Caring For Your Trees in the Winter

By: albertaarb - November 25, 2015

Despite their best efforts, many homeowners and gardeners will be at the mercy of the winter for three months of the year, if not longer, with the trees and plants they cared for all year potentially suffering from frost damage, dehydration and other issues.

Right now is the ideal time for you to take the steps needed to protect your trees and help them survive and even thrive, despite the worst of winter.


Good winter care and preparation starts in late summer and runs throughout the fall with a thorough watering schedule. Even when the gardening season comes to an end, you need to keep watering everything until the ground has frozen, making sure they all get the equivalent of one inch of rain per week. Evergreens are especially vulnerable to dehydration throughout winter, since they don’t lose their leaves and will continue to transpire, losing precious water every day. It's up to you to make sure they have a lot of water stored through the winter, otherwise your trees could develop health issues.

Avoid late growth wherever possible

Do not prune any of your plants and trees until after they have entered dormancy in the fall unless it is absolutely necessary to avoid damage to the tree or your property. If you prune your plants before they go dormant, anything trimmed will grow back too young and weak to survive the lower temperatures in winter.

Ice can damage the tips of any young or freshly developed branches, killing them before they grow strong enough to survive into the following season. You should also avoid using fertilizers with high amounts of quick-release nitrogen for much the same reason. Proper soil fertilization is very important, but you should consult a professional before you start adding it to the soil. Once your plants are dormant, they won't grow back after being pruned or trimmed.

Ice removal

A common issue that many gardeners face is ice developing on their trees. One way to deal with this is with proper pruning, after the trees have gone dormant. recommends you focus on any weak, narrow-angled, v-shaped branches, since they are prone to snapping under the weight of ice and snow. Track any such branches down and remove them from the tree before they become a problem.

Bear in mind, when you're dealing with ice, age actually makes a tree more prone to damage; younger trees actually tend to survive better in ice storms than older ones do, since their limbs are more flexible and grow back quicker. If the branches do freeze over, they can break more easily if you're careless, so trim them rather than shaking or bending them to try to break off the ice.

Check your trees hardiness zone

For many people, a tree is a tree. Green on top, brown on the bottom, occasionally has squirrels or birds. This is a mistake you should avoid when you're planting trees.

Even when trees are of the same species, there can be big differences depending on their background and the hardiness zone they originated in. When you're adding new trees to your garden, you should only add species that are native to your area's hardiness zone. Trees native to areas even slightly milder than your own could experience significant stresses when winter rolls around.

Have more questions about tree care?

If you have more questions or are in need of tree care services, we at Alberta Arborists can help you. We provide affordable solutions for your entire tree and shrub care needs. Our reputation is built on customer satisfaction & the quality of our workmanship. 

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation estimate of your job.

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