March 19, 2018

Trees are a vital component of our lives. Without trees, life is unsustainable. Among the vast enumeration of important benefits, some of the most crucial are converting Co2 into oxygen, erosion control through the uptake of storm water runoff, providing a habitat for fauna, increasing property value, and greatly decreasing pollutants in the air. To ensure our ability to take full advantage of these fundamental aspects of trees we must protect them from the harsh conditions of the winter weather. Among the most common issues for trees surrounding winter weather include damage caused by snow and ice, ice melt chemicals, and animals. There is a multitude of techniques to create a protected, healthier and safer tree in the landscape.

Among these techniques include the following:

– Canopy thinning to reduce the “sail effect”
– Systematic canopy reduction
– Continuous and proper pruning methods
– Supplemental support ie. cabling and bracing
– Physical protection from rodents and deer
– Sunscald from reflection of sunlight in snow
– Mulch beds around the trunk of trees

Canopy thinning to reduce the “sail effect”

When heavy winds blow through the landscape, large trees tend to catch the wind and act as a sail. This effect can be damaging to trees in the form of broken limbs and uprooting. To reduce this effect, proper thinning techniques can be used to let the wind pass through the canopy of the tree.

Systematic canopy reduction

Systematic canopy reduction can be useful in protecting trees from limb damage and tree uprooting by reducing the potential weight in the trees canopy. This is different than “topping” or “hat racking”, a practice that is proven to be detrimental to a tree’s health. A tree’s canopy can be reduced properly by cutting back to healthy lateral limbs to hinder the overgrowth of new limbs and control the overall size of the tree.

Continuous and proper pruning methods

To ensure a tree stays within the limits of its growing area and to reduce insects infestation, removal of deadwood and proper pruning is imperative. Deadwood attracts insects and improper pruning will create hazardous limbs and significant dieback.

Supplemental support ie. cabling and bracing

When a tree’s limbs grow in a codominant manner, become hazardous or become damaged, in addition to proper pruning, a bracing and/or cabling system can drastically reduce the risk of limb failure or critical damage. These types of systems can also decrease the risk of property damage as well.

Physical protection from rodents and deer

When the winter months reduce the amount of available food for rodents and deer, the root systems and inner/outer bark of a tree can be a sustainable replacement for sustenance. To help reduce this damage a fence or cage can be installed around the trunk of trees to help stop these animal from removing the bark or destroying the root systems of trees.

Sunscald from reflection of sunlight in snow

During the winter months, in areas of potential snowfall, reflection of sunlight from the snow can damage the living cells within the trunk of trees. This is accomplished by the warm sun bouncing off the snow and warming the cells within the tree’s cambium layer within the trunk. Once the cells are warmed they “wake up” and are essentially tricked into thinking its spring. Once nightfall arrives and the temperature drops, extensive damage occurs to these cells creating large sections of dead cambium. This damage can be lethal to trees within the landscape and can be avoided by wrapping the trunk with white or lightly colored fabric.

Mulch beds around the trunk of trees

Mulch has many benefits to the health of trees. Among these benefits include supplying water to the root system, reducing physical damage from landscape management, reducing food competition from grasses, and stabilizing root zone temperatures. The mulch needs to be properly installed to gain these benefits.

In conclusion, to ensure your landscape trees survive through the harsh elements of the winter months, a properly constructed arborculture regiment should be scheduled and appropriately configured. Call our office anytime to schedule a free property analysis with an ISA Certified Arborist and our skilled team members can conduct your tree care needs with precision in a professional manner.

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