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2. Protect trees from freeze

Be prepared to provide protection for your most vulnerable trees when temperatures drop to freezing. Young trees and certain tropical/subtropical species cannot tolerate freezing temperature below 32 degrees.

To protect your trees from freeze:

  • Cover susceptible trees and plants with burlap, sheets, tarps, etc., that extend to the ground to trap in the earth’s accumulated warmth. Use a frame or stakes to minimize contact between the cover and the foliage.  

  • Bring potted plants and trees to more protected locations.

  • Moist soil will absorb more solar radiation than dry soil, and will re-radiate heat during the night.

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3. Mulch to retain moisture and warmth

Cover the soil with a 3- to 5-inch layer of mulch starting a few inches from the base of the trunk and extending 2 or more feet from the tree in all directions (creating a circle around the tree).

  • Use organic matter such as wood chips, with or without leaf matter. Trees actually prefer wood chip mulch and the “duff” created by their own leaves.

  • Say no to mulch volcanoes! Mulch should have a “donut” distribution, not a “volcano” shape. Mulch should be a few inches away from the base of the tree; too much moisture around the trunk can lead to decay.

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4. Continue to keep your tree watered when there is no rain or snow during the winter months

  • Water young trees every week or every two weeks. Use about 10-15 gallons for each watering. It’s especially important to water newly planted trees to help them recover from the stress of a transplant.

  • Water mature trees once a month or every other month. Use 10-15 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter, measured at “breast height” (defined as 4.5 feet off the ground). For example, a tree with a 10” trunk diameter at breast height would need 100 – 150 gallons of water (about the same as 4 or 5 loads of laundry). Don’t forget to apply water slowly so it has time to soak into the ground.

Specific Questions ? Feel free to contact us at billingsbotanical@gmail.com

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Winter is a precarious time for your trees. They are doing a lot of internal work while appearing pretty much dead on the outside. It is up to you to help protect them from all that this season can bring, from sunscalding to dehydration. Many people get away with not doing anything at all for their trees, but then they wonder why their trees don’t live long, healthy lives, or why they don’t bloom as much as they should in the spring.

The work you put into your trees now will be reflected in the seasons and years to come. If you skimp on tree care, your trees may not look their best and could even get sick and die. So what is it that you can do to get your trees looking their best? Here are some of our suggestions:

1. Time to prune

Trees go into dormancy during winter making it the ideal time for you to prune. We recommend pruning trees while they are young to establish good structure and to prevent damage in the future, such as limb failure.

Here are five steps to pruning young trees:

  • Remove dead, dying, damaged, diseased branches.

  • Select and establish the central leader.

  • Select the lowest permanent branch (LPB) based on tree location/purpose.

  • Select and establish scaffold branches.

  • Select temporary branches below the LPB and remove or head back others

Winter Tree Tips !