Posted: January 19, 2015

In Rochester and throughout Southeast Minnesota, one of our greatest resources is something many of us take for granted: trees! For all trees do for us, we need to do our part in tree care. To keep your home or business' landscape looking its best, contact Maier Tree & Lawn for tree care in Rochester and Winona, MN. Imagine the view from a tall building or hill looking out across a great tree canopy of green. That’s all it should take to remind us of how blessed we are to live in an area so densely populated by these majestic giants. As we hurry about living our lives, they stand quietly around and above us protecting us from wind, rain, and heat. They help us breathe cleaner and pump literally tons of life-giving oxygen into the air every day. With winter here, it may not seem like a time to be actively involved in tree care, but that isn't quite true. Winter can be just as stressful and hard on trees as it is on us.

Year after year of stress can take a toll on a tree and, without proper care, can affect the tree’s health and lifespan. Once the leaves drop and cold and snow arrive, it’s easy to forget about tree care until spring. After all, aren't trees just dormant waiting for spring like many of us? The truth is, winter can be a hazardous time for trees.

Consider these problems:

Temperature Fluctuations During early and late winter, temperatures can be well above freezing during the day and near zero at night (or lower as proven last winter). Those temperature swings can wreak havoc on a tree’s structure, thawing and freezing moisture within the wood, expanding, and contracting.

Frost Cracks Frost cracks are usually longitudinal cracks resulting from extreme cold or temperature swings. They can be shallow or deep and once they begin, they reappear annually. The danger is that these cracks can cause a weak point in the tree and make it more susceptible to serious fracture.

Snow and Ice Breakage Heavy snow is especially a problem for evergreens. Their thick needles are the perfect place for snow to accumulate and weigh down branches. To help prevent permanent damage, gently brush snow away. Never shake the tree or branches vigorously because frozen branches can be brittle. For smaller evergreens, a good form of prevention is to gently tie branches together with flattened rope. As for ice-encased branches, especially on hardwoods, it may be tempting to knock off the ice. This can be dangerous for both the tree and for you. It’s best to just let the ice melt naturally.

Animal Damage When food is scarce in winter, trees become part of the menu for deer, rabbits and other rodents. In areas where deer are abundant, surrounding the bark with wire fence or mesh will discourage deer and send them elsewhere for their next meal. As for rodents like mice or voles, keep tall grass and weeds removed from around the base of the trunk. Move heavy mulch a foot or more from around the trunk since these provide a great winter habitat for the little critters. A layer of screen or gardening cloth wrapped around the bottom of the tree can also deter them.

To be sure you are taking proper precautions and steps to protect your trees during winter, consult a certified arborist, like those at Maier Tree & Lawn. They will know what is best for your specific trees in your yard or property. Without proper knowledge and equipment, a homeowner can actually damage a tree and put themselves in danger. In Rochester and Winona, contact the tree experts at Maier Tree and Lawn. Our team of certified arborists can advise you on a year-round program for tree care as well as provide expert pruning, damage removal, fertilizing and even cabling vulnerable limbs to prolong their life. At Maier Tree and Lawn, we care about the trees in our community and understand how vitally important they are to our environment.

If you have questions or concerns about any tree related issues, contact us at 507-286-8733 in Rochester or 507-454-7000 in Winona.

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