trees during winter

Trees During Winter: What You Need to Know

As the number one tree service in Cherry Hill and its surrounding areas, our licensed arborists at Bumblebee Tree Service entertain hundreds of requests for maintenance tips for plants and trees during winter. Residents and business owners are always curious about how trees survive the extreme cold temperatures of the winter months and how they stay alive without losing branches and root tissue with reduced sunlight.

In this explainer, our tree experts outline how trees survive winters. We also detail how you can prevent ice damage from killing or damaging their foliage under prolonged snow cover so you can look forward to the rest of the year with healthy-looking trees on your front lawn.

How Do Trees Survive the Winter Freeze?

Since trees and plants lose most of their leaves and small branches during autumn, most people believe winters are life-threatening, but this is incorrect. Healthy trees love winter as it gives them time to rest from fending off fungal infections and insect pests, which take advantage of their weakened immune systems during the fall.

During winter, trees rely on the following:

Root Networks

Trees in deciduous forests and tight groupings in urban areas can develop interlocking roots beneath nutritious soil, allowing them to share nourishment and moisture during prolonged winters.

For example, the Trembling Giant, a hundred-acre clonal colony of quaking aspens in Utah, is estimated to be at least 80,000 years old. It owes its survival to its root network growing several feet deep in the western Colorado Plateau, making it the heaviest living organism on Earth, weighing over 13 million pounds.

Root networks can help trees survive countless winters, but property owners often consider them a nuisance. Tree roots can climb walls, break through concrete, and penetrate underground sewer lines, which can be expensive to repair. Most trees during winter rely on soil nutrients to survive, and their roots will go wherever they can find compost and moisture.

You can prevent long-term ice damage to your trees by protecting their root systems with mulch before winter. Place grounded-up wood chips or pine bark in a circle about half a foot away from a tree base after the first hard frost, and make it five inches deep. Mulch helps give your trees nutrients as they decompose and keep soil temperatures manageable.

Bark Insulation

Trees endure twice the usual amount of ultraviolet radiation during winter months. On clear days, UV rays pour from the stratosphere and hit the snow covering the ground, which reflects it onto whatever is on top. Outdoor pipes, walls, and disposal bins with no UV-stable coatings will often develop cracks because of this event.

Most trees in countries with a winter season develop thick and rough barks, which help them insulate soft inner tissues from freezing external temperatures and disperse heat from direct sunlight. It also acts as a climate control system that keeps the internal temperatures of a tree suitable for cell division, although at minimal levels.

Like those in California and Texas, trees in temperate environments develop softer and thinner barks because they require fewer layers of insulation from the elements.

Needle Leaf Growth

Trees in climates with long winters develop conifers, also known as needle leaves. They have a waxy exterior coating that wicks away moisture and requires less water and nutrients to keep growing. Unlike broad-leaved trees, ones with conifers only lose damaged and old needles during autumn, enabling them to maximize photosynthesis during winter and develop fewer ice crystals.

Call the Tree Experts for More Information

Learn what you need to consider when fertilizing trees and how to maintain trees during winter by calling our Bumblebee Tree Service team at (609) 352-0499 and scheduling your free consultation.

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