Recuperating from the Harsh Effects
Once the snow and ice have finally melted, the harsh effects of Old Man Winter has had on our trees is clearly visible as s the fact that your trees are in need of some TLC. While most plants do have natural healing systems that will help them overcome the stress caused by winter, an extremely harsh winter may warrant professional care.
Winter injury to trees and shrubs occurs in four different forms: windburn, cold injury, physical injury and salt damage.
When severe, cold and dry wind blows over the leaves or needles, it evaporates the moisture inside them and the tissue takes on a brownish appearance. Thorough watering in the late fall and the application of antidessicants and/or burlap wind barriers can help to prevent this type of injury.
Extremely cold temperatures cause the moisture inside of the leaf tissue to freeze which in turn causes cells to rupture. In addition, if the tree doesn’t have enough insulation delicate surface roots can freeze and become damaged. In turn, the roots are no longer able to transport necessary nutrients and moisture from the soil.
Severe wind, snow or ice commonly cause stressed or already weak branches to break.
Salt (sodium chloride) can damage in two ways. First, foliage can come in contact with salt through spray or when snow plows push salty snow or slush onto the needles or leaves of plants. Second, large concentrations of salt in the soil will cause a similar effect on the delicate hair roots below the surface. A similar phenomenon occurs to trees and shrubs planted adjacent to salt water.
If you suspect that your trees and/or shrubs are suffering from winter stress or injury, water them thoroughly (particularly if you suspect salt buildup in the soil) and prune away any dead or broken branches. If the shape of the plant has been compromised, you may consider a rejuvenation pruning of the entire plant. To really boost and rejuvenate your trees and shrubs, treat with a low nitrogen type fertilizer, such as ArborKelp®, SavATree’s exclusive formula designed to promote root growth and heighten stress tolerance.
If you are not sure about the condition of your trees, call or click to contact your arborist.