Caring for your trees is a year-round job; every season has it’s own procedures that need to be followed in order to keep trees healthy throughout the year, and to ensure consistent and robust growth. The process of winterizing trees is a good deal of work, but the results are worth it. The certified arborists at Advanced Tree Services are experts when it comes to caring for your trees, so you may want to consider having this kind of maintenance done on a regular, annual basis by professionals. Here are the most important suggested steps for winterizing your trees:
• Stop watering your trees from about mid-summer to early in the fall, unless conditions are very dry and hot. This allows a tree to “harden” for the winter.
• Avoid fertilizing trees in the fall; if you do they’ll start new growth in the winter, and the new growth is vulnerable and won’t survive the cold.
• Once a tree loses its leaves, sometime around mid-fall, start to water your trees every week. At this point it’s important to water trees steadily because they don’t get a lot of moisture in the winter; before extremely cold temperatures set in, a tree needs to store up enough water to see it through the winter. This is especially true of evergreens; their needles lose moisture all winter.
• Keep watering steadily until the ground freezes. Give trees approximately 1” of water per week. Make sure the entire root base gets water. Remember also that the root base of a tree can extend 2 to 3 times farther out than the diameter of the tree itself.
• September or October is the time to prune your trees. Visible deadwood and low hanging branches need to be taken off.
• Near the end of fall, spread a layer of mulch under your trees. The mulch can be leaf from the tree, or bark. Leave a foot or two between the trunk of the tree and mulch to prevent trunk rot. Extend the mulch out to an area as big as the branches if your tree is an upright tree. Extremely wide spreading trees, like willows, can take a smaller spread of mulch around them, since the reach of the limbs extends far over the yard.
• If you’ve planted any young trees, wrap them in either tree wrap or burlap, because they will not have time to properly harden. Start at the base of the tree and wrap it to just below the lowest branches.
• Toward the end of the fall, fertilize your trees with either lawn or tree fertilizer. Avoid any kind of fertilizer with large amounts of nitrogen. Nitrogen will promote leave growth, and during the winter you want to promote root growth.