Winter in Ottawa can be a challenging time for our beloved trees. The frigid temperatures, heavy snowfall, and icy winds can take a toll on their health and vitality. However, with the right care and attention, you can ensure that your trees not only survive the harsh Ottawa winters but thrive throughout the season. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with expert tips and advice from Ottawa tree surgeons on how to keep Ottawa’s trees healthy and vibrant during the winter months


Understanding the Winter Challenges

Before we delve into the specifics of tree care, it’s crucial to understand the unique challenges that Ottawa’s trees face during winter. With temperatures often dropping well below freezing and significant snow accumulation, trees can experience various issues, including:

  1. Winter Desiccation: This occurs when trees lose moisture through their leaves faster than they can absorb it from the frozen ground. It can result in dry, brown foliage and damage to the tree’s overall health.
  2. Snow and Ice Damage: Heavy snow and ice can weigh down tree branches, causing them to break or bend. This damage can be particularly problematic for young or newly planted trees.
  3. Salt Damage: Ottawa’s use of road salt to melt snow and ice can lead to soil salinity, which can harm tree roots and leaves.
  4. Animal Damage: Hungry wildlife, such as deer and rabbits, may nibble on tree bark and branches when other food sources are scarce.

Now that we’ve identified the challenges, let’s move on to the proactive steps you can take to ensure your trees thrive during the winter.

1. Winter Mulching

Mulching is an excellent practice to protect your tree’s root system during winter. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree, extending out to the drip line. This will help insulate the soil, regulate soil temperature, and reduce the risk of frost heaving.

2. Pruning and Trimming

Regular pruning and trimming of your trees in late fall can help prevent snow and ice from accumulating on branches. Be sure to remove any dead or weak branches that are more susceptible to winter damage.

3. Hydration

Proper hydration is essential, even in winter. Make sure your trees receive adequate water before the ground freezes. This extra moisture can help prevent winter desiccation.

4. Wrap Young Trees

Young or recently planted trees are more vulnerable to winter damage. Consider wrapping them with burlap or tree wrap to protect against harsh winter winds and temperature fluctuations.

5. Snow Removal

After heavy snowfall, gently brush off accumulated snow from the branches. This will reduce the risk of branches breaking under the weight of the snow.

6. Avoid Salt Near Trees

When de-icing driveways and walkways, be cautious not to spread salt near the base of your trees. Salt can harm tree roots and soil quality.

7. Pest Control

Implement pest control measures to deter animals from damaging your trees. This may include fencing or repellent sprays.

8. Consult an Arborist

For valuable or large trees, consider consulting with a Certified Arborist who can assess your tree’s health and provide tailored care recommendations.

In conclusion, Ottawa’s trees can thrive in winter with the right care and attention. By following these expert tips, you can ensure that your trees not only survive but flourish during the chilly months. Remember, healthy trees contribute to the beauty and well-being of our city, making Ottawa a greener and more vibrant place for all of us to enjoy.

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