With the recent change in weather, from mild early spring like to below freezing snowy temperatures, our trees are feeling the full force of British mother nature.

Rapid temperature fluctuations above and below zero characteristics of cold weather take their toll on trees, preparing and protecting your trees will ensure the best growth and insurance for the future. You have little control over the climate, at least so far! However, there are things that you can do to minimize the damage caused by the stresses of cold weather.

Rapid Temperature Change

These rapid temperature variations between daytime warmth and nighttime freezing can lead to stresses within the tