Mitigate Winter Damage With These Tree Care Tips

Winter weather can take a toll on the health of your trees, bushes, and shrubs. Frigid temperatures, along with fierce winter winds can break tender branches, while foraging animals can attack the trunk's protective bark covering. When winter temperatures fluctuate wildly, as they do in many areas of the country, the possibility of damage can become even greater.

While homeowners cannot control the weather, they can take some protective actions that will help mitigate the level of damage their trees incur and help them to grow and thrive for years to come. 

Protecting trees from animal damage

When mice, voles, squirrels, rabbits, and deer run low on available food stores, many turn to trees for the nourishment they need to survive. Deer consume the tender growth on the ends of low-hanging branches and nibble the bark of trees. Smaller animals focus on attacking the bark, both for consumption and to look for any insect larva that may be hidden underneath. 

Depending on the size of the tree and the animal you are trying to discourage, homeowners may want to consider using fencing or a protective tree wrap to prevent bark and limb damage or using traps and baits to capture and remove the offending animal. 

Preventing winter drought stress

Winter climates that include long periods of below-zero weather can push trees toward a condition known as drought stress. This occurs when the moisture in the soil turns to ice and the tree is not able to access it for hydration. 

While there is little that can be done to manage drought stress once winter is in full force, homeowners can help avoid it by watering their trees thoroughly late in the fall and then applying a protective layer of mulch to insulate the area.

If winter weather is interrupted by several days of unseasonably warm weather, homeowners who did not water their trees during the previous fall can opt to do so at that time. When watering in winter, however, it is important to make sure that the soil is thawed before applying water and to check the weather forecast to ensure that freezing weather will not return for a few days after watering.  

Some tree breakage is inevitable due to harsh winter weather. A good way to overcome this problem is to have your trees inspected in late winter each year by a tree service. Contact a company like Tielis Tree Service for more information. Doing this will ensure that damaged areas are removed and your tree is properly shaped to promote healthy spring foliage and branch growth.