Winter is hard on trees and shrubs. By the time spring rolls around, they need some attention to help in the recovery from winter and to prepare for the upcoming challenges of summer when it is so hot and dry.
Winters in the South are not so harsh as elsewhere in other regions of the country. Trees and shrubs have to deal with wide variations in temperature, though. One day, it could be 70 degrees, the next morning, the temperatures could drop into the lower teens. These temperature variations can damage trees causing frost cracks, sunscald, or frostbite. Frost cracks, vertical cracks that form in the bark of a tree, occur more frequently on the sun-facing side of a tree due to the greater variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
Sunscald, a similar injury, is an area of damaged bark resulting from the warming of that area by the sun. Frost cracks and sunscalds usually only cause superficial damage. Though the injury is permanent, the tree will recover.
In the South, especially in the late winter and early spring, trees and shrubs may suffer from frostbite. Frostbite can be problematic if a tree or plant is actively growing or producing. Frostbite appears on trees or plants as brown or black flowers, buds, leaves, or fruit. New shoots and leaves will often twist, curl, or wilt in frost conditions. Younger trees or diseased and damaged trees may have a difficult time recovering from wide temperature variations. Usually, frostbite only results in crop loss for fruit and nut trees.
Winter takes its toll on trees and shrubs. Since trees can add as much as 20% to the value of a home, if conditions have been severe, it would pay to have a tree care specialist come out for an inspection. At that time, they can assess any damage and provide a plan moving forward that is in the best interest of the entire landscape design.
Spring clean under trees and shrubs.
Remove any debris beneath the trees, including leaves, twigs, or fruit, as these can become a breeding ground for fungal growth. Rake the area clean and remove the debris from the yard.
Carefully inspect all trees and shrubs as they come into leaf.
When inspecting trees and shrubs for emerging foliage, look for limbs or areas which are not coming into leaf. If the unleaf branches and twigs are brittle while the leafed areas are pliable, there could be a problem.
Look for pests and disease.
When cleaning the yard, gardens, and beds, carefully inspect trees and shrubs for signs of pest infestation and disease. Look for unusual bugs, boreholes, partially chewed leaves, or in extreme cases, the entire loss of new leaves.
Mulch beds and trees.
Mulch is an excellent landscape accent. It not only looks good, but it also retains moisture and restrains weeds. Mulching younger or freshly planted trees or shrubs can give them the extra help they need to survive.
Prune trees and shrubs.
Although the best time to prune most trees and many shrubs is during the winter when the trees and shrubs are dormant, spring is a great time to remove any dead, damaged, or broken branches to help encourage new growth.
Fertilize trees and plants.
A spring application of a slow-release fertilizer to plants will replace nutrients and boost their resistance to damage resulting from the elements, diseases, and insects. Incorporating this practice into an annual routine will maintain trees and plants in a healthy condition.
Plant new trees and shrubs.
Spring is the perfect time to care for an existing landscape. It is also the best time to plant new trees and shrubs.
Schedule a spring consult with a professional landscape designer.
For expert advice on tree and lawn care, patios, walkways, ponds, outdoor living spaces, retaining walls, and lawn maintenance solutions, reach out to a professional arborist, such as Arbor Enterprises.
These 8 tips can give a landscape the push it needs to take on the challenges of summer. Beginning with the trees, inspect the overall landscape and formulate a plan moving forward. Begin with a spring clean and top it off with a consult.