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27 Sep 2017
Fall Tree Care

Best Ways to Care for Your Trees During the Fall

Who says the gardening season is over once fall arrives?

Autumn is still actually a good time for planting trees. It’s also the season wherein plenty of nuts and fruits ripen. But if there’s one important thing that every tree owner should do when autumn arrives, that would be preparing their trees for the upcoming winter.

To ensure that your trees will survive the winter, it’s crucial that you prepare them ahead for what’s coming.

Are you all set? Here are the steps:

  1. Inspect Your Trees’ Leaves

Once you have noticed that the leaves of your trees are turning slowly to the color of the season, then that’s the perfect time to inspect them for uneven hues and defoliation. Both of them are actually signs of tree problems like nutrient deficiency, pests, and diseases.

The appearance of mushrooms during fall is not really a problem unless there are a lot of them appearing near the trunks. This could be a sign that the roots are decaying.

  1. Evaluate the Soil

Have you had the soil in the vicinity analyzed? If not yet, then consider doing it this season. Have your soil analyzed. That way, if there is a nutrient imbalance in your backyard, you can instantly apply the needed fertilizer before winter comes rolling in.

  1. Spray Anti-Desiccant on Leaves

Water loss is one of the major reasons why trees suffer during winter. With limited water to absorb, trees are left without resort but to use the water they’ve stored in their stems and leave.

One way of avoiding water loss is through spraying anti-desiccant on the leaves. This will provide leaves with a waxy layer that will keep in moisture.

  1. Mulch

Don’t wait for winter to come before you start mulching your trees. As early as today, mulch the surrounding of your trees to trap warmth and provide trees ample time to grow and absorb nutrients and water.

During the winter, the mulch will provide protection against the harsh weather and reduce water loss. It is absolutely important that you also mulch newly planted or young trees since they do not have enough defense mechanisms yet to weather the harsh season.

When it comes to mulching, distribution is critical. Recommended thickness of the mulch is one to two inches. Placing too large a mound is not advisable because it can provide a place for bacteria and fungi to flourish.

  1. Prune Your Trees

Pruning also plays an important role in tree care during fall. Basically, there are three different types of pruning that should be done during this season:

  • Pruning branches that died during summer
  • Doing structural pruning
  • Pruning to reduce the size of the tree

To properly prune your trees, make sure to talk to a professional arborist, especially if you are not familiar with pruning techniques and methods.

  1. Check for Pests

Even when the climate has turned cooler, pests can still wreak havoc on your trees. Mites, spider mites, stink bugs, and boxelder bugs can definitely damage your trees.

Applying a systemic insecticide is one of the best ways of getting rid of pests. You’d also be glad to know that this kind of method can actually protect your trees for up to 12 months.

  1. Protect Your Trees

And of course, let’s not forget to protect our trees that are susceptible to high winds, salt, and the southwest sun. By just wrapping the trunk of a tree with a trunk wrap, or even paper and polypropylene, it can go a long way of upping the chances that your plants will emerge from the winter as robust as ever.


Why is fall tree care important?

Because your trees are still recovering from the extreme heat during the summer season and yet in a few weeks, they’ll be encountering cold weather. If you want your trees to recover from the summer heat and survive the winter season, then providing them with every essential nutrient and protection is absolutely helpful.

More info: photo by Ben Regali

15 Aug 2017

Drought Stress and Tree Health – What You Need to Know

The Short- and Long-Term Effects of Drought on Trees and How to Combat Them


With the effects of climate change becoming more evident and undeniable, one of the most popular discussions among arborists and gardeners is drought and trees, specifically how to alleviate the stresses experienced by trees and shrubs brought on by drought.

This is such a crucial topic because the lack of water won’t only cause certain plants and trees to slowly wilt and die, but it can severely affect plant development and growth as well.

Plants, especially trees, can experience short-term and long-term effects from drought. Short-term stresses can go away once rain starts pouring in regularly again. However, the long-term stresses can linger on even after the rain returns.

