If the trees in your yard have been established for a few years, you may think that they don’t need any special winter tree care. After all, you don’t see anyone giving trees in the forest any special treatment during the winter, and they survive just fine, right? Well, believe it or not, the trees in the forest and the trees in your yard must endure very different circumstances.
For example, in a forest trees grow closely together. When it snows or when winds gust, no single tree takes all of the weight or all of the force. The tallest trees’ upper limbs form a canopy and will share the majority of the weight of the snow, protecting younger, smaller trees below. And with all of the trees so close together, you’ll notice that they don’t get blown so hard by the wind. The trees in your yard don’t have this protection or reinforcement, and they need your help to survive the winter and remain healthy.
Knock the Weight Off of Your Trees
After a snowfall or storm, take a look outside. Are your trees’ limbs sagging? Are younger trees bending over at the trunk and looking like they’re weighed down by the snow? Ensuring that your trees don’t lose branches and don’t fall or get significantly damaged is as easy as a little bit of sweeping.
Using a broom and being careful of weakened branches that may snap, go out to your yard and knock as much of the excess snow off of your trees as possible. If the broom isn’t long enough, you can use a long dowel rod or pole to get the snow off of the upper branches. Unbroken trunks and branches should bounce back to their normal positions. If you maintain your trees this way throughout the winter, you’ll see that they’re much healthier in the spring and summer.
See to Your Soil
Here’s another difference between trees in the forest and trees in your yard. In the forest, because leaves are allowed to decay where they fall, the topsoil tends to be richer, deeper, and more nutrient-dense than the soil in your yard. Deep, rich topsoil will encourage your trees’ roots to grow down and out, creating more firm and resilient bases to help them stand up to harsh winter winds.
You don’t have to uproot your lawn or bring in a full new layer of topsoil to give your trees the same benefits as those in the forest. In fact, all you need to do is add some mulch. Layer two to three inches of mulch over the root systems of each of your trees, and they’ll get the nutrients they need to grow strong deep into the ground and far out around the base.
Pay Attention to Hydration
This is kind of a tricky one. If you’ve had a lot of snow and/or rain throughout the winter, you may not have to worry about giving your trees a drink. However, if you’ve had a dry winter, though they may be dormant, your trees are going to be feeling some thirst.
Do not water your trees if the temperature is below freezing and the ground is frozen. This will only create a layer of ice over the root system and won’t allow the roots to get the oxygen they need. When the temperature does rise above freezing, though, go outside and check the soil around your trees. If it’s dry, get the hose out and water them.
Finally, especially if the weather isn’t warm enough to water your trees, avoid using salt to melt the ice on your driveway and front walk. If it gets to the base of your trees, salt will dehydrate your soil and leave your trees parched.
Now you should have the facts to help you care for your trees this winter and see them grow strong and healthy this spring and summer. Enjoy!
How your trees will fare in the winter will depend on the type of tree and the maintenance they need. However, there are standard tree safety rules you should follow to give them the best chance of making it through the winter in good health.
It is also important to note if you feel your trees are experiencing any serious health or safety issues, call a certified arborist to conduct an inspection and carry out any necessary maintenance.
It is tempting to shake the limbs of trees that have been loaded with snow. The snow that builds up after a heavy snowfall can make limbs look vulnerable and droopy. The thing is, by trying to help your trees, you may end up inadvertently damaging the limbs. Trees have lived for millions of years and have grown through snowstorms without human intervention for much of that time.
The bottom line: trees are much more resilient than owners often realize, which leads to unnecessary attempts at intervention where the tree suffers damage.
Stay Off the Ice
If you find yourself watching your tree limbs for ice forming in the worst of the winter months, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is always important to monitor the health of your trees, which includes trying to ensure limbs don’t become damaged or broken. You may begin to run into problems if you attempt to save your tree from icy limbs, however.
