Winter Meltdown 101: Why You Should Check Your Trees

Winter Meltdown 101: Why You Should Check Your Trees

Trees often look beautiful and elegant under a shield of snow. But trees also sit pretty with budding blossoms scattered throughout their canopies.

At this point, which natural masterpiece would you rather see?

It's hard to believe we have the first official day of spring to look forward to in a matter of weeks, when sporadic severe winter weather conditions continue to pelt large areas all across the U.S.

Perhaps you've got a glimpse of what spring has to offer your region already. Or, maybe you're donning a pair of shorts and flip flops as you longingly stare out your window, hoping your dreams of sunshine-laced lawns and fragrant, colorful flower beds will soon come true.

trees in spring
Even if your trees have yet to blossom, it's not too early to start thinking spring.

Once spring decides to grace the nation with its presence, you probably won't have to think twice about venturing outdoors to take a breath of fresh air, soak in some sun and smile at the new, green growth occurring all around. Our advice: Just don't let spring's cheerful demeanor distract you from winter's wear and tear on your trees.

So, while you may have some time to spare before that can actually happen, Davey's Anand Persad, technical advisor for the Davey Institute, has offered some advice for you to review before winter's meltdown reveals the status of your trees:

START WITH THE BASE. First, check for vole damage, irregular gnaw marks, other unusual markings on tree bark and root girdling around the base of trees.

winter tree damage
Because snow, wind and ice events can damage large and small limbs, it's important to take caution when inspecting your trees for damage from winter weather.

JUST LOOK UP. But with caution. "Snow, wind and ice events can cause both small and large branches to break," Persad explains. Prune dead and damaged branches accordingly, but be sure to inspect the canopy for critical risk limbs before trimming to avoid injury to yourself and your property.

PERFORM A TREE CHECKUP. Speaking of injury, trees can experience injuries from winter weather as well. Because evergreens retain their foliage during winter, they often suffer more apparent winter injuries than deciduous trees. Foliage and bark discoloration, as well as dieback, are all signs trees have suffered from winter weather conditions.

DON'T BE SO SALTY. It's common you'll notice salt damage to trees standing along streets and driveways, particularly after a winter season like we've experienced so far this year. Check for signs of salt damage where snow has piled up near your trees for a good indication whether treatment is necessary. For example, an arborist might remediate the soil by drilling holes around the trees' drip lines and replacing with organic matter to provide the soils with a salt-free area in which to grow.

foliage discoloration
Foliage and bark discoloration are signs trees have suffered from winter weather conditions.

AND-DON'T BE SUCH A PEST. So, your trees look fairly healthy after your inspection? Monitor them for pests and diseases that often emerge in mild, cooler weather, such as bagworms on evergreens, or cool-season mites that like to attack your pines.

LOOKING FOR A SECOND OPINION? If you'd like some assistance while inspecting your trees, contact your local Davey office for a free consultation. A professionally trained arborist can help you identify any issues with your trees that need to be addressed.

Here's to the remaining 16 days until the first day of spring!

  • The Tree Doctor April 7, 2014 >Hi Claire, Please go to or email with your request and we will respond to you as quickly as possible. Thank you!
  • Claire April 5, 2014 >Hi, I need a consultation. Thank you very much.
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
  • Email newsletter
  • Woodchips
*Please fill out all required fields.