So what are these stresses, these detrimental effects on trees that are brought about by drought? What can you do, as a tree owner, to help your trees survive the drought and recover?


Drought and Trees: The Short- and Long-Term Effects

As your trees continue to starve from lack of moisture, symptoms will start to appear. Some are quite obvious, while others not so much.


Wilting of Leaves

Wilting is the first and the most obvious sign of tree health problem brought about by drought, although not exclusively. Wilting may also be caused by other detrimental factors. But this is the first sign that you will most likely notice on your trees and shrubberies during a drought.


Premature Shedding of Leaves

The fall season is typically the time when trees start to shed their leaves and they prepare to go into hibernation for the winter. During a drought, however, trees and other plant life can go into premature shedding; their leaves will slowly wither and die, due to the lack of water and ground moisture.

There’s just isn’t enough water to sustain the tree, so it starts to shed its leaves as a form of defense.


Dramatic Reduction of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is crucial to a tree’s growth and development. It’s the machinery that enables trees to absorb sunlight and synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. If the tree’s ability to photosynthesize is compromised, it could have serious, long-term, and even fatal effects on the tree’s ability to recover and survive.

Imagine if something were to happen to your digestive system, if it’s compromised in some way. How will you be able to process the food you’re taking in? How will you be able to absorb the nutrients that your body needs in order to properly function?


Pest and Insect Infestation

With the lack of water and a compromised ability to photosynthesize, trees will become weak and susceptible to pest attack. They won’t be able to adjust or defend against the onslaught of insects that are trying to survive the drought as well. And this will only weaken the tree even more, causing long-term damage that may be difficult to recover from.

So those are just a few of the potential effects that trees may experience during a drought. The question now is how do you mitigate or lessen the effects of drought on your trees? What can you do to protect them and give them the best chance to recover?


Tree Care Tips during a Drought


  1. Water your trees, but water appropriately.

During a drought, you’re going to need to water your trees and shrubs regularly. But you need to be mindful of the amount of water, the frequency of which you water the trees, and the type of tree you’re watering. Remember that not all trees require the same amount of water or the same frequency. Some species require less, while others may need more.


  1. Check your trees for signs of stress.

It’s important to inspect your trees for any sign of stress or symptoms, especially those mentioned on the first part of this article, so you can take the appropriate action to mitigate those symptoms. Keep in mind that there are symptoms that take longer to appear, while there are those that materialize almost immediately.


  1. Skip the fertilizer and focus on mulching instead.

During a drought, a tree’s root system is susceptible to damage from the salts and other strong chemicals from fertilizers due to lack of water. So instead of adding fertilizer, you should do some mulching instead, in order to preserve soil moisture and protect the root system from further damage.


  1. Consult a certified arborist.

Your best asset in helping your trees recover from a drought is having a certified arborist guiding you on what to do along the way. Arborists know about trees better than anyone. So if you see signs of drought stress on your trees, contact your local arborist as soon as possible.


More info: photo by chillervirus


19 Feb 2017
why spring is great time to call your arborist

Why Spring Is a Great Time to Call Your Arborist

The Four Main Reasons Why You Should Hire an Arborist in Spring


Before we figure out why spring is an excellent time to contact your local Arborist, perhaps we should first provide the reason it is imperative that you hire an Arborist.

If you have trees in your property, whether it’s residential or commercial, you will need someone to maintain, trim, prune, and look after the plants’ health and well-being on a regular basis. That someone is a professional known as an Arborist.

Arborists are trained professionals who specialize in the care and maintenance of individual trees. They have the appropriate training and knowledge with regards to the proper handling of various types of trees. In layman’s terms, Arborists are tree experts who are certified to apply their expertise.


So why is spring a good time to contact an Arborist?

Well, if you want to do annual spring cleaning on your home, office, or business establishment, there is no reason why you shouldn’t invest the same time and effort taking care of your tree’s needs during this time of year.

All the other seasons can be challenging to most trees because of the extreme temperatures, storms, and winds they have to endure. Droughts, heavy rains, thunderstorms, ice, and snow—all of these can take a toll on the trees in your property, especially if you live in an area that experiences these types of conditions each and every year.

