Four Tips For Caring For Trees This Winter

November 18, 2017

As your go-to tree service company in Alberta we’ve got tips to get you ready for spring; because in all honesty, we’re already thinking about it! With Fall here and winter coming (on December 21st if you want to be exact), you’ll definitely have noticed some major changes to the trees around you (aside from those pesky evergreens.) Now, you’re probably not thinking about it but there are some things to consider when it comes to your trees that you can start planning for right now- before spring hits!

Leaves going brown and falling is to be expected, but there could be other things happening to the trees on your property that could indicate that something bad is happening.

1) Losing Leaves Early

Say you’ve got three identical trees on your property- two lose their leaves in October, one is completely bare by August. What’s happening? It doesn’t indicate anything good: either the tree has grown more leaves than it can support and needs to be trimmed, there could be pests or the root system under the tree is giving the tree too much or too little water. Call us and let us take a look.

2) Spiders! Ew!

Although they make great free Halloween decorations, large spider webs in your trees don’t exactly look good. The good news is that most of the webs aren’t caused by spiders, but by fall webworms or Eastern tent caterpillars. Luckily, neither are bad for trees, so they’re only an eyesore. You can get rid of the webs themselves with a broom if they’re low enough, but to get rid of them for good you’ll to prune the branches where the pests are living.

3) No Room For Mushrooms

With the damp weather that will come in spring, mushrooms are going to grow on your lawn and possibly at the base of trees. Although there are fungal infections that can seriously damage trees, mushrooms at the base shouldn’t be a cause for concern- for the trees at least. There are quite a few species of poisonous mushrooms that can be a danger to children or pets, so if you see any at the base of your trees identify them and if they’re dangerous to get rid of them right away. There are a huge .pdf of edible and poisonous mushrooms here.

4) Evergreen, Now Brown

They might be evergreen, but pine and spruce aren’t evergreen. You might notice your evergreens turning brown from the bottom up, which could mean a few things: the most obvious is a lack of water, but this might not be so much of a problem in fall. Parasites are a more common problem: look out for small holes and sawdust, or bulges on branches and sap seeping from the trunk. Sorry to say that you’ll need expert help to fix this.

5) Maple Decline

Our national tree is understandably popular, but it suffers from a condition called ‘Maple Decline’, characterized by small leaves, early fall colour and whole branches dying off. If you see this then you need to de-stress your tree: light some candles, play a little Enya, and go through a checklist of what could be wrong with the tree: not enough water, not enough sunlight, not enough nutrients- it could be all or some of the above or another factor that only an expert could diagnose. Call us if you have trouble finding what’s stressing your tree.

6) Get TP out of Trees

If you’re that one guy on the block who gives out boxes of raisins instead of actual candy 1) take a good hard look at your life and choices and 2) you’re likely got TP’d on Halloween. Getting the TP out is hard- you’ll need a rake or leaf blower to get the low-hanging paper down, but if there’s paper higher up you could try spraying them with a high-power hose or you could call an arborist (like us), especially if your tree is near a power line. Don’t- absolutely don’t- set the toilet paper on fire. This has actually happened before and never once without the fire department being called.  If you need a hand call your friendly, neighbourhood tree service company in Alberta 😉

7) Fertilize Everything

In the wild, trees drop their leaves in the fall, the leaves decompose, and trees get a nice shot of nutrients. On your lawn, a tree drops its leaves, you rake the leaves and the tree (and the grass, shrubs and anything else) is left hungry. The easy answer, which also gets you out of doing yard work, is to not clean up leaves, but that’s not for everybody.

You should try to fertilize your lawn in the spring when the ground is still wet- that extra moisture will help the soil absorb nutrients. If you can, avoid adding fertilizer before heavy rain- it’ll wash the nutrients away and potentially into groundwater or streams, where it can do all kinds of crazy stuff. Also, try to fertilize after you mow so the fertilizer doesn’t get caught up in the long grass.

8) Get Back To Your Roots

The compacted soil around a trees root system makes it much more difficult for the tree to absorb water, which becomes a real problem in winter as the ground freezes. Get something like a screwdriver and try to drive it into the dirt around soil- if it’s difficult or impossible then you’ve got compacted soil. You can restore it by mixing compost into the topsoil and creating a ‘mulch ring’ around the tree- a mound of fertile soil that will drain into the soil beneath it. With very compacted soil you might need an aerator or to drill into the soil to break it up. Earthworms are a great way to keep the soil loose and aerated, so pick a few up and introduce them to your soil.

These are just a sample of the most common problems. There are a thousand other problems that can affect something as big and complex as a tree. We’ve seen a few, so if there’s anything that you need doing just let us know – your local tree service company in Alberta.