Climbing an icy tree is never advisable. It is difficult enough to safely climb a tree when it isn’t covered in a sheet of ice or frost. Check from ground level for damaged limbs and keep an eye on things until the tree thaws out. You don’t have to panic if there are a few limbs that have suffered slight-to-moderate damage.
Correct pruning is a landscape practice that can enhance the health, vigor and aesthetics of your trees and shrubs. Below are five advantages to pruning in the winter:
1. During the winter, most woody plants are dormant and so are the many diseases and insects that can potentially invade pruning cuts.
2. After leaves have fallen, it is much easier to see the plants overall form and structure. Damaged and diseased branches are more readily apparent when not obscured by foliage.
3. Pruning in the late summer or early fall can stimulate new growth that may not harden off before the cold weather. This is not a concern during the winter.
4. Winter pruning is good for your plants, leaving them with extra root and energy reserves to quickly heal wounds and support vigorous spring growth that will obscure the pruning cuts.
5. Winter pruning is also good for you, giving you a reason to go outside on a mild winter day to enjoy your landscape.
Although winter and early spring is a great time to prune, if the tree or shrub is a spring flowering plant and the blooms are important to you, it may be best to wait and prune that plant shortly after it is done blooming. Even though pruning spring blooming plants in the winter will never adversely affect the plant’s health, it can reduce those blooms.
There are many reasons to prune woody plants and it’s a good idea to understand why you are pruning before you start. Before making the first cut, ask yourself, Why am I removing this branch? Have a goal in mind and a vision for how you want the shrub or tree to look when you are done.
The most common reason that homeowners prune their plants is to reduce or maintain a plants size. Other reasons to prune include removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches; increasing flowers or fruits; stimulating growth; and removing branches that may be interfering with or obstructing pedestrians, traffic, and buildings.
There are two basic techniques that are used when pruning most woody plants: thinning and heading back. Both of these techniques should be practiced together when the objective is to reduce or maintain the size of the plant. With both of these techniques, using sharp, high-quality, and well-maintained pruning equipment will make the job easier and less likely to cause damage to your plants.
Thinning is the removal of an entire branch back to the next branch or the main trunk. This technique promotes better health and form by removing weak and diseased branches and increasing light penetration and air movement. When making a thinning cut, do not cut so near the trunk or next branch that you cut into the area at the base of the branch that you are removing. This area is called the branch collar. By cutting into or removing the branch collar, you will slow down the healing process and possibly increase the risk of infection. If you did it properly, you will see a circle of healthy callus material swell around the cut in the spring.
Heading back is simply shortening the length of the branch back to a bud or the next side branch. A proper heading back cut should never leave a stub. Stubs that are left from pruning usual rot and later invite insects and disease to move in and attack healthy material. Make your pruning cut at a slight angle about an inch above the bud or side branch.
Thoughtful pruning of your trees and shrubs during the dormant winter season will allow you more time to enjoy the fruits and blooms of your labors during the pleasant weather of spring!
Proper tree pruning is crucial to keeping your property safe and your tree happy. You can’t simply get a machete and hack away without damaging your tree.
Today, let’s take a look at how to properly prune your tree, starting with the reasons why you should do it at all.
Why Prune Your Tree at all?
The short answer is, it’s good for the health of your tree and it’s good for your property. In the wild, trees naturally shed diseased or malnourished limbs and branches where they then decompose on the forest floor. In your front yard, however, you can’t wait around for the limbs and branches to fall naturally. It’s important that you protect your family and your home, all the while keeping your landscape looking sharp. So take action to preemptively lop off limbs and branches before your tree sheds them. You’ll find that with any kind of tree, regular pruning often encourages growth, gives your tree a more symmetrical look, and prevents damage from falling limbs.
Evergreen or Deciduous
Evergreen and deciduous trees are largely different and require different pruning techniques to keep them happy and healthy.
Proper pruning is all about the utilizing the proper tree trimming tools. Any tool you use to cut branches or limbs should be sharp in order to get a good, clean cut and to prevent damage that will hinder the tree wound healing process. Keep your tools clean and dry to avoid rust. When pruning diseased limbs, disinfect your cutters to keep from spreading the disease to other trees. This will minimize the potential of spreading tree fungus, parasites, or other diseases that could harm healthy trees.
