It is easy to believe that trees have a natural immunity to the cold, snowy weather of winter. Yet in fact, trees are actually much more vulnerable than you might imagine. If you would like to learn more about how to ensure that the trees on your property survive winter safely, read on. This article will discuss two potentially damaging factors and how to minimize the threat they pose.
Most people wouldn't think to associate the winter months with drought, yet sub-zero temperatures can create an environment almost as harsh as a sunbaked desert. That's because, between unmelted snow and ice and solidly frozen ground, it's very difficult for liquid water to get down to a tree's roots. This makes trees especially susceptible to drying out--particularly evergreens, which unlike deciduous trees do not go into a state of hibernation during the winter.
It's not always possible to eliminate the threat of drought completely. Yet you can help increase the moisture content around your tree by laying down a bed of mulch. Do this in the late fall months, before freezing temperatures have set in. The mulch will benefit the tree in two ways. First, it will help retain water and moisture that would otherwise seep farther away from the tree. Second, it will act as a layer of insulation, keeping the temperature of the soil around the tree a little bit higher, and thus promoting greater hydration.
The likelihood of broken tree branches greatly increases during the winter. This is often caused by the accumulation of snow and ice. These substances can add a lot of weight to a tree branch--often more weight than it can bear without cracking or breaking. Not only that, but the wood of a deciduous tree becomes harder and more brittle during cold months. This increases its vulnerability not only to ice and snow, but also to high winds. Excessive amounts of broken branches can severely stress--and even kill--a tree.
Proper fall pruning is the best way to protect against broken branches. This means removing any weak, damaged, or diseased branches. Where two branches are attached in a V-like joint, it may also mean removing one of these branches. That's because the added weight of two branches puts a much greater degree of stress on the single branch node. Have a tree service in your area evaluate your tree for branches that could benefit from some prudent pruning efforts.