Protecting Trees from Winter Storms
December 14, 2016
Winter storms in our area tend to be severe and merciless. Instead of a gentle snowfall, we often get sleet and freezing rain which can heavily weigh down weak tree branches. You probably remember the aftermath of past ice storms when the streets were lined with piles of mangled limbs. The last thing anyone wants is the safety hazard or expense of broken branches or a fallen tree, which can destroy property and cause injuries. Did you know there are proactive steps you can take to reduce damage caused by trees during an ice storm?
Choose the right tree
The first step in prevention happens at the very beginning with good tree selection. Although almost any plant can suffer winter damage, fast growing varieties tend to be the most likely to succumb when a big storm hits. Be patient when picking new trees and consider them a long term investment rather than a quick fix.
Water the right way.
Proper watering throughout the year is one of the most important things you can do to keep trees healthy. It is essential to understand when your landscape really needs water, instead of just setting your irrigation on a schedule. Less frequent, more thorough watering is much more beneficial than a light weekly spritz. Thorough watering strengthens the tree’s root system and encourages strong root growth, which helps stabilize the tree. Shallow watering forms delicate surface roots that leave a tree vulnerable to drought and high winds as well as heavy sleet and ice.
Cover bare soil
The simple act of mulching bare soil helps protect plants in multiple ways. Much like the forest floor, which is always covered in leaf litter, a good layer of natural mulch protects the root zone and retains moisture in the soil. Dehydration is common during drier winters when many of us turn off irrigation systems and rely only on rainfall, causing thirsty trees to become brittle and susceptible to harm when storms do occur.
Regular inspection and careful pruning ensures that trees are stable and ready to withstand whatever extreme environment nature delivers us in North Texas. If you haven’t already pruned your trees this year, winter is a good time to do so. After leaves have dropped in late fall, it is easy to locate and eliminate diseased, weak limbs or those that are criss-crossed or rubbing together. These types of branches make trees more susceptible to winter damage.
In addition to basic tree maintenance that makes a difference year-round, cabling and bracing is one element of tree care that could save your property from extreme damage. Cabling and bracing protects trees with co-dominant trunks or very large, heavy limbs that need additional support to keep them in place and not falling on your roof, car or neighbors home. Does your tree need this service? Only an experienced arborist can assess if this course of action is required to ensure the safety and longevity of your tree.
Uncertain about trees on your property withstanding winter storms? Your local ISA Certified Arborist can inspect and assess each tree, then create a plan for how to get them in the best possible shape for winter and beyond.