How Deciduous Trees Cope with Harsh Winter Weather

December 19, 2018 9:36 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

This is the time of year where many people are finishing up all the steps needed to winterize their property. Trees, too, take some steps to “winterize” themselves and go dormant for the coldest months of the year. But have you ever wondered exactly how it is these trees are capable of withstanding the harshest temperatures and conditions year after year for decades?

Trees take a number of steps to prepare for dormancy each winter. The processes they go through are more complex than meet the eye. Here’s a look at how it works, and how tree pruning in Newton, MA can help:

  • The purge: As the weather starts to cool down during the fall, trees slow down their growth and shed their leaves. They also change how they use water. During most of the year, leaves rely on getting water from the tree roots. By shedding the leaves, the trees reduce the amount of water they need to consume, allowing them to store up water to save all winter long while the ground is frozen.
  • Protection: The next step is for trees to protect their cells against the extreme cold temperatures that lie ahead. During most of the year, trees transfer water into their cells. But when the temperature falls, the water inside those cells moves to the spaces on the outside, in between the cells. This prevents the cells from freezing and dying.
  • Insulation: As the weather gets cold enough, the water that has moved outside and around the cells freezes, which actually creates a heated reaction that insulates and protects the cells during the winter. During this time, proteins, sugars, fats and other key substances build up inside the cells, giving trees additional protection against the cold weather.

So, while trees may look like they’re dying off during the fall, they’re actually doing quite a bit of work to stay alive all year long.

How you can help

While most deciduous trees are very much capable of caring for themselves during the winter, there are some ways you can help them out before they go dormant.

All trees need as much water as possible to get through winter, so it helps to give them plenty of water to drink before the ground freezes, especially if you had a dry autumn. You should also be sure to add some extra mulch during the fall months to keep the moisture around the tree roots.

Inspect your tree to look for any weak limbs or diseased branches. Pruning the tree to get rid of these weak points will make for a stronger structure. In fact, pruning while the tree is leafless and dormant, but before the snow and ice arrive, is one of the best things you can do for a healthy tree.

For more information about tree pruning in Newton, MA and about the steps that deciduous trees take to protect themselves and thrive season after season, we encourage you to contact the team of tree professionals at BBD Tree Service today. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!

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