By Bill Reichenbach Certified Arborist WI-0188A
Most of you have heard of the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”. A good motto for us all to follow for the many issues life throws our way. When thinking of trees this time of year, we need to consider the coming winter season. There are things we can do ‘soon’ to prepare and protect trees and shrubs from the stresses of winter weather and from various four legged creatures.
- Younger, smaller tree trunks need protection from buck deer antler rubbing. In fall, put fences around young trees (see picture). Wire mesh fencing is easy to work with. Wood or metal stakes can be helpful in keeping the fencing in place as well as zip ties or twine.
- The bark of young tree trunks is also susceptible to the feeding of small rodents (mice and voles). Placing hardware cloth (flexible steel wire screen) around the trunk creates a physical barrier and keeps the critters from damaging or killing your tree. Plastic spiral or paper tree wrap are options as well. DO remove in spring; you do not want the protective material girdling your tree.
- If mulch is thin or bare around your trees or shrubs, mulch before winter. This will insulate the plant to moderate the freeze/thaw cycle. Mulch will also help hold soil moisture throughout the winter. Remember DO NOT pile mulch up the trunk of trees or stems of plants.
- If Mother Nature does not provide about 1” of rain per week we may need to water yet this fall. Pay special attention to newly planted trees and shrubs, and to evergreens.
- As winter comes closer and rabbits will change their feeding patterns. Up until frost, they will primarily feed on green leafy materials. With a killing frost, they have no choice but to feed on our trees and shrubs. Various repellants are effective and placing fencing around plants is an option as well.
- Preparing your trees for next season also includes fall fertilization, root bio-stimulants and micronutrients as needed. Root systems are fully functioning well after leaf drop in the fall. Fall soil injections are readily absorbed by the tree to enhance root development, disease resistance and strong growth in spring.
- Once leaves begin to fall, it is easier to view tree structure. This is a great time to look at trees for pruning needs. Winter is also an ideal time for pruning.
So, even though the growing season will be coming to a close, the care of your landscape plants continues. Do not hesitate to call your Wachtel Certified Arborist, with any questions you may have, winter is coming ‘Be Prepared’.