Winter Tips for Your Trees

February 4, 2021

Although trees are dormant during the winter, they don’t hibernate in the traditional sense – the trees are still exposed to the harsh seasonal elements. Winter conditions can be stressful on trees, especially those in the urban environment. Here are some tips to help your trees throughout the winter setting them up for successful growth when they become active again come springtime.

1.   Keep trees well-watered throughout the winter if temperatures are mild. So far, this winter season has been mild with several consecutive days above 40° F. When the temperature is consistently warm for two or more days, your trees need to be watered. Whenever you are enjoying a beer at one of Downtown’s many outdoor patios on a beautiful, warm day in January, don’t forget that your tree needs a drink too.
2.   When we do see snow, make sure to keep rock salt and snow melt products away from trees. The salt interferes with the roots ability to absorb water, oxygen, and precious nutrients which can lead to a stressed-out tree and likely death. If you find you have chronic problems with too much rock salt, installing a raised curb around the tree bed could be a great long-term solution. Check out the Urban Forest Initiative to see if you are eligible for funding toward this tree improvement.
3.   Clear away snow that has accumulated on tree branches. Snow can be heavy and often turn to ice, which weighs down branches and can cause them to break.
4.   Wrap the trunks of young trees. The bark of young trees is prone to damage from temperature fluctuations throughout the season. Wrapping the trunks of trees that are 3” in diameter or smaller with paper helps to insulate the tree’s cells again the harsh Colorado sun. All young trees in the BID received a trunk wrap as part of the BID’s Tree Health Program.
5.   Don’t pile snow at the base of trees. Although this may seem like a convenient location to store snow from clearing your sidewalk, don’t do it!  Piling snow can damage your tree. Using snow equipment too close to your trees can cause wound that can later be an opening for pests, or knock over a young tree completely. Additionally, the snow is likely filled with snow melt product that can be devastating to the tree’s ability to uptake nutrients.
6.   Apply mulch to the tree bed. Mulch helps to insulate the roots, regulate temperature, and retain moisture.

If you are interested in partnering with the BID for crucial watering and supplemental tree health services, reach out to Amanda Miller, Service Coordinator, Downtown Environment at