May 23


Winter Stress on Trees and Shrubs

By clientsite

May 23, 2017

I know, the last thing you want to read or talk about is winter. The tumultuous winter we had sent heating costs “through the roof” which created the “perfect storm” for the snow and frigid temperatures to form ice dams. The ice dams not only dampened our ceilings and walls but our spirits.

These weather conditions are also difficult on our landscapeʼs trees and shrubs. Some of the damage is not readily noticeable until the warm days of spring. Some of the more common injuries that our New England plants sustain are as follows:

Wind Burn (Desiccation)

This injury is common with broadleaf evergreens such as Rhododendron, Holly, and Mountain Laurel, but can also affect conifers such as Arborvitae and Cypress. The browning of the leaves occurs when a leaf and surrounding tissue lose moisture and are unable to replace the moisture due to frozen ground conditions and/or dry soils.

Wind Burn (Desiccation)

Stem Dieback

Although quite similar to Desiccation, this injury is more common in stems rather than leaves. Some species or cultivars of trees and shrubs are injured if temperatures fall below a minimum tolerance for the given plant. This damage is not evident until spring when leaves and flowers do not emerge and the stems turn brown. Even our native species can suffer damage from excessively low temperatures in the coldest winters. Japanese Maple, Eastern Redbud, and Serviceberry commonly suffer from this injury in our area.

Stem Dieback

Salt Damage

Salt, a.k.a. ice melt makes our lives easier in the winter. We rely on salt to improve our roads and walkways, but in doing so we jeopardize the vitality of our trees and shrubs. Salt-spray, from passing autos, can cause the burning of leaves. Salt run-off is taken up by a plantʼs root system. Salt, which is made up of sodium and chloride, is toxic to plants when present in high concentrations. Sugar Maple, Ash, and most fruit trees are highly sensitive to salt.

We will always have challenging weather in New England. Remember the October Snowstorm in 2011?  That storm was a great example of the destructive force of Mother Nature on our landscapeʼs trees and shrubs.  Snow, ice and straight-line winds stressed even the most structurally sound trees by weakening their branches, main limbs, and root systems.

Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to defending against Mother Nature, but a proactive approach is a lot wiser investment than a reactive approach. Thatʼs why ArborTech offers a Plant Health Care program that works with your landscapeʼs trees and shrubs from the roots up.  To learn more about this program call (413) 525-0060 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Certified Arborists. Think Spring!


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