Springtime is the only time when trees can grow new life, recover, and then relax, making is a good time for maintenance and light pruning if necessary.  Removing dead, diseased and broken branches should be removed when noticed, especially after an active winter. Look for water sprouts and suckers for removal as well. These advantageous limbs and sprouts which are weakly attached and drain needed nutrients to healthy limbs.


4 Key Reasons Why Spring Is the Ideal Time to Call an Arborist

1. To Do Maintenance Checks on Your Trees

Much like your car, your home’s air conditioning system, or your own body, trees also require routine inspections and maintenance. And these checks are best conducted during spring. Tree maintenance is necessary to ensure optimal health, diagnose potential diseases, catch mold and pest infestation before they spread, and to check the soil condition.


2. To Do Some Trimming

The subfreezing temperatures during the winter months and the fluctuating temperatures in late winter and early spring can cause serious problems to your trees. These harsh conditions can leave their limbs and branches weak. If left alone, those weakened branches can become a serious hazard, especially when faced with strong winds and storms. The warm spring weather provides an opportune time to remove these potential hazards and allow the tree to recover and grow.

Through a proper trimming process, you can remove some of the winter damage sustained by the trees and help restore their vibrant beauty as spring progresses.


3. To Do Some Pruning

Pruning is one of the processes employed by Arborists to restore the shape and structure of snow-damaged trees. Removing dead, broken and diseased branches should be removed when noticed, this can be done any time of the year. As spring progresses, your trees will start to become thicker as they get covered with green leaves. During this period, pruning becomes essential to help give the tree proper shape and structure.

Pruning will also help ensure the right balance of new growth, especially when new growth is heavier or thicker on one side. The right pruning process will not only help restore beauty and shape to your trees, it also helps with the integrity of their limbs and branches.

Note: You should avoid hiring Arborists or tree companies that practice tree topping as a technique to control tree shape and structure. Tree topping, the practice of removing whole tops of trees, is not only detrimental to the health and integrity of the tree; it’s downright illegal in some states.


4. To Provide Tree Removal Services

Let’s get one thing straight: tree removal should only be considered as a last resort and not a primary solution to dealing with snow-damaged trees. Often times, trees that sustained damage from the previous winter can still recover when handled correctly.

However, there are times where the damage sustained by a tree is so severe that restoring it is virtually impossible. At times like these, when the structural integrity of the tree is so compromised that it now poses a potential hazard, tree removal may be your only option. Springtime is the best time to do it.


What do you think? Comment below.


More info: photo by Arno Smit

09 Feb 2017
Winter Stress on Trees and Shrubs

A Tree Owner’s Guide to Dealing with Winter Stress on Trees and Shrubs

Strong wind gusts, snow, and ice brought about by harsh winter storms can cause limbs and branches of trees to break. In some cases, these may result to a tree falling over. This is just one of the main challenges a tree faces during winter.

As a tree owner, how you deal with the winter stress on trees and shrubs has a significant impact on its recovery and overall health in the coming seasons. Here are a few useful tips to keep in mind when dealing with the different stresses faced by your trees and shrubs:

1. Tree branches and shrubs get weighed down by the accumulation of heavy snow and ice.

As soon as the winter is over and the warmth of spring starts to creep in, you will often find trees and shrubs in your property covered in heavy snow and ice. This can result in the branches bending downward due to the sheer weight of the snow.

What you should do:

If the snow is loose enough, you can try sweeping it upward. This is important. Always sweep upward. If you sweep from the top down, you run a risk of breaking even more branches just by doing it wrong. At this point, the branches are weakened enough as it is; don’t add more stress to them.

Here’s more:

If the snow has turned into ice and is stuck onto the branches, sweeping it is pointless. It won’t dislodge no matter what you do. You’ll only be adding more damage to the plant. The best thing to do in this situation is to wait for the snow and ice to melt naturally.


