Keeping your trees healthy and thriving is a year-round job. Though they may seem big, sturdy, and self-sufficient, the truth is your trees need your help. Lucky for you, fall is one of the best times to give your trees a little extra love. Here are a few fall tree care tips to ensure your Washington trees are healthy before the winter ahead.
Snow, ice, freezing temperatures, and dry winds are just some of the hazards that our trees face during the winter months up here in Washington. This means that fall is an important time to get your trees ready to take on the elements. Here are a few tips to protect your beloved trees this winter.
During the winter, the roots of your trees are vulnerable to freezing and fluctuating temperatures. One way to protect your roots is to add mulch around the base of your tree. Not only will this help your trees in the fall and winter, it helps all year long. Mulch will help conserve and retain moisture, protect from excessive heat and frigid cold temperatures, and prevent opportunistic weeds from growing. Not only that, mulch helps prevent damage from lawn mowers. Adding mulch is one of the best things you can do for your trees.
When applying mulch, it’s best to choose an organic option. Shredded bark and wood chips are the best choices. Cedar mulch is an excellent option because it contains an oil that repels many species of insect pests and is resistant to decay. want to prevent pests, then cedar mulch is a great natural option. Whatever mulch you choose, make sure to apply no more than three inches around the base of your tree. Avoid piling the mulch against the trunk of your tree to keep pests, like voles, from having easy access.
Winter can be a treacherous time for your trees. Dry winds will sap your trees of moisture while frequent snow and ice can cause a lot of stress and damage to your trees. Sunscald is also a danger for your trees. The sun heats up your trees’ bark during the day, causing the tissue to become active, then disappears at the end of the day, allowing freezing temperatures to return and causing damage to the tissue and even tree death.
Don’t worry, you can protect your trees. Wrapping your trees with burlap or light-colored tree-wrap will block your trees from the moisture-sapping winds. It’ll also block the sun, helping maintain a consistent temperature and preventing sunscald. Tree wraps will also protect your trees from damaging ice and snow damage.
As your tree prepares itself for winter, it’s important to keep it hydrated. Trees need, on average, about one inch of rain per week. During the fall, trees prepare themselves to go dormant by focusing. They lose all their leaves and focus all of their resources down to their roots. To encourage this root growth, make sure your trees are getting one inch of water per week. This can be from rainfall, your sprinkler system, or from manual watering.
While your trees are strengthening their roots, it’s a perfect time to give them an extra boost of nutrients. Fall is a time of heavy absorption for our trees. They suck up all the nutrients around them, storing them for the winter ahead. You can help foster this by providing your trees with an application of fall tree fertilizer. Because of the heavy absorption, fall is one of the best times to fertilize your trees.
One way to ensure your trees get the right nutrients at the right time is to invest in a yearly tree care program from Colonial Lawn & Garden.
Another way to provide your trees with the nutrients they need is with deep root fertilization. This type of tree fertilization involves a high-pressure mix of water, insecticide, and fertilizer that is injected directly into the roots. This is extremely beneficial because your trees won’t have to compete for these nutrients with weeds or other plants. You also don’t have to worry about losing the nutrients through water run-off.
Trees aren’t the only things that go dormant in the winter, insects do too. Unfortunately, tree-damaging insects like scale and aphids overwinter on the bark of trees. They sleep through the winter, waking up in the spring to wreak havoc on our trees. There is a way to protect your trees and prevent an infestation of tree-damaging pests in the spring, dormant oil.
Dormant oil is an insecticide spray that is applied to the bark, branches, and leaves of dormant trees. The oil will coat any overwintering insects, suffocating them and preventing an infestation. Dormant oil is best applied in the fall and early spring.
During the winter, some animals can cause extensive damage to our dormant trees. Deer and voles are two of the biggest culprits of winter tree damage. Here are a few fall tree care tips to protect your trees from animals this winter.
Damage from deer is a year-round headache for homeowners. Not only do male deer cause extensive damage by rubbing their antlers against trees, but they are also voracious eaters of trees. Deer don’t have front teeth so damage from them eating often looks like the branches have been stripped or tore away from the tree. Deer damage is extremely stressful for trees and can even result in tree death.
Protect your trees, shrubs, and plants by putting up a physical barrier around your property. If a deer gets enough of a running start, they can jump over a 12ft fence. This is an extreme example though; an 8ft fence is tall enough to keep the deer out of your yard. You can also try out a deer repellant.
Voles may be tiny, but the damage they cause to trees can be devastating. During the winter, voles feed on the grass under the snow, but if they have access to a tree trunk, then they’ll feast on the bark. If uncontrolled, a vole can chew away a strip of bark around the entire circumference of a tree. This is called tree girdling and it can result in the death of an entire tree.
Lucky for you, preventing tree girdling from voles is pretty easy. Wrap a tree guard around the trunk of your trees, ensuring it’s buried two inches under the soil and that it will reach above the snowline. Make sure mulch around your tree doesn’t pile up around the trunk as this creates easy access for the voles to feast. You can also prevent a vole infestation by mowing your lawn short before the snow starts to fly. Voles love long grass, eliminate this and you’ll take away their home.
With these fall tree care tips, you’ll be able to set your trees up to succeed this fall and winter. However, if you’re looking for a robust tree care program, then Colonial Lawn & Garden is the answer. From insect control to fertilization, our tree & shrub care services are exactly what you’re looking for.