Winter Injury Concerns for Evergreen and Broadleaf Trees

After what felt like forever, the long and arduous Utah winter finally has given way to spring. The snow is gone from the ground, trees are beginning to bloom and the weather is warming up.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to tell you about what the changing seasons mean for you as a tree owner, from important fertilization areas in spring to pruning, trimming and much more. If you have any evergreen or broadleaf trees on your property, specifically, the early spring is a period to look out for one post-winter condition simply known as “winter injury.” Let’s go over what winter injury means, how it affects trees, and how you can spot and manage signs of winter injury on your trees.

winter injury evergreen broadleaf trees

Trees and Adaptation

Winter injury is a broad category that can affect a number of evergreen or broadleaf species, including Boxwood, Douglas Fir, Fraser and several others. It’s often marked initially by browning concerns (more on symptoms in a moment).

In many cases, winter tree injury is based on issues with the tree adapting to the conditions of the season. Many of the worst cases of tree injury come when a mild previous summer and fall are followed by an extremely harsh winter, such as the one we just went through. This causes the trees to struggle to adjust to the changes in weather that come so quickly. While tree injury is possible even in milder climates, it’s the greatest risk during seasons that change significantly like this.

Symptoms of Winter Injury

There are several symptoms of winter injury to be aware of:

  • Browning: The first and primary symptom of most winter injury conditions is browning on the needles or leaves, generally on the south side of trees or any needles that are not above a snowline.
  • Water loss: If soil becomes frozen during winter, it may leave trees struggling to absorb water through the roots, especially when the sun is out or it’s windy.
  • “Winter burn”: When sunlight reflects off snow and heats up exposed sides of the tree, causing rapid changes when the temperature drops at night.

Avoiding Winter Injury Concerns

When it comes to avoiding future winter injury, the name of the game is actually paying strong attention to late-summer and early fall tree care. Strong watering of shrubs, evergreens and broadleaf trees should be observed all the way up until the first frost and freezing ground in the fall, and you can consider mulch around the base of these trees to keep water conserved in the soil and protect the roots from frost. Some property owners choose burlap screens for wind and element protection, including keeping trees safe from salt spray from close-by roads.

For more on spotting and avoiding winter injury in your trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or tree removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.