Time for the last of the fall clean-up. You’ve probably wrapped trunks of your deciduous trees with paper wrap to prevent sun-scald injury, a condition that develops when the warm winter sun is absorbed by the plant’s bark. And you’re probably still watering trees and shrubs, so they start the winter season off with enough moisture. Keep trees and shrubs stress-free by continuing to water every three to four weeks throughout the winter while temperatures are above freezing and the soil is not frozen. However, shrubs that are protected by a wall or house eaves are susceptible to drought damage regardless of weather conditions. Water them deeply every six to eight weeks only when the air temperature is above freezing and early in the day.
The first day of winter is still a few weeks away, but the weather has already produced winter storms full of blustery winds and freezing precipitation that could damage trees and shrubs in your yard. At this time of year, ice and snow that clings to any leaves still hanging can add enough weight to snap branches and punishing winds can bring the entire tree crashing to the ground.
Frigid Arctic air is already moving down from Canada into the U.S. and weather predictors are forecasting polar-vortex conditions for most of the country at least once during the winter of 2014. Even though brief cold snaps are unlikely to kill a tree, longer stretches of bone-tingling cold can do great damage, especially to young trees. Protect the root systems using burlap, straw or mulch as a blanket against temperature extremes and to retain moisture.
If a tree has indeed suffered damage during a storm, make sure to attend to it immediately. Use a chain saw to cut off damaged branches, or cut the tree down entirely. Cut the trunk into smaller pieces, then use a log splitter to ready the wood for the wood pile – and for cozy fires after the wood dries out. Or rent a wood chipper to make your own mulch and spread it under older trees for winter protection.
When temperatures drop below 20 degrees:
- Shake heavy snow off shrubs and trees to keep branches from breaking or bending.
- Leave snow at the base of plants for insulation.
- Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses to prevent them from bursting.
- Cover tender plants, anchor with weight and leave in place until warm weather returns.
- Take potted plants inside – leave in the garage or in the house. If your have a greenhouse, keep the inside temperature above 35 degrees for plants to have a better chance at survival.
- Try not to walk on lawn that’s not insulated by fallen snow, which can damage frozen grass.
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with cleaning up and winterizing your yard. From chain saws to log splitters, wood chippers and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.