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Caring for your yard and landscaping probably falls off your to-do list somewhere between Halloween and the end of Daylight Saving Time. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to realize the importance of winter tree care. Healthy trees benefit your property value and curb appeal, and they increase in value over time. Winter is actually an ideal time to give your trees some attention. We’ll tell you why, along with some things to watch out for during these cold months

Why Winter is a Great Time for Tree Care

Because many homeowners believe there’s nothing to do this time of year with regard to yard maintenance, tree care professionals tend to have fewer demands on their time. They’re more able to service your yard on your schedule. If you put jobs off until spring when the demand for residential tree care services is higher, you may have to wait longer before a certified arborist can get to you.

Since deciduous trees shed their leaves in winter, a tree care professional can more readily see and access problem areas. It’s a great time for an inspection and tree maintenance services that could head off any dangerous situation when spring storms begin. You can even conduct your own periodic visual checks and then call if you notice new or worsening tree damage. Spotting issues now prevent the development of more costly problems in the long run. The lack of leaves in winter also makes it an easier season for an arborist to prune branches and haul them away.

Another advantage to having tree maintenance done in the winter is reduced risk of harm to your other landscaping: When the ground is frozen and your prize tulips are tucked safely below the surface, you don’t have to worry about yard damage from tree trimming equipment or falling branches.

Winter Tree Pruning

While tornadoes and thunderstorms plague the spring and summer, winter in the Midwest brings its own weather hazards. Branches weighed down with snow or ice can fall and cause property damage to your house, car, or driveway. The potential impact isn’t limited to your property, however. Falling branches can potentially block roadways, take down power lines — you don’t want to be the neighbor whose tree knocked out power to the whole block on a cold night! — and most importantly, cause serious injury to people.

One way to help minimize the risk of heavy snowfall on branches is by carefully brushing off snow from the branches you can reach with a broom. However, if you notice a branch about to break, call a certified arborist or tree service company right away to prevent a serious issue. A professional should prune branches that look weak or show signs of disease, especially if they hang over your house, driveway, or power lines.

Regular tree pruning and trimming will also promote healthy future growth, but only if it is done correctly. Trees actually benefit from healthy pruning, which allows them to use nutrients more efficiently. However, cutting branches too close or too far from the trunk can cause the reverse effect. This is especially important for younger trees, which are growing quickly.

Winter is also a great time to remove dead or diseased wood: pruning your trees in the late winter lets you address any issues before new growth occurs. Additionally, if you wait until warmer months to identify problem trees, you may be delayed in getting your tree care issues resolved. So if there’s pruning to be done, don’t wait another season — get it done this winter!

Staking, Weeding, and Mulching

Trees face other threats during winter, some of which you can address on your own. It’s a good time to remove old stakes from young trees and, if necessary, replace them. Weeding is easy during winter, since the roots of the weeds are weakened in their dormant state. Clear the weeds from the bases of your trees as well as from your flower beds.

Mulching the base of a tree helps protect the roots during winter. A thin layer of mulch acts as an insulator and helps retain moisture. This can prevent frost heaving and winter drought, both caused by frozen soil.

Keeping up with these simple routine tasks, in conjunction with regular professional tree inspections and maintenance, will keep trees healthy for years. Winter is the perfect time to address those tree care tasks so you will be able to enjoy your yard when warm weather returns.