Late Winter Tree Care

Late winter weather in the Denver area is highly unpredictable. Some years, Denver gets heavy snows in March and April, while others feel like spring in February. Either way, be sure on a nice day next month to check for tree damage. Remediation of these issues in the winter prepares trees for the upcoming growing season. Ross Tree, a local tree company in business since 1978,  operates twelve months of the year and provides late winter tree care services throughout the Denver area. The most popular late winter tree services are deep root watering, winter pruning, and dormant oil spraying.

Late Winter Tree Inspection Tips

We recommend the following actions by homeowners in the winter to get their trees ready for spring. Be careful when checking your trees because branches are slippery when wet. For mature tree inspections, please call Ross Tree because we have bucket trucks, eliminating the need for ladders and climbing up tree branches

  1. Hanging Branches

    broken limb in tree

    Tree branches break off from heavy snow or high winds. In large trees, this is problematic because of their size and weight. Dangling branches over buildings and sidewalks need removal to avoid property damage or personal injury. 

  2. Inspect Supplemental Tree Support Systems

    tree cabling and bracing

    Tree cabling and bracing improve the structural integrity of high-value trees. We recommend an inspection in late winter before spring growth starts to see if any cables or bolts need tightening or replacement.

  3. Tree Insect Damage

    scale insect

    Check the bark and branches of trees for scale insects and pitch tubes. Pitch tubs are common signs of conifer beetle infestation. Ross Tree offers dormant oil treatments for tree Scale, Mites, and Aphids that overwinter in trees as eggs, larva, or pupae. 

Winter Watering and Deep Root Watering

Denver is experiencing its second winter drought, so it is a safe assumption that most yard trees will benefit from supplemental watering this winter.

  • Newly Planted Trees – Any trees planted within the last five years need watering in the winter. Please wait for a warm day when the ground is clear of snow to water trees thoroughly before it freezes. Trees take up moisture to keep their root system hydrated through the winter.
  • Mature Trees – Most yard trees in Denver need watering because of our second winter drought over the last two years. If not watered, winter drought damage manifests as “winter kill” in the following spring and summer. Most homeowners do not have the time and equipment for deep root watering large trees. Please fill out this tree service request form to schedule a root watering appointment.

Winter Pruning

late winter pruning

Trees set their leaf and flower buds in late summer, making winter an excellent time for tree pruning. Learn benefits from winter pruning here.

  • Rejuvenation Pruning – Winter is a great time to prune overgrown, high profile trees because they are without leaves and in dormancy. Bare trees show their structure, which makes trimming easier with less cleanup. Also, trees pruned in January and February have time to heal any cutting wounds. New spring growth will cover any bare spots in the canopy. We do not recommend rejuvenation pruning in early spring since freezing weather between March and April kills new shoots. Ross Tree embraces ANSI pruning standards approved by the Tree Care Industry Association.
  • Prune Out Any Dead or Damaged Branches – We recommend cutting out any tree limbs damaged by ice or snow to prevent bark tearing. Also, removing dead, injured, or diseased branches open the tree canopy for healthy spring growth.

Be Tree Wise 

tree wise

Our arborists suggest avoiding these actions to keep your trees healthy in the winter. 

  • Don’t Remove Ice – Freezing rain sometimes encases trees in ice. Attempting to remove the ice can damage the plants, so naturally, let the ice melt off your trees.
  • Gently Brush Off Heavy Snows – Heavy snow weighs down trees and puts stress on their branches, so hitting or shaking their branches might cause mechanical breakage.
  • Use Alternatives to De-Icing Sidewalks and Driveways – Salt and chemicals injure trees and plants, so instead, find alternatives materials to melt the ice such as sand, sawdust, cat litter, or vermiculite.

When Do You Start Preventive Tree Treatments?

henbit weed indicator species

Henbit weed

The life cycles of the tree insects determine the timing of most tree treatments. Dormant oils are helpful to treat mites, scales, and aphids that overwinter in trees. However, most treatments are the most effective when insects emerge in the spring, regulated by average soil temperature. So unless you are an entomologist, it might be best to contact an arborist or plant health care professional for advice on when to treat your trees. 

One of the tricks tree companies use to gauge treatment timing is to look for specific plants to emerge in the spring. In Denver, a common weed called Henbit indicates insect emergence. Henbit is consumed fresh or as an edible herb and used in teas. The weed usually is one of the first to emerge in the springtime and requires soil temperatures around 40 degrees to become active. Tree aphids hatch from eggs when Henbit plants poke out of the soil in the spring. Aphids cause the most significant damage when temperatures are warm but not hot. Aphids rapidly develop from newborn to nymph to a rapidly reproducing adult within seven to eight days. Each female lays about 80 eggs. It is best to treat Aphids before they lay eggs.

Henbit emergence also says it is time to treat lawns with pre-emergent to treat crabgrass. Pre-emergents work best before seed germination for crabgrass and other lawn weeds.

The next indicator is Dandelions. They emerge later in the spring and indicates that tree insects are in full swing. Kermes Scale, Oyster Scale, and Elm Scale are in their crawler stages and actively moving in the trees canopies looking for a home. The best time to treat Scales is during their crawler stage. When bulbous plants like Tulips, Daffodils, and Crocus pop up in the spring, arborists know that Maple trees are fully active and buds are in peak form. 

Late winter and early spring are some of the most critical times of the year for your landscape. What you do now will affect the yard landscape for the entire growing season. Call Ross Tree at 303-871-9121 in late winter or early spring to set up your landscape for success in the spring.