How Do I Get my Trees Ready for Winter?

Fall and Winter Preparation

Greetings from Joseph Tree Service!  Fall is here and for many of us here in Ohio it means a chance to relax and slip back into our old routines of school and work.  Trees have a routine as well and understanding these routines is critical to their care.   The most noticeable change that occurs is the obvious change in leaf color,  but many other unseen changes are also occurring.  As the days become shorter,  the trees begin to conserve their resources by shutting down the leaves or  “food making factories”.    The change in color occurs because  the leaf loses its green colored chlorophyll and exposes the  red,  brown, and yellow pigments.   So what does this mean for tree care?  Is the tree stressed?  How does this process affect tree care activities?  

Fall and Winter Biology

Fall is a great time to focus on certain types of tree care activities including planting, risk reduction,  and leaf cleanup.   It is ideal for tree planting because the tree is less likely to suffer from drought stress.  As the tree begins to shut down  it’s leaves and begin winter dormancy it also shuts down transpiration.  Transpiration is the process in which a tree carries and releases water.  It is a critical tool in the food making process but it is also the primary way trees lose water and suffer from drought stress.  Fall tree planting means the tree has already begun the dormancy process and is naturally protecting itself from drought stress.  

Fall Pruning, Maintenance, and Risk Reduction

Besides being a great time to plant new trees,  Fall is also a time to think about preparing your trees for winter.   With the onset of winter,  snow and ice may cause branches to break and trees to split.   There are several ways to  protect yourself and others from storm damage.   Cabling reduces the risk of failure by joining two trunks together with a steel or synthetic cable.  Trees with multiple trunks pose a higher chance of splitting and may be a good candidate for cabling.  

In addition to cabling and removing deadwood,  certain limbs may need to be reduced.  Reducing long or overextended limbs  will make them safer by removing weight from the end of the limb.

Finally,  take care of your trees health by following a few simple tips.  Remove fallen leaves before the springtime.  Certain fungal diseases can overwinter on old leaves and emerge again the next spring.  Removing leaves before springtime will remove the fungal spores and reduce the amount of fungal infection.  Also,  give your trees a good watering and fertilize if necessary before the winter sets in.  This will give your tree the resources it needs to make it through winter and will give it a strong start the following spring.