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Winter Tree Care Tips

our top 7 winter tree care tips

Winter is here! So, what can you do to protect your trees this season? Like most homeowners, you probably take great pride in your lawn and trees. They make your home look beautiful and add value to your property. But keeping them looking their best in the winter can be a challenge.

Winter can be a tough season for trees. Most trees start showing stress signs between the colder temperatures and drying winds. Additionally, the cold weather slows down the growth of new leaves and flowers.

However, winter remains a great time to prune trees in preparation for springtime blooms and warmer weather. What’s more, the cold air slows down certain fungal diseases that can take hold in wet conditions during other seasons — so you can be proactive about protecting your investment this season.

Check out these 7 Tips for winter tree care before you get too far into the season!

1. Get A Tree Inspection

Winter is a tough season for trees. The cold weather weakens the trees’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases. Not only that, trees have to deal with snow, ice, and wind that can damage their bark and branches.
As such, it is especially important to have your trees inspected by a professional arborist before the winter begins. A good arborist will identify any potential problems with your trees and recommend solutions based on their condition.

Ideally, the arborist will inspect:

  • The overall health of the tree
  • Any damage to the bark
  • The presence of pests or diseases
  • Whether the tree is structurally sound
  • Potential hazards posed by trees


In addition, the arborist can offer advice on protecting your trees from winter weather. So, if there are any issues, make sure you take care of them quickly so that they don’t worsen over time.

2. Winter Is a Great Time To Prune

Winter is the best season to trim trees since most insects and illnesses are dormant. Pruning helps remove dead or damaged branches, reducing the chances of them breaking off and causing damage during a storm.

Another benefit is that it reduces the tree’s size and form by cutting away any branches that could be in the way of nearby structures. Consider cutting down any components that might become unstable and snap under heavy snowfall or ice accumulation.

Fallen branches are more obvious on deciduous trees, so you can see how pruning affects the overall tree structure. Here are some tree pruning guidelines to follow.

  • Eliminate any limbs that are rotting or withering or injured or infected.
  • Based on the tree’s location and intended use, select the LPB (the lowest permanent branch).
  • You can choose temporary LPB branches to remove or prune,
  • Remove any crossing or rubbing branches.
  • Establish a focal figurehead and remove branches that obscure it.
  • Remove any suckers (shoots from the trunk or roots) or water sprouts (vertical shoots).
  • Start working on assembling the scaffolding.


Hire a professional arborist if you’re apprehensive about pruning or lack the necessary instruments.

3. Mulch Before It Freezes

One of the best ways to protect your trees from winter weather is by mulching them before it freezes. Mulch helps keep the soil around the tree warm, thereby preventing the roots from freezing.

Besides, it helps keep moisture in the soil, which is important since trees need water during winter, even when it’s cold outside. You can buy mulch from a hardware store or garden center. Get organic mulch, such as wood chips, bark, or compost, rather than inorganic mulches, like gravel or stones.

The root zone should be completely covered with a thick layer of mulch (at least three inches wide). As the mulch settles, you can add more to ensure there are no exposed roots. This keeps your spring garden free of weeds!

4. Protect Vulnerable Trees and Plants

It’s essential to protect your trees and plants from winter weather, especially after the leaves have fallen. This is because deciduous (leaf-dropping) trees lose their protective canopy of leaves that block snowfall exposure during the winter months. Leaves also act as a blanket for perennial plants, so once they’re gone, the ground freezes and thaws throughout the winter.

Ornamental trees with thin bark and young or newly-planted trees can be susceptible to sunscald or frostbite. To prevent this, wrap the tree’s trunk with white reflective tape or paint during the winter months. Sunscald happens when the tree is exposed to direct sunlight on a cold day, which can cause the bark to crack and die. 

Before a storm approaches, drape plastic or burlap cloth over the trees to shield them from damage. You can also use evergreen branches as windbreaks around the trunks and roots of your trees and plants.

5. Water During Warmer Temperatures

Keep your trees well-hydrated in the winter by watering them while the weather is warmer. When extremely cold, the ground usually freezes solid, preventing water from getting to the roots. If you water your trees when it’s above freezing, the water will soak into the soil and be available to the trees when the ground thaws.

Ensure to water your trees deeply, and do so once a week during winter. You can use a garden hose or watering can, and make sure to saturate the soil around the tree’s roots. Use the same watering techniques for newly planted trees, but make sure to water them twice a week.

6. Avoid Using Salt or De-Icer

It is common to use salt or de-icer on walkways and steps during snowy conditions in the winter months. However, salt and de-icer can be harmful to trees and plants, so it’s best to avoid using them if possible.

Salt will cause soil compaction, inhibit root growth and make it more difficult for tree roots to absorb water from the ground, leading to dehydration. Salt is also toxic to plants. This is especially the case for evergreens or other sensitive conifers because of their needle foliage and thin bark. 

Salt burns the needles on these trees resulting in leaves wilting and turning brown. Over time, it also leads to crown decline, weakness, dead branches at the top of your tree, and increased susceptibility to insect and disease problems.

De-icer is also harmful to plants, trees, and shrubs. The number one ingredient in most deicing products is sodium chloride (NaCl) – table salt. Sodium chloride, together with other ingredients such as calcium chloride (CaCl), magnesium chloride (MgCl), and potassium chloride (KCl), can also harm your plants.

De-icer causes leaves to be yellow, brown, and die; It dries out twigs and branches, making them more susceptible to breaking in the wind; In extreme cases, it will kill plants or trees. Therefore, it’s advisable to go for alternatives like grit, sand, or kitty litter. These substances increase traction on sidewalks and driveways while also being less harmful to the environment.

7. Watch Out For Heavy Snow

Heavy snow can damage trees, especially if it’s wet and weighed down by ice. The best way to protect your trees from heavy snow is by using a snow fence or burlap sack.

A snow fence is a structure made of wood or metal coated in mesh fabric. It is placed in front of a tree to deflect snowfall and keep it from accumulating branches.

You can use Burlap sacks to protect trees from heavy snow. The bags are filled with hay, straw, or leaves, which will help break the impact of the snow and ice.

If you’re using a burlap sack, make sure to place it over the tree when there’s still some snow on the ground. You can also try securing or tying down loose branches at risk of breaking under heavyweight.


Now that winter is approaching; it’s time to prepare for the chilly weather! Young or susceptible trees require special care to avoid damage from severe weather. Snow, which may be heavy and difficult to remove without injuring your tree, is also a problem in the winter months

These are a few of the things you can do to maintain your property’s beautiful landscaping without thinking about why they’re necessary. Still, now that you know what’s going on behind the scenes, hopefully, this information will help keep your lovely landscape looking its best.

If you have questions about tree service or plant health care or would like an estimate, give us a call at 978-768-6999 or click here to contact us.

If you’d like to learn more about Out Top 7 Winter Plant Health Care Tips just click here.

For directions to Mayer Tree Service just click here.

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