Feb 25, 2015

The winter weather takes its toll on trees, even those types which are native to cold regions and therefore more accustomed to low temperatures. To a large extent, the stress caused by severe weather cannot be avoided – but there are limited measures which can be put into place to minimize the damage.

In the coldest of weather, people can protect themselves from the chill by wrapping up in hats, thick scarves and gloves. Trees can’t do the same – or can they? Actually, they can. Frost cracking is a problem caused by temperature variations (freezing and then thawing), and this leads to stress between the outer bark and inner wood. When the bark cracks, the first line of defence against predators is compromised. In fact the resultant, oozing opening is an attraction for predators. In an effort to combat this, consider wrapping the tree with a cold weather blanket.

Drying out in cold weather is a problem and winter drought occurs when a tree loses more water than it can absorb from the ground which is typically frozen; this is compounded in windy weather conditions.  Mulch installation can assist here; 404-CUT-TREE provides mulch in the Atlanta area and will advise on the correct application as well as other tree care services.  Mulch applied around the base of the tree helps to keep much-needed moisture in the ground and also acts as insulation from the cold.

Winter brings more than low temperatures, of course. Forceful winds and destructive storms can literally tear trees apart. The risk in this situation is not just the damage to the tree itself but secondary damage; such as broken branches which can impact houses, other buildings, and of course, people.  In colder weather branches harden and become brittle, making them vulnerable to breaking. Preventative action is advised before adverse weather is forecast.

What to do? Prune any dead or weak branches and reduce long branches. A trained arborist can examine a tree and ascertain which branches need removing or reduction. Taking these problem branches away can properly shape a tree and take vulnerable limbs out of danger, away from windows, roofs or vehicles. Branches which block sunlight can also be pruned at this time.

Pruning in the dormant season is ideal. It has less impact on the landscape, the absence of leaves gives the pruner a better view of any diseases which might be present on the tree, and it’s the optimal time for the tree to heal: Spring will not be long in coming when trees begin to repair themselves.

As a tip, refrain from shaking branches after periods of snowfall. Snow may have settled on branches and while it is tempting to walk around trees and give each branch a swift shake to clear them of the white stuff, don’t: there’s a reasonable chance they have become stiff and frail, and could snap off.

The key is a trained arborist can assess your trees, prioritize the risk of storm damage and provide a written estimate of the costs. There is no charge for this service at 404-CUT-TREE, the pre-storm tree assessment leader in the Atlanta metro area. Contact us today for affordable and reliable tree services in the Metro Atlanta Area.