Johannesburg is feeling an early bout of Autumn chill, with the nights getting colder as the days get shorter. Soon winter will be upon us, and trees do not have the luxury of waiting it out indoors. They are exposed to the harsh elements 24/7. These conditions can be stressful on your trees and taking care of them during this time could help them survive the brutal winter and thrive again in the springtime.
Here are a few tips you can follow:
1) Mulch
Mulch is probably your best friend when taking care of your garden. In late autumn to early winter you can add a layer to the soil around your trees. Mulch insulates the soil, protecting the roots against extreme temperatures and it slows water evaporation. Remember to refrain from piling the mulch directly onto the tree trunk, since this can cause wood rot and various other problems for your tree.

2) Watering
Your trees should always be watered regularly, especially newly planted ones. Ensure that the water reaches the roots deeper in the ground as well. If you use irrigation bags to help water your trees, remember to remove then before the cold sets in. You don’t want them to freeze and damage the root systems under the ground.

3) Wrap Tree Trunks
You can do this closer to the end of Autumn. A good way to protect your trees from the cold is to wrap the trunk with tree wrapping or you can paint the trunk. This is done to prevent the tree from continuously being frozen and thawed during Winter – this causes the bark cells to rupture and creates cracks in the trunk, which could lead to the structural integrity of the trunk being compromised.

4) Anti-desiccants
For Broadleaf Evergreen trees, it may be a good idea to spray them with an anti-desiccant spray. This will cover the leaves in a waxy coating that protects against losing too much moisture through the leaves.

5) Check for pests and infestations
The Ambrosia Beetle is still wreaking havoc on many of our trees, so we need to remain ever vigilant, and take action the second we see signs of infestation.
Call a tree feller immediately if you see these signs:
a) Wilting trees or branches
b) Dead trees or branches
c) Tiny shotgun-like holes on the bark of the tree usually surrounded by wood shavings
d) Wood Shavings/Wood Frass on, or around, the tree
e) Sugar Volcanoes on the bark
f) Oozing resin on the bark

6) Structural Audit
To ensure your trees remain healthy and do not pose a risk to you, your family, staff members or buildings, you need to conduct a regular tree audit.
If you see any of these sign, you need to call an expert to assess the safety of your trees:
a) Trees that are too close to buildings can cause costly structural damage
b) Cracks in trunk or branches – listen for creaking noises, this is usually a sign that your tree is under structural strain
c) Dense foliage can suffocate the tree. Light and air must flow freely through the canopy at all times
d) Damaged or inadequate roots can impact the stability of the tree
e) Epicormic growth is the growth of new shoots from buds that lie dormant under the bark. This usually happens when a tree is under stress. It is trying desperately to reach out for nourishment by growing more leaves to take in more nutrients.