preparing trees for fall

Tips to prepare trees for fall

Prepare your trees for fall

Fall is a great time to make sure your trees have an extra layer of mulch around them.  Remember folks, NO mulch mounds around the tree trunks.  You’ll want a volcano look to your mulch leaving 2-3” of space between the trunk of your tree and the start of the mulch.  A 2.5”-3” deep mulch bed is perfect. 

Prepare your trees for fall - give enough water

To prepare your trees for fall and making sure your trees have water during the winter is typically something we Minnesotians don’t think about.  Making sure that the root systems are active and able to absorb as much moisture as they can is still quite important.  Like our summer months, we suggest putting a soaker hose out to the drip line of your tree and letting the entire area become saturated with water.  Even though some cities have had a hard frost already, there are still plenty of warmer nonfreezing weather to allow this to happen.   

colors of trees during fall season in Minnesota

To prepare your trees for fall we also suggest the purchase of a soil moisture meter.  Make sure the probe is at least 24” long.  A common misconception is sprinkler systems.  Sprinkler systems are for grass and seasonal plants, not necessarily for trees.  A soil moisture meter will help guide you to the right amount of water for your trees.  Keeping in mind that most tree roots reach much further than 24”.  Our frost line here in Minnesota is between 48” & 80” in central MN.  For our northern friends, that can reach as far as 100”, which is 8.3 feet.   

Pruning helps to prepare your trees for fall

we help you prepare your trees for fall season in minnesota

If you didn’t have your tree pruned this year, fall is still a good time to get that project completed.  Prepare your trees for fall and you will see that cutting back any vulnerable limbs or branches of concern will help with damage later throughout the winter when the weight of snow and ice come around.  Trees under stress, like the drought, will also start to decompartmentalize their limbs and branches to conserve energy for survival.  

That is why you are seeing a lot more “deadwood” within your trees canopy.  Prepare your trees for fall and make sure your tree is conserving and providing the right amount of nutrients throughout the winter, give us a call to stop out to take a look and provide you with a proposal for this tree clean up. leo.

Young Trees During Fall

If you have a young tree, newly planted smooth trunk tree, fall is the time to wrap those trunks.  Sunscald is an elongated section of dead back on the south to southwest side of tree trunks or tree branches.  Sunscald is caused by the drastic fluctuations in temperature on the tree.  In the winter when the sun warms the trunk of the tree, reflection off the snow acts as a mirror helping to rise that temperature.  As the night falls, the temperature quickly drops, freezing the tissue of the tree.  

Trees that are more likely to succumb to sunscald are ornamental trees such as Maples (sugar, reds & hybrids), Lindens, Ash, Honeylocust, White Pines & Apple trees.  Early damage can’t necessarily be noticed, so keep that in mind.  You may not see the damage until spring when the turns dark brown, cracks and sometimes falls off.  There are plenty of marketed products out there to use

take a walk in the woods during fall season in Minnesota

We suggest a corrugated plastic tree guard over the kraft paper tree wrap.  The reason for this is a lot of times people will wrap their trees and the tape or finishing product they use won’t stand up against our cold temps, wind, and ice.  DO NOT use and colored tree wraps that come in green or black.  This will intensify the temperature issue. 

We also do not suggest that these products stay in place year-round.  It is good to prepare your trees for fall and have them adapted to the MN seasons.  Sunscald can occur in the summer months when temps have the same swing, however it is not as common here in Minnesota.  In other countries, people paint the lower halves of their trees to prevent the same damage and to help deter insects.  If you’re on a budget and would like to use paint, just make sure it’s nontoxic to plant tissue. 

Extreme drought in Minnesota

Next to the Emerald Ash Borer continuing to wreak havoc on our Ash trees, nationwide, Minnesota has suffered its 2nd driest year since 1977.  With 1990 coming in pretty close place.  This extreme to exceptional drought these last two seasons has left us scratching our heads in a lot of cases.  The swing shift from 2018-2019 being extreme to exceptional wet, in a lot of ways, has left our trees quite confused. 

Oak trees for instance, don’t necessarily appreciate having such large swing shifts, and they also don’t care to be that wet.  So when we were seeing Oak stress present itself in 2020 with early browning of leaves, early die back of the canopies, the University of Minnesotas Extension data proved that those changes were from the rains the previous two seasons. 

Fast forward two additional seasons and we see a lot of the same Oak tree characteristics.  We process through over 50 calls a week about stressed Oak trees.  Early leaf separation, thin canopies, small leaf production.  This is all due to the lack of water/rain. 

Trees during fall season in Minnesota