The chill of winter is steadily sinking in here in Maryland. If you’re like the rest of us, you have probably already begun shoring up your home’s defenses against the coming weather. But before you batten down the hatches and close up for the season, be sure to take care of your trees, too! Follow along to learn more about the most common winter tree ailments, and what you can do to prevent damage and protect your landscape’s trees!
Common Winter Challenges for Trees in Maryland
Trees vary wildly here in Maryland. There are tons of varieties, types, species, etc. Some will fare far better overall, not needing much attention at all. But even the hardiest tree can run against some troubles when our brutal winters set in. These are the most common problems you might face this year:
- Snow and ice. During periods of heavy snow, or right after a nasty snowstorm, branches of trees can get bogged down with dense layers of snow. This can cause two big problems. One, the snow can actually be too heavy for branches to support, which can result in branches bending unnaturally or even snapping. Two, if dense snow is left for too long, it can form deep patches of ice that can damage branches. Gently clear snow away from tree branches occasionally to avoid these risks.
- Root damage. Particularly worrisome for younger trees, soil can freeze if the temperatures stay low enough for a while. This can seriously damage roots, and can even potentially kill trees. The problem is luckily easy to deal with, however, as a healthy layer of mulch can insulate the soil well enough to keep root-level soil above freezing temperatures.
- Sunscald. Sunscald is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s essentially like a sunburn for tree trunks, and is a fairly common malady in the winter. Sunlight reflected off of the snow can double-expose tree varieties that lack lower branches and leaves, and can develop into sunscald during sudden temperature drops caused by the coming night or sudden cloud cover. Sunscald can be unsightly, but is rarely endangering to established trees. Young trees, however, should have the trunk wrapped throughout the winter season.
- Drought. Even if you’re getting lots of snow, trees can begin to starve for water. Frozen or semi-frozen soil is unusable to a tree, and thus it can begin to dry out if frigid weather persists for extended periods of time. This is why feeding your trees is so important!