Though it may seem a little early to be prepping your trees for the arrival of Jack Frost, winter tree prep must happen before the snow falls in order to properly protect our leafy friends. To thank them for all the hard work they’ve done over the summer shading us through these intense heat waves, prepare your trees in the fall to set them up for a safe and successful winter with these easy steps!
Mulch, Mulch and More Mulch
Locking in moisture, maintaining a consistent soil temperature and insulating the roots is what good mulching will do for your trees! Using at least six inches of shredded bark mulch and any leaf fall from the tree, spread the mulch in a donut shape around the tree, extending from about three inches from the trunk to the drip line. The drip line is the space directly below the canopy of the tree and if you mulch at least to this line or just past it, this will help to fend off frost heaving.
Wrap It Up
Sun scalding is a real threat as we experience bright, sunny winters here in Alberta that can cause fluctuation in temperatures from day to night. Saplings are especially susceptible to sunscald as they have much thinner bark. Wrap the trunks of the trees from the bottom up in light-coloured fabric or specially made tree wrap which you can usually find at local hardware stores. Make sure to overlap your wrapping to properly insulate. You’ll want to wrap young trees for at least two winters and thinner bark species, such as birch, will need at least five winters or more of wrapping to build up their resistance. You can also paint the trunks white to reflect the sunlight, but then you’re left with white tree trunks come spring!
Give Your Trees a Haircut
Pruning back dead or diseased branches will help set your tree up for a healthy start to winter. Removing any sickly or infested branches allows the tree to heal, but do be careful how you prune and when you prune. October to November, before it gets icy cold and the tree isn’t wet or damp anymore, is a good option for pruning. Make sure to cut between the damaged or dead branches and the body of the tree. If you need to remove an entire branch, cut as close as you can to the main stem at the same angle as the branch collar, which is the junction between the trunk and the branch and is sometimes called the shoulder!
Our trees deserve our help as we get ready for the inevitable Alberta winter headed our way. As the leaves start to change colour, give your trees one last big drink before winter as water can act as an insulator! Swollen tree cells full of water will put up a better fight against cold weather. Make sure to set your leafy friends upright with a few easy preparations to make winter a little bit easier on them. If you encounter a problem with your trees such as a disease or a possible infestation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at 403-262-1666!