Winter Tree Care 101: How to Protect Your Trees This Winter
With the cold weather around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about winter tree care.
Now, that’s not to say trees aren’t resilient. They go dormant in the winter, much like hibernating animals. Even then, the icy temperatures and frosty conditions is still stressful for trees.
This is especially important for recently planted trees, which are not fully established. These trees are more susceptible to winter damage because they haven’t developed a solid root system.
Fortunately, with enough planning and preparation, you can help your beloved trees survive winter.
Mulching isn’t just for landscaping projects during the warmer months. Come winter, mulch insulates your trees by increasing the temperature of the soil. This stops the soil from cracking, which protects the roots. Essentially, mulch is a blanket for trees.
Timing is everything, though. Mulch just before the ground freezes. Otherwise, pests and rodents will turn the mulch into their new winter home.
When you do mulch, add a two- or three-inch layer under your tree’s drip line. Avoid mulching too deep or up against the trunk. If you’re unsure how to mulch the right way, contact a professional tree company like Friendly Tree.
Water Throughout Fall
Again, preparation is key. During the fall season, make sure your trees are regularly watered. This is even more vital for newly planted trees.
Continue watering the trees until the ground freezes — around late October or November. From there, water them once or twice a month. You should also only water them under the following conditions:
- The temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- There isn’t any ice or snow on the ground nearby
- It’s early in the day, which allows enough time for absorption
If you have evergreen trees, water them during winter droughts. Since they lose moisture through their needles, these trees need to store more water.
Winter tree branch care starts with smart fall pruning. Before the new season begins, remove weak and dying branches. This will minimize future breakage, especially during intense window and ice buildup.
Fall pruning not only improves the aesthetics of your tree, but it makes them safer too. As always, work with a certified arborist to ensure that your trees are properly pruned.
Wrap Tree Trunks
To protect your trees from the frigid winter nights, use winter tree wraps. These wraps will keep tree trunks warm during the chilly weather.
They’ll also prevent sunscald, a condition that damages the trunk. Sunscald happens when the tree trunk freezes at night, then thaws under the winter sun. When it freezes again at night, the cells in the bark can burst and cause cracking.
Tree wraps also stop rodents, rabbits, and other animals from chewing on your tree trunks.
It’s best to install the tree wraps in late fall or early winter, before the first freeze. You can leave them on until late winter or early spring.
While you’re shoveling the driveway, don’t forget to remove the snow from tree branches. Otherwise, snow can build up and break branches.
Gently remove the snow with a soft broom. You can also carefully push the branch upward until the snow falls off. If the branch has ice, spray it with warm water through a garden hose. Never try to remove ice from a branch.
Friendly Tree Will Help You Weather The Winter Season
Although New Jersey winters can be brutal, it’s possible to protect your trees from seasonal damage. It comes down to proper winter tree care and being vigilant about tree maintenance.
If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with Friendly Tree. Our experienced New Jersey arborists can examine your trees and offer winter survival tips according to their age, health, and species. With this personalized guidance, you can give your trees the best protection possible during the frosty weather.
To schedule a consultation, contact Friendly Tree at (973) 678-8888.
How to Prep Your Trees for Winter
The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping, the days are already getting shorter and that means it’s time to prepare your yard for winter.
Freezing temperatures and winter storms can really do a number on your landscape, if it is not properly put to bed. So, while the trees are doing their part – shedding their leaves to conserve energy for the months ahead – take some time to do yours.
First, Clean Up the Yard
It can be tempting to stay inside where it’s warm, and just hope the leaves will all blow away. But allowing debris to build up on your yard can attract pests and fungal diseases, and prevent proper water absorption and drainage. Similarly, fallen fruit that is allowed to rot over the winter is asking for trouble.
Rake leaves, harvest fruit, pick up fallen branches and remove dead annuals from your yard. Mowing your yard one last time – with the blades on the lowest setting – is also a good idea. A clean, open landscape is less attractive to insects and diseases than one that is full of decaying debris.
Tidy Trees and Shrubs
Winter storms and weak or dying branches is a bad combination. Now is the time to take care of limbs that are hanging, look weak, are infested or dying, as well as give your trees and shrubs an all-over cleanup. A healthy tree is less likely to be damaged in a winter storm.
Remember to wait until after trees have gone dormant to prune them, and always consult a professional if you see anything worrisome, or don’t know how to properly prune.
