Winter Damage to Trees
Winter weather can bring wind, snow, and ice at any time to York. When winter strikes, we often sit at home in front of our televisions with the trepidation of what a winter storm will bring and how it will affect the city.
In addition to road closures, school closings, and grocery shortages, harsh winter damages trees. Though trees are dormant in the winter, they are still very vulnerable to weather damage. Trees are very susceptible to injury in the cold months. However, the effects are usually not noticed until spring.
Causes of Winter Damage to Trees
The dry air, ice, frost, and low temps of the winter months can profoundly affect some trees. Trees that are exposed to the strains of harsh winter weather may be weakened or damaged. Some will struggle to survive. Common winter weather occurrences, such as fast temperature drops, low soil moisture, and fluctuating temps, are known to cause winter tree damage.
When the temps drop below a tree’s natural tolerance, trees can suffer damage. Trees that are at the end of their hardiness zone might not be able to endure the cold. Fluctuating temps can also create issues, like frost cracks, which come from a fast drop in temperature. Frost cracks are vertical breaks that develop in the bark of a tree. They happen more frequently on the sun-facing side of the tree because of the more significant difference between nighttime and daytime temps.
Sunscald is an injury which makes a part in the damaged bark that comes from that area being warmed by the sun. Usually, sunscald and frost cracks only bring superficial damage. In these instances, the tree will recover, though the injury could be permanent. If you are unsure about specific damage, a York arborist is on call to help you assess the health of your trees.
In the winter months, trees are brittle and dormant. If a winter storm delivers ice, it could bring harm to your trees. When this occurs, don’t attempt to remove the snow and ice from your trees. Doing so may create more damage to the tree. Pruning in the winter or fall aids in reducing the chance of injury because of a storm.
While winter gives your trees some rest time from the drought-like conditions and heat that trees have to tolerate in the summer. It is also a time of stress on trees that are now exposed to heavy snow, ice on the leaves and branches, and highly cold temps. With these kinds of conditions, there are a few things that you can do to have healthy trees in the winter season.
Remove dead foliage and overgrowth on your trees to stop these areas from getting too heavy from the ice and snow. By having your trees pruned by a professional tree specialist, your trees are lean and can withstand the harsh, cold weather.
Winter is for Pruning
Winter (late fall works too) is the best time to prune your trees. They are better to adjust to the stress that comes from pruning when the weather is less demanding than in the summer. It is particularly important to remove limbs that expand over your driveway, sidewalk, or house.
Put some mulch around the bottom of your trees before the snow falls. This delivers much-needed insulation while also safeguarding the base of the tree. Also, it helps retain moisture by lessening the amount that evaporates from the root area of the tree.
Hydrating your trees before winter is imperative, particularly in dry areas where the last good rainfall might have been months ago. Even though trees are in the dormant stage of growth in the wintertime, they still must be very hydrated before winter hits.
Having a tree contractor fertilize your trees before winter gives them with the nutrients they require to make it through the cold winter months. These things should help make sure you have the resources needed to not only endure the winter but also to flourish when spring arrives.
While it may appear counterproductive, watering your trees one to two days before a deep freeze hit is one of the best ways to shield the root system. With cold weather comes higher winds and these winds can make the tree dry out faster than you think. Also, having enough moisture can help sustain a higher temperature in the soil surrounding the roots when the temps go very low.
If you have ever looked at a tree and wonder how snow can damage trees, here’s the truth: excess snow can destroy trees by splitting and breaking them, causing them to uproot or fall.
Most arborists will tell you that snow is both a friend and foe of trees. Snow creates plenty of damage. However, in many instances, it also safeguards plants and their roots from high fluctuations in temperature that could destroy or kill them.
If trees will be harmed in one of these ways is contingent on numerous factors. For example, coniferous evergreens can handle more snow weight than broadleaf evergreens. The glitter of snow brings a unique beauty to the chilly winter temps of York. The same snow that brings elegance to winter can also be possibly lethal to your trees by putting more strain on their branches.
What to Do About the Snow on Your Trees
Because of this added strain, it is smart to remove the heavy snow that collects on your trees before it freezes and deforms or breaks the limbs. To do so, gently raise the branches upward with a sturdy pole or broom, shaking the snow off. If the snow has already frozen on the branches, you should wait until the temperature goes above freezing. If you attempt to remove frozen snow from your trees can do more harm than good.
Trees with horizontal branching are less susceptible to snow damage. Most conifers, like pine, spruce, juniper, and yew, have flexible limbs and are tailored to shedding snow before it gets so heavy that it snaps branches.
However, multi-stem trees and those with slim upright branching can get genuinely hurt when weighty accumulations pull limbs apart. Sometimes, tying the stems of such trees together can diminish winter damage. But prevention is a more suitable approach. Accurately prune and maintain your trees so that they grow strong limbs that withstand winter injury.
Once the snow has melted, inspect the damage. If over half of a tree’s branches are destroyed, the tree is very unlikely to recover and should be cut down. The more big limbs are broken, the less likely the tree is to recover. Contact Syracuse Tree Care to discuss pruning or removal of damaged trees on your property.
Proper winter tree pruning is a technique that can improve the aesthetic appeal, health, and vigor of your trees.
Below are some benefits of wintertime pruning:
Even though the wintertime is a great time to prune, if the tree is a spring flowering one and the blooms are crucial to you, it may be best to wait and prune that tree right after it is finished blooming. Even though pruning spring flowering trees in the winter will not harm their health, it can diminish those blooms. If you don’t know if your tree is a springtime flowering one or not, ask a York arborist for assistance.
The usual reason that folks prune their trees is to maintain or lessen the size of a tree. Other reasons to prune are:
Winter is a favorite time to prune trees. Almost all the leaves have fallen, and you can see the tree structure. With a straight sightline to the tree’s interior growth behaviors, it is usually more straightforward for an arborist to detect structural problems and make the right pruning decisions.
Pruning modifies the growth and form of the tree so any questions must be asked before pruning is started.
We at York Tree service want to provide you with helpful tips and information about services your trees. Contact us if you need tree service at your property.