How to Winterize Your Trees

Posted on March 21st, 2015 by John Foegley

Trees are investments that require a small amount of care. For the sake of your tree’s quality of life and your own, take a few minutes to winterize your trees. Wonderful springs come from well-tended winters!

Here are nine things you can do to winterize your trees:

  1. Remove or correct structural faults and deadwood that are clearly visible. Try to make small pruning cuts that minimize the exposure of the central heartwood core on branches.
  2. Properly prune branches that will hang too low when loaded with rain and snow. Foliage and branches that are in contact with soil can invite undesirable pests and problems.
  3. Remove damaged and declining twigs, branches and bark. Do not leave pests food and shelter for the winter.
  4. Remove any new sprouts that have grown at the tree base or along stems and branches. Pruning should conserve as many living branches as possible with only a few selective cuts.
  5. Spread a thin layer of composted organic mulch to blanket the soil. Cover an area at least as large as the branch spread. Mulch is nature’s way of recycling valuable materials, but be careful of pests hitching a ride.
  6. Properly wrap new trees that have not developed a corky bark and could be easily damaged. Mechanical injury from the environment, including chewing and rubbing by animals, must be prevented.
  7. Aerate soils if they are compacted and poorly drained. It is critical not to damage tree roots in the soil. Saturated and dense soil can suffocate roots.
  8. Fertilize with all the essential elements, if they are in short supply within in the soil. Be sure to go lightly with nitrogen, especially under large, mature trees and around newly planted trees.
  9. Watering may be needed where soils are cool but not frozen, and there has been little precipitation. Winter droughts need treatment with water the same as summer droughts, except it is much easier to over-water in winter.