Whether winter weather is effecting your area in full force right now or just starting to move in, there are ways of helping your trees thrive in winter.
The first thing you need to think about is insulation. Insulation will help create a barrier between your tree’s roots and the cold. Mulching around the base of your tree is a great way to create insulation. Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch from the trunk to the dripline, while leaving space so the mulch doesn’t directly touch the trunk. If your mulch placement resembles a volcano, thin at the dripline and piled at the trunk, it could become more susceptible for decay and infestation from the building moisture it retains.* You can prevent this by redistributing the mulch more evenly.
The second thing to keep in mind is that your tree still needs water during the cold months. Roots will get hard and brittle in the cold without water. If it’s above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the ground feels dry, water trees at their driplines a few times a month. Watering earlier in the day is best to protect trees from nighttime freezes.*
Another issue you also need to be aware of in the winter is sunscald. Although sunlight is necessary for your tree, it is harder for your tree to adjust in the cold nights of winter. This sudden drop in temperature is what creates sunscald. Sunscald is typically found on the south/southwest side of a tree and is identified by shrunken, dried out and cracked areas of bark. The solution to this problem is to use a tree wrap or a light colored cloth that will reflect light. This will help keep your tree at a constant temperature throughout the day and night, helping prevent sunscald.*
Depending on your region, winter can actually be a great time to plant new trees. New roots need to be nourished and get established quickly so they don’t fall victim to freezing. Pellet 3-IA can be used during planting to help produce a larger root mass to absorb ground water and added nutrients. Keep in mind, insulation, proper watering and sunscald prevention are just as important for new trees as they are for established ones.
With these tips, your trees should be full of life and ready to prosper by spring!