When temperatures drop below freezing, you put your trees at risk of freezing too. Their buds, roots, and leaves can freeze and die. In order to protect your trees, you need to take action before and after freezes! These are some great tips for the Chicago cold and wind!
Before Freeze. If you have watched the weather and know that a freeze is coming, take these steps to protect your trees and small shrubs.
- Cover small trees and plants with a sheet or tarp. The sheet will trap the warmth from the ground.
- Bring potted plants and trees to more protected locations.
- Keep your trees well-watered, wet soil will absorb more sunlight than dry soil, and will keep that heat through the night.
- Mulch is also a great way to protect young root systems. Mulch locks in moisture and holds on to heat from the sun during the day. The mulch will act like insulation for your tree.
- For your larger trees, run your sprinklers during the coldest part of the morning. This strategy makes use of the heat released when water changes from liquid to a solid. Watering helps because it will be less stressful for the tree when it freezes if it is not also dehydrated.
After Freeze. Once the freeze is over, you need to access the damage. But don’t do anything until reading these tips.
- Don’t prune your trees and plants immediately. Wait until the spring when you have given buds the chance to sprout. It may appear to be dead but actually flower or green up in the spring.
- If your tree or plant has already blossomed, remove any mushy flowers or fruits from the trees. These blossoms will not come back after a severe freeze.
- If any branches are bending under the weight of snow, go ahead and brush the snow off; however, if there is ice don’t try to get the ice off. Trying to remove ice can do more harm than good.