Winter Tree Damage

Winter Tree Damage

Harsh winter weather and freezing temperatures may cause you to worry about winter tree damage to your trees and shrubs. Knowing why winter tree damage occurs helps determine if trees are being cared for correctly or if you require assistance from a tree care service.

Winter Tree Damage

Here are some signs that your trees might be suffering from winter damage.

Broken Branches

Heavy snowfall, will cause snow to accumulate on tree branches and can make branches snap. This can happen especially if the branches are already damaged or weak. The weight of snow or ice can be very heavy on both big and small trees.

Even somewhat healthy branches can come down when the weight becomes too much. Broken branches in your trees can be dangerous. Be sure to check your trees after a heavy snow or ice storm.

If the branches fall on a power line, make sure that you contact your electric company along with a professional tree care company. The electric company will shut off power as necessary. A professional tree service will be able to remove all of the debris for you safely.

Browning Needles

Another sign that you have winter tree damage is if you notice needles that are turning brown on your evergreens. Winter burn causes this browning. During the winter months, trees become dry because of a lack of water in combination with salt injury.

You can prevent winter burn by adding mulch to the ground surrounding your trees and water the trees regularly. Ensure that you do the mulch correctly to prevent winter damage from happening.

Cracking and Splitting Bark

During the winter months, you might hear a sound that sounds like a rifle shot going off. You could see bulges or cracks in the bark on the side of a tree. This could be a sign of sunscald or frost cracking.

Both of these things are common threats to trees in the winter as temperatures fluctuate. This causes the bark of the tree to have a sudden drop in temperature and then warm-up.

When this occurs the cells of the bark will die off and then split. To prevent vertical racking or bark splitting, you can use burlap, strips of cloth or chicken wire. Fill it with straw and use it to protect the outer layer of wood from temperature changes during the next winter storm. Take off the insulation in early spring when the weather gets warmer to stop diseases and pests from coming in.

Protect Roots From Damage

During the winter months, a tree might experience damage to the roots. This is more common in young trees. The contracting and expanding of the soil as the ground freezes and then thaws, can push shallow roots out and expose them.

Mulching during the fall months can help with this problem.

Bark Discoloration

If the bark on your trees starts to become discolored, it could be a sign that it is suffering from a salt injury. When the temperature drops and our paths and roads are treated with salt, it can be detrimental to your trees and plants.

Some of the symptoms of salt damage are:

  • Discoloration of bark
  • Browning needles
  • Premature dropping of needles from evergreens.

To prevent salt damage, pick salt-tolerant trees and avoid planting them in heavily salted areas during winter.

Tree Care: Dealing with Winter Damage

Winter tree damage can have significant implications for the health and aesthetics of trees, but with proper care and attention, many trees can recover and thrive again. Understanding the steps for recovery and rehabilitation is essential for mitigating the effects of winter damage.

Assessment and Evaluation

Before implementing any recovery efforts, it’s crucial to assess the extent of the damage. This involves inspecting the tree for visible signs of damage such as broken branches, split bark, or leaning trunks. Additionally, evaluating the tree’s overall health and vitality is important in determining its ability to recover.

How to Promote Tree Recovery

Once the damage has been assessed, various techniques can be employed to facilitate the tree’s recovery:

  • Tree Pruning: Remove damaged or broken branches to prevent further stress on the tree and promote new growth. Pruning should be done carefully to avoid causing additional harm.
  • Wound Care: Treat any open wounds or exposed areas on the tree to prevent infection and promote healing. Applying wound dressings or sealants may be necessary for larger wounds.
  • Fertilization: Providing the tree with appropriate nutrients can support its recovery process. Fertilizers specifically formulated for trees can help replenish nutrients lost during the winter months.
  • Irrigation: Ensure adequate moisture levels for the tree, especially if winter conditions have resulted in dry or compacted soil. Deep watering can help rejuvenate the root system and promote new growth.
  • Support Structures: Install support structures such as braces or cables for trees that have suffered significant structural damage. These supports can help stabilize the tree while it undergoes recovery.

By implementing these recovery strategies, trees can bounce back from winter damage and continue to thrive in their environment. However, it’s important to remember that not all trees will fully recover, and in some cases, removal may be the most appropriate course of action. Consulting with a certified arborist or tree care professional can provide valuable guidance in determining the best approach for damaged trees.

For more tips on protecting your trees in the winter months, contact Omaha Tree Services.

Omaha Tree Services

At Omaha Tree, we recycle all of our wood waste material from the trees we trim and remove in the greater Omaha metro area. The wood waste material is brought back to our 8-acre site at 3606 McKinley Street, where it is processed into a beautiful & consistent mulch product that is local, fresh, and clean. Contact us today.