Don’t Forget to Water
Just because the hoses are detached doesn’t mean your watering days are over until the summer. Trees and plants still need to be watered during dry spells throughout the fall and winter, and your lawn does, too. Even dormant plants need water to survive. Now is also the perfect time to add compost or fertilizer to feed your trees throughout the winter.
Protect Them With Mulch
Think of mulch like a blanket for your trees. A layer of organic mulch about two to three inches deep helps insulate trees from harsh temperatures and retain moisture in the soil. Just be sure not to mulch too deep, and always keep it away from the tree’s trunk.
While the bugs are winding down for the season, once spring hits the larvae will be back in full swing. Applying horticultural oils now will help prevent the larvae of common pests like aphids, mites and scale insects from hatching when temperatures rise.
Horticultural oils can usually be found at your local garden center and are relatively inexpensive and easy to apply. Properly removing leaves, dead branches and fallen fruit is also critical to preventing pests from taking over.
When to Winterize
Winterizing your yard should happen around the same time you would winterize your house or vehicle; in New Jersey, that’s usually in October or early November.
Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs. Planting now gives them time to develop a strong root system before the heat of summer hits. So before you put your yard to bed for the season, add some new life, and be rewarded in the spring.
Investing the time now to winterize your yard will mean less troubleshooting in the warmer months. Trees that are properly cared for react better to stress and generally have fewer problems the following season.
Why Fall is the Best Time for Tree Planting in New Jersey
As we wave goodbye to summer and welcome the colorful days of autumn, it’s not quite time to put away the garden tools. In addition to cleaning up the yard – removing debris and raking up spent leaves – you might want to add tree planting to your to-do list this fall.
Here at Friendly Tree, we talk a lot about the benefits trees provide to a home or property – including reducing energy bills and increasing property value. One of the most important factors in determining when to plant trees is the climate (in addition to the tree planting site).
Trees need the right combination of temperature and moisture to establish a healthy root system for proper growth.
What Makes Fall a Good Time to Plant?
Newly planted trees need a little extra attention to get them off to a good start. Remember – in many cases, your tree has lost a good amount of its root system during transplanting.
In most areas of the U.S., the dry days of summer have passed but freezing temperatures have not yet arrived. The moderate daytime temperatures, cool nights, warm soil and increased rainfall means right now is the perfect time for tree planting in New Jersey.
Leaves prefer cooler, more moderate temperatures because the summer sun can drain energy from the leaves as well as the rest of the tree. Underground, the warm soil accelerates new root growth for a healthy root system before the tree goes dormant.
With the cold months ahead, your new tree can shift its resources into developing its root system and storing nutrients instead of producing new foliage. Once spring arrives, your new tree’s roots will be vigorous and well-established, giving it a better chance of getting through the summer months.
Just don’t wait too long – your trees need time to acclimate to their new location. Sudden frigid temperatures soon after planting can stress a young tree. We recommend getting your new tree in the ground before mid-October.
What About Summer?
Some homeowners make the mistake of thinking that all landscaping tasks should happen in the summer, when the grass is green and trees have fully leafed out.
While it is possible to plant in the summer, trees will require extra watering and may show signs of stress from the heat and intense sun. In fact, trees can actually get sunburned (known as phototoxic burn)! When trees are stressed, they are more susceptible to pests, diseases and overall poor growth.
Can I Plant in the Spring?
Yes, you can. In fact, spring is the second best time of year for tree planting. In the springtime, when the risk of a hard frost has passed, temperatures are generally mild and trees have a chance to grow all spring, summer and fall before settling down for the winter.
At this time, however, they must produce a flush of new leaves and develop their roots at the same time. This intense growth can be taxing on a young tree and also requires extra watering, especially during dry spells.
How do I Choose a Tree Species?
Friendly Tree can help! Give us a call and we can help you determine which trees will do best in our area of New Jersey and in your specific planting site.
You can also visit the Arbor Day Foundation website and try out their helpful Tree Wizard tool, which gives you recommendations based on your property’s growing conditions, hardiness zone and personal preferences.
When deciding on tree species, it’s important to think about how much space (vertically and horizontally) your tree will have and how much water it will receive in that particular location. Choosing a tree based on the site requirements will give you a better chance at success.
Regardless of tree type, don’t forget to water during the winter! Some winters can turn out to be very dry, so keep an eye on soil conditions and water your new tree when needed. Even though the tree is dormant, its roots still need moisture to continue to grow.