2. Young and recently planted trees may topple due to strong snowstorms and wind gusts.

Young, recently planted trees are the most vulnerable come winter time. Their root systems are not yet fully established underground and could easily dry out or freeze over on subzero temperatures. And because young and recently planted trees still do not have a solid foothold, a strong gust of wind could cause them to get uprooted and fall over.

What you should do:

When the subfreezing temperatures of winter begin knocking at the door, you should make sure to cover any roots that are exposed as soon as possible. By using winter mulch, you might be able to keep the root system of your trees from drying out or freezing over. Just make sure to practice proper mulch application.

Tree removal as a last resort.

Tree removal may be the only option for mature trees, or trees with trunks more than 10-12 inches in diameter, that have fallen over. Moreover, trees that are partially uprooted and have more than a third of their roots exposed are most likely beyond any help. Of course, professional help may be necessary to properly assess the condition of the tree.


3. Some species of trees are weak-wooded and can be easily damaged by wind and the sheer weight of snow and ice.

There are species of trees that are faster growers and have soft wood, also known as weak-wooded trees. Some examples are lacebark elm, Leyland cypress, silver maple, Bradford pear, purple robe locust, scot pine and green ash. These trees are vulnerable to damage in areas that experience extreme winters and strong storm winds.

What you should do:

The best solution for this kind of problem is to avoid planting these types of trees in areas prone to harsh winters and strong rainstorms. If you really want these trees in your property, however, make sure to plant them away from structures to minimize potential damage.


Additional Tips for Dealing with Winter Damage on Trees

  • Be patient with trees and shrubs covered in snow and ice. If they can’t be dislodged by sweeping, wait for the ice and snow to melt naturally.
  • Avoid shaking a tree or shrub to remove snow and ice. You’ll be causing more damage to the already stressed-out plant.
  • Once the snow and ice has melted away, take a moment to assess the condition of the tree or shrub to determine the best solution to address potential damage.
  • When pruning trees and shrubs, make sure to observe best practices to ensure the health and integrity of the plant.
  • Hire a Certified Arborist to help you assess the situation and provide effective solutions.


Have some ideas of your own? Comment below!


More info: photo by Lukas Budimaier


30 Jan 2017
Heavy wet snow damaging trees

Oh Snap! Heavy Wet Snow Is Damaging My Trees… What Should I Do?

What to Do to Help Repair Damaged Trees Caused by Ice and Snow

Heavy snowstorms, strong wind gusts, and ice formations during the cold winter months can really do a number on your property. Cars parked on the streets could be covered in snow by morning. But one of the most common problems encountered by property owners during winter is the damage that is sustained by trees, shrubberies, and other plant life in the property.

When a property owner encounters snow damaged trees, his first instinct is to grab a chainsaw and cut down the branch or limb that sustained the damage. This is not always the best idea, however. After a heavy snowstorm, if you want to check what kind of damage your trees have received from the night before, there are few things you need to consider doing, for safety purposes.


Useful Tips for Dealing with Snow Damaged Trees after a Snowstorm


Tip #1: Carefully Assess the Surrounding Area

Before you start clearing fallen branches and tree limbs, make sure that you check the surrounding area first. Safety should always be your number one priority. In situations like this, broken branches and limbs may hit utility lines such as power, telephone, and cable. You need to assess the area and render it safe before doing anything else.


Tips #2: Check the Damaged Portion of the Tree

Don’t go near or start climbing the tree. There could be branches or limbs that are merely hanging by a thread. A slight gust of wind could easily dislodge it. The last thing you want is a broken tree branch falling on top of you.

Sometimes, trees and shrubs tend to bend under the sheer weight of ice and snow. Don’t panic. As long as the main branch and major limbs of the tree are not broken, and 50% or more of the crown is undamaged, the tree can still recover.


Tip #3: Keep Your Cool When Dealing with Snow Damaged Trees

Instead of rushing to remedy the broken tree branches, you need to be patient. During a snowstorm, or in the following days immediately after the storm, there’s actually very little you or anyone can do to help the tree at this point.

