Kids are picking out Halloween costumes, leaves are changing colors, there’s jack-o-laterns on every step; yes, Halloween is just around the corner and more importantly: Winter is coming. Luckily it’s not a decade long winter like in Game of Thrones but still, it’s on it’s way.
Our yards look beautiful in their autumn colors now, but we know the snow will come and blanket our homes, lawns, and trees with beautiful white snow. While the snow is beautiful it can wreak havoc on our trees. Below are 5 common conditions that can affect your trees during the winter months and how to identify them.
Cold damage, or damage due to cold winter temperatures, can take many different forms when it comes to damaging your trees. Extreme temperature changes like the change from heat from the sun during the day to freezing temperatures at night can damage even the strongest of mature trees. This stress can result in the cracking of a tree’s bark as well as its inner wood. Cold damage can also strike in trees that grow later in the fall months. Late season tree growth makes trees vulnerable because they do not have enough time to prepare for the early frosts of the winter.
Although we associated snow, ice, and hail with winter, this season is not invincible to droughts. This condition is actually quite common and can push trees towards starvation. Winter drought occurs when a tree loses more water than it can absorb from the frozen ground. Evergreen trees are especially susceptible to drying out and dying during the harsh winter months.
Frost heaving happens when soils swells upwards during freezing conditions due to an increasing presence of ice as grows towards the surface. This particular condition is most commonly associated with cracking and lifting sidewalks and pavement but it can also have adverse side consequences on trees. Trees are physically above the soil however their roots deal with frost heaving right where it’s happening. Frost heaving can weaken roots considerable and make trees more susceptible to falling.
Sunburn to humans is like sunscald to a tree. Trees get sun scald when the sun heats up their bark on cold winter days. Once the sun is blocked by a cloud or building the tree’s temperatures drop, killing the tissues previously activated by the sun. Sunscald is characterized by deep cracks in the outer bark and inner wood of your tree normally on the south or southwest side.
The final common damage that can plague your trees during the winter is damage due to animals. Some animals, most commonly deer, mice, and rabbits, target trees in the winter months when their food is scarce. These animals munch on the tree’s bark, twigs, and foliage. Deer can become an even bigger problem by rubbing their antlers on trees and damaging them that way.
For more information on preparing your yard for these upcoming winter conditions, check out our last blog post.