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Winter Drought

by on February 3, 2012

Just because it is wintertime, doesn’t mean your outdoor chores are over. Your trees continue to need care throughout the cold weather. You should make sure there is a thin layer of mulch around your trees and ornamentals to help them retain water and to reduce temperature extremes. The mulch will act like a blanket and give the tree’s roots extra protection.

Trees also need water now, just like they do in the summertime. Winter droughts can be just a severe as summer droughts.  If temperatures permit, you should water your trees occasionally, it can be a life saver. Experts say when the ground is not frozen, trees need at least an inch of water a week. But make sure you only water when the soil is not frozen, otherwise the water may freeze and cause your plants to suffocate.

Wintertime is also the perfect time to prune your trees. It’s easier to see the tree’s structural problems without leaves blocking the way. You should prune off the dead limbs and the ones that are growing improperly, like limbs that cross other branches.  Dense trees can also be pruned to reduce wind resistance which also lowers their risk of being blown over. Plus winter pruning can also reduce ice and snow damage to the trees and nearby structures.

When snow falls you can help unburden your trees by gently brushing from its limbs all that loose snow. And watch where you use de-icing salt. It’s very harmful to trees and other plants because experts say it restricts the root system from absorbing water, creating a drought-like situation. Choose environmentally friendly alternatives like sand, sawdust, ashes and non-clumping kitty litter.

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