Whether you like it or not, winter is coming. The leaves are nearly done falling and the trees are bare.
Here are some tips from the Colorado State Forest Service you can use to help keep your trees healthy during the winter months.
Wrap the trunk. In Colorado, thin-barked trees like honeylocust, maple and linden are susceptible to sunscald and frost cracks because of drastic winter temperature fluctuations. To prevent bark damage, wrap the trunks of younger trees up to the first branches using commercial tree wrap. Leave the wrap on until early April.
Mulch the base. Apply two to four inches of wood chips, bark or other organic mulch near the base of the tree, but not against it, to reduce soil evaporation, improve water absorption and insulate against temperature extremes. Some community recycling programs provide wood chips free of charge.
Recycle leaves. Instead of disposing of autumn leaves, consider layering them around the base of each tree as mulch, or blend them into the yard with a mulching mower to retain nutrients.
Give them a good drink. Before storing the garden hose for winter, water trees in the area extending from the trunk to the extent of the longest branches. Water slowly, with a sprinkler or soaker hose, at the rate of ten gallons per inch of tree diameter.
Focus on younger trees. With less-extensive root systems, younger trees need the most care.
Wait to prune until winter. Late winter in the best time for pruning most tree species, but it can be done whenever trees are dormant over the winter months. Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches and improve tree form. Always prune just outside the branch collar - the point where a branch joins a larger one - and don't remove any branches without good reason.
Community Forestry Program Manager for the Colorado State Forest Service Keith Wood says urban and other planted trees often require additional, regular watering over the winter. During extended dry periods - more than two weeks without snow cover - provide supplemental water. The best time for winter watering is on warmer days, when snow has melted off and the temperature is above 40 degrees.
For more information, visit: http://csfs.colostate.edu/.