Here are a few essential tools you’ll need to prune any tree:
Many trees don’t need wound dressing at all, but for some, covering cuts larger than an inch in diameter will help prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases. Using pruning paint on larger cuts is essential in certain areas of the United States, especially on oak trees, which may be more vulnerable to attack by bark beetles.
When to Call a Professional
There are many instances when you should call in the professionals to help you prune your tree. If there are particularly large or dangerous branches higher up in a tree that you may have difficulty getting to, it pays to bring in a professional rather than risk injury or significant property damage. Professionals have the experience and the equipment to take out hard-to-reach limbs and branches safely. Sometimes your equipment isn’t quite up to the challenge, and it makes more sense to call a professional, like Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists, who has the proper equipment for the job.
There are many circumstances that warrant calling in a tree service. From blizzards to thunderstorms, there always seems to be something tampering with your yard’s lifeforms.
Sometimes, to find the ‘root’ cause of a problem, you have to start at the bottom. Roots can cause many types of damage. First, they can become invasive and hazardous to people who walk by. They can split pavement and cause uneven ground. This is extra dangerous for bikes, strollers, skaters, and joggers.
Secondly, roots can grow up against underground structures such as pipelines. This could cause severe damage and catastrophic consequences if a pipe were to break. If you suspect sewer infringement, contact a plumbing expert immediately.
Now that we touched on some problems caused by the roots; let’s work our way up the tree to the trunk. Tree trunks that become ill can also result in disaster. As the bark erodes, the foundation of the tree weakens. As the tree encounters more and more storms (and wind), it’s only a matter of time before it comes unstable. This is a huge concern because weak trees are likely to fall, and no lumberjack will be waiting to warn you with a cordial “TIIIMMMMMMBBBERRR!”
Fallen trees can hit electric lines, houses, cars, and people. Nip this problem in the bud by calling us.
Ok… so let’s say a tree already fell. You overlooked the warning signs, but luckily everybody is okay. It happens. Now what? Nice try… but, you can’t STUMP us that easily.
Now that you know some warning signs and causes of tree-related hazards – do a quick walkthrough of your yard, and if something looks a bit off; let us know! Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists are here to help!
Why is fall tree care important?
Extended periods of extreme heat can weaken trees, making them more susceptible to infestations. Helping your trees begin to recover from the hot conditions as they head into winter is important to protecting their long-term health, which also makes them less susceptible to storms. Unless your trees received adequate water during the summer months, they may be more susceptible to pests and disease and more vulnerable to harsh winter conditions.
I watered my trees and shrubs during summer, is there anything else that needs to be done now?
Even though you watered, your trees may still be lacking moisture. If so, a watering program can help. Mulching, fertilizing and other soil care activities can help create the optimal growing condition for your trees, and pruning any dead wood now can help prevent storm damage in winter. Now would also be a good time to cable and brace your trees that may have weak spots.
Why is soil care important?
Most tree problems begin with poor soils, whether from lack of nutrients or other necessary soil components, soil compaction, or amount of acidity, among other factors. Improving your trees’ soils will help create conditions that are more like those of the forest floor, enabling tree roots to function at their best. When a landscape tree is growing in soil that is well-suited to its needs, it is fortified against pests, disease and environmental stresses.
How does pruning help the trees get ready for winter?
Although trees are great additions to your landscape, trees with problems can be liabilities during storms or extreme weather. Late fall is an excellent time to help you prepare your trees and shrubs for winter. Pruning in fall can help protect trees from harsh winter storms so they bloom as vibrant as possible come spring. Once the leaves have fallen and a tree’s branch structure is more visible, the spread of certain disease pathogens or insect infestations is less likely.
What is the soil food web?
