Winter Tree Care Tips from the ISA

The following winter tree care tips have been taken from the ISA website ( for your information:

Winter brings frigid temperatures, icy winds, and plenty of snow. Just as people battle Mother Nature at this time of the year, so do trees, with one major exception: trees can’t avoid exposure to the elements.

“While your trees seem to be in a state of hibernation in the winter, exposure to the tough conditions can cause them major stress,” said Jim Skiera, Executive Director of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). “Minimize that stress by helping your trees through the cold months, a little at a time. If you take care of y

our trees in the winter, you’ll be rewarded in the spring.”

1. Put composted organic mulch under your tree in the fall or early winter to help retain water and reduce temperature extremes. A thin layer of mulch will act like a blanket and give the tree’s roots a little extra winter protection.

2. Give your trees a drink. Winter droughts require watering as much as summer droughts. If temperatures permit, an occasional watering during the winter on young trees can be a life saver. But be sure to water only when soil and trees are cool but not frozen.3. Prune your trees. Winter is actually one of the best times to prune because it is easier to see the structure of trees without their leaves. But limit pruning to deadwood and poorly placed branches in order to save as many living branches as possible.

4. Prevent mechanical injuries. Branch breakage or splitting can be caused by ice and snow accumulation, or chewing and rubbing by animals. Prevent problems from occurring on young trees by wrapping the base of trees in a h
ard, plastic guard or a metal hardware cloth. Wrapping trees with burlap or plastic cloth also can prevent temperature damage. Just remember to remove the wraps and guards in the spring to prevent damage when the tree begins to grow.

Identifying Tree Hazards

Graham Beer of Treecreeper Arborists carrying out an aerial inspection of a Horse Chestnut tree

Trees provide a wide range of benefits to the landscape, to wildlife and to ourselves, but how can you tell when your tree becomes unhealthy? Degeneration over time is natural and in the right environment deadwood provides vital habitat for a huge range of wildlife. In the wrong environment however, unhealthy trees can also be liabilities. Weak, diseased or stressed trees can cause damage to property and personal injury but in many cases preventative measures can significantly reduce risks and prolong the tree’s life.

One of the first measures you can take is spending a bit of time finding a reputable local arborist. Anyone can call themselves a tree surgeon and offer a service but this does not guarantee quality of work or that it will be carried out safely. Take a look at our blog entry: How to Avoid Rogue Trader Tree Surgeons for more information on selecting an arborist. A reputable arborist will be more than happy to visit and offer advice on your trees and they will provide a free, no obligation quotation for any work that needs doing. Arborists are highly trained and experienced and will be invaluable to you as a source of personal advice.

If you have trees on your property, you have a responsibility to keep them healthy and safe. Regular tree care can help to identify hazards and preventative measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of damage to people or property.

What are the Signs?

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) suggests the following considerations which can help to identify tree hazards:

  • Are there dead branches in the tree?
  • Are there detached branches hanging in the tree?
  • Does the tree have cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches?
  • Are fungi present at the base of the tree?
  • Are there cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached?
  • Have any branches fallen from the tree?
  • Have adjacent trees fallen over or died?
  • Has the trunk developed a strong lean?
  • Do many of the major branches arise from one point on the trunk?
  • Have the roots been broken off, injured, or damaged by lowering the soil level, installing/repairing pavements, or digging trenches?
  • Has the site recently been changed by construction, raising the soil level, or installing lawns?
  • Have the leaves prematurely developed an unusual color or size?
  • Have trees in adjacent wooded areas been removed?
  • Has the tree been topped or otherwise heavily pruned?
Take the time to check your trees over using this list of considerations. If you answer yes to any of the above questions, contact a professional arborist and ask them to conduct a safety assessment on your trees

Regular routine care should work out cheaper and is much better for your trees than sporadic hard pruning to get trees back under control. An experience arborist will be able to put together an ongoing management plan for your trees, saving you the need to remember what needs doing when.

If you live in Gloucestershire or the surrounding counties, visit our website at to contact us to arrange a free visit and health check for your trees (aerial inspections will be quoted for). If you live outside of our area, please feel free to contact us for advice over the telephone or by email.

Remember: Prevention is better than cure