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28 Dec 2017

Protecting Tree Service Hampton Roadss From Winter Damage

Protecting Tree Service Hampton Roadss From Winter Damage

Winter weather — you know it’s coming, but there’s no stopping it. Even in the South, the impact of winter can take a toll, especially where poorly advised homeowners plant trees in USDA Zone 7 that are best suited for Zone 9. In the North, extreme fluctuations in temperature and moisture can wreak havoc with the survivability of valuable specimens. The question is, since it’s inevitable, how can we at least slow it down or lessen the effects?

The best way to address winter protection is with the mindset that it’s much easier to prevent than cure. Actually, this is also true for lots of tree maladies, including fungal infections, planting errors, soil compaction, irrigation equipment installation and most insect infestations. Putting toothpaste back in the tube after it’s been squeezed out, or in this case, water back into the tree after winter, is much harder than preventing it from being lost in the first place.

As we all know, there are many parts to a tree, all of which would benefit from protection, or at least, prevention of damage in winter. Many of these parts are seen — bark, leaves, trunk, limbs, flowers and fruit, and many are unseen — roots, heartwood, sapwood and cambium. In terms of protecting them, focusing efforts on three main tree structures will yield positive results:


  • The goal for root protection is centered around hydration; we want them moist, not soggy or dry heading into winter. As summer turns to fall, and fall produces the glory of colors and textures that it’s known for, monitoring for soil moisture is a key stop in winter protection. While your customers’ kids are making piles of leaves and jumping in them in autumnal bliss, digging a few holes or simply poking a piece of rebar into the soil in various locations of the root system will provide a good snapshot of how moist the soil is at any given time.

Compaction from small or large vehicles is an issue when wet soils are compressed.

  • There are several reasons why soil moisture monitoring is important. First, most homeowners don’t know how to do it themselves, what “moist” actually means or where the roots are.
  • Second, all the above-ground parts of the plant depend on soil moisture for continued hydration throughout the winter. Third, it allows the tree care provider an opportunity to strengthen the client relationship and provide instructions on how to water trees properly in fall.

Dehydration of conifers in winter is a considerable concern.

  • No question about it, watering trees in fall is more difficult than in spring and summer. In most cases, in mid to late fall, customers ask their sprinkler service provider to blow out their system to prevent damage from freezing of water in the lines once temperatures plunge into the mid 20s. Once the sprinkler system is nonoperational, one valuable tool has been removed, requiring watering to be done with hoses, temporary drip lines and ad hoc sprinklers drained after each use. These devices can be quite effective, but they’re less convenient to use.

Leaves and buds

  • For most clients, leaves are the symbol of tree health they see every day. From a plant healthcare standpoint, leaves are only one of the many important tree parts, but certainly a very important one indeed. For deciduous trees, the focus is on the buds and new twigs as they contain tissues that are ready to push forth leaves and flowers for the following year. Fortunately, these are covered with bud scales that function to retain moisture. But in some severe winters, they may not be sufficiently thick to prevent desiccation. Conifers can lose water through two structures, the leaves/needles and buds. Again, windy days and cold temperatures can accelerate the drying of essential tissues.
  • Two main methods can be utilized for preventing loss of hydration in leaves and buds: the previously mentioned soil moisture monitoring and watering, and applications of anti-desiccant products to coat the needles with a light arboricultural wax in an effort to retain moisture. Though products may vary slightly in terms of application timing and length of protection, a time frame of every six week should be considered. If it helps with marketing, it can be tied to winter holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Be sure to read and follow all label directions when applying these products.


  • Trunks are the sometimes overlooked “prone to iHampton Roadsury” tree part. The most common iHampton Roadsuries in winter are from rodents and sunscald. Mice, voles, squirrels and rabbits are often frolicking about in December and January, looking for something to eat. They find tree trunks, especially young ones, to be a tasty treat. Typically, they chew bark and cambium tissues, interrupting nutrient and water flow. Installing PVC collars are a good way to prevent this sort of damage.
  • Sunscald occurs on sunny days in winter when the rays of the sun warm the outer bark layers, softening them and the cambium underneath, causing a dehardening of the tissue. The iHampton Roadsury occurs when temperatures plunge into the teens and single digits after sunset, causing the moisture in the softened tissues to crystallize. When repeated several times over the winter, the bark and conductive tissues flake off and become nonfunctional.
  • If painted a light color, white or beige, PVC collars work well to reflect winter sunlight and lessen the degree of the iHampton Roadsury.

This type of winter protection is good for sunscald but lacking for rodent damage prevention. PVC buried below grade is called for when it comes to mice and voles.

