Q: Robert, since winter is quickly approaching can you give readers any general advice about winter tree care focusing on caring for conifers in winter?
The main problem we hear about in winter seems to be bent or broken limbs or trunks on young conifers (pine, evergreens, spruces…). Don’t give up on these young plants. As soon as possible after snow or ice bends them down, use rope, strong cord or wire to secure them upright to stakes or sturdy parts of the tree. Spring growth will usually provide the strength needed to maintain the upright position. At some point during the first or second summer, you should be able to remove the support system.
Broken or dead limbs should be pruned with a saw or sharp shears. Prune back to the trunk or a healthy limb that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the removed limb. Be sure to make careful pruning cuts just outside the raised areas called bark ridges and branch collars.
Winter Pine Tree Care General suggestions are:
(1) Don’t worry about color changes in winter. This is usually normal, with the deeper green returning in summer.
(2) Don’t dump excess snow on young trees, spreading junipers or others in the landscape. In fact, remove the weight of snow when practical.
(3) Keep de-icing salt away from your conifers.
(4) Use fallen pine needles for mulch. This will contribute to the acidic soil pH preferred by most conifers and it is an attractive and inexpensive way to provide the many benefits of mulch.
For more information about specific in your area please contact your local County Cooperative Extension Service.