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5 Ways to Protect Your Trees From Winter Damage

Tree broken by heavy snow
With winter well on its way, you need to think about your trees. Trees need additional care and maintenance to survive harsh winters. Soil saturation, freeze/thaw cycles, and even animals can cause serious damage to your trees during the winter. Here are five simple steps that will help you protect your trees from winter-related damage.
1. Prune the Dead Branches
If you planned to prune your trees before winter arrives, adjust your schedule. Trees shouldn't be pruned all the way back until late winter, or early spring. Removing too much of your trees before winter has officially settled in can actually prevent new growth.
However, if you have dead branches, or diseased areas on your trees, those areas need to be removed as soon as possible. If you're not sure how to safely prune your trees before winter arrives, contact your local tree service. When you utilize a professional service, you protect your trees from potential damage.
2. Protect the Roots
The roots on your trees are particularly susceptible to the freezing temperatures, especially if you don't take steps to insulate them from the cold. The best way to protect the root system on your trees is to insulate them before winter arrives. There are several different materials you can use for insulation. One of the easiest ways to insulate roots is to utilize the leaves that have fallen.
Collect all the leaves that fall and crush them into a fine mulch. Spread the leaves around the base of your trees right before the cold weather settles in. If you'd prefer to forego the leaves, you can also use materials such as wood chips, pine needles, and straw.
3. Improve the Drainage
Poor drainage wreaks havoc on your trees, especially during the winter months. Excess moisture around the trunk of your trees creates a freeze/thaw cycle that harms the delicate root system.
One way to prevent the freeze/thaw cycle is to improve the drainage around your trees. Before winter arrives, rake the soil around your trees to create a slope. The slope will allow water to drain away from your trees rather than soak into the soil.
You also need to aerate the soil around the base of your trees. As an added benefit, aerate your whole lawn at the same time - the extra aeration can help protect your lawn from winter damage.
4. Protect the Trunk
If you have young trees in your yard, or you have a problem with wild animals during the winter, protect your trunks. A good wrap protects your tree trunks from animal activity and sun scald; sun scald occurs when trunks warm up during the day and freeze during the night. Place plastic tubes around smaller trees, and wrap larger trees with burlap strips or tree tape.
5. Clear the Snow
Snow may look beautiful on trees, but the weight will destroy the branches, especially once a significant pack develops. To ensure that your branches don't collapse under the pressure, clear the snow from your tree several times a week. Remove snow from smaller trees by gently shaking the trunk.
Use a broom or other long handle to dislodge snow from the branches of larger trees. A good rule of thumb is to remove the snow after each storm. That way, you avoid the snow pack altogether.
Don't let your trees suffer from the winter-damage this year. Use the tips described here to provide much needed protection all season long. For additional maintenance and care tips, contact us at J & B Professional Tree Service, Inc.; we are here to assist you with all your tree-care needs.