Recuperating from the Harsh Effects of Winter

Once the snow and ice have finally melted, the harsh effects that Old Man Winter has had on our trees will be clearly visible as will 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.

  • Windburn

    When 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.

  • Cold Injury

    Extremely cold temperatures cause the moisture inside of the leaf and stem tissues to freeze, which in turn causes cells to rupture. In addition, if the soil doesn’t have enough insulation, then 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.

  • Physical Damage

    Severe wind, snow or ice commonly cause stressed or already weakened branches to break.

  • Salt Damage

    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 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 biostimulant, 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.