We are experiencing the first cold snap of winter – trees may be dormant in winter, but they still need to be cared for since they are always exposed to the harsh elements. For your trees to have the best chance at surviving the dormant winter months and for them to thrive and grow again in summer, you will need to take a few precautions.

1) Take extra care of newly planted trees
Young trees and newly planted trees are at somewhat of a disadvantage in winter compared to their older, more settled counterparts. Young trees often have thin bark and less developed root systems.
Keep them well watered during these months, ensuring that the water penetrates deep into the soil to reach the lower roots

2) As always, don’t forget the mulch!
Mulch can regulate the temperature in the ground and keeps the heat from the day’s sun in the soil for longer into the night. It can also prevent the water in and around the roots from freezing. Remember to keep the mulch away from the bark of the tree trunk to prevent rot.

3) Prune
Now is the time to prune! It will be easier to inspect most trees during this time since canopies thin during these months. The tree does better when you prune during the dormant phase, and there is also a reduced possibility of spreading diseases and pests as most of these are dormant during winter as well.

4) Conifers
These can be pruned any time of the year but if you prune during winter months, you will minimize the sap flow. If you prune just before spring, new growth will fill in the gaps very quickly.

5) Act fast if you see the Borer Beetle
We have been plagued by the PSHB in Gauteng, so if you see any signs of the borer beetle, please take immediate action. Signs include wilting or dead trees or branches, tiny exit/entry holes in bark, wood shavings on branches, leaves or on the ground, sugar volcanoes at exit holes, blotchy or oozing bark at entry of exit holes.

6) Wrap your trees
You can wrap the trunks of your trees with cloth or hessian – this will keep the heat from the sun in the trees overnight, preventing the water from freezing in the trunk and doing damage.