If you're like most people with trees in your yard, you appreciate the aesthetic value they add to your property during all four seasons of the year. In winter, for instance, deciduous trees take on an austere beauty -- and like many people, you may think they look particularly appealing with snow on their branches. However, heavy snows can weaken and even break tree branches, creating a potentially dangerous situation for homeowners and others in the vicinity, so be sure to use a specialized, long-handled brush to remove excess snow from tree branches.
Following are two more tree care issues that can arise during winter and how you can help minimize the damage they cause.
Sun scald occurs on trees with relatively thin barks when the temperature on the bark heats up during the day as a result of exposure to reflected sunlight from snow or light-colored buildings in the near vicinity. The warm temperatures on the bark causes dormant tissues to temporarily come to life, only to die again when freezing nighttime temperatures enter the picture. Sun scald can sometimes be identified by the presence of a long, sunken canker along with cracking, peeling bark.
Although mature, healthy trees that develop this condition normally heal with little residual damage, you can help the process along by removing any loose bark with a sterilized pair of pruning shears. Young trees may be more likely to be seriously damaged by sun scald. Preventative measures such as painting the tree trunk white in young species of trees known to be susceptible, such as sugar maples and mountain ash, can help keep this condition from causing serious damage.
Frost cracks are a condition with the potential to seriously damage your trees. Like sun scald, frost cracks occur as the result of winter sun heating up the bark. Because wood is a porous material, it expands and contracts as temperatures fluctuate, and as you probably already know, outdoor temperatures fall fast during winter when the sun goes behind a cloud or sets for the day. As its name implies, a frost crack is a crack in the tree. The rapid shift in temperature causes the bark and the wood directly under it to form a vertical split. In some trees, particularly mature ones with plenty of surface space on their trunks, this process is so dramatic you can actually hear the wood splitting.
A frost crack provides pathogens and pests with an ideal entrance point to the inner system of the tree, so it's essential that homeowners contact a professional tree service for assistance when this happens. For more information, contact companies like Joe Hanley's Tree Trimming.