You can, however, start to remove any potential hazards to pedestrians, such as broken branches that you can easily reach. Using a ladder at this point can be dangerous. So avoid using ladders or climbing the tree, for that matter.

If there are broken branches high up in the tree, just put a sign under it to warn passersby. Save the more serious decisions for later. The key is to focus on tree recovery rather than chopping it down and feeding it to the wood chipper.


Tip #4: Carefully Remove Easy-to-Reach Broken Branches by Pruning

A few days after the snowstorm that damaged some of your trees, you can start the pruning process to remove the affected parts of the tree. However, you need to be careful not to over-prune. Most people tend to over-prune their trees to remove the damaged portions and to balance the look of the tree.

You need to remember that the goal at this point is not about appearance, the goal is to help the tree to fully recover. After the pruning process, the tree might look a bit awkward or uneven, but trees grow quick. And before you know it, new foliage will soon occupy the bare areas of the tree and it will look vibrant and healthy once again.


Tip #5: Don’t Hesitate to Seek Professional Help (for the tree, not you)

Getting professional help is probably the best way to deal with trees that are damaged by cold winds, snow, and ice. The term professional is not used loosely here, though. Just because you have a guy with a chainsaw, a pair of work gloves, a hardhat, and a pickup truck doesn’t mean that he’s a tree care professional.

What you want is to find a reputable Arborist or tree care company in your area. Jobs like this require up-to-date methods and expertise that not a lot of people can handle. Plus, if you blindly rely on those without proper credentials, there’s a pretty good chance you will regret your decision later on.

In the event of an accident occurring in your property, you will most likely be held liable if the company you hire has no insurance. So be careful when seeking professional help.


Have questions or something to add? Comment below!


More info:


Wikimedia Commons photo by Mhus at English Wikipedia [CC0], via Wikimedia Common

23 Jan 2017
Winter Mulch

Why Winter Is a Wonderful Time to Use Mulch for Soil Protection

Winter is a stressful time for plants and trees. The soil condition and the extremely low temperatures are detrimental to the health and development of plants. Regardless of the type of garden you have, whether it’s a small one that consists of a few potted plants or an acre of vegetable or flowering plants and trees, the best thing you can do is to prepare them for the coming winter season.

This means taking care of all their nutritional and hydration needs. For trees and shrubberies, using the right amount of winter mulch can go a long way in maintaining optimum soil temperature and preserving moisture in the root system. For seasonal crops, the best thing you can do is harvest those that are ready and prepare the plot for planting for the coming spring.


But what makes mulching so important?

Spreading the right amount and type of mulch in your garden plays a significant role in maintaining the health and development of the crops, as well as the viability of the soil they stand in. during the cold winter months, a layer of mulch on the top soil will provide the ground with adequate insulation and protection against the elements.

The roots of trees and shrubberies can be prevented from completely freezing over by simply adding a layer of mulch around the plant.


The Different Types of Mulch for the Yard or Garden

Gardens come in many different sizes, shapes, and characteristics in terms of the type of plants that are growing in them. There are gardens that house flowering plants that add aesthetic charm to one’s front yard, while there are those that grow vegetable plants and crops for household consumption.

But regardless of the type of crops or flowering plants you have growing in your garden, they all can benefit from the use of mulch, especially during the harsh winter months.

Although there are a wide variety of mulch types available out there, this can be divided into two key categories, the organic and inorganic mulch.

  • Organic or Natural Mulch – This category typically includes wood chips, grass clippings, crushed leaves, pine straws, and hardwood shavings in the mixture. This material is available from garden centers, Arborists, power companies, and municipal yard waste facilities. It is very durable and makes an excellent material for covering paths and walkways. If used on landscape beds, nitrogen deficiencies will develop if fertilizer is not periodically applied.
  • Inorganic or Synthetic Mulch – This mixture generally has components like crushed rock, pebbles, plastic chips, and rubber shavings.

By comparison, natural or organic mulch is much cheaper than synthetic or inorganic mulch. However, because organic mulch is subject to decay and deterioration, it has to be replaced more frequently compared to inorganic mulch.


