Winter means a dormant period for plants in SE Wisconsin and the Midwest, and winter trees are no exception. You can equate this dormancy period to a long period of rest or sleep for your trees. Just like with humans, the quality of your winter trees’ “sleep” will determine how healthy and productive they are when they “wake up” in spring. With our consistently harsh SE Wisconsin winters, it’s always good to learn tips to keep healthy trees strong. And if you missed some of these things in the fall, a winter thaw is still a good time to take action! It’s vital do what you can so your trees stay healthy through the winter and get the most they can from their dormancy period.
Insulate Tree Roots
Root systems of young trees are fragile and need protection. You can do this by applying a layer of mulch on top of the soil around their root system – but keep it away from the trunk to eliminate the possibility of rot. You can use wood chips, sawdust, straw, or yard compost as mulch. Our preference is to add mulch or wood chips. Mulch has the added advantage of deterring weeds and retaining moisture during the growing season, so it has many benefits. Mulch also looks nice around trees. If you missed this important step in the fall, anytime is a good time to add mulch to trees. If the snow melts away even in January or February, take action!
Use Tree Guards
Tree guards are wraps that go around the bottoms of tree trunks to keep small animals from munching bark and damaging trees. These critters are more of a winter problem as they are deprived of much of their usual diet in winter. Some tree wraps also reflect rays from the winter sun, which can damage a tree’s trunk by warming it up during the day. The sudden drop in temperature at night can be hard for the tree to adjust to and can do damage. Using tree guards is even more important on young trees. Add these any time in the fall or winter to improve your trees’ protection from the harsh SE Wisconsin weather.
Water Trees Before Ground Freezes
Trees lose moisture during the winter. To prevent desiccation injury caused by wind, sun scalding, and lack of moisture water your trees. This applies to both deciduous and evergreen trees. Thoroughly watering trees in fall before the ground freezes is a smart step to improve tree health. Water enough so the ground is moist but not soggy. Once the ground is frozen, you’ll need to wait until it thaws so water can soak in.
Contact a Local Arborist
For more advice and help with your trees contact M&M Tree Care in Milwaukee. We are SE Wisconsin’s premier tree care company with several experts and Arborists on staff. We’ve been keeping SE Wisconsin trees healthy since 1968.
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