Although it’s only September your trees are already getting a head start on preparing for the winter. As the leaves begin to change color and eventually shed it’s important as property owners to give your trees a helping hand as they prepare for our often harsh and cold Jersey winter. Go through the below checklist to ensure that your trees are prepared for whatever type of winter Mother Nature throws at us!

  1. Cleanup
    Remember when you were a kid and you had to clean up before you could do something else? Preparing your yard for the winter works the same way. Before you can start to strengthen your trees you have to clean up the dead ones first. Remove dead or fallen trees or branches from your property, or if they’re too large, hire a tree removal company to do the job for you. Another way to cleanup your yard is to remove or replant wayward seedlings that have popped up a little too close to your home or other plants.
  2. Prune
    One of the last parts of the cleanup process is pruning. Pruning a tree consists of removing dead or dying branches, which fortifies the overall strength of a tree. This process is vital to sustaining the life of your trees throughout the winter, not to mention it protects your property. When heavy snow falls and sits on dying branches it can cause them to fall, in turn possibly damaging your property or your family. Get pruning before it snows!
  3. Wrap Trees
    Leaves provide an extra layer of protection for trees so when they die it’s important to keep protecting your trees in an alternative way. Wrapping your trees provides a layer of protection that helps them fight off winter sunscald and other bark-damaging conditions. You can wrap your tress Pro-tip: Wrap your trees top to bottom, that way moisture won’t collect in the folds!
  4. Water
    We’re all accustomed to draughts in the summer but what about winter draughts? Although we picture snow and ice, winters can be just as dry as summers so it’s important to give your trees a drink. Give your trees a little extra water during the fall months and mulch (read below) to retain moisture.
  5. Mulch
    Placing mulch around your trees helps them retain moisture and reduce temperature extremes in the soil during the dryer, colder winter months. An important thought to keep in mind when mulching is to remember to leave a 6-nch space between your tree and the mulch to discourage fungus growth on the actual trunk itself.
  6. Fertilize
    Between the hot summer and the cold winter, the soil around your trees is guaranteed to lose some of its nutrients. That’s why Autumn is the perfect time to give your trees a treat by treating their soil with fertilizer. A slow-release fertilizer should help sustain your trees throughout the winter as well as ward off damage, disease, and insects.
  7. Plant
    The last item on your fall checklist is plant. Who knew that when everything is dying it’s actually a perfect time to plant new life? Cooler late fall and winter temperatures are perfect for stimulating root growth in new trees. On the surface it might look like your tree is dying but below the ground its roots become strong and prepared for a quick spring growth spurt. Remember: Fall is the ideal time to plant baled and burlapped trees, however bare root trees should wait until later in the season, when they are completely dormant.

For simple checklists you can refer to at any point in the year, check out this year-round maintenance plan from the Rutgers Landscape and Nursery.

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