As Minnesotans, when the temperatures drop and the flakes start to fall, our yard work is largely put on hold. However, homeowners need to be mindful that the winter season can bring great threats to trees on their property. Trees must be taken care of in order to maintain overall health, and to protect the home, its residents, and valuables in the surrounding area.
1. Remove Threatening Branches: If you have any trees on your property that are near your roof, cars, or power lines, be sure to restrain them with a cable or remove them in a timely manner to prevent any damage. The harsh cold of winter can lead to tree limbs falling off, which of course is problematic to the homeowner. If you notice any branches in particular that look like they are dead or diseased, it’s best to remove them completely.
2. Use a Healthier Alternative to Salt for Sidewalks: Salt is often used as a preventative method on sidewalks and driveways to prevent ice build-up, but the contents can be harmful to your trees. To fend your ice while protecting your trees, use potassium chloride, calcium, or magnesium chloride.
3. Remove Snow From Branches: Heavy snowfall can cause limbs to snap off, particularly to trees with multiple stems and branches that lie upright. The best way to safely remove accumulated snow is to lightly brush of the snow with your hand or a broom, sweeping towards the trunk of the tree.
4. Use Mulch: Mulch will help insulate your tree and control moisture throughout the winter. Be sure to distribute the mulch evenly by spreading three inches of mulch in a three foot ring around the tree, with a three inch gap around the trunk. This is known as the 3-3-3 rule.
5. Hydration: If you have planted a tree in the past two years, it is key to water it in the autumn until all of its leaves have fallen off, or (for trees that don’t lose their leaves) if all the leaves have turned brown. It is encouraged to water more mature trees before the ground freezes to allow for proper hydration. Also, during milder winters when the ground thaws, you should also water your trees periodically. This is especially important for conifers which retain their needles during the winter by constantly taking in moisture.
By executing these tips and guidelines, you will maintain the beauty of your property along with ensuring the safety of your home, valuables, and your loved ones. Have a wonderful and safe winter.