Tree Maintenance

Winter Injury – Part 4: October 2019

Salt Damage
Salts used for deicing pavements can cause damage to trees and shrubs. Symptoms of salt damage appear in spring and early summer and include browning of evergreens, leaf scorch, branch die back, and dead areas in turf. Branches and twigs can be killed from aerial deposits, and roots can be damaged from salt remaining in the soil. Salt will leach through well-drained soils, but damage can be extensive in poorly drained soils. Choose salt-tolerant species for sites where salt stress may be a problem.

Damage By Animals
Mice and rabbits often damage young trees in the winter by feeding on the bark and girdling the trees. Damage occurs most commonly when there is prolonged, heavy snow cover, and food is scarce. Rabbits feed on the bark above the snow, while mice feed near the ground level. Mouse damage is usually more severe when the trees are surrounded by heavy grass, weed cover, or heavy mulch, so it is helpful to pull mulch away from trunks and branches. The most effective deterrent to girdling by mice or rabbits is to wrap the trunk and low branches of young trees with screen wire or hardware cloth from below the ground line to high enough above the possible snow line to prevent rabbits from reaching the trunk or branches. To help control mouse damage, maintain an area free of grass or weeds for a 1 to 2 foot radius around the base of the tree. Various chemicals are available to repel mice and rabbits, but are often not reliable in wet weather.

Minimizing Winter Injury

  • Select hardy species and cultivars.
  • Avoid late-summer fertilization or pruning, which might stimulate new growth.
  • Water trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, during dry periods until the ground freezes.
  • Use mulch to conserve soil moisture and insulate the roots from cold temperatures.
  • Protect evergreens from wind and salt spray with burlap screens.
  • Apply anti-desiccant to evergreens starting in late fall, following label instructions.

We’re Here To Help!
Top Tree LLC is your best choice for any tree trimming needs in Pasco. All of our technicians are highly trained and properly certified. We are happy to answer any questions you have now or in the future.

Winter Injury – Part 2: October 2019

Frost Cracks
Frost cracks, often called radial shakes, show up as shallow to deep up and down cracks in the trunk of trees. They mostly appear in winter at temps below 15°F. Frost cracks often occur on the south or southwest sides of trees because this part of the tree experiences the greatest temperature changes between day and night. A sudden drop in temperature causes the outer layer of wood to shrink quicker than the inner layer, which causes a long up and down the crack at weak points in the trunk. Once a frost crack occurs on a tree, it is likely to appear annually.

Sunscald
A stretched out canker found on the trunk of thin-skinned trees and is often referred to as “sunscald”. Sunscald often shows up on the south or southwest side of trees following a sudden exposure to direct sun. In winter, the temperatures on the sun-side of the trunk may exceed air temperatures by as much as 20°F. This is thought to trigger deacclimation of trunk tissue. The bark slowly darkens, turns reddish-brown, and becomes rough. After a time, the callus tissue eventually cracks and falls away. Sometimes only the outermost cambium layer is damaged and a sunken area appears on the trunk. Affected trees often have sparse foliage, stem dieback, and stunted growth.

Seasonal Burn On Evergreens
A browning leaf tip on evergreens in late winter and early spring is a form of winter injury. Browning occurs from the needle tips towards the rest of the needle. Symptoms of winter burn are present on many narrow-leafed evergreens, such as hemlock, juniper, pine, and yew, and broad-leaved evergreens, such as boxwood and rhododendron. Winter burn is usually attributed to desiccation or loss of water through leaf transpiration. Winter sun and winds dry needles. Water in the stems and roots is frozen and unavailable to replenish the loss. A rapid drop in temperature after a warm sunny day can also cause further injury to the plant. Applying an antitranspirant, also called anti-desiccant, helps reduce transpiration and minimizes damage to the foliage. At least two applications per season, one in December and another in February are usually necessary to provide protection all winter.

We’re Here To Help!
Top Tree LLC is your best choice for any tree trimming needs in Kennewick. All of our technicians are highly trained and properly certified. We are happy to answer any questions you have now or in the future.

Advanced Tree Pruning For Beginners – July 2019: Part 6

In our efforts to educate and share knowledge for properly pruning the trees on your property, we are continuing with this topic for July.

For branches too large to be cut with a hand pruner or lopping shears, pruning saws must be used. Pruning saws differ greatly in handle styles, the length and shape of the blade, and the layout and type of teeth. Most have tempered metal blades that retain their sharpness for many pruning cuts. Unlike most other saws, pruning saws are often designed to cut on the “pull-stroke.”

Chain saws are preferred when pruning branches larger than about 10 cm. Chain saws should be used only by qualified individuals. To avoid the need to cut branches greater than 10 cm diameter, prune when branches are small.

Pole pruners must be used to cut branches beyond reach. Generally, pruning heads can cut branches up to 4.4 cm diameter and are available in the bypass and anvil styles. Once again, the bypass type is preferred.

For cutting larger branches, saw blades can be fastened directly to the pruning head, or a separate saw head can be purchased. Because of the danger of electrocution, pole pruners should not be used near utility lines, except by qualified utility line clearance personnel.

To ensure that satisfactory cuts are made and to reduce fatigue, keep your pruning tools sharp and in good working condition. Hand pruners, lopping shears, and pole pruners should be periodically sharpened with a sharpening stone. Replacement blades are available for many styles. Pruning saws should be professionally sharpened or periodically replaced. To reduce cost, many styles have replaceable blades.

Using Top Tree LLC
Top Tree LLC is your best choice for any tree stump removal needs in the Tri-Cities. All of our technicians are highly trained and properly certified. We are happy to answer any questions you have now or in the future.

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