Preparing Your Trees for Winter.
Some people have never heard of it! Other people think it’s unnecessary and does not do it. Others believe it’s all controlled by Nature, who lives and who dies.
Humans Preparing for Bed in the Winter
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of it like this, but, by the same token that humans have to prepare themselves before bedtime – say, with bath/shower, toothbrush, putting on their nightclothes, and finally donning their fleecy dressing gowns for extra warmth; then, in a slightly different way, so do the trees!
Anywhere In The World Where it’s Cold in Winter
Let’s say we’re in Denver, Colorado in the western states, near the Rocky Mountain national park – a cold part of the US; or we’re in Yorkshire, a hard part in winter in the North of England, UK; with high snowdrifts; or other cold places we’re aware of, that have cold winters to endure:
Urban Trees in Residential Gardens Need Care
At the start of winter, homeowners look after the urban trees in their gardens (in our cities and towns) as they begin to go dormant. They start their pre-winter preparations as the six essential points below will illustrate:
- The best you can do is Wrap the Trunk. Thin-barked trees are susceptible to sunscald and frost cracks because of huge winter temperature fluctuations. So, try to prevent bark damage by finding the younger trees and wrapping their bark in a commercial wrap and leave that on until April.
- Mulch the base. Take wood chips and apply two to four inches of these wood chips, bark, or other organic things to reduce soil evaporation. Mulch near the tree’s base. But not against it. You must improve the water absorption and insulate against the extreme temperatures.
- Recycle leaves. Please don’t dispose of the autumn leaves when you’ve taken so much care to rake them up from looking like a dreadful mess in the autumn. Rather keep them, and then instead of throwing them away, you could layer them around each tree’s base as a mulch. Instead, you could blend them into the yard with a mulching mower to retain nutrients.
- For the uninitiated, mulch means protection and extra warmth.
- Please give them a good drink of water. Do it with the garden hose before storing it for winter. Water the trees in the area extending from the trunk to the extent of the longest branches. Water slowly, with a sprinkler or soaker hose, at the rate of 10 gallons per inch of tree diameter.
- Focus on younger trees. Many of them have a less-extensive root system because they haven’t had time to develop one as yet. However, those are the ones that still require a lot of care.
- Wait to prune until winter. Late winter is the best time for pruning most tree species. It can be done whenever trees are dormant over the winter months, but please don’t do it at the beginning of winter. The main reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches and improve the form of the tree.
- Prune always, just outside the branch collar – the point where a unit joins a larger one. Don’t remove any branches without good reason. You can mark the ones you want to remove and do it back in the summer months.
- Suppose there is no snow for two or more weeks. Then we must water again. Try to do this watering on a warmer day when the snow has all melted, and the general Temperature is over 40 degrees F.
The ‘Long Sleep’
You’ll probably be asking which trees this applies to, and that’s easy to answer because it’s both the deciduous trees and the evergreen trees that should receive this treatment alike. They will both have a much easier time getting safely through the winter if you take special care of them just before the ‘long sleep.’
Keep Moisture in the Soil
After the ground freezes, spread your organic material – like chopped leaves up to 6 inches thick. This will help them to keep the moisture in the soil and protect the roots from freezing.
If you were to look at two gardens – one that always prepared its trees for winter and the other that never did – you’d immediately see the difference.
You Can Spot a Well Cared For Tree
The trees that were well looked after can be spotted immediately as they look fresh and healthy all the time. In comparison, the ones that are not looked after are a sad and sorry mess. They look unkempt, uncared for, and generally unhealthy and scruffy.
It’s such a shame to see this and witness the fact that the owners don’t appear to care enough to go the extra mile for their trees.
If you Look After your Trees – They Make you Proud by Looking Good.
When you own something – whatever it is, you look after it, and it looks after you by always looking good and making you proud of your efforts. Doesn’t that give you an incredible feeling?
Protect your Garden – Protect your Trees
Therefore, the same applies to gardens and then to trees. If a dog or other unwelcome visitor entered your garden and started digging up things and causing trouble, you would chase it out immediately! Isn’t it the same story when you need to go through an hour or so of doing things for others – because when they benefit from your labors – so will you?
In the coldest of winters, please prepare your trees for this chilly season. How many trees do you have? It’s usually two or three, but it’s no more than six even on the largest of properties.
Do the Very Best You Can
Do the absolute best you can for your plants and trees during the coldest tie of the year, and you’ll be glad you did. Your trees will reflect the care you’ve taken over them and reward you by growing stronger and looking better each year. How lucky are you that you decided to care for your trees no matter what it takes!