Need help with tree planting? Call the New Jersey tree planting experts at Friendly Tree.
We also invite you to explore more of our blog for arborist advice on watering, mulching and pruning your new tree.
Your Tree Care Checklist for Summer
There’s a lot to enjoy in the summer ? but there’s also a lot of work to do. When it comes to your trees, there are a few jobs you can do now to ensure a vibrant and healthy growing season and keep your trees strong going into the upcoming winter.
First things first ? inspect your trees.
Winter frosts and heavy snows can do a number on your trees. Inspect all of the trees on your property for damage, like winter burn. This happens when a tree does not receive enough moisture in the fall and cold winter winds dry out the leaf tissue. If you notice vertical cracks in the tree’s bark, you may be looking at sun scald, which can eventually lead to decay. Sun scald is more likely to be a problem with younger, thin-barked trees and occurs in the winter and spring months.
Additional signs of damage include abnormal leaf size, off-color bark and oozing sap. Any severely damaged or dead branches or trees should be removed.
Check for pests and diseases.
Unfortunately, trees are not immune from getting sick or overrun with pests. Insects tend to target vulnerable trees which are already weak from stress. Aphids are a common issue, notable for the sticky residue they leave behind after munching on tree leaves and stems.
The Emerald Ash Borer has caused devastating damage throughout most of the country. If you have Ash trees on your property, look for signs of dead branches starting at the top of the tree, and small D-shaped holes in the tree’s bark where the beetles exit in June. Trees with bad infestations may lose a third to a half of their branches in one year. The U.S. Forest Service operates an informative website on the Emerald Ash Borer, which you can find here.
Proactive care goes a long way in keeping your trees free from pests and diseases. If your tree has a bad infestation, it may need to be removed by a professional. Look for a certified arborist who meets the criteria of the International Society of Aboriculture.
Pick up the rubble.
Take advantage of the warm weather to pick up old leaves and twigs, fallen branches, or anything else that may be littering the floor of your landscape. Be especially careful to remove diseased material, and DON’T compost it; throw it in the trash.
Get out the pruning shears.
Now is the time to prune those dead or diseased branches you noticed in your inspection. Trees don’t try to repair or regrow injured or diseased wood; instead, they stop sending resources to the damaged tissue.
Pruning allows the tree to put energy into its healthy branches, it improves airflow and it can even lower the risk of insect infestation. If you are dealing with very large or very high dead branches, or branches that pose a risk to structures, vehicles or people, make sure you consult a professional first.
Feed your trees.
After a long, hard winter, trees are often desperate for nutrients. Help them recover and put their energy into new growth with a slow-release fertilizer. Healthy trees have the best defense against disease and insects.
Know how to water.
As the days become longer and hotter, it’s important to give your trees adequate moisture. Following a consistent watering schedule that mimics rainfall (a slow, deep soak) is the best bet. Established trees need one gallon (or one inch) of water each week and younger trees may need twice as much. Consider installing a drip line below ground and don’t water in the afternoon, when moisture can be lost to evaporation.
Apply new mulch.
Mulch provides so many benefits to your trees and can be a lifesaver in the hot summer. Add two to four inches of mulch around the base of each tree, being careful not to pile it up around the trunk (this is called “volcano mulching” and can kill your tree). In addition to retaining moisture and keeping soil temperatures cool, mulch provides added nutrients to the soil.
If the warm weather is calling to you, go ahead and answer. Dust off those gardening gloves and give your trees the attention they need to make it through the long summer.
Arborist Advice: Protecting Your Trees from Summer Storms
Summertime in New Jersey often evokes images of backyard barbecues, baseball games and weekends at the Jersey Shore. But with every summer also comes the less idealistic but very real summer thunderstorms, which can really do a number on your landscape.
Many of us remember last year around this time when one particularly strong storm left over 250,000 people in South Jersey without power, damaging buildings and tearing down trees. There’s not much you can do about an approaching storm, but did you know there are simple preventative steps you can take now to give your trees a fighting chance?
The arborists at Friendly Tree have put together a list of five things you can do to minimize summer storm damage:
Thinning the Canopy
Thinning the top of a tree reduces wind sail, allowing wind to blow through the tree. This type of pruning should only be done by a certified arborist experienced with correct and safe pruning methods.
