If you are a new homeowner and now have a yard filled with beautiful, healthy trees, then you may wonder how the previous owner kept them in such great condition. Or you may not even realize that the reason the trees in your yard are so beautiful when the neighbors' trees may not be is because the past owner put a lot of work into keeping those trees beautiful! One important step to keeping your trees in great shape is preparing them properly for the winter. Without the right pre-winter tree service, not only can those cold winter temperatures and hefty snowfall take a toll on the health of your trees, but unpruned trees can actually become very dangerous in the winter. Read on to learn what you need to do to prepare your trees for the winter and why.
1. Subsurface Watering Rehydrates Your Trees After a Dry Summer
If you received relatively little rain in your area over the summer, then subsurface watering is a great first step to your tree winterization plan. Subsurface watering is performed by using a special water injection tool to hydrate the soil around your trees' roots much more deeply than can be done with a garden hose. Typically, the injection tool is used to moisten the soil to a depth of a full foot.
This step needs to be performed before the ground freezes, of course, and a well-hydrated tree is more equipped to handle the environmental stress it will endure all winter long while dormant. While you are having your tree watered, it is also a good idea to have your arborist apply a slow-release fertilizer to the soil that will provide nutrients to your tree for many months.
2. Dormant Oil Application Prevents Insects from Damaging Your Trees
While you have likely heard of termites and know they enjoy feasting on wood, there are many other insects that love to nibble on trees that you may not be so familiar with. Other tree-munching insects and mites include spider mites, honeylocust mites, and European red mites, to name just a few. Many of these insects and mites lay eggs on the trees in late summer, which makes autumn and early winter one of the best times to combat them with a pesticide. However, typical pesticides can be harmful to the other insects that roam around in your yard without causing damage to your trees.
That is why tree professionals use a special type of product to battle tree-damaging insects and their eggs, and it is called dormant oil. This oil must be sprayed when your tree has entered its dormant cycle, which occurs in late fall after the tree has lost its leaves. While specific oil formulas vary, they all serve the same purpose: they smother insect eggs and larvae. After eggs and larvae are smothered, they cannot survive and turn into adult insects that will begin harming your trees.
While dormant oils cannot be applied until your trees are fully dormant, they must be applied when it is at least 40-degrees F for at least 24 hours since there is water in the oil solutions that can freeze if applied when the temperature outside is below freezing. This leaves just a short window of time for them to be applied in late fall and early spring.
3. Pruning Damaged Branches Helps Keep Your Family Safe
Keeping trees properly pruned is important year-round, but the most important time to have those damaged branches removed is just before winter. While pruning can be performed before your tree loses its leaves, the damaged branches are much easier for a Certified Arborist to spot when they leaves are no longer obstructing complete view of all branches. Not only does having damaged branches removed help keep your tree healthy through the winter and maintain your tree's great shape, but it also helps protect your family from tree branches and limbs that can fall down when they become covered with snow and/or ice that they simply cannot withstand the weight of.
It is healthier for your tree to have damaged limbs trimmed off instead of letting "nature take its course" and allowing them to fall, because trees heal from clean cuts much more easily than they do from the ragged tear that is produced when a limb falls on its own.
Of course, it is easy to see how falling branches can also pose a hazard to your family. Even when not covered in ice, a tree branch can be very heavy, but an icy tree branch poses an additional safety hazard due to the chances of that ice having sharp, razor-like points that can cause serious injury to a small child or even an adult when it falls.
If this will be your first winter in your new home and you want to keep those trees in your yard looking just as beautiful many years from now as they did the day you moved in, then it is important to maintain them properly. Preparing them for winter is one of the most important ways to protect your trees from winter damage and prevent icy tree branches from falling on your family or pets. Contact a professional tree service company, like R. L. Elliott Enterprises, Inc., to properly take care of your trees and prepare them for the winter ahead.