There is a lot you can do! Your goal should be to make sure your trees are sound, well-pruned, protected from severe winter weather, and an enhancement rather than a hazard to your and your neighbors’ properties.
START BY INSPECTING YOUR TREES
The best place to start is with a plan and a visual evaluation of your trees to identify any problems that could get worse over the winter. Here are some of the things to look for:
Do you see any broken or overloaded branches? Take care of them right away by having them professionally prunedIs there any damaged or diseased bark? This could split or peel during cold weather. Have it inspected by a Certified Arborist to make sure it won’t compromise your tree’s health when spring arrives. Are there branches overhanging into your neighbor’s yard? How about large, heavy branches hanging over your home? These could break and fall under heavy snow or ice load.Is it time to replenish mulch around your trees? If there’s less than an inch or two, it’s a good idea to top it up. You can find details on using mulch here. When was the last time you applied a slow-release fertilizer for your trees and shrubs? Most urban and suburban trees will benefit from the additional nutrients provided by a carefully blended organic fertilizer. Do you have any trees that have been cabled or braced? November or December is a good time to check the hardware to make sure it’s sound and won’t come apart in a winter storm. This should be done by a Certified Arborist every year.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Just like in your home, getting your garden and your trees prepared for winter is much easier than responding to a winter emergency.
BE PREPARED FOR SNOW AND ICE
Winter in northeast New Jersey is hard! It can feel like wind, ice, snow, warming, freezing, ice, snow, repeat. You can’t predict the weather, but you can be ready for it.
Snow and ice loads on tree branches can become so heavy that they break shrub and tree branches. The best way to keep your trees safe is to prune out any diseased or damaged areas that could fail in winter and to ensure that the tree’s structure can support the extra weight of snow or ice.
If you don’t get around to having your trees pruned before winter arrives, don’t worry. Many trees can be pruned during the dormant season. In fact, winter pruning has many benefits that make it a good choice for those of us who don’t get around to it until after the winter holiday season.