The vernal equinox is here. It signals the first day of spring. And although that may be true for some, for North Texans spring is already in progress. But before we jump into dreaming up our summer gardens and digging into spring landscaping, let’s talk about what our trees have been doing all winter.
During the winter, trees settle into a period of dormancy. This means that they have been getting some much-needed rest and relaxation— consider it their vacation time. During this period of hibernation, every part of the tree slows down:
- Energy consumption
But dormancy isn’t like a light switching on and off. It happens as part of a process. During the fall, they sense the change in light and temperature, which signals the leaves that it is time to go dormant. If rapid fluctuations in temperature occur, trees may begin this process too early, which can lead to vulnerability, damage, and limb loss.
Phase 1 for Trees
Phase one of dormancy occurs when trees lose their leaves. You’re probably pretty familiar with the timing on this because it means you had to take a rake to the lawn.
But something exciting happened before that leaf fall— something you couldn’t see with the naked eye. Before the leaves fell from deciduous trees, they pulled valuable resources from the leaves.
They stored these resources to use throughout their dormancy period as well as for a significant growth spurt in the spring. Unfortunately, if the signs of spring come early, trees may come out of dormancy too soon and use up valuable resources.
Phase 2 for Trees
After the leaves have fallen, the tree kicks into phase two. Phase two is when it continues to develop roots deep in the soil. This period occurs after the leaves have fallen and just before the ground freezes.
In Texas, it’s not common for the ground to freeze, but the trees still go through this cycle. That’s why we recommended distributing blankets of mulch around the base of your trees in our winter preparation blog. We wanted to make sure that roots had a hospitable environment in which to form.
A decrease in photosynthesis and transpiration begins the dormant phase. During the full-on dormancy phase, trees may look inactive, but they continue to regulate their metabolism, slowly grow roots, respire, and absorb water and nutrients.
Supporting Your Trees During Dormancy and Beyond
You may have heard that winter is an excellent time to prune trees, and it is! But don’t worry, if you didn’t have time to prune them over the winter or if spring snuck up on you, there’s still time to maintain your trees properly.
Spring flowering trees can even be pruned just after they bloom. Although many beautiful flowers may fall to the wayside, an early spring cleaning can pay off big as we move into the spring and summer months.
Three Reasons Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Prune
1. Identifies Pests
Those sneaky destructive pests use winter as a great time to hunker down and wait for spring to come to resume their destructive habits. ISA Certified Arborists can inspect your trees for these pests and take care of them before they come back out to play.
2. Decreases Diseases
Pruning in winter and early spring decreases the spread of many common tree diseases.
3. Provides a Healthy Environment for New Growth
Summer flowering trees prefer to be trimmed during early spring. Spring pruning provides a healthy environment for new buds.
Additional Tasks to Keep Your Trees Healthy
But there’s more to caring for your trees in early spring than just making sure that they were pruned correctly. You will also need to:
- Continue to water properly. Trees need water to support leaf and stem growth, as well as to prepare for a long, dry summer. During the spring, water your established trees approximately three times per month at a very slow rate. Watering at a slow rate allows the water to penetrate the soil and tree roots fully.
- Check the mulch for pests and rodent damage.
- Replace mulch where needed. Mulching helps trees absorb nutrients and helps them retain moisture. Make sure to remove turf and weeds from the tree base when it is applicable to do so. That way, your tree won’t have to compete for nutrients.
- Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer to replace nutrients and improve the tree’s resistance to damage from diseases, insects, and stressful weather.
- Inspect trees for disease and damage that happened over the winter. Examine the branches, trunks, deadwood, cracked and loose bark, wet spots, and insect exit holes of every tree in your yard. Look for lesions on leaves. These are small, dark circles bordered by yellow halos. Examine stems and branches for cankers. These are diseased areas that appear shrunken or discolored. Be aware of limbs that extend too near your house or hover over your neighbors’ yard. Remove any critical risk trees.
- Plant new trees!
So before you get to grilling and swimming, take the time to care for your trees. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful bloom and foliage of spring, but those trees will repay you with beautiful cooling shade when the summer temps hit.
We Can Help
Feel overwhelmed? If you’re not sure what to do or don’t have time to manage them yourself, we’re here to help. Complete Landscultpture has a team of ISA Certified Arborists ready and waiting to heed your call.
They will use their knowledge and experience to assist you in identifying what trees:
- To prune
- Need to be removed
- Have pests and diseases
- Would be perfect for your yard
After they make an assessment, we’ll send the rest of the team over to make it all happen! But don’t wait too long, you never know what’s going to happen with this North Texas weather. Make an appointment today!