The 6 Most Common Causes of Winter Tree Damage in Edmonton

Check out the top 6 causes of winter tree damage in Edmonton and what you can do to prevent or treat your trees.

A warm sunny day in the middle of a long cold winter may seem like a welcome relief, but the sudden change in temperature can wreak havoc on your health when the cold returns. And the same can be said for your trees. Fluctuating temperatures and storms can lead to tree damage during the cool winter months. Keep reading to learn more about the six most common causes of winter tree damage in Edmonton and throughout the Prairies. 

1. Animals

During long cold winters when food is scarce, wild animals such as rabbits and mice may turn to your tree’s trunk as a source of food. When they feed on the bark and mulch around the base of your tree and on the bark just above the snow line, these creatures can create a band of damage around your tree’s trunk. We recommend wrapping your trees or installing a small barrier to prevent small critters from settling in.

2. Frost cracks

When temperatures fall below -15 C, your trees may be at risk of frost cracks. Appearing on the southwest side of your tree, a frost crack is a long vertical crack in the trunk. The tree may heal naturally once the weather warms, but the crack is likely to return. 

3. Salt damage

Salt damage occurs when de-icing salt comes into contact with your trees and shrubs. Salt damage can result in browning and discolouration, dead branches, and dead grass surrounding the tree. You can protect your trees and shrubs from salt damage for ensuring that you flush the soil with water, rinse the leaves or fertilize in the spring with a high quality fertilizer. 

4. Sunscald

Freezing overnight temperatures and a sudden burst of morning sun can result in a type of tree damage known as sunscald. Sunscald can lead to discolouration, rough bark and stunted growth in the affected tree. 

5. Temperature fluctuations

Rapid changes in temperature are a common cause of winter tree damage in Edmonton and throughout southern Alberta. Just like people, trees get used to a certain temperature and a sudden change can be a shock to their system. Damage typically occurs when a warm winter day is followed by a deep freeze. 

6. Winterburn

Evergreens are susceptible to a type of winter tree damage known as winterburn, which causes the tree’s needles to turn brown. Winterburn is usually the result of abrupt temperature fluctuations and high winds that cause the tree’s stored water reserves to evaporate. Protect your trees from winterburn by applying an anti-desiccant spray twice per season.

Looking for an arborist to help care for the trees on your Edmonton property? All Season Tree Service has been providing quality tree care to Edmonton and the surrounding areas for nearly 30 years. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to request a free estimate.