Trees do not die in the winter, they get much-needed rest
Are your trees dead or merely dormant?
It might not be easy to tell at first glance if all the trees in your garden are still alive in the dead of winter and with the prevalence of emerald ash borer, many gardeners fear for the health of their trees. However, there are a few easy tricks that you can use to determine if your trees are still in good health or if they are dying. To check your trees for signs of life, you need to get up close and personal and see if the bark and branches still look healthy.
- Look for small leaf buds. Even in the winter, healthy trees will have branches full of green buds that will burst into life in the spring. If a branch has no buds or the buds are dry and shriveled, then there is a problem and the branch is most likely dying or dead. If it is only one or two branches, then these branches may just have been injured and the entire tree may not be in trouble. If, however, the tree only has a few buds, or the buds are shriveled throughout the tree then it is most likely dying. If you notice that a lot of leaves have stayed on the tree long after they should have, then your tree could be diseased and you need to call an arborist for advice.
- Check the bark. The bark of a tree goes through a similar cycle to the leaves. New bark forms as a tree grows so even in winter you should see fresh bark growth. If your tree trunk is shedding bark and it is not being replaced with new growth, then the tree could be suffering. Cracks in the trunk and bark, as well as fungus growing on the trunk and branches, are all indications that a tree is in trouble.
- Test a twig. You can take a pocket knife or use your fingertips to lightly scratch a spot on the branch or trunk of a tree. If the layer directly under the bark is green and moist, the tree is merely resting but if the layer below the bark is brown and brittle, there is a problem. You can also bend a few twigs on different parts of the tree, if they are supple and bend easily, the tree is healthy if most of the twigs are brittle and break, things are not looking good for your tree and you need to seek professional advice on the health of your tree.
Healthy trees will easily survive the harsh winter months and will store their energy to bloom again in the spring. If you suspect that your trees are suffering in the winter, you need to consult an arborist to see which trees can be saved and which ones need to be removed. Contact Martin’s Tree Service for any advice on dormancy, emerald ash borer, and tree pruning.