The soil food web is made up of the soil’s organic matter including bacteria, fungi, microscopic insects, mites, animals and tiny worms. Research has found that trees prefer soils that are rich in fungi, as well as other components of the soil food web. But most landscape trees grow in soils that are high in bacteria.
What else should I do for my trees in the fall?
Ready to learn more or schedule your fall tree care maintenance? Contact Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists today!
Caring for a new tree during the first three years it is planted is important to its survival. You may not see much happening above ground in the first year, but the roots are getting established to prepare the tree for growth. Here are some additional tips to keep your new tree happy and healthy.
Using mulch is one of the best things you can do for your tree. Pine needles, grass clippings, shredded bark, or wood chips placed over the soil helps to retain moisture, minimize weeds, and improve soil conditions. Spread a layer three to four inches deep. and leave a ring of open space around the trunk so that mulch doesn’t touch it.
Prune your tree sparingly, and never “top” it. Topping creates weak, poorly attached sprouts that grow quickly and break off easily. Topping also leaves ugly stubs that are vulnerable to insects and disease. Instead, use the “branch collar” pruning method. Cut the limb close to the main trunk but leave a small “collar” of the branch sticking up. This will allow the tree to heal more quickly. Properly sharpened tools also help the tree heal quicker.
Don’t prune every year. Thin top branches every three to five years, and remove dead or damaged limbs whenever you see them. Do major trimming after the coldest part of winter is past, except for trees that flower in the spring: these do best when pruned after their blooms drop.
With the mid-summer rolling in so are those summer storms. We all are worried about how to protect our homes during this season; one of the best ways is to prepare your property, specifically your trees. You may be wondering, “How do I do that?” Well fear no further! Here are a few tips on how to effectively prepare your trees against harsh rains and winds that come with this stormy season.
Tip # 1: Prune those Trees!
Help prevent wind resistance with the pruning of your tree canopies! Wind resistance can typically cause damage to the trees trunk and branches. Along with thinning out the top of the canopy, pruning will also help remove dead, diseased, and damaged branches that could fall during a storm.
Tip # 2: Check those Roots!
Leaning trees could mean your tree might have a root problem. Therefore it’s time to check those roots! Your Certified Arborist can help check your roots. Another way, if your roots are currently strong, to protect your roots is to use a wide ring of mulch around the base of your tree. This helps protect from damage and get water and nutrients through the soil to the roots. When in doubt have them checked!
Tip # 3: Look for those Cavities!
Cavities don’t just apply to your teeth; they also apply to your tree. If there is any open cavity or decay your tree might be weak, hollow, and easily damaged. Have your Certified Arborist check your tree for a professional opinion.
If any of these are a concern, contact Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists today and have our Certified Arborist give you a consultation before the next storm rolls on in!
Regular maintenance can help avoid major damage in severe storms.
We have all seen the damage severe weather can do to our trees. When trees are overloaded by wind or ice, catastrophic damage can occur. When this happens many trees can be restored with proper pruning but some will be mortally wounded and need to be removed. Regular preventative pruning can drastically lower the chances of failure and over the long term can be more cost-effective than tree removal.
WHAT CAUSES TREES TO FAIL?
There can be many defects in a tree that may lead to the tree becoming damaged. Some of the most common defects are:
One of the most common reasons for failure in storms is with included bark. Included bark is when the crotch of the tree grows in a ‘V’ shape. This type of union has bark growing against bark. Overtime moisture and decay can get into the union and make tear outs more likely. Strong unions are shaped like a ‘U’. These unions are wood growing together with wood. These unions are much less likely to fail.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO AVOID STORM DAMAGE?
Fortunately, you can do something to help prevent storm damage to your trees. Preventative maintenance pruning! An experienced arborist can assess a tree to see where the weak points are. Once the tree has been assessed there are many pruning techniques that can be used to address these weak areas.
TYPES OF PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE PRUNING CAN INCLUDE:
Crown reductions remove excess weight all around the crown. This can relieve stress on branches reducing the chance of tree failure and prolonging the life of a tree. Crown reductions are usually done on mature trees with significant structural issues.
