While the polar vortex has got you trapped inside and bundled up in layers and blankets, it is hard to believe that spring will ever get here. But spring is coming, bringing with it blooming flowers, warm weather and rich, green landscapes. Before you know it, the planting season will be upon us. Now is a great time to start planning ahead so that you’re well prepared for warmer weather.
Wisconsin is no stranger to ice and snow. Most people combat these slippery conditions by throwing road salt on driveways, walkways and, you guessed it, roads. Sure, the salt will help melt the ice, but it can also cause huge problems for your trees. As the weather gets warmer and the ground begins to thaw, that salty water seeps down into the soil, wreaking havoc on your tree’s roots resulting in severe tree damage and even death. To avoid this problem, always use salt sparingly, especially near trees or in areas that drain into tree beds. Whenever possible, use an alternative measure such as calcium chloride or sand. And be sure to flush out the soil surrounding trees with fresh water early in the spring to help reduce damage to the tree.
Lighted trees provide the perfect glow for the holidays, but leaving strands of lights wrapped tightly around tree branches with zip ties, wires or clamps can cut off water and nutrients, eventually killing individual branches. Even lights that are simply wrapped around trees can become embedded in the branch, causing irreparable damage. Before spring arrives, you should remove any lights that are wrapped around or secured to tress. If you are removing lights after the branches have leafed out, be sure to pay extra special attention to avoid damaging or pulling off the leaves.
While most people wait until the weather gets warmer to prune their trees, bushes and shrubs, the optimal time to cut and shape them is actually in the winter. Not only does this give the tree the entire growing season to recover from losing a limb or two, it cuts down on the spread of diseases from one tree to the next. This is especially important for trees such as oaks and elm that are highly susceptible to diseases. To avoid spreading oak wilt and Dutch elm disease, you should begin pruning these trees as early as November 1. If you haven’t done so by April 1, you should hold off on pruning until next year. This will help keep your trees healthy all year long and prevent the spread of disease.
It might seem strange to start planning your spring planting while there is still snow on the ground, but this is actually the best time to do it. Early in spring, when the ground first thaws, the soil is in prime condition for planting. Additionally, planting early will ensure that your plants, bushes and trees have the entire season to grow. It is best to do your research now to determine what types of trees you want to plant this year. Being prepared for the planting season gives you an opportunity to plant early and plant often!
The dreaded emerald ash borer will be back again this year so it’s best to have your trees measured for treatment before the snow melts away. Doing so will ensure that you are first on the treatment list when spring rolls around. If you wait until spring, or even until summer to have your trees measured, you might not get them treated before EAB takes their toll. Get your trees measured now to protect them from EAB and avoid dealing with the aftermath of those pesky bugs.
That nice thick blanket of snow may bring magic to the holidays, but for animals the snow presents a challenge to find food which can result in damage to your trees. Rabbits, meadow voles and deer spend the cold winter months scavenging for food, eating anything they can find, often at the expense of your trees. To ensure your trees’ health throughout the winter and into the growing season, check for gnaw marks and signs of animal damage on the bark. Keep in mind that you may need to brush the snow away to see the damage caused by the smaller rodents. If you find that animals have been snacking on your trees, use deer repellant and traps for the smaller animals to ward off future visitors.
For questions or help regarding your trees or to schedule a measurement for treatment, please contact First Choice Tree Care at 262-242-1274 or visit www.firstchoicetreecare.com.