What Exactly Does the Dormant Season Mean for Your Trees?

What Exactly Does the Dormant Season Mean for Your Trees?

Does the phrase “dormant season” or “dormancy” sound familiar to you?

You may have heard these words recently, perhaps within an explanation of dormant pruning services. Because the dormant season has either arrived or will arrive to your region within the early winter weeks, understanding its effects on your trees may help you better monitor their health before spring.

How do trees prepare for the dormant season?

Before the leaves of deciduous trees fall to the ground in autumn, the trees pull resources from them to conserve their energy. This allows these resources to be remobilized and used in the spring flush of growth. 

When do trees know it’s time to begin the dormant season?

Like humans, trees are sensitive to change. “Trees enter the dormant or ‘resting’ season based on the decrease in temperature and the decrease of daylight received,” says Rex Bastian, one of Davey’s regional technical advisors. These are the two primary factors that determine when a tree will rest for the winter.

Just how inactive is a tree during the dormant season?

Root development can still occur in the soil after all leaves have dropped from a tree and before the ground freezes; in fact, root development may occur further into winter than we may assume. Proper mulching at the base of trees before temperatures begin declining in fall helps insulate the soil and provide a better environment for roots to form for a longer period of time.

Why is the dormant season a good time to perform tree maintenance?

When the ground is frozen, arborists and their tree care equipment may more easily access your trees to inspect them and perform tree services. The frozen ground helps prevent soil compaction as well. “Accessing trees in winter means less disruptions for the homeowner,” Bastian explains. Pruning in winter decreases the likeliness for some tree diseases to spread and for large snow accumulations to harm the integrity of a tree’s structure.

How cold-hardy are your trees? Why does that matter to the likelihood they survive in your landscape? Learn more about plant hardiness in our next blog post, “Plant Hardiness and Its Significance to Your Trees This Winter.”

If your trees need dormant pruning or other winter tree maintenance, contact your local Davey professionally trained arborist for a free consultation.

Add a comment:
Featured or Related Blog Posts
  • 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
  • Oh, the Weather Outside is ... Mild

    The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The sky is a vibrant blue.

    I'm wearing a light jacket and gloves. There's a very slight chill in the air but the warmth from the sun wipes that away before it can even bother me. This weekend, taking a walk with my dog in the park, the pathways were rather full of others doing the same. They were smiling and jogging and taking in the scenery. Most of their heads were free of the typical tassel-topped hats that are signatures of the season.

    Though the leaves aren't on the trees yet and my spring bulbs aren't shooting up, the anticipation and excitement of the new season are so tangible I can practically taste them in the crisp air. And seeing the light in others' eyes and the skip in their steps tells me they are feeling the same.

    Read More
  • Winter Wonderland

    One of my favorite things to do in the winter is sit by my back windows and watch the bright blue birds eat the brilliant fruit off of my crabapple tree.

    It's one of those trees that, despite losing its leaves and becoming a seemingly uninteresting skeleton, transforms into a gathering place for the birds, tweeting and twittering as they munch on the abundant red spheres on the branches. And the arrival of cold weather often adorns the tree in striking frost. The crabapple is truly a tree with incredible winter appeal that brings enjoyment to my whole family.

    And what is a landscape if not a canvas for providing yourself with endless enjoyment in every season, regardless of what Mother Nature may bring in the form of harsh winds, sleet, snow and ice.

    Read More
  • 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.

    Read More
  • Keep Winter Scavengers From Ruining Your Silent Nights

    To catch a better glimpse of the snowfall most of the Midwest has yet to receive, I recently made a visit to New Jersey, which was struck by a memorable Snowtober this fall. I walked among the trees nearby, marveling at the beautiful, fluffy, white snow on their branches and enjoying the calming atmosphere. All was quiet, peaceful.

    One line from The Night Before Christmas comes to mind: "Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

    But then I contemplated the authenticity of that familiar phrase. Despite the serene appearance of winter landscapes, does snow protect trees and shrubs from winter scavengers? Voles and deer, for example, are quiet creatures that can cause severe damage to your trees. In fact, critters could be tunneling just below the soil surface, under sheets of white snow, wreaking havoc without your knowledge.

    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.