Other considerations

  • During winter thaws, tree roots are especially susceptible to damage from compaction from heavy equipment; even normal-size trucks can impart sufficient compressing force to cause damage to roots. These types of damage are often hidden or removed in the memory of customers when trees fail to perform well the following year. They simply don’t see the cause and effect, as the length of time that has occurred between the compaction and the thinned canopy or stunted growth prevents them from considering it as a contributing factor. It’s the job of the tree care provider to remind them of possible causes when visual symptoms are observed in the growing season.
  • One of the most dramatic influences in winter is wind damage. The forces of Mother Nature are often unpredictable and unrelenting. From a protection standpoint, it’s important to inspect tree crowns and branch attachments in late fall to note any suspect limbs and areas of concern. When observed, create a proposal to convince customers that action is needed to prune and stabilize defects to prevent them from further damage to the tree, the trees around them and from falling on valuable targets in winter.
  • In regions of the country where snowfall is common in winter, trees that are in close proximity to sidewalks, streets and parking lots are susceptible to iHampton Roadsury from being struck with a snow plow. The iHampton Roadsury from being struck with a fast-moving truck with a snow blade is difficult for a tree to recover from, as bark, cambium and sapwood are usually ripped loose and dehydrate the tree in the process. Installing snow stakes in late fall can reduce the damage, but perhaps the most effective prevention technique is simple and straightforward conversation with the snow removal provider.
  • In these same regions, ice melt products are commonly used to prevent pedestrians and vehicles from slipping on the ice and causing damage to their bodies and cars/trucks alike. Prevention of damage to trees from these materials isn’t easy, as the best (and cheapest) product to remove ice is caustic to cement and damaging to tree and shrub roots, as well. Less caustic options, such as calcium magnesium acetate, are less damaging but more expensive. Another option is to use less ice melt product and mix sand with driveway salt for traction. Of course, then the undesirable result is the need to sweep up the sand, as well as the possible negative effects of mixing sand with clay soils where tree roots are growing. Sand and clay mixtures are not desirable for root growth, as they provide less capacity for oxygen exchange, water penetration and root expansion.

The post Protecting Tree Service Hampton Roadss From Winter Damage appeared first on Tree Service Hampton Roads Services.

20 May 2017
Tree Removal

Recovering from Winter Damage

Limb breakage caused by excessive winds is always a concern in winter. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

You may be prepping yourself for “the call” … the one where the customer just starts describing a malady on their tree that wasn’t there in late fall. Especially after a drought, this is a likely scenario. Unfortunately, these calls will not be rare, easy to fix or linked exclusively to the drought — quite the contrary. As a tree professional, your job is to determine what happened and how to provide the best solution. Fortunately, in many cases, a positive course of action can be devised that provides both good tree care and profits for your business.

The symptoms of callus formation and graying heartwood indicate that this is an old iHampton Roadsury, not recent winter damage. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

The symptoms of callus formation and graying heartwood indicate that this is an old iHampton Roadsury, not recent winter damage. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Distinguish from other damage

Determining the exact cause of the damage that occurred over winter can be difficult. Two indicators can be helpful in the quest to discover the cause: the uniformity of the appearance of the iHampton Roadsury, and how long the signs and symptoms have been evident.

Though not always the case, winter iHampton Roadsury tends to be uniform, at least at first glance. Since winter iHampton Roadsury usually occurs due to an abiotic factor, it’s common for one side or a localized portion of the tree to be affected rather than the entire tree, such as in the case with pathogenic diseases or insect-related causes.

The symptom of a “fresh” iHampton Roadsury is another key to distinguishing winter damage from existing maladies. Winter iHampton Roadsury takes on a certain look that speaks out as if it just happened, as opposed to the grayed, dull appearance of older instances of insult to the tree. Tree tissues that are dried out, softened or responding to the iHampton Roadsury in an attempt to compartmentalize the wound are good indicators of damage that has been present for a growing season or longer.

Sunscald causes a major disruption in cambial flow. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Sunscald causes a major disruption in cambial flow. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Types of winter iHampton Roadsury

One of the most obvious winter iHampton Roadsuries is desiccation, caused by a drying of the leaves, stems or roots. Most common on evergreens such as arborvitae, yew, pine and spruce, desiccation is most commonly caused by winds passing across the tissue surface repeatedly. Without sufficient protective layers in place, the inner cell sap evaporates, or is simply removed, and the remaining tissue turns from green to brown.

A common winter iHampton Roadsury of deciduous trees is sunscald. During winters where intense sun causes a warming of the trunk bark on the south and west side of the tree, these tissues soften during the day. When cold temperatures return at night, the tissues are damaged slightly due to the warming/cooling cycle. Though not always the case, damage from sunscald seemingly occurs more often on thin-barked trees, such as red maple and white ash, in the first 10 or so years of growth. Several options exist for prevention of sunscald from placing a protective collar in place to painting the trunk with white paint to reflect the winter sun.

