Winter is right around the corner, and chances are you have been getting the lawn and garden beds prepared for cold weather and seasonal dormancy. When going about these fall landscaping chores, don't overlook your trees. Taking the right steps in fall can help ensure that your trees are able to survive the cold months.
Tip #1: Prune Judiciously
Fall pruning is very different from spring pruning. You don't want to remove too much wood or shape too much since heavy pruning can encourage new growth — new growth that is likely to die or become damaged during freezing weather. Instead, fall pruning is to remove potential problem wood. Cut out crossed branches that rub together, since these can become more damaged or even snap during a winter storm. Also, cut out any dead or damaged wood. Only healthy branches should remain since weak branches will often break during heavy winds or snow.
Tip #2: Clean Up Debris
Fallen leaves can harbor disease organisms or insect pests in a dormant state over the winter months. Then, come spring these hazards arise from the decomposing leaves and attack your trees before they are fully leafed out. Break the pest and disease cycle by raking up all leaves and tree debris. Either compost the debris completely before returning it back to the garden or dispose of the debris. If the tree has a known pest or disease issue it is best to dispose of the debris so you don't accidentally spread the problem to other plants. You should also talk to your arborist about any fall pest or disease treatments that could benefit the tree.
Tip #3: Protect the Roots and Trunk
Both roots and trunks need protection from the winter cold. All trees, regardless of maturity, can benefit from a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch spread on the soil over the roots. The mulch cuts down on water loss from evaporation while also providing a temperature control blanket that protects roots from winter freeze and thaw cycles. Younger trees or those with thin bark also benefit from having the trunks wrapped with fabric tree wrap. The wrap protects the bark from splitting on sunny days when the temperatures are still below freezing. Just make sure to remove the wrap before temperatures warm up again in spring.
Contact an arborist in your area. They can inspect the trees on your property and help you develop a personalized care plan for fall and winter. For more information, reach out to a company like Phoenix Tree Service.