The Benefits of Using Mulch in the Winter Season

Mulch can actually be used all year round due to its ability to provide insulation and soil protection. But the process of mulching is especially effective during the winter months because it is the time of year when plants and trees need the most insulation.

  • Mulches that are specifically designed for the fall and winter seasons help create an insulating barrier on the ground, between the warmth of the soil and the harsh cold air. The mulch effectively protects the plant roots from intermittent fluctuations of temperature in the soil.
  • Specific types of mulches also prevent soil erosion and compaction caused by heavy rains and snow, thus preserving good soil condition when spring arrives.
  • Because of the insulating properties of mulches, they also help preserve moisture in the soil, ensuring proper hydration of the root system of the plant.
  • Since natural or organic mulches slowly break down over time, these types also contribute to the enrichment of nutrients within the soil. This can be a huge advantage for ground soil that has low or poor fertility. By spring, you will have a healthy and fertile soil ready for planting new crops.
  • Winter mulch also helps minimize mechanical and winter injuries that are often sustained by exposed roots and trunks. They play a role in weed control as well as protect the plant from injuries caused by lawnmowers and weed eaters.
  • Certain types of mulch, such as cedar, pinewood, and cypress chips have characteristics that help repel ticks, fleas, and gnats.


The Bottom Line

If you want to preserve the health of your garden soil or protect the growth and development process of your trees and shrubberies, you will need the right kind of mulch to apply in your yard or garden. Keep in mind that winter is especially challenging for your plants and trees, so make sure to prepare their beds with the appropriate amount and the right kind of mulch before winter comes.


Stocksnap photo by Les Anderson


How are you protecting your soil this winter? Comment below. 


19 Jan 2017

How To Properly Remove Outdoor Tree Lights (Without Damaging Them)

Holidays are over! Pretty sad, right?

Whether we like it or not, we have to face that fact that we need to go back to school or work, and wait for the next Christmas season to come—which is 11 months from now! However, just because the holidays have come and gone doesn’t mean that there aren’t traces of them anymore in your house. For sure, there are plenty presents left unwrapped yet and the fridge is still brimming with leftovers from your Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebration. Apart from that, we are also pretty certain that most of your Christmas decors and holiday trees are still up, reminding you of how awesome your holiday season went.

But as it is now January, it is really time to take down all those Christmas ornaments and tuck them away. And while you won’t have a problem taking down the rest of your Christmas decors, removing Christmas lights from your outdoor trees or shrubs is another story.

Why? Because as much as possible, we don’t want to harm them in any way.

Here are 5 essential tips how to take care of your trees while removing the lights mounted on them last Yuletide season:

1. Do It Gently

The first step, of course, in removing the lights from your outdoor shrubs and/or trees is to do things in a gentle manner. We don’t want any twigs or branches getting broken.

Why is that?

Because most deciduous plants have their buds already growing for the next year’s flowers and leaves. Carelessly pulling the strings of lights off your trees can potentially damage the trees’ buds, especially since frozen branches/twigs easily snap.

And even though new buds will regrow during the spring season that is certainly a lot of time.

2. When Dealing with Tall Trees, Use a Ladder

Apart from doing things in a gentle manner, removing the lights from the trees should be done slowly. So don’t even think of hastily pulling off the lights from the ground. This can damage your trees, and we definitely don’t want that to happen.

Now, what’s the proper way of removing the lights from tall trees?

Use a ladder and slowly remove the strings of lights from the trees. Be sure to also secure your safety as you climb the ladder. Do not climb the ladder if you are not properly dressed or if you do not have the right tools for the job.

An important rule is next on our list.

3. Last up, First Off Rule

Be sure to remember the rule last up, first off when removing the lights from your trees. This means that the strings that you should remove first are the ones that you placed on the trees last. Doing this will help avoid tangling the strings of lights, which can also damage the plants.