Standard prune involves removing deadwood — branches that are interfering with each other and compromised or diseased limbs.
Reducing limbs that are overextended can lower the risk of them failing by taking out the extra weight.
Structural pruning is done on young trees to prevent poor structure. In mature trees, structural pruning is used to correct growth that may lead to problems.
Clearance pruning is done when branches are interfering with buildings, other trees, and utility wires.
Cables can also be installed in trees to help support weak unions. Adding cables and reducing the load on weak unions can significantly reduce the chance of tear out. Cables are not effective in unions that have significant decay present.
HOW OFTEN DOES A TREE NEED TO BE PRUNED?
The answer to this question depends on the tree but a good rule of thumb is about every five years. The most important factor is that the tree is pruned at regular intervals. Young trees and mature trees alike benefit from regular pruning. Some homeowners may be concerned about the cost of regular pruning and assume that removal will keep your costs down over time. The truth is that when you break it down pruning is much more cost effective and you get to keep your tree!
DOES IT REALLY HELP?
Whenever we have an ice storm we get lots of calls from people who have significant damage to their trees. We also spend time calling around to our clients with mature trees with structural issues to make sure everything is okay. We frequently hear from our clients how happy they are that we had pruned their trees in the previous years because they had little to no damage. To book preventative pruning maintenance contact Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists today.
If you're like most homeowners, you've developed an attachment to the trees in your yard and hope that they remain with you for a long time. After all, they provide shade, windbreaks, and perhaps even fruits or nuts as well as a significant amount of aesthetic value.
However, there comes a time in the lives of all trees when they've outlived their usefulness, and, if they become unstable due to age or disease, they may pose a substantial threat the personal safety of household residents, neighbors or people passing by.
For instance, weakened and brittle wood may blow down during periods of high wind, and children may be harmed by trying to climb unstable trees.
This blog lists five indications that it's time to have a tree removed. Please keep in mind that homeowners and other nonprofessionals often hurt themselves when trying to remove trees on their own.
1. The Tree Shows Signs of Internal Decay
Once a tree has begun to experience significant internal decay, it's probably too late to save it. Visual signs of decay on the outside of the tree generally indicate that the interior is almost completely dead.
One of the most common outward signs of internal decay is the presence of fruiting fungal organisms. If you see mushrooms, for instance, near the base of one of your trees, you may think they provide a charming, woodland appearance, but chances are almost certain that the tree is either rotten inside or close to it.
Fungal structures known as conks appear on the branches and trunks of trees that are afflicted with fungal infections. Conks are raised surfaces that come in a large variety of sizes and are frequently shaped like hooves.
Trees with internal decay are susceptible to falling over, and these trees don't need high wind activity for that to happen. Another risk of leaving trees infested with fungal colonies untreated is that the infection may spread to other vegetation. It's best to be cautious when internal decay is a part of the picture and have the tree removed by a professional service.
2. The Tree Suddenly Develops a Lean
A little bit of lean is normal for most tree species, and it's likely that the roots of these trees have developed the lean in a way that promotes optimal stability. However, a tree that develops a sudden lean is a tree in trouble.
A sudden lean is a strong indication that the root system has become unstable and that the tree needs to receive professional attention as soon as possible. Cracked or heaving soil on the opposite side of the lean is a strong indication that the tree presents a serious danger.
3. The Tree Is a Fire Hazard
That gorgeous, tall evergreen growing near your home may be a fire hazard. An evergreen's sap is more flammable than that of deciduous hardwoods, so if you live in an area where there are significant risks of wildfire activity, you should consider removing any highly flammable plant material.
Your tree care professional can do an assessment of your property to determine best practices for managing your landscaping in a way that minimizes fire danger.
Keep in mind that although mature trees can add a great deal of value to your property, they can also pose risks that most homeowners simply aren't equipped to handle on their own. Please feel free to contact the experts at Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists with any questions you may have about your trees.
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