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Our city’s geographic location can bring extreme cold, dry Chinook winds, and freezing rain – sometimes all on the same day.
Here’s some information and tips on keeping your trees healthy and happy over winter.
Winter temperatures impact trees in a few ways: the dry cold can desiccate them, damage bark, and injure or kill branches, flower buds, and roots. Trees outside of our hardiness zone may not make it through winter, and native trees can be impacted temperatures are very harsh, or if they’re already stressed.
Calgary gets a lot of sun, especially during our winters. This can sometimes cause sun scald, which is sun-damage to a tree’s bark. During the day, sun heats up the tree bark, “waking” the tree to come out of dormancy. But when the sun is blocked or sets, the bark temperature drops quickly, causing the active bark tissue to freeze and die.
Recognize sun scald by patches of elongated, sunken, dried, or cracked areas of dead bark, usually on the south or southwest side of a tree.
Trees at risk of sun scald:
Calgary has experienced the tree-damage caused by snow and ice, most recently during Snowtember in 2014. Heavy snow and ice bend and break branches.
Salt and deicing chemicals can hurt trees by injuring roots and being absorbed by the tree.
Mice, rabbits, and deer can damage trees in the winter, by feeding on the tender twigs, bark, and foliage. They can girdle trees by removing all the bark on the base of the trunk area. Some areas in Calgary may also see deer causing injury and breakage by rubbing their antlers on trees during the fall.
They bring colour and festivities to our winter season, and with a few easy steps, holiday lights can be enjoyed with no damage to your trees.