4. Carefully Take Down the Clips or Hooks Used

Aside from using a ladder when removing the strings of lights from the trees, you should also remove all the hooks or clips that you have used to securely attach them during the Christmas season. Leaving them on the leaves or twigs can potentially damage your trees too. They can puncture the branches or even harm kids or people who pass by the plants.

They also mess with the aesthetics of your place; nobody wants to see trees with clips and hooks attached to them.

5. String the Lights Properly So You Won’t Have a Hard Time Removing Them

Technically speaking, the best way that you can to avoid damaging your trees when you remove the strings of light is by stringing them on your trees properly. When it comes to placing these festive lights on your outdoor plants, you have to remember to do it carefully or else you run the risk of damaging their bark or worse, breaking the branches. Make sure also to spot growing branches and avoid placing anything there in order not to strangle them. Photo by Jez Timms

Share your tips with us by commenting below.

08 Jan 2017
tree protection from harsh weather

How to Protect Your Trees from the Harsh Winter Weather

Typical winter weather takes a serious toll on trees, regardless of whether it’s a newly planted growing tree or an aging one that’s over a decade old. Snow storms, the rapid fluctuation of temperatures between the day time and night time, and drought—all these are detrimental to the health of your tree.

So what does this mean for the average tree owner?

For any homeowner who has a tree or two in his property, tree health is a major concern, especially during this time of year. Concerns about the overall health of a tree are not only for the benefit of the tree itself, but also for the neighborhood and the people living within its vicinity.

A sickly or weak tree could break a branch at any moment. Even the slightest gust of wind could cause a large, heavy limb to break and fall. Now, what if kids were playing underneath the tree? What if the broken limb is directly above a portion of your house?


How to Effectively Deal with the Various Problems That Winter Brings

Dealing with Extreme and Fluctuating Temperatures

Fluctuating temperatures can cause a lot of stress on trees in a variety of ways. On mature trees, for instance, the rapid changes in temperature between the daytime warmth from the sun and night time sub-zero conditions can wreak havoc within the tree, specifically between the outer layer/bark and the inner wood.

The stress brought about the rapid change of temperature will eventually lead to cracks, otherwise known as frost cracking or southwest injury—referring to the part of the tree that receives the most exposure from winter sunlight.


What Should You Do to Avoid This?

In the majority of the cases, there is very little that you can do to prevent frost cracking from occurring, especially if you live in an area with harsh winters. More often than not, trees sustaining such injuries can repair themselves over time. The cracked area, however, will remain vulnerable, so you have to be careful of subsequent cracking occurring in that same area if you want to avoid serious damage to the plant.

As part of your fall maintenance procedure, you might want to consider wrapping the bark of your trees with commercial tree blankets to prevent moisture loss and frost cracking. Applying the appropriate winter mulch on the ground surrounding the tree is also advisable to provide adequate insulation on the plant’s root system.

Late growth injuries brought about by sudden temperature drops is also a common problem among trees and other plants. Ice crystals can form and rupture the cell walls on the growing tips of a tree branch. To avoid this, you should only perform the pruning process until after the tree has entered into its dormant stage during the fall.


Combating Winter Drought

Winter drought is a very real problem for trees and other plant life, especially in areas that experience harsh winters and really low temperatures. Winter drought usually happens when a plant, particularly a tree, loses more water than it can absorb from the frozen ground. This is especially common during early spring when the warm spring sun begins to heat up the tree but the ground is still frozen solid, preventing it from absorbing enough moisture.


A Proactive Solution that is Easy to Implement

Granted that there is no surefire way to prevent winter drought from occurring, you can minimize its effects by simply spreading a thick layer of organic winter mulch around the base of the tree. You apply the mulch in late fall, just before winter starts to hit. The mulch will serve as insulation, acting as a temperature buffer for the root system while slowing down moisture loss and runoff.


Preventing Limb and Branch Breakage

Tree limbs and branches are especially vulnerable to breakage during the winter season. This is particularly common among deciduous trees where the wood hardens due to cold temperatures and become brittle and susceptible to breakage, even with just a little gust of wind. Then there’s the accumulation of ice and snow on the branches, adding more weight, which again may result in breakage.


