How To Minimize Winter Stresses On Your Trees

4 October 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Winter weather is usually characterized by heavy snow, ice, and rapid temperature fluctuations. Such extreme conditions can stress trees in your compound, affecting their growth and health. Fortunately, there several steps you can take to prepare your trees during the fall so as to maintain their beauty and function come winter. This article looks at various problems that might affect your trees during winter and how you may be able to combat them. 

Cold stress

Typically, trees tend to experience cold stress in winter when the variation between extreme cold temperatures during the night and daytime heat causes the outer bark to expand and contract while the inner wood maintains a relatively even temperature, resulting in cracking. To reduce the damage caused by cold stress, consider wrapping tree barks with cold weather blankets to prevent heat loss during the night and rapid expansion during daytime.

Cold stress can also damage your trees when ice crystals resulting from early frost rupture the cells on the walls of new twigs, causing them to die off. This can be reduced by preventing new growth. One way to do this is to avoid pruning your trees until they fall into dormancy, as pruning before then can encourage new growth.

Branch damage

Winter weather can cause branches to dry off and become more fragile, leaving them more susceptible to wind and storm damage. Heavy snow fall can also weigh down branches, causing them to break off. To protect your trees from branch damage, consider pruning weak branches before the snow starts falling.

You can also talk to an arborist about reinforcing long branches by tying them up with ropes. If you have shrubs and small trees, you can protect them from branch breakage by covering them with a tent-like structure during winter. 

Poor water intake

This problem essentially affects evergreens which don't fall into dormancy during winter and that need to maintain their water intake. Frozen ground conditions limit the trees' ability to take up water from the soil, while extreme wind causes water to evaporate quickly from the leaves and bark.

Laying down a layer of mulch around the base of your trees during the fall can help buffer the roots and surrounding soil when temperatures drop, allowing the tree to take in sufficient water throughout winter. 

Good fall tree maintenance can help protect your trees from water loss, branch breakage and cold stress during winter, keeping them healthy and strong.