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Arborist Advice: Preparing Your Landscape for Winter

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One of the best things you can do to ensure a beautiful, healthy and thriving spring landscape is to properly put your yard and plants to bed before the harsh weather arrives.

Whether you’re mourning summer’s end or unpacking your winter boots in anticipation of cooler days, these tips will help you prioritize what needs to be done before the snow flies.

In The Yard

  • Prune back shrubs in late fall (after a couple of frosts) to keep them protected from winds and heavy snow and encourage healthy spring growth.
  • Wait to prune and shape your trees until after they have gone dormant.
  • Harvest all fruit from trees and the ground to prevent them from rotting in the winter, attracting pests and diseases.
  • Mulch around your trees to help moderate the soil temperature and prevent the loss of moisture. Adding a good fertilizer will help promote root growth for robust new growth in the spring.
  • Wrapping your trees from top to bottom can help prevent sunscald and damage from deer and other animals throughout the winter.
  • Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs. Young trees have a chance to become established before the heat of summer, and the cooler temperatures help promote new root growth.
  • Remove all diseased or dead branches and trees from the yard before they become a problem next year. If they’re too large or hard to reach, hire a certified tree removal company to do it for you.
  • Don’t forget to water your lawn, trees and perennials during dry spells. Even while dormant, plants need water to survive.
  • Rake leaves and dead grass periodically throughout the fall and winter. A buildup of debris on your lawn can harbor pests and fungal disease, prevent proper drainage and suffocate the grass below.
  • Aerating and fertilizing your lawn before winter sets in is a good way to stimulate root growth and encourage a healthy yard next spring.

In The Garden

  • Pull out vegetables and annuals that are done for the season and discard or compost them. Leaving them in the ground during the winter encourages pests and disease.
  • Remove any lingering weeds now; some weeds can overwinter and go to seed early the next spring.
  • Layer mulch on your garden beds and ornamental shrubs. Leaves or straw work well as a winter cover, or you can use burlap sacks, which should be removed in early spring. This helps the soil retain heat and moisture, while suppressing weed germination the following season.
  • Cut back on the amount of work next spring and prepare your garden beds now. Adding compost and manure in the fall allows the freezing and thawing cycle to work it into the soil for you.
  • Tilling garden soil before the ground freezes helps to prevent dormant insects from taking residence in your garden during the winter (and at the same time, provides a nice snack for the birds).

In The Tool Shed

  • Now’s the time to clean and disinfect garden tools and pots by removing caked on soil, rinsing them with bleach (to prevent the spread of disease), and storing them in a sheltered place.
  • Take note of which garden supplies need to be replenished and purchase them now at a discount!

When it comes to your yard, a little work now will make for a beautiful spring. When your landscape is properly “put to bed” for the winter, it will be healthier and require less maintenance next year, allowing you to sit back and enjoy spring’s show.

Prepping trees for winter in the DMV

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Winter tree care and preventative maintenance is crucial for maintaining the health and beauty of your trees.  You can perform five simple steps to help your trees weather the winter conditions.  This includes watering, minimizing salt exposure, mulching, and more.

Step One: Pruning

Pruning is best completed when your trees are in the dormant stage.  Weak limbs, dead branches, or branches and limbs that are impinging on power-lines and property should be pruned.  You’ll protect yourself and your property while maintaining the health and aesthetics of your trees.  Also, you’ll mitigate the risk of weak or over-sized branches becoming dangerously weighted down with snow and ice.

 Step Two: Pre-Winter Watering

You should continue watering your trees until the ground freezes.  Once the ground freezes the root system of your trees will cease to pull in moisture.  Watering until ground freeze will help to ensure your trees have stored enough moisture to survive the winter months.

 Step Three: Mulch

One way to increase the retention of soil moisture is to apply mulch around the base of your trees.

Spread mulch two to three inches thick around the tree base while tapering the thickness outward. leaving about six inches from the tree base clear of mulch is recommended.  Piling mulch against the trunk of the tree can trap excessive amounts of moisture which can lead to disease and fungus growth.

 Step Four:  Tree Wrapping

Wrapping your tree trunks is one way to prevent winter tree damage, especially for younger trees.  Wrapping the trunk of a younger tree can help to protect the tree from frost damage.  Likewise, deer and other animals can wreak havoc on younger trees through nibbling at the bark.

You can wrap the tree trunk with burlap and secure with wire or twine. This can lessen the chances of freeze related cracking.  To protect your tree trunks from animal damage you can encircle the trunks of your trees with chicken wire.

 Step Five: Minimize Salt Exposure

Salt is terrible for your trees.  Minimizing your trees exposure to salt is highly recommended.  Salt extracts moisture from the soil and root system of the tree.  In short, it can put your tree into a drought state even though there is ample snow cover.


If you have any questions, contact us! Hometown Tree Experts is happy to provide complimentary consultations and quotes!

Call us at 301-250-1033