Let it Snow!

Let it Snow!

It seems to happen suddenly, even though I know the actual preparation and execution of the task takes at least one weekend.

But to the busy and casual observer, it seems swift.

One minute, the neighbors have patio furniture, a garden statuary, bird feeders, sand boxes, and plastic children's houses in the yard.

And the next minute, it's all gone. Cleaned. Stored up. Put away. Tucked in. These items won't make another appearance until winter and its harsh snow, ice and sleet have thawed.

It seems like everyone does some sort of preparation for the onset of winter in the northern U.S. It's a ritual. Or maybe more of a natural habit, really. We store the patio furniture away because we know it'll last longer if we do, and maybe because we've experienced the destruction that can result if we don't, which usually hits the wallet pretty quickly. My neighbor left his patio set out one winter only to find moldy seat cushions come spring - definitely not something you can enjoy once ruined.

Trees and plants are also assets to outdoor spaces - enjoyed just like your patio furniture. Trees provide shade on the sunniest and warmest summer days. And they offer that relaxing and enjoyable backyard vista that makes us feel like we're in a park setting in our own landscapes. Plants provide color and texture, giving the landscape depth and variety. So they deserve a bit of winter preparation as well.

Luckily, the work you have to do to ensure your trees and plants are ready for winter is far less than the monumental challenging of assembling and dissembling your patio set each year. "There's a tendency to want to tuck trees in for the winter," says Davey's Greg Mazur," but prepping trees for winter isn't necessarily difficult."

What are the essentials? First, think about water. When temperatures get below freezing, more damage can be caused to a tree's root system if the soil is dry vs. wet. This impacts evergreens more than deciduous trees. Make sure trees get adequate moisture in the fall so they don't go into the winter with dry soil, Mazur advises.

Next, pruning is important. "Many people think that trees need to be pruned in the middle of the growing season so they can tell which branches are dead or alive, but that isn't so," Mazur says. "A trained arborist can tell in winter which branches are dead or alive and can remove the right branches in order to properly shape a tree and get it away from a roofline or have sunlight filter through to the ground to give light to other plants."

Speaking of the ground, a thick carpet of wet leaves on a turf area during winter will kill the turf. Mazur recommends people rake up their leaves or mulch them with their mower so they break down and can help return nutrients to the soil more quickly.


If you are concerned about weeds coming up in your plant or tree beds in early spring, fall is also a good time to put down some new mulch. "You don't want to overdo it, but a nice layer of mulch helps retain soil moisture and heat through the colder months," Mazur says. A 2- to 4-inch mulch layer is recommended to reduce weed germination and insulate the soil.

When it comes to large snow piles and road salt, keeping these away from tree and plant roots as much as possible is a good idea. Salt can leach the water away from tree and plant roots, putting the tree in a drought-like state. Also, a heavy concentration of salt built up during winter may not be seen by the naked eye in spring-time because the heavy rains have washed it away, but it still can negatively affect landscape plants, Mazur says. He recommends homeowners apply 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet of gypsum to turf or soil in late November or early December to help protect roots from the affects of salt damage.

As always, my Davey arborist friends know quite a bit about trees and their health during winter months, so don't hesitate to give them a call. We live and breathe trees - it's what we do.

Add a comment:
Featured or Related Blog Posts
  • Root in Moisture

    Planting trees is just half the battle.

    The diseases, pests and power equipment that emerge outdoors in spring, accompanying frequent sunlight, longer days and warmer temperatures, can wreak havoc on your trees if you don't put forth the effort to protect them.

    To keep your trees healthy throughout the growing season and beyond, you must practice routine maintenance and proper tree care. One way to help trees retain moisture, reduce weeds and keep power equipment at a safe distance is through mulch. In the coming weeks, you'll see piles of fresh mulch lined along neighborhood driveways. Soon, the coarse, fragrant matter will settle among flower and tree beds, enhancing the quality of landscapes' appearances.

    Read More
  • Just a Trim, Please

    Put a pair of scissors in your hands, and whether you're cutting coupons or bangs, there's always the potential to oversnip. It's almost too easy to make a mistake as you clip, clip, clip away - removing a little more on this side and a bit more on that side.

    Just like with a bad haircut, there is nothing more noticeable than a poorly pruned plant - pieces sticking out in all directions, a butchered shrub, a tree that looks like the top has been sliced off. The good news is that just as the perfect haircut can frame the face and improve a person's appearance, the same can be said for a professional tree pruning job.

    Pruning is not only a science, but an art form. The science aspect of pruning involves understanding tree biology, recognizing plant flaws and skillfully eliminating or minimizing defects. The artistic aspect of pruning consists of removing dead wood while aesthetically shaping the tree.

    Read More
  • Heat Wave

    Heat wave.

    The term usually makes many people think of the tropics or the desert.

    But extreme heat has hit many areas hard so far this summer. Record highs have been broken in some cities, while others have seen their hottest temperatures since the 1980s.

    Read More
  • Forecast: Hot & Humid

    The air-conditioning is set on high. The fan is blowing in my face. And it feels so good, particularly since my dog and I were just panting within seconds of stepping out to a heavy wall of heat and humidity. His face tilts up to mine, happy for the nice, cool breeze. We face the facts together as I sip from a tall, cool glass of water and he laps up the same out of his bowl: Despite our yearning to enjoy the outdoors, it's hot. And it's hot in nearly every region of the country.

    There's simply no denying it: This summer's a scorcher. While it's difficult to find the motivation to open the door to the heat lingering in the air outside - let alone step out onto a dry, parched lawn - I brave the elements because I notice my trees need some TLC, too.

    It's difficult to imagine another day of 90-plus degree temperatures. So I can hardly imagine how my trees must feel as their roots cling to nothing but the dry soil, day after day.

    Read More
  • Try a Little Tenderness

    When someone moves into a new home, they tend to have a smoother, more successful transition when they plan ahead and carefully move through each step. This includes thoughtfully packing boxes beforehand in an organized fashion, clearly labeling the boxes so movers put them in their proper rooms and then unpacking them so everything that is removed is unwrapped and put into its place to avoid rework.

    If this works for your most delicate China place settings and Lenox crystal, you can see why it would make all the difference when moving something as large, yet just as delicate, as a tree.

    When it's a big, valuable tree that provides numerous benefits to your landscape and your family, a "move" is much more than just picking it up and placing it in its new location. To preserve the numerous benefits trees provide to a community and its residents, which The National Tree Benefits Calculator can help determine, one must plan carefully - before, during and after the big move - to ensure survival.

    Read More

Request a consultation

What do you need services for?
Sorry, we can’t seem to find the zip code you specified. Our residential tree care offices may not service your area. If you believe this is an error, please try again. Need help? Email us at info@davey.com.
  • Email newsletter
  • Woodchips
*Please fill out all required fields.