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GardenSMART :: How to Help Your Trees Survive and Thrive All Winter Long

How to Help Your Trees Survive and Thrive All Winter Long

By The Davey Tree Expert Company
Photographs courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company

As those magical, colorful leaves begin to twirl to the ground, trees are trying to tell us something.

It's almost winter! Trees shed their leaves to conserve energy and prepare for the season ahead.

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"Once the trees in your yard are bare, that's a solid sign you can put your garden to bed," says Adam Passo, an ISA Certified Arborist® at Davey Tree's Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office. "The more time you spend helping your trees now, the more you can just enjoy their beauty in spring."

Below, Passo shares six steps to prepare your trees and landscape for the winter ahead.

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6 Ways to Help Your Trees Get Ready for Winter

  1. Plant Something New. It's one of the best times of year to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. "In fall, the soil's warm, the air is cool, and the plants are biologically programmed to grow new roots," says Passo. "That's why autumn is such a great time to add new plants to your garden." Bonus: many nurseries and garden centers have lots of goodies on sale now.
  2. Tidy the Ground. No need to rake those leaves–or even gather them to make leaf mold. The best thing you can do also requires the least amount of effort. Set your mower's blade to the highest setting, and hop on. You can mow right over the leaves, which breaks them down into tiny pieces. Wham bam! You just created a natural, nutrition-filled mulch for your lawn.
  3. Look Up at the Trees. Worry less about tree damage this winter by fixing potential problems before those nasty winter storms. Look for dead or dying branches, weak branch unions or any limbs that are hanging or leaning. "If you see anything worrisome now, have an ISA Certified Arborist® remove the issue before it does damage," Passo says. "You don't want a vicious winter storm bringing down those limbs."
  4. Water and Fertilize. Give plants, especially evergreens, a hearty drink of water before the ground begins to freeze. That usually happens in late October or November, but if you're further south, it may not be until December (or at all!). Also, it's a good time to give your plants some nutrients. Your trees may need to be fertilized now, and it's the most important fertilization of the year for your lawn.
  5. Add a Blanket (of Mulch). Apply 2-to-3-inches of organic mulch to insulate your plants from winter's chills. If you want your mulch to retain its color longer, Passo suggests waiting until the ground freezes to apply.
  6. Block Bugs. Had troubles with aphids, mites or scale? Use dormant oil to eliminate their larvae. Before you start, make sure it's been under 32 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two days.

Need help removing a tree limb, planting a new tree or ridding your trees of bugs? Contact your local Davey Tree arborist.

With more than 9,000 employees throughout North America, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides solutions for residential, utility, commercial and government clients. Rooted in research, the company's vision is to achieve balance among people, progress and the environment. Tree experts since 1880, Davey provides diversified tree services, grounds maintenance and environmental services. Davey is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Kent, Ohio.


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