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Most people never stop to think about the threat that winter weather can pose to a tree. Yet the cold months can be stressful—and even deadly--for an unprepared tree. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to help ensure your trees survive the winter unscathed, read on. This article will discuss two common sources of winter tree damage—and what you can do to minimize their threat.
Southwest Winter Injury
As temperatures start to cool off in late fall, trees often find themselves subject to rapid vacillations in air temperature. The heat of the daytime sun quickly gives way to freezing temperatures once night time rolls around. This fast transition often leads to the type of cold stress often referred to as southwest winter injury.
Southwest winter injury is characterized by the appearance of discoloration and unsightly cracks along the bark of a tree. These cracks tend to occur on the tree's southwest face, as this is the side of the tree that receives the most heat from the sun. You see, as the tree rapidly cools to below freezing temperatures, cells below the bark swell up and burst. This increases the tree's vulnerability to pests, disease, and other potential sources of damage.
Because they tend to have thinner bark, young deciduous trees experience the greatest risk of southwest winter injury. Fortunately, this risk can be greatly mitigated by protecting the tree from the sun's direct rays. This generally involves covering the trunk of the tree with a special white tree wrap. This wrap acts to reflect sunlight away from the tree, thus reducing the severity of the temperature fluctuations to which it is exposed.
Trees aren't the only species that experiences increased stress levels during the winter. Squirrels, rabbits, and mice all find themselves faced with a sudden scarcity of food sources. Out of desperation, such rodents often turn to trees as a potential source of nourishment, either gnawing the bark at the base of the tree, or chewing off the young, vulnerable branch ends.
Mice and other small rodents often use tree mulch as a warm place to make their nests. You can reduce the likelihood of such rodents causing trouble for your tree by always leaving a gap between the mulch ring and the tree itself. Likewise, you may consider placing rodent bait and/or traps around the tree. Rabbits can be successfully prevented by erecting a wire-mesh fence.
For more information or assistance, contact a local tree service.Share