Winter Meltdown 101: Why You Should Check Your Trees

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We've seen plenty of snow on the trees this winter all across the U.S. and Canada.

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!

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Previous comments
  • The Tree Doctor April 7, 2014;

    Hi Claire, Please go to http://www.davey.com/request-a-consultation/ or email info@davey.com 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.