Spring gets a lot of attention when it comes to tree care, landscaping and the health of our plants, but there are also critical steps that should be taken during the fall and winter months when “winterizing” your property.
These actions will ensure the strength and integrity of your trees against winter’s wind, snow and ice.
They will also enable your plants to survive the winter and thrive in the spring.
From the time the leaves begin to fall through the time when the ground is frozen, it can seem as if there is nothing to do – the plants and trees are dormant, so we should be, too, right?
But, actually, not only is there work to do, there are some tasks that are easier and more effective at those times.
Think of it as an athlete training during the off-season: those who put in the work when no one is looking are the ones who will emerge as winners.
Pruning branches, planting trees, fertilizing soil, grinding stumps – there is important work to be done across all of our divisions.
The primary concern with fall-into-winter tree care is making sure that your trees are “storm-worthy.”
Winds, snow and ice can be a deadly combination, but the fall-into-winter months are actually ideal for performing a wide variety of tree care tasks including inspections, prunings and even removals.
This is because throughout October and November, the leaves will continue to fall making it easier to examine and work on the branches, and fewer leaves on the branches means less to clean up. And then, once the ground has frozen, we can get our equipment closer to the tree without compacting the soil, and in turn, damaging the root systems.
Finally, the the trees are also entering their dormant phase, which can be a healthier time to prune particular species of trees.
The goal with fall and winter plant health care is prepping your plants to not only survive the winter but to thrive when springtime returns. We do this with fall fertilizations and pro-active insect suppression treatments.
During the summer months, the ground is often too dry and hard for fertilization treatments, but September and October are usually optimal. If the conditions are wet enough, we can fertilize late into the fall.
For insect suppression, we can preventatively treat for a variety of insects including hemlock wooly adelgid, hemlock elongate scale, spider mites and more. We rely on independent research to identify which insects to treat for and the optimal time and method to apply the treatment.
We also like to apply horticultural oil to the plants in order to improve their health and get them ready for winter. Horticultural oil is a safe alternative to some of the harsher insecticides with the added benefit of being “easy” on beneficial insects.
Fall is an ideal time to plant most trees (and other plants), and we expect to be planting late into the fall (weather permitting, of course).
Planting trees during the fall gives them a cool, wet fall AND spring to become established before they have to withstand the summer’s harsh heat.
The cooler temperatures also mean that they will likely need less maintenance such as watering (although they will still need some depending on the tree and the property).
Stump grinding is a job that people tend to put off on account of its specialized equipment and potential for mess (depending on which cleanup option you choose), but fall is an excellent time to take care of that problem stump because it affords you the time to renovate the space with the replanting of new trees, shrubs or grass.
Fall isn’t a time to say goodbye to last year’s landscaping. Instead, it’s an opportunity to make next spring even better.
The key is to identify and correct potential problems before:
- winter weather and summer storms put your trees to the test
- insects have a chance to damage your plants
- that problem stump backburnered for another year
Here is a short list of fall tree care, plant health care and landscaping projects to ask us about now to get your property ready for spring.
Plant Health Care: