In this blog post, I explore the question of whether arborists work in the winter. While some may believe that they do not, it is important to note that a number of tasks need to be completed during the cold season.
The winter months present an opportunity for arborists to inspect trees and remove any hazardous branches before more serious problems arise. This is especially true if you live in a region where snowfall can cause trees to collapse or break under its weight. So while it may not be as common for an arborist to visit your property over the winter months, they still have plenty of things on their plate!
in fact, they are often working to make sure trees stay healthy and safe during this time of year. However, their work will be different than what you would find them doing during the warmer months of the year.
For example, instead of removing a tree from a home or business as they might do in warmer months because it’s causing damage to structures or other plants that grow beneath it, an arborist may need to perform more inspections on trees that have been damaged by weather conditions such as ice storms and heavy winds.
They will also likely remove branches from large trees that break off due to inclement so that people don’t walk under them when walking down sidewalks, for example.
Why Winter Is A Good Time For Tree Work!
Now that the leaves have fallen and the snow is starting to cover the ground, many people are not thinking about their trees as much. However, we’d like you to know that winter is a great time to work on trees.
The months of April to December are usually the busiest months for the tree care industry, but winter is a great time to do certain types of tree work. As arborists, we really enjoy working in the winter. The snow is beautiful, and our chainsaw pants provide nice insulation in the cold weather!
Types Of Tree Work Ideal For Winter
Removals – When the ground is frozen, there is less impact on lawns and gardens surrounding the trees being removed. Trees that are dying from disease, such as Emerald Ash Borer, are great candidates for winter removal so that they don’t become a hazard in the spring when you want to be outside in your backyard. If you have been considering removing a tree in your yard, consider that winter might be the best time to get it done.
Forest work – Forestry work such as plantation thinning and trail clearing are ideal for winter. When the ground is frozen, there is less risk of damaging the forest floor. If logs are being pulled out of the bush with machinery, ruts are less likely to be made. During the nesting season, work done in the winter can also ensure that wildlife like birds and small mammals will not be disturbed by work.
Pruning – Most trees can benefit from light pruning done during the dormant season. Dormant pruning helps the tree focus its energy effectively come spring. After the coldest days have passed, winter pruning should be done, and things are beginning to warm up again. Species like Maple, Walnuts and Birches, may bleed from pruning cuts when the weather warms and sap begins to flow. This is not usually harmful and will stop once the tree leafs out.
If a tree has shown signs of stress or disease or was not vigorous in its growth during the previous growing season, it might be better to wait until the tree is just about to leaf out to do any major pruning. Sometimes, even though the tree is stressed, you may want to prune it in the winter anyway if there is a risk of the tree being damaged in severe weather due to structural issues or previous storm damage.
Access Through Snow
Some jobs are more appropriate for winter tree work depending on access to the yard. For example, when there is snow on the ground, the use of sleds help us move wood around easily, but it some cases, we may ask clients to clear us a path to the tree if there has been a large amount of snow.
Winter Storm Damage – Preventing/Restoring
Trees that are overgrown, have poor structure, or have been previously damaged in storms may require some pruning to protect the tree from failure during harsh winter weather.
When the trees have no leaves during the winter months, it is easy to see the tree’s prune structure appropriately. Preventative maintenance can lower the chances of failure during severe weather. It’s never too early to start taking care of your trees.
We always say that pruning a tree before a storm damages it is the most effective way to prevent failure, but if severe weather causes a branch to fail or leaves hanging branches in the crown, it is best to deal with it immediately to avoid further damage or risk of injury from falling debris.
Seasonal Transitions and Winter Tree Work
The winter is a great time to remove or prune trees because trees are dormant, and many trees can be pruned anytime of the year. However, in the cold months, homeowners usually do not think about their trees, mostly because their time spent outdoors is limited.
Many people cling to the indoors during the cold months, and tree work slows. In our industry, the winter months are definitely a down time for our tree workers, especially in the Northern area since we experience the full effects of all four seasons.
There are three important aspects of tree service that are the focus of this article. The first focuses on the seasonal transitional period for tree-related incidents and how it is important to zero in on safety, specifically during this time period.
The second is taking the extra time – always – to ensure tree workers are working safely and efficiently. And the last point, which is for homeowners and tree workers alike, is that the winter months are a great time to perform tree services.
Since our arborists are less busy in the winter months, the tree men have a nice winter break from the seasonal hard work. The transition from working 50-60 hour work weeks to 20-30 hours per week is very common going into the winter. Since 1975, our company and workers have gone through this very transition, and we are very familiar with the change.
We have noticed over the years that scheduling and job-related incidents can be prevalent during the slow times – probably because our staff gets out of sync from the busy season. However, when our tree workers are steady in their groove during the busy months, usually March through October, they have the routine down pat.
This is not to say accidents happen more often in the slow time, because if anything, it is probably the other way around, but we have absolutely seen that issues tend to occur during the transition periods. So moving from the winter into the spring season and getting back into the motions of heavy work hours.
Safety is the priority always, therefore, it is imperative to continue weekly safety meetings through the winter months and especially into the transitional weeks when getting busy again.
Because of this, it is also very important to hold safety meetings on a weekly basis. We have found that this definitely has made a difference in our mentality of starting the work week off with a “safety first” mindset.
Ramping up safety discussions and meetings during seasonal transition periods is a good idea. We have found that even a quick toolbox talk accompanied with the weekly safety meetings can go a long way toward addressing safety concerns. Furthermore, it is vital to stress the importance of taking an extra few minutes before or during tree work to think things through; this practice can prevent serious injury or damages.
This habit is especially useful in hazardous or emergencies; for example, if a tree rests precariously on the house or if the tree’s position renders typical approaches with riggings and cranes useless. Our staff has recently tackled a handful of these challenges on the job and can say that the extra time taken was absolutely necessary to achieve a successful outcome.
We have been using a strategy for many years to inform our customers to wait until the winter months to perform the tree removal. Some removals obviously have to be done right away, especially if they are a safety hazard, but many removals can wait. It is truly a win-win situation for the homeowner and our company; the customer receives further discounts since winter is a slower time, and it provides more work for us in the winter at the same time.
This is a great incentive to give customers, and many times this incentive is what lands us the job. Homeowners love this idea, and what tree company couldn’t use more work in the winter months? Here are a few other good reasons to perform tree work in the winter:
- There are not landscape companies or spring cleanup crews in the way
- The ground is often frozen, thus minimising yard damage
- The leaves are not on the trees, thus making the workload lighter
- Trees are dormant
To summarise, we have recognised that there is an additional need for safety and preparation for tree work, specifically in the transitional seasons. Taking extra time during a job can make the difference in successfully getting a job done with no injury or damage in the outcome. In addition, most tree work involves quick decision making during the process of a job.
Taking an extra couple of minutes in preparing before and during a job can be the difference between success and failure. So we have identified that getting into a safety-conscious mindset, specifically into or out of a transitional season, is absolutely necessary.
Preparedness and spending extra time can make all the difference in our dangerous line of work. And lastly, the winter is a great time to perform tree work for the very good reasons listed. So please take the necessary time to ensure safety, be aware of the necessary extra safety precautions during transitional seasons, and be safe out there!
Reasons To Hire An Arborist During Winter
Winter can be a tough time for your backyard. With your trees shedding their leaves, you may think it’s the perfect time to prune and trim your own tree. However, pruning your tree requires much more expertise than you might think.
Trained and Experienced
You may think trees are simple and easy, but trees can offer a whole host of unique problems and situations. For those who are untrained or inexperienced when it comes to handling trees, there is a high possibility of not knowing how to deal with a certain scenario or perhaps not even noticing a problem staring you in the face.
By hiring an arborist, you guarantee your trees the handiwork and experience of a trained professional. For example, your tree may have certain problems or hazards accentuated by the winter season, or maybe your trees are early bloomers that need extra or early care and attention. Knowing these nuances can make the difference between a tree that survives the winter and one that doesn’t.
In the same way that bears and other large animals hibernate during the winter, trees are also affected by the winter months. This is the season when trees largely fall into a state of dormancy.
Dormancy allows trees to stay alive during the winter months when there are less sunlight and fewer nutrients in the soil. However, when a tree goes dormant, all its processes become slowed – energy consumption, metabolism, growth, and more. This is why trees shed their leaves during winter; since they are creating no food for themselves, they do not need energy-sucking leaves.
