While midsummer is marked by long evenings, BBQs, and time spent outdoors, it’s also a critical time to check up on tree health after a season of intense winter distress. The consequences of a prolonged cold season can be quite serious and aren’t always recognized from the ground unless you know what to look for.
Greg Irwin, Frontier’s ISA-Certified Tree Service Manager, shares: “After an abnormally long winter and short spring, we’re observing excessive rapid growth and full flushing of foliage on many trees. Our top recommendation for most situations is to have trees trimmed for thinning and perform crown reduction for weight issues, structure and balance.”
Winter Distress: What to Look For
Trees That Look Abnormally Full
In years when winter is unusually cold, long, and intense, trees’ dormancy periods are extended – sometimes as much as a month to six weeks longer than average. When the severe winter is followed by a short spring, the result is a near “shock mode” of explosive foliage.
Look over your trees during or just after a rainfall. Do you notice them hanging atypically low, sagging down further than normal? This heavy bowing is likely the result of extra weight from an excess of foliage.
Trees Encroaching Heavily on Other Trees & Shrubs
Are you observing significant encroachment of your trees on other trees and shrubs, even if you had them pruned last year? Clearance issues are common as branches hang low over houses, driveways, and sidewalks.
Bending, Bowing, and Breaks: What’s At Stake
While cabling and bracing can offer partial solutions, the increase in foliage after a prolonged winter puts even small limbs at risk of breaking due to extra weight, on almost any tree species. While larger limbs won’t break, they may bow out so far that they can’t be cabled and will have to be removed.
For large tree sections or limbs that were previously compromised or had beginnings of decay, rapid growth and the resulting excess weight can increase the stress on poor attachments tenfold. Healthy trees are at risk, too, as the weight alone can cause breakage for many ornamental varieties.
Birch trees are particularly susceptible due to their growth habits. If bowed limbs are not straightened up and cabled promptly, they may fail entirely.
Hidden Issues in Healthy-Looking Trees
While bowing and sagging are easy to identify from the outside, other problems remain hidden and can catch you with troubling surprises later.
When a short spring and warm summer follow an extended winter, the speed of new growth can do quite a number on your trees from the inside out. As the growing season progresses, an abundance of internal suckers can create an environment that seriously affects the health of your tree overall.
Additionally, an exponential increase in new leaves means that autumn cleanup is going to be markedly more work than a more typical year as the litter layer dies and falls off. While this isn’t hazardous, a good pruning treatment is smart. Left unchecked, the amount of leaf drop can be doubled in volume, which means twice as much work to clean up later on.
Rescuing Your Trees From Winter Distress: What To Do Next
Call Frontier Tree Service to schedule services for your trees. Our highly-trained ISA-Certified arborists will expertly evaluate your situation and make the very best recommendation for the health and safety of trees around your home or business.
“For the 2017 season, our top recommendation for most situations is to have trees trimmed for thinning, as well as perform crown reduction for weight issues, structure and balance.” – Greg Irwin, ISA-Certified Arborist and Frontier Tree Services Manager.
Frontier Tree Services include:
- Ornamental pruning
- Tree, shrub, and stump removal
- Cabling and Bracing
- Risk Assessment
- Diagnosis & Treatment
- 24/7 Emergency Tree Services
Learn more about proper tree care by visiting the Frontier Landscaping blog.