How to Know if Your Trees are Ready for Winter

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Before winter hits, homeowners should find out if their trees are safe and healthy. An inspection by an ISA Certified Arborist is the first step.

The leaves are dropping. Your trees' systems are shutting down. You can forget about the great outdoors until spring, right? "Not true," says Lou Giroud, President of Giroud Tree Service and ISA Certified Arborist. "Health and safety problems need to be identified now so that action can be taken to help your trees survive winter and give them a healthy start in the spring.

The following are key indicators that a tree is in jeopardy.
-Excessive deadwood/Branch die-back in a limb or section of the tree
-Tree changes color or drops its leaves before others of the same type
-Decay such as cankers or mushrooms
-Signs of insect activity such as borer holes in the tree trunk
-Brown leaves remain on the branches after other leaves have dropped

Homeowners who are concerned about their trees should take the following actions now
1. Start with a professional tree inspection
Spotting problems or hazards early is the main purpose of the inspection. Your arborist will be looking for cracks, decay, excessive deadwood and other problems that may require action.    
2. Prune now for health, beauty and safety
Fall is a great time to prune most trees. The risk of spreading disease is reduced and
the tree's structure is more visible. A professional should remove deadwood,
eliminate crossed branches and establish a healthy growth pattern. Fall is also a good
time to elevate lower branches and prune trees away from houses, pools, driveways and walks.        
3. Prevent split trees by installing cables or bolts:
Trees with multiple trunks or bark that has grown into wood at a tree's crotch are prime targets for problems. An arborist should install a cable that is bolted through both limbs to keep the tree from splitting apart. It's essential that your Arborist chooses the right hardware designed to fit the specific problem and uses it in the right way to successfully brace the tree.
4. Treat destructive pests.
Several pests have been extremely active this year. Spider Mites, Hemlock Adelgid and Spruce Gall Adelgid are most vulnerable now. Trees plagued by Birch Leaf Miner, Lace Bugs or Aphids need a Merit injection before the ground freezes.
5. Build Energy Reserves with Fertilizer
A Fall injection of time-release fertilizer with vitamin complex stimulates root growth, improves root absorption capability and provides vital nutrients through the winter to get a strong start in the spring.
6. Stop Deer Damage
To be effective, a deer deterrent should be applied monthly from November through March--the prime months for deer damage Additionally, the deterrent should be biodegradable, rain resistant and have a smell that is not offensive to humans. Ask your arborist for more information.
7. Prevent Winter Burn
Cold wind can suck the moisture from the leaves and needles on your evergreens. Azaleas, hollies and rhododendron are most susceptible but pines, hemlocks and yews can also be affected. Ask your arborist to apply an antidescicant to protect your evergreens.

Be sure your trees iare n shape to stand up to winter by taking action now. For more information on actions to protect the health and safety of your trees visit


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Cynthia Giroud
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