Common Causes Of Tree Damage In Winter

Winter is here and that means snow, ice, and unpredictable weather. And while your trees are sleeping this time of year, they are still susceptible to winter damage.

Here are the most common causes of tree damage in winter and how you can help prevent it.

Soil Heaving

Soil heaving occurs when the soil freezes, thaws, and freezes again, which can damage your tree’s roots through exposure. It may seem surprising, but snow is a natural insulator, which can prevent soil heaving. But thanks to our inconsistent Midwest weather we cannot rely on snow like those climates with consistent freezes and snow cover.

As such, we must rely on mulching to prevent soil heaving. Just be sure to use correct mulching techniques.

Sun Scald & Frost Cracking

Sun scald and frost cracking are common winter threats to young trees with less established bark. This condition is caused by fluctuating temperatures and a warm sun bringing trees out of dormancy. Sun scald and frost cracking are primarily seen on the southwest side of trees thanks to the rising sun.

Both of these conditions can help be prevented by wrapping your young trees in burlap or another insulating material to help protect them from fluctuating temperatures.

Limb Breakage

Heavy snow accumulating on your tree’s limbs can make them dangerously weighed down and at risk of breaking off. Getting your trees trimmed early on to remove dead or structurally unsound limbs will reduce the chances of limb breakage.

If there is snow on your tree, do not shake the limbs to remove the snow. This method is very dangerous as it may cause limbs to break off. If you must remove snow from your limbs, gently sweep it off with a broom.

If your limbs are covered with ice, do not remove it. It will damage your branches and falling ice is very dangerous.

Winter Drying

Your evergreen may be able to withstand the cold, but it is susceptible to winter drying, also known as winter burn. This occurs when water is not available for the tree, causing it to instead take moisture from its cells, causing damage like brown or red, dry foliage.

Winter drying can be prevented through adequate watering in the fall and planting them in areas where they will be protected from the wind and sun, such as the east side of a building.

Protect Your Trees This Winter

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