Installing support cables for large trees can also provide strength and minimize storm damage. Arborists use cables and bracing rods to help to redistribute the tree’s structural weight and provide extra support to weak spots. We can help you determine if your tree could benefit from cabling and bracing.
Pruning Dead Branches
Diseased or dead branches break easily, and your car could be the perfect target. Pruning will minimize falling branches during a storm causing damage to people or property.
Trees provide a great pathway for lightning to strike the ground. A lightning protection system is a reliable and inconspicuous way to protect valuable trees or those close to a home or other structure.
It’s not just for the dentist’s office! Cavities are weak spots in the trunk of a tree that can compromise its overall strength. If you notice a cavity in your tree, give us a call and we can help you fill it correctly.
Losing large trees is a costly problem – thankfully, these preventative measures can keep your trees at their best when Mother Nature is at her worst.
Give Friendly Tree a call if you need help with tree pruning, trimming or any other tree care services. For over 25 years we’ve been helping New Jersey residents with their tree care needs, and we’ll be there to help your trees weather the storm.
Tree Pruning and Removal – How to Tell When It’s Time
It usually happens while walking through the yard one day – you notice leafless limbs or dead branches lying on the ground. But how do you know when a tree needs a good pruning or when it should be removed?
In this article, we’ll explain when a tree is considered a safety hazard and when it just needs a good, healthy trim.
Signs Your Tree Needs Pruning
Tree Pruning is essential for the healthy maintenance of trees, but improper pruning can cause damage and in some cases the tree’s death. That’s why trees should only be pruned by Certified Tree Care Safety Professionals, like the experts at Friendly Tree, who practice safe, proven and effective methods.
Damaged, Diseased or Dead Branches
Besides the danger of falling, broken or damaged limbs can serve as an entry point for insects and disease. In general, a tree has a good chance of survival if less than 25% of its branches are damaged.
A tree canopy that is too dense is a problem, as restricted sunlight and airflow can lead to disease.
Sometimes, weak or troublesome limbs must be removed in order to benefit the health of the entire tree. Suckers and water sprouts steal a tree’s resources and should be removed. Crossing branches can damage each other and should also be pruned. Co-dominant leaders (two branches of similar size growing up from the top of the tree) are prone to splitting and tearing during strong winds. Eliminating one of these branches provides the tree with more stability.
Weak or Split Crotch
As a tree ages, its crotch (where two branches come together) may grow weak and split apart; removing split crotches helps keep the tree healthy and strong.
Approaching Power Lines or Structures
A more obvious reason for pruning is a tree’s proximity to power lines or other structures. Unfortunately, people sometimes plant trees under power lines not knowing how tall they will get at maturity. Be sure to hire a professional for these kinds of jobs, as there is significant risk to people and property if the job is not done correctly.
The best time to prune your trees is when they are dormant in late winter or early spring, which encourages healthy spring growth. Dead, damaged or hazardous branches should be trimmed as soon as possible.
Signs Your Tree Should be Removed
Not all dead or dying trees need to be removed. Those that don’t pose a risk to people or structures can be left alone and serve the neighborhood birds as a shelter and food source. Here’s how to tell when tree removal is necessary:
Large Number of Dead or Damaged Limbs
If 50% or more of the tree is damaged, and falling limbs pose a hazard, it’s time to say goodbye. If the dead branches are all on one side of the tree, it’s typically a sign of root or trunk problems and the tree should be evaluated by one of our arborists.
Severe Trunk Damage
Severe damage to the tree’s main trunk (more than 25% of the trunk’s circumference), including large cracks and seams, indicate decay.
A tree can live for many years with a hollow trunk, but it will eventually come down. If a third of the trunk is hollow (or rotted), consult an arborist about getting it removed.
Root Damage or Weakness
It may be hard to tell if a tree has substantial root damage, but if the ground nearby has been excavated or you suspect any damage to the root system, consider removing the tree. Also look for trees with shallow root systems as a result of their growing environment. Trees near ledges, large rocks or right next to a water source often have shallow roots.
If your tree is suddenly leaning in one direction, it could mean root damage or weakening. A tree that is noticeably leaning in any direction is unsafe and should probably be removed.
Need help determining if your tree needs pruning or removal? Friendly Tree can help. For over 25 years we’ve been helping New Jersey residents with their tree care needs. Our certified arborists adhere to ANSI standards for tree care practices, with the expertise to help you assess what your trees need to stay happy and healthy.
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