Winter is a difficult time for trees. Their dormancy and a shimmering covering of snow can trick us into thinking they’re beautiful and healthy. That’s not always the case: “winterburn,” frost cracks, root damage, and limb breakage are common winter tree problems that could cause the loss of a tree. Keep a watchful eye on trees during cold winter months so problems can be detected (and resolved early) to avoid permanent damage.
Winterburn primarily impacts evergreen trees and results from water loss (desiccation). The tree is stressed because it does not contain enough water to sustain itself. The winter sun and wind also increase dryness. One sign of winterburn is browning at the tips of foliage. Pines, yews, junipers and hemlocks are most susceptible to desiccation.
Solution: Apply an anti-desiccant treatment in late fall and water trees throughout the autumn until the ground freezes.
Sudden changes in temperature can cause the outer bark of trees to contract more quickly than the inner layer. That time difference in contraction can cause long, vertical cracks in the tree bark, called “frost cracks.” These cracks are less noticeable in warm weather but reopen every winter, causing the tree to be susceptible to pest infestation and water loss.
Solution: In late fall, wrap tree trunks in burlap so the bark is protected from sudden fluctuations in temperature.
Root damage can occur anytime soil temperature dips below 15 degrees. When tree roots are damaged, the life of the tree is compromised.
Solution: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree in later autumn months. The mulch (hay, compost, bark) will act as an insulating layer to keep soil from freezing.
A snow-covered tree is beautiful, but frozen precipitation is heavy and often results in broken limbs, making trees susceptible to pests and water loss.
Solution: Gently knock powdery snow off tree limbs as soon as you see it.
If your trees have already experienced some winter problems, call the professionals at Caledon Treeland at (905) 880-1828. Our experts know how to treat various issues and diseases, and will help you save a compromised tree.