Tips for Helping Your Trees Recover From a Harsh Winter
A harsh winter can take its toll on your trees and shrubs. But there are things you can do to help your trees recover from winter damage.
1. Keep Your Trees Watered
Watering properly is essential to keeping trees healthy and strong. Too little water can lead to dead and rotting branches, while too much can suffocate roots. A tree’s roots need to remain moist at a depth of 18-20 inches deep around the trunk. You can test this by pushing a screwdriver or metal rod into the soil. It’s easy to penetrate moist soil, but difficult to push into dry soil. The best way to water your trees is to use a soaker hose that you can wind around their drip zone, which is the area surrounding their root system shaded by the canopy. A layer of mulch also helps to keep moisture in the soil, allowing it to infiltrate more deeply.
2. Removing Snow
It’s important to note that even though some trees are incredibly resilient, they can still be damaged by a harsh winter. This is especially true for evergreens, as they have more surface area to hold snow and ice. However, all tree branches can be brittle and stressed during a storm. This means that it is crucial to be gentle when removing snow. You’ll have much less damage to your plants if you remove snow after every couple of inches, rather than waiting until it is deep. If the snow is heavy, gently shake or brush off the buildup with a soft broom, starting from the bottom of the tree up. Never sweep downward, as this will break already bent branches and stress them further.
Adding fertilizer to your trees is one of the most important things you can do to help them recover from a harsh winter. Nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are essential for numerous plant processes. When trees don’t have these nutrients, their leaves and stems will become weak and brittle. They’ll also often be unable to resist pests and diseases. Adding fertilizer in the late fall can give your trees a big boost before they go into dormancy. It also helps stimulate root growth which will make them stronger and more resilient in the spring.
The cold winter temperatures can have a serious impact on the health of your trees and shrubs. These can become weakened and show signs of damage that appear as brown, damaged leaves in the spring. Trees need pruning to maintain a healthy shape, promote airflow and prevent disease and insects from invading their branches. It also helps reduce safety hazards like fallen limbs that can break and fall on passersby or property owners who are walking along the tree. Pruning also helps avoid spreading diseases like Dutch elm disease, oak wilt and cedar hawthorn rust. These diseases spread easily during the growing season and can cause severe damage to your trees or shrubs if they get infected.
5. Don’t Remove Damaged Branches
Many trees are very resilient and will bounce back from storm damage. When a tree is bending or drooping due to ice or snow accumulation, your first instinct may be to shake the limbs to free them up. This is usually not a good idea because it could actually cause the limb to break off. Healthy branches are able to bend and move, but the weight of accumulated snow or ice can be too much for them to bear. Therefore, they will often snap. As such, you should always ask a knowledge tree caretaker before attempting to remove damaged branches.