Common Winter Tree Care Questions Answered

December 10, 2020

When winter hits, your landscaping will look a bit different. All the cold temperatures make the leaves drop and leaves you staring at the dormant shapes of the trees you love to look at during the spring. When this happens, many homeowners start to think that all they have to do is leave their trees alone during the winter months. Unfortunately, taking care of your trees isn’t always that simple. Though your local tree service can help, you need to understand what your trees need during the winter months if you want them to bounce back once the temps warm up. Here are a few of the most commonly asked winter tree care questions so you can be better prepared to take care of your trees during the colder months.

Wil Decorations Hurt the Trees?
One of the first things homeowners think about when they see the trees on their property is how to use them for holiday decorations. They’re ideal for hanging lights and draping ornaments on the branches. So, it’s only natural to wonder if those decorations will end up hurting the trees in the first place. The answer is that it depends. As long as the decorations are light enough not to put strain on the branches and the lights don’t produce tons of heat that could jeopardize the tree’s dormant period, decorating is fine. Just make sure that the decorations you choose work with the trees you’re decorating. If possible, avoid decorating newer or younger trees as their branches won’t be strong enough to support the weight of your baubles.

Do I Need to Shake Snow Off the Branches?
Snow may look light when it falls, but all that fluffy powder can put some serious strain on your trees’ limbs. So, do you need to go out after every snowstorm and shake the snow off of the branches? Well, it depends on the amount of snow you get. A few inches of snow shouldn’t cause a problem. However, heavier snowpack and blizzards can be more than your branches can handle. If you notice your trees’ limbs hanging low or sagging under the weight, grab a soft-bristled brush and sweep the snow off of those sagging limbs. If you catch it early enough, you’ll be able to keep the branches from breaking under the weight of the snow. Use your judgement. If you think the snow is too heavy, brush it off.

Should I Remove Dead Branches?
Dead limbs may not seem like a huge issue when the tree isn’t actively growing. But did you know that leaving them in place can actually hurt your tree’s health? The dead limbs are the perfect habitat for insects and pests. Once they infest the dead growth, it’s only a matter of time before they spread to the rest of the tree. If you notice any dead branches hanging awkwardly off of your trees, be proactive. Remove them on your own if you’re comfortable doing so. If you’re not, call your tree service and let the pros safely remove the broken limb and repair any damage to the main structure of the tree. 

Is Pruning During Winter Really Important?
Just because your trees are dormant and not growing actively during the winter doesn’t mean you can neglect routine maintenance. In fact, some trees benefit from wintertime pruning. It all depends on the type of trees you have on your property and the condition of the trees in question. The best way to find out which trees need wintertime pruning is to schedule an appointment with your tree care team. Experts will be able to identify which trees can be left alone and which ones need a little TLC to thrive during the winter months. 

How Can I Tell if My Tree Is Unhealthy?
Unfortunately, not all trees will make it through the winter. Like humans, they can get sick and when they do, you may not always be able to save them. The sooner you can identify signs that your tree is struggling, the easier it will be for you to nurse it back to health. Pay attention to the way your tree looks during the colder months. If you notice signs of decay, large fissures in the trunk, or even branches that keep breaking, call your tree service as soon as possible. At best, the tree will need preventative trimming and at worst, you’ll need to get the tree professionally removed to protect the rest of your landscaping. If the tree can be saved, your tree care team will help explain what you’ll need to do to keep it alive and help it recover during the growing season. 

Should I Wrap the Trunk?
If you’ve ever paid attention to your neighbors’ landscaping, you’ve probably noticed a few smaller trees wrapped in burlap. So, should you do the same for your trees? It largely depends on the age of the trees on your property. Wrapping the trunk in burlap is the best way to protect younger trees that aren’t established in the soil. They’re more vulnerable to scorching and may not survive the extreme temperatures on their own without help. However, wrapping older trees won’t benefit them. It can actually hurt their ability to recover from winter hazards if you’re not careful. The best thing you can do is ask your tree care team for advice. If they think you should wrap certain trees on your property and leave others exposed to the elements, do so. Your spring landscaping will thank you for it.

Now You’re Ready to Take Care of Your Trees in Winter
If you’ve been wondering how to care for your trees in the winter months, these answers should help clear things up a bit. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help at any point during the winter. If you’re worried about the health of your trees or need a storm cleanup team to remove fallen limbs after a severe blizzard, don’t wait. Contact us as soon as possible. 
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