What To Do

The best solution to minimizing branch breakage lies in the fall maintenance of your trees, specifically the pruning process. This is why pruning is very important. Not just the process itself, but how and when you do the pruning.

Make sure to prune the tree after it enters dormancy to prevent late growth injuries, and make sure to remove any damaged limbs and weak branches before winter hits.


How do you protect your trees during harsh weather months? What has worked well for you in the past? Comment below.


More info:

Seasonal Tree Care

Stocksnap photo by Jay Mantri

04 Jan 2017
Winter Tree Pruning

5 Winter Tree Pruning Tips You Need to Know

Yes, we know. The weather outside is just too cold for an early morning gardening work. But in case you aren’t aware, winter season is actually the best time of the year to prune deciduous trees and shrubs. Let the tree pruning commence!

As stated by one of the plant health care supervisors at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the majority of tree pruning among deciduous trees should be done during the winter. Right after the shrubs and trees go into dormancy, you can instantly proceed to pruning.

So, why do you need to prune during winter?

Pruning is easy to do when the plants have no leaves because you can instantly see the trees’ structure. You don’t even need to do tree topping. Another thing: during the winter, there is actually a lesser chance of disease transmission. Moreover, as the weather is too cold, insects won’t go out into the cold just to feast on the fresh pruning wounds of your plants.

In this article, we want to share with you five essential tips that will help you with your winter pruning. Here they are:

1. Learn Everything That You Can about Tree Pruning

First things first.

When pruning a plant, make sure that you have a clear purpose in mind. Plan first what you want to do with the shrub or tree that you are going to prune. In case you don’t know, there is a bevy of pruning methods and for each plant type there is a proper way of pruning it. Let’s take for example, deciduous plants. The natural style is the more suitable method of pruning them. This style preserves the natural outline of the tree or shrub, highlighting the natural features of the plant.

2. Remove All Undesirable Branches

After outlining the pruning process that you will do, make sure to remove all diseased and/or dead parts of the plant. Once you’re done with that, you can remove the water sprouts and the suckers—these two will not make the tree or shrub natural-looking nor will they give the plant well-branched limbs.

But that’s not it. See to it that you are also doing these:

  • Remove the rubbing branches in the tree; you can start with the largest down to the smallest branch.
  • Thin the canopy of the plant. You can start at the center and proceed outward. The purpose of thinning of the canopy is to be able to increase the air circulation through the branches. (Take note: Do not remove more than 25% of the plant’s branches as this will encourage the proliferation of sucker growth.)  

3. Never Leave a Stub

When working on a plant, see to it that you don’t leave a stub as this can also promote the growth of suckers and ruin the plant’s natural outline. Moreover, open ends leave the plant vulnerable to diseases.

Ideally, you should shear off a branch above a bud and that bud should face outwards. This way, the new branch will not grow inwards to the center of the plant.

4. Look for Signs of Infestation

Be sure to examine plant closely and look for potential problems before you proceed with the pruning. In the winter, tussock and gypsy months, including caterpillars, are usually visible on the branches of a tree. Aside from looking for pests, be sure to check the plant for signs of diseases such as open lesions and abnormal lumps.

5. Wear the Right Safety Gear

What’s next?

Well, apart from being concerned with your plants, you should also be concerned with yourself.

So, whenever working on a plant, you need to remember your safety too. Always employ eye protection for obvious reasons. It is also essential that you familiarize yourself with the right tools that you will be using to prune different kinds of plants.

When pruning huge trees, you might want to seek professional service from an Arborist.

It is no secret that pruning is usually among the most common gardening job that often gets neglected. With plenty of gardeners getting confused about when to do pruning, how to do it, or why it is even done, trees and shrubs usually grow without going through the pruning process.

However, you need to understand that pruning is something that should be done regularly among plants. Thinning a tree’s canopy improves sunlight absorption and air flow through the plant, minimizing its chances of getting infested by pests and diseases.

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