Get Your Trees Ready for the Polar Coaster

Although we are just barely at the tail end of Summer, we’re already being reminded of snowier and colder days ahead. According to the experts, the Great Lakes Region is in for a wild ride this Winter! One meteorologist dared to call it a ‘Polar Coaster’ indicating a wild ride of temperature extremes.

Last Winter, many of you lost Boxwoods, Japanese Maples, Burning Bushes and Dogwoods. Unfortunately, we could go on. It seems like everyone’s property we visited this year lost at least a tree or line of shrubs due to last Winter’s polar vortex. All of that devastation was due to a single, three-day period where the temperatures dipped to a staggering 20-30º below zero with wind chills as low as 40-50º below zero. If it happens again in back to back years, especially with temperatures bouncing between extreme highs and lows which is even more consequential, trees that were stressed last Winter and showed only slight damage in 2019 may ultimately succumb this Winter. Trees you may not even realize are stressed right now may suffer noticeable damage in 2020, or worse.

Trees suffering from ‘Fire Blight’ (small dead leaves and limbs on Pear, Crabs and other varieties) or Botryosphaeria Canker (individual larger dead limbs with curling bark on many varieties of trees), both prevalent, do not need the added stress of a harsh winter.

A high percentage of our clients have their trees professionally fertilized in the Fall. Many have this service performed both Spring and Fall but feeding once a year is crucial in our opinion. Proper fertilization prepares trees for a harsh Winter as well as the following growing season. We perform this service with high pressure, underground feeding probes which delivers twenty-two (22) beneficial minerals, nutrients and amino acids to tree roots for your most valuable trees to make them as strong as possible. Your trees will thank you for it.

If you are already feeding your trees you are doing the best possible thing you can do for them. If not, you might want to consider having us quote root fertilization, at the very least for trees that are of extreme value to your property.

Have a great Fall and enjoy it while it lasts!

TREES OR SHRUBS WITH CROTCH SPLITS OR THAT BENT OVER DURING WINTER?

Quite often we see trees or shrubs with limbs tied together with rope or wire. Tying with rope or wire should only be considered a temporary fix (a month or so) until you can perform what we suggest below.

We will see trees and bushes tied with rope or wire that homeowners then forget to remove. Over time it will cut into the branching and ends up killing the plant they were trying to save.

tree cable with eyeboltsThis photo shows the correct way to draw limbs together and secure them. It is far better to actually sink eyebolts directly into the limbs and wire the eyebolts together. In doing so they can be left there indefinitely for future support. This photo example was performed on Arborvitae.

For tree limbs, you can actually drill all the way through the limbs and put a washer and nut on the outside end of the eyebolts or even send a threaded rod (available at hardware stores) through the branches and connect the ends with washers and nuts.  For bigger trees with big splits, hire a reputable tree company that can offer ‘cable bracing’ or ‘bolting.

tree cablingThis photo is of a 250 year old Oak on our owner’s property. The 20 inch diameter limb section on the left split vertically over 12 feet down the trunk. The open air gap between the branch section and the trunk was 8 inches wide and the slightest wind kept widening the split. The tree was ‘bolted’ with two half inch diameter hardened lengths of threaded steel rods (red arrows). The branch was ‘drawn’ back toward the trunk during the process and has now held for 30 years, saving the tree.

If you need bushes or small trees secured you will have to find someone handy in your family to perform the work. If you have a large tree you can call our office for a recommendation of a company who can help you.  We hope you found this educational and helpful!

WINTER INJURY

We are seeing a number of different types of trees and shrubs that have apparently suffered damage or died over the Winter. It seems that the most affected are those shrubs that retain their leaves over the winter such as Boxwoods, Euonymus, Holly, Azaleas and Rhododendron. But some plants seem to have just up and died. Japanese Maples seem to be particularly hard hit as well.

boxwood winter injuryThe Boxwoods shown in the photo are an ‘extreme’ example. These shrubs should be fairly dark green in color. The red arrow points to the color these shrubs should be. These Boxwoods will not recover and will need to be removed and replaced.

While any winter can be stressful to certain trees and shrubs, this past winter was particularly devastating with its 30 to 60° below zero wind chills. This is why we tell folks to water trees and shrubs going into December if we experience a dry Fall. It is important to fully hydrate plants prior to ground freeze to limit possible damage.  At the very least, we recommend not planting Boxwoods. They seem to suffer damage far more frequently than any other plant.

Note…Any time you see winter damage on plants, don’t be hasty and remove them. Hand snipping will remove whatever browning exists and then wait to see what new growth appears in Spring and early Summer. If the damage is minor and the plant is still aesthetically pleasing to you, you won’t need to remove it.

On a separate note, we are also telling folks to avoid planting any Spruce trees because of the growing Rhizosphaera Needle Cast situation which we mentioned several times last season. If you need evergreen or pine type recommendations, we suggest planting Hemlocks and White Pine in more shady areas and Concolor Fir, Vanderwolf and/or White Fir in more sunny areas. Avoid Blue Spruce or Colorado Green Spruce.