Mice, voles, squirrels and rabbits can cause extensive damage over winter. As these critters search for food, a tree trunk is commonly determined to be suitable, especially when other food sources are covered with snow and ice. The protective collars mentioned above are effective in reducing feeding damage as long as they cover the majority of the trunk surface.

Winter storms are one of the most frustrating forms of winter iHampton Roadsury, as there are few preventative measures that can be taken to reduce it, yet the potential for significant iHampton Roadsury remains high. When winter winds or extensive snow loading cause branches to bend beyond their capacity, the result is often breakage. In addition to the removal of necessary photosynthetic surfaces, limb breakage exposes inner tissues that are prone to decay, potentially causing a sturdy tree to change into a hazardous one, depending on where it is located on the property.

Breakage from a storm. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Breakage from a storm. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Especially in the North, construction projects are usually delayed until temperatures are conducive to ease in soil movement and manipulation in spring. However, in some cases, such as water line breakage, repairs must be made in winter, causing a severing of the root system and compaction of soil particles. These insults are iHampton Roadsurious at any time, but when they occur in winter, the tree is less able to prevent drying and begin compartmentalization of the wounds.

In addition to the causes of winter damage that are due to definable factors, there are maladies that occur due to unknown forces, or a combination of the causes mentioned above. In these cases, the only real information that is available for assistance with diagnosis is that the tree was in good health in the fall, and in the subsequent spring it appears differently. Though it may not provide much solace in times of frustration over diagnosing these problems, consider that approximately half of the tree is underground, out of view, and may be more related to issues such as girdled roots or deep planting than winter damage.


Recovery from winter iHampton Roadsury is directly tied to the cause of the damage. Unfortunately, in many situations, recovery steps involve minimizing the appearance of the symptoms and practices intended to prevent further damage instead of actions that will instantly cause the tree to improve.

Desiccation on tree tissues with a history of damage can be prevented, or at least lessened, through applications of horticultural wax products in late fall and during periods when temperatures exceed freezing. For the best results, these products should be applied every five to seven weeks and allowed to dry during daytime hours before freezing temperatures return in the evening. Trees with a high level of importance can be screened with burlap or plastic sheeting to reduce the effects of damaging winds. Once the leaf tissue has dried out, not much can be done to replace it. Corrective action is based on removing affected areas, making pruning cuts back to viable buds and green tissue.

When you think of winter damage, you think of desiccation. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

When you think of winter damage, you think of desiccation. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Recovery from feeding by unwelcome animals is similar to dealing with desiccation. In an urban area, choices for directly reducing the critter population are usually strongly restricted, leaving protective devices as the main course of action. When placing protective collars around trees several factors should be considered. First, the material should be tough enough to resist feeding by the animal, yet sufficiently flexible to prevent damage to the trunk. Collars made from PVC provide this balance better than other materials like kraft paper, vinyl wrappings and steel plating. Secondly, the collar should be a light color to reflect the warm solar rays, keeping the bark temperature as even as possible during the day and nighttime hours. Finally, the collar should protect the entire distance of potential damage, from the lower limbs to several inches into the soil.

Storm breakage recovery is mostly a matter of removing the broken limbs from the property and making clean cuts on the tree trunk to allow the tree to begin the isolation or compartmentalization process. In many cases, especially when the damage occurs close to or in the trunk, some level of uneven bark and heartwood cannot be prevented. When breakage occurs in the middle of a limb, using the traditional three-cut method works well to encourage recovery.

Winter construction projects can cause iHampton Roadsury through root severing and compaction. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Winter construction projects can cause iHampton Roadsury through root severing and compaction. Photo: John C. Fech, UNL

Removal and compaction of soil in winter can cause serious stress, depending on the size of the affected area. A positive recovery step is to make clean cuts on the roots that were torn or shredded from the construction equipment. Of course, in some cases this is not possible, as new or existing soil is placed over the damaged roots soon after the iHampton Roadsury occurs. Yet, if feasible, this type of recovery step is one to endeavor to make.

Recovery from an unknown cause of winter damage is difficult to prescribe. However, in many situations, providing good plant health care and best management practices is a step in the right direction. The steps of proper mulch placement, soil aeration, separating turf from ornamentals/trees, keeping the soil moist but not dry or soggy, soil testing to determine nutritional deficiencies, placing trees where they have sufficient room to grow well, choosing disease-resistant trees, and planting trees in such a way that the uppermost roots are at or slightly above soil grade will go a long way towards assisting your customers in concerns of an unknown nature.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2013 and has been updated.

The post Recovering from Winter Damage appeared first on Tree Services.

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