roots during the winter. The insulation will help reduce cold damage to the roots while also sealing in much needed moisture. There are multiple organic materials to choose from including bark, wood chips, and rock.

Repurpose - Brush and Branches

Especially convenient after pruning or a winter storm, brush chipping is a great way to dispose of branches that won't fit in the fire or yard waste bin. Repurpose these items as handy mulch or weed control later. Clearing dead yard waste will also help keep your lawn and landscaping healthy and attractive.

Tree Guards - Winter Critter Protection

New trees leaves and bark is especially tasty to hungry animals like deer in the winter.  Use a commercial tree guard or wrap trunks and stems with wire mesh to protect these limbs from becoming someone's next meal.

Structural Supports - Winter Storm Protection

In addition to pruning, adding structural support to healthy but weaker branches can help protect against winter storm damage. Heavy snows can add too much weight to susceptible limbs and high winds can cause more movement than an unsupported branch can handle. Experts can assess your landscape to determine whether dynamic and structural supports will be the best protection. 

Frost Cracking - Preventative Treatments

Frost cracking is caused by extreme temperatures and can lead to major damage to the entire tree. For especially fragile plants there are items to prepare trees for winter like Cold Weather Blankets and some chemical treatments that can help prevent this reaction. Wilting, cracking, and dead spots in bark or branches are all damage indicators.

Based on your tree type and yard skills, you will need to employ some different tactics to be fully prepared. Consult your local professional like Alberta Arborists to fully prepare trees for winter.

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