Winter (yes, winter) Tree Care


Be Prepared for the Chance of Winter Storms

Yes, I know winter is not here yet, but it is never too early to plan on how to care for your conifer trees.  There is talk of at least a normal rain year so it is best to remove any extra foliage or branches that could become over-heavy from rainfall.  Here are some suggestions for tree care that should be done for the remainder of the year.

Tree Care Basics for the Winter

It is best to develop a multi-year plan to determine which trees need the most attention first and what can wait a year or two.  Problem solving is the best plan of attack.  Remove crossed, damaged (broken, dead, cracked, fungus/beetle infected), overweight or lopsided branches first.  If any branch poses a hazard to a building, frequently used area, or where vehicles park or drive these area branches to address first.


Winter Dormant Conifers

Locally common pines (Monterey pine, Monterey cypress, Torrey pine, Canary Island pine, and stone pine to name a few) are in the deepest part of dormancy in the coldest time of the year (December through February).  Pruning at this time of year will reduce the chance of infestation by Pine Beetles or other borrowing beetles.  These beetles can introduce other dangerous infections such as Pine Pitch Canker which can be fatal.  Pine Beetles are dormant in the winter so they won’t attack a freshly cut tree.

You should also be prepared for winter storm damage from heavy rain and winds.  Because of the drought trees have become weakened; dead branches, reduced support roots, weakened structure, and excessive foliage on the outer edge of the canopy.    That means when rain and wind occur then branches or whole trees could fail; some by dropping individual branches other by whole trees toppling.

Conifers with Brown Needles or Excessive Amounts of Sap

Lack of water or infected with insects?

With the heat and drought, trees have not been at their best health the past few months.  When trees get stressed, they don’t have the resources to fight off infections such as insects or fungus.  It is now that insects have a greater chance of affecting trees.  Conifer trees infected by insects and fungus will have brown needles either throughout the tree or in concentrated areas.  Boreholes can be observed along with insect fras at the base of a tree.  A conifer tree might have a greater amount of sap on the bark or dripping on the ground.


Let Branch Out Tree Care evaluate yours trees to see if they need some pre-storm care.  It is never too late (or too early) to care for your trees.

Coming soon…What about caring for oak trees before winter storms?