This winter has started out fairly tame and December and January were the warmest on record in Alberta. Though it may seem like a nice treat to have such warm weather, it can cause more harm than good to our dormant trees. Here’s what you need to know to protect your trees in this unusually mild winter weather.
The biggest problem with the warm weather is it gives pests a chance to thrive. Above zero temperatures means there is much less die-off of critters intent on nibbling and invading our trees. The best we can do for our trees is to keep a very close eye on them, watching for irregularities or signs of pest activity. Though most telltale signs of pests are communicated through the leaves of a tree, watch for the creepy crawlies hiding near the base of your trees or in the bark. When it’s above zero, you can attempt to wash them away with a strong spray of water, which you can also mix with a gentle soap. Just make sure the temperatures aren’t predicted to dip into the minuses that coming evening or the next day!
The pests are bad news, but the irregular temperatures can confuse our leafy friends into coming out of dormancy far too early, causing budding and new growth when we’re still in the middle of winter. While we can’t control the weather, we can control the environment our trees are growing in. The snaps of cold weather can cause severe damage to a tree’s root systems and the best way to help combat this is to cover the area around the trunk of your tree with several inches of mulch. This provides a layer of insulation for the roots and can also help hold moisture!
Another protection you can add is wrapping your tree with a crepe paper wrap or plastic tree guard, starting at the base of the tree and working up. This protects the tree from sunscald, which can cause cracks in the bark that could potentially be fatal to your tree. The wrap also wards off pesky rodents or deer that may be trying to eat your tree!
Our trees are hardy, but this warm weather can be confusing and potentially dangerous for them. Let’s do our best to take care of our leafy friends so we can enjoy their shade come those hot summer months! If you need help assessing if you have a pest problem or you’d like some more information on how to take care of your trees, don’t hesitate to give our friendly technicians a call at 403-262-1666!