In Michigan, Winter Tree Protection Can Make A Difference

When the snow starts flying in Michigan, winter tree protection should be something you’re considering. While it’s important to think about your lawn and your shrubs when they’re buried beneath the snow, your trees are dealing with it, too. The cold and the snow can leave behind permanent damage.

So, let’s take a look at the type of winter damage your trees can endure. And how to protect trees from the winter weather.

Prepare Your Trees For Winter

One of the best ways to provide winter tree protection is to start planning for it in the fall. You can even start your winter-protection strategy with careful care during the growing season — it’s almost never too early. Some of the things you can do include:

  • No pruning after midsummer. Pruning stimulates tender, new growth and delays dormancy.
  • Stop fertilizing six weeks before the first fall frost to help plants harden off properly.
  • Water thoroughly throughout fall until the ground freezes; make sure the water penetrates 12″ to 18″ deep to reach the root zone.

You can also prevent frost from causing damage early in the season with some of these strategies and by covering your trees, especially if they’re new.

Don’t Shake Snow Off Trees

When trees are covered with snow, you may be tempted to shake the tree as hard as you can to get the snow off of it. But doing so can stress your tree in a time when it’s most susceptible to damage. So, don’t shake the snow off your trees.

winter tree protectionOnce the temperature drops, the winter winds start howling, and the ground freezes, branches can become brittle. In some cases, the branch can become so brittle that shaking causes it to snap off. Another thing that can happen is that when the weight of the snow is suddenly removed, it can create a snapback effect that might injure your tree’s entire circulatory system. And much like the human circulatory system, damage there can have irreversible effects.

You’re better off using a broom to gently brush the snow off the limbs. Or, if you decide to prune over the summer, your branches will be shorter and less snow will accumulate.  When weak and diseased branches are removed from trees before the winter season, the trees become more structurally sound as their root systems grow stronger and more extensive.

Just keep this in mind…The Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages you to avoid cutting or trimming oak trees between April 15 and July 15 to curb the spread of oak wilt.

Thin-Barked Trees Are Susceptible To Temperature Changes

Cold temperatures can injure trees, especially if their bark is thin (like American Beech). And what’s surprising is that some of the damage can happen on the warmer days of the winter. It’s called Sunscald.

Sunscald is sometimes referred to as southwest injury and typically occurs on cold, sunny, winter days. It can happen when freezing temperatures are replaced by much warmer temperatures throughout the day.

Bark heats up to the point that cambial activity resumes. But if the temperature of the bark drops quickly, like when the sun is blocked by a cloud, or when it drops behind a barrier such as a hill, it can kill your tree’s active tissue. 

You can use some basic winter protection tactics to prevent sunscald. Just wrap the trunk of your trees with a commercial tree wrap. But if you are going to use a tree wrap, put it on in the fall and remove it in the spring after the last frost.

You can also use plastic tree guards to protect your tree trunks from the winter sun. Place them on either side of the tree.

One other thing you can do is to paint the trunks of your tree with white latex paint. The color will reflect the sun and keep the bark at a more constant temperature during the winter months.

Safari Tree Can Help

There’s no denying that evergreen foliage and other trees look great covered in snow. But all of that beauty could come with a price if you’re not careful. That’s why a winter tree protection plan is a must.   

If you need help preparing your trees for winter, the experts at Safari Tree are happy to help. Contact us today to learn more about our 7-step tree healthcare program perfectly designed for Michigan’s four-season climate.