How to Prepare for Texas Winter

Even in Texas we will have a Winter and it is on its way.  Our hot temps can sometimes fool us into thinking Winter won’t stop by this year but even if it is late we still get a Winter and we must make sure our trees are ready.  Read below so you will be ready for our Texas Winter that is headed this way……… at least we can hope!

As the days get shorter, trees sense the fading light and cooler temperatures. This triggers a natural process in most deciduous trees. Production of auxin, a plant hormone, is halted. Leaves stop creating chlorophyll, which besides being the photosensitive molecule all plants use to turn light in to energy it can use, it is also what makes most leaves green. As the chlorophyll breaks down without being replaced, the color of the leaf changes revealing its true stripes. Eventually the leaf dies and falls to the ground.

But this is natures wisdom at its finest! Deciduous trees are simply avoiding the struggle of surviving the dark and cold winter months by retreating into a dormant state. While dormant, it is better protected against freezing temperatures, high winds, and heavy ice. That said, there are always casualties in nature.

Trees still need water throughout the Fall and Winter months. A Winter drought can damage or kill your trees while they sleep.

Often trees still carry literally too much dead weight. Dropping all the leaves is sometimes not enough canopy reduction to escape destructive ice accumulation during a winter storm.

It is common to see healthy trees threatened by unhealthy or weakened neighboring trees. If a nearby tree succumbs to ice or wind, it’s up to chance whether it takes out other trees with its sudden collapse.

Poor drainage can also pose a risk to many tree species. A winter with heavy rains can threaten trees that find themselves in low laying areas or in walled off yards where standing water is a problem. Trees stuck in completely saturated soils during the winter months have an increased vulnerability to frost crack, a circumstance where significant temperature fluctuation can freeze the water within the inner layers of the tree and seriously damage or destroy it.

One of the great things about all those leaves falling out of your trees is now you can fully inspect the upper canopy. As you rake up those leaves this fall, take a break and look up.

As you do you might see dead branches that were not visible all summer. That’s okay, summer leaves can hide problems from even expert eyes. Now that you spot them, note the location and size of these castoffs. If you see any large limbs that appear to have died, it might be a good time to have it removed, and if possible, discover why it did die back.

If you see a good bit of smaller twigs and dead sticks crowding the canopy, it may be helpful to have much of it removed to lighten the arms of your tree. During an ice storm, every twig and branch gets weighed down with ice. The dead ones do as well, adding not only their own unnecessary weight but the heaviness of all the extra ice now clinging to them.

Check For Cracks

Summer storms can damage trees as well. Sometimes splitting and separation of major leads can remain unnoticed while the tree is enveloped by its own canopy. A thorough inspection is far easier after the leaves have fallen. If you discover a separation crack soon enough, it may only need cabling to restore its vitality and ultimately the tree may fully recover!

It’s not news to anyone, but it really can make the difference during a dry spell. Trees can benefit from 2”-3” of mulch covering the ground all the way out to the canopy drip line.

Late Fall is the ideal time to plant trees. With young trees dormant, transplanting is much less taxing on your new tree.

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