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Winter has arrived!

How to protect your trees from winter's wrath!

By Chris Leinster - January 28, 2019

It’s late January and a surprise winter storm has washed across the front range, leaving behind a fluffy carpet of brilliant white snow 4-8” deep. Temperatures are on the warmer side, meaning that snow can pack a lot of water weight, potentially damaging young branches and tender shrubs.

Hopefully you prepared for this last fall and tied up susceptible plants like Fine Line Buckthorn and Upright Juniper, which tend to splay open under the weight of heavy snowfall. Simply wrap a few loose strands of twine around the plants to help support the limbs and branches in the event of storms such as this one. Don’t cinch the branches tight, just secure enough so that they won’t bend over when the snow piles up. Bungee cords work wonders for this also.

Some plants may need other physical supports to protect them from winter’s wrath. I use stakes to prop up my Weeping Norway Spruce. It’s broad arching branches could otherwise collapse under cumbersome snow loads. Young Aspen trees have been known to bend to the ground, however their elastic wood usually snaps back upon snow melt. Other trees like Japanese Tree Lilac and Amur Maple (particularly multi-stem trees) are not so fortunate. Once crippled under oppressive pressure they may not bounce back to their former stately position. Branches and entire trunks may need corrective bracing after the storm, or in severe cases they may need to be pruned off entirely.

Regardless of whether your plants are tied or not, you may need to head out during and after the tempest to gently brush accumulated snow off of your precious plants. Use a long-handled broom or other soft brush to sweep and knock the snow down. Plants may become brittle with severe cold temperatures, so use caution and go at it easy.

I know everyone wants low maintenance trees and landscapes. Nobody ever says “what kind of tree requires constant attention and care?”. I get it, but I don’t consider this preventative exercise “high maintenance”. Take some time in the fall to tie up vulnerable trees and shrubs, and head back out in the spring to remove the ties and winter tree wrap (see my October 8th blog on “how to prevent sun scald”  ). You’ve got to shovel the driveway anyway, so take a few minutes to brush off your plants. Protect your investment and your trees and shrubs will give you and future generations plenty of shade, privacy, and aesthetic beauty!

On the bright side the snow is providing bountiful moisture desperately needed by your lawn and all of your landscape plants. Its important to not let the ground dry out entirely over the winter months, and nature is doing a fine job this year nourishing the soil and supplying moisture to the roots.

It may not look it, but spring is headed our way! Soon the Crocus will be pushing up out of the ground and those pesky Dandelion will start popping up in the lawn. Roots begin to grow long before any leaves appear on the branches, so keep an eye on the weather and winter water if the need becomes prevalent.

Now is also a good time to start planning your spring tree planting! If you’re considering buying and planting trees this spring go ahead and give us a call. We can help you determine the perfect type of tree for your needs, whether you need shade, privacy, or just something to bring a cacophony of color to your yard. We can help you determine your budget and you’ll be first in line when the ground thaws. I actually prefer to plant before the trees break dormancy. They will “wake up” in your yard and you have less risk of transplant shock that we sometimes see later in the season.

Thank you for your consideration of Happy Trees and we look forward to serving your tree needs for generations to come!