This means that the dormant winter season is the best time to prune your tree. Dormant trees don’t have the same vulnerability to diseases and pests when cuts are made into the bark. This means that arborists can more safely prune a tree thoroughly, ensuring that every part of it is pruned without the worry of infestation.
Prepare For Spring
Another benefit of pruning in the winter? It’s the best time to reshape and redesign your tree! As your trees become naked of leaves during the winter months, they become easier to handle and observe.
If your tree has any present defects or strange or out of place branches, a professional arborist can more easily spot these problems while the tree is dormant. By pruning the tree thoroughly during the winter, you ensure that your tree is on schedule to grow nice, attractive, and healthy by the time spring rolls around.
Tip: The rest of your garden is also less sensitive to the foot traffic of arborists during the wintertime, making this the truly ideal time to schedule your tree pruning.
Safety And Maintenance
The winter months can lead to unusual weather. Strong storms can be rough on your trees, making large and overarching branches more dangerous than they usually are.
These branches need to be dealt with before a serious incident occurs. For example, a single storm could turn your branches into driveway and sidewalk obstructions or even cause major property damage to your home and surrounding property. There is also the possibility of knocking down power lines if you aren’t careful with your branches.
Timing and Expertise
Different types of trees have different needs. For example, some trees need before trimming and pruning (early bloomers); other trees end up oozing sap if they are pruned too late in the winter season.
There are many ways different species of trees can react to different times of the year, and knowing these differences is key towards pruning your trees the right way. If you are unsure about the way to handle your specific trees, then it’s probably best to hire an arborist on your team with the expertise and knowledge of timing and more.
Tree Care Over The Winter Months
Neglecting the health of your trees during the long winter months is a sure-fire way to kill off their chances of healthy growth throughout the rest of the year. Winter tree care keeps your trees strong through winter, protects them from the tough conditions and sets them up with the best chances for success for those warmer months.
This guide will take you through the best strategies for taking care of your trees in Winter. We look at why Winter is a great time to get on top of tree maintenance, plus we explore the hidden benefits of taking action while everyone else is hibernating.
The Winter Cut
Winter is an ideal time to get on top of your trees’ pruning schedule. A regular pruning schedule is important for keeping your tree healthy, happy, vibrant and growing strong. However, many people neglect this task with the onset of the cold climate. Our arborists say that pruning during Winter actually has a number of advantages:
First of all, without all of the excess foliage, it is far easier to be precise and accurate when pruning. The absence of leaves allows for quicker identification of healthy branch structures, enabling a tree surgeon to navigate the tree better and determine which parts should be trimmed, lopped or left.
Pruning and lopping during Winter reduce risk in two distinct ways. Firstly it removes dead and dying branches, which pose a threat to safety during high winds or storms. Secondly, pruning during winter has less chance of attracting insects with disease, bacteria or fungi that can cause nightmares for your trees and plants. Therefore winter pruning can help to make you and your trees safer.
Trimming your trees during the coldest months of the year places less stress on the tree than at other times of the year. By getting on top of your tree care in Winter, the tree has time to recover and begin growing by the time the sun is out, and spring is in bloom.
In addition, pruning during winter can remove the shade from your property and enable more sunlight to reach the rest of your plants. This can help the rest of your garden to weather the cold and prepare for the prosperous months.
The Cost of Frost
While there are a number of advantages to pruning during Winter, it’s also important to put in place strategies to protect your trees from the bitter cold. Our professional arborists have plenty of experience in protecting trees from the elements. Here are their top tips:
Protect the weak
If you have young saplings, delicate trees or potted plants, get them ready for the frost. Freezing temperatures can badly damage your tree’s shoots, leaves, and core, affecting their ability to grow and fight off disease. Protect these by bringing them inside if you can or covering them to the ground with sheets/tarps that trap the warmth during the night.
Mulching helps to regulate the moisture levels and temperature of the soil and your trees. Cover the base and roots of your trees with 5-10cm of fresh wood chip mulch to help them retain warmth even during the coldest parts of the month.
Keep the fluids up
Keep watering your trees during winter, especially if there has been no rain. Young saplings should be watered every week or two, while more mature trees should be watered every month or two.