Wisconsin winters are notorious for bitterly cold temperatures, ice, snow build up and wind. These factors combine, making winter a stressful time for your plants. Luckily there are a few steps you can take to prevent lasting damage to your trees from Wisconsin’s winter cold.
3 tips to help protect your trees through the Winter
1. Wrap your tree trunks
Cold stress is a common problem with trees and shrubs during winter. Rapid temperature swings between daylight hours and night can cause disruption between the outer bark and inner wood. Inner wood contains more moisture than bark, so they expand and contract at different rates, leading to frost cracks.
Mature, healthy trees are typically able to repair themselves, but until they do the cracked area remains vulnerable.
With young or severely cracked trees, it is recommended you have the trunk wrapped. Thinly-barked trees such as Maple and Willow need extra attention. Tree wrap can be found at most major hardware stores, or you can save yourself the hassle and call us. The best time to do this is late fall.
2. Don't shake your trees when they are covered in snow
Your tree branches are more vulnerable to breakage during the winter months. Strong winds plus ice and snow buildup put added strain on the branches. This is especially problematic for deciduous trees, since the wood actually hardens and becomes more brittle.
To prevent this problem, proper tree pruning is essential.
Our arborists know the best tree pruning techniques, minimizing the chances of your tree branches snapping off during a winter storm. If you notice a high accumulation of snow on your tree branches, do not shake the tree.
Shaking frozen trees can cause irreparable damage, making branches more likely to snap.
The best way to remove excess snow buildup is to wait for a day where temperatures get above freezing and let it melt naturally. If there is more than 3” of accumulation, spray your branches with cold water to accelerate melting.
3. Guard your trees from animals with simple wire mesh
Trees and shrubs become a go-to shelter for small mammals during winter. Deer, rabbits and mice can cause damage to your trees from chewing on the bark. To guard against mice and rabbits, a simple wire mesh enclosure will typically be enough to keep them away.
However, if mice squeeze their way in and are causing problems, a commercial spray deterrent should do the trick.
Deer are usually indifferent to wire enclosures. Wrapping your tree trunk so they can’t get to the bark is usually effective. Otherwise, spray repellant does a good job of keeping deer from chewing on your trees.