How to Protect Your Trees Through the Winter
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Why Tree Care?
Trees are a very beneficial landscape tool. Whether you have a small or large acreage, or a house on a small plot, trees help save energy and resources by slowing down soil erosion and providing shade and protection from winds. Evergreens, specifically, can play a huge role in winter to break up cold winds while also providing a beautiful aesthetic under snowfall. But despite the name, evergreen conifers may need some care to keep them in peak shape and healthy year round. Living the Country Life talked with tree specialist RJ Laverne from The Davey Tree Expert Company to create this guide to help homeowners recognize signs that their tree may need help and how to proceed in caring for the tree.Date Published: October 29, 2018Date Updated: October 31, 2018
Time to Check Tree Health
Trees should be monitered year-round, as there are problems that can arise in any season. The best practice is to keep an eye on your evergreens as often as you can, but it is ideal to have trees trimmed or cared for when they are dormant, as they'll have a full season to recoup before growth starts. If your trees look like they could use some care, it is best to call in an arborist to take a look. Trying to figure out what is wrong with a tree can be, "kind of like asking why your car isn't starting in the winter," Laverne said. It's not always so easy to diagnose the root cause of the problem, but here are some signs that your tree may need some TLC.Date Published: October 29, 2018Date Updated: October 31, 2018
What to Look for
Browning needles can be a natural part of the life cycle of an evergreen, but keep an eye on where the needles are browning. "Typically, if your tree has brown needles on the interior, then that's part of their natural growing cycle," the Laverne said. You can confirm this by checking the tree's soil for moisture and making sure there's not infestation in the tree. However, if your tree is browning on the exterior, consider looking into it further or calling an arborist.
A few other problems that can arise are dry soil in the winter, sunscalding in direct sunlight on sunny days, or an infecting intruder. Winter temperatures can create problems with the soil (freezing), forcing a tree to use up the water it has stored inside. This can leave the tree undersaturated, causing needles to brown from dryness. Sunny days can cause uniform brown spots on the tree due to excess water loss. Intruder pests can also cause browning on the tree, along with a myriad of other physical symptoms like small holes, sawdust on the tree, or cankers leaking white sap.Date Published: October 29, 2018Date Updated: October 31, 2018
Home Owner Care
If your tree is showing any of the signs listed prior, there are a few steps one can take to try to help their tree without an arborist. If the tree is suffering from dehydration, a protective spray can be used. "The most common problem with conifers is that they don't always get enough hydration stored before winter," Laverne said. "Water problems can expose the tree to other issues. Too much, or too little, moisture and you start to get those pests coming in."
An anti-desiccant, a waxy coating to spray on plants that shields water loss, can be used to help with dryness. It is ideal to apply the spray between 40-50 degrees F. when the forecast is clear of rain for at least 24 hours. If sunscald is the problem, wrapping bark in burlap can help trees stay warm and protected from winter elements. If your tree is showing signs of an infestation, it's best to call an arborist for a free consultation. Frequently, pruning and applying an insecticide will help the tree get back into shape, according to the Davey Company.Date Published: October 29, 2018Date Updated: October 31, 2018
When in Doubt, Call Professionals
If you suspect one or more trees may be in trouble, it's best to call a professional arborist and have them assess it. While there are signs anyone can look out for, an arborist will be able to spot things others may miss and most accurately diagnose the tree's problem(s). For application of sprays, tree wrapping or pruning, it is best to let a professional handle it, as they'll have more knowledge, resources and the right tools to get the job done. If a tree needs pruning, arborists will better be able to handle high branches, especially in the winter when surfaces are slick or cold. Whether you're planning to trim a large portion of your tree (more than a third), or doing a pre-winter pruning, a certified arborist will be able to ensure the tree not only survives, but flourishes once it recovers.Date Published: October 29, 2018Date Updated: October 31, 2018
General Tips for Happy Trees
Buying a home often includes buying some property that has trees on it. Get to know your tree, what kind it is, how big it will ultimately get, how old it is or how long it will live, and how much space it needs. If you're planting trees on your plot or acreage, make sure you know what you're getting and the resources and space needs of the tree. If you're planting trees for a specific purpose (shade, privacy, to block the wind), it is imperative to know how the tree will grow and behave. Some trees will mature faster than others, while some will take much longer to reach full-size. Make sure you're planting trees far enough from one another, the foundation of buildings, and away from obstacles that could potentially rob it of sunlight or other resources. Again, when in doubt, call a certified arborist to do an assessment. It never hurts to know more about what you're dealing with when trying to maintain a healthy tree, yard and home.Date Published: October 29, 2018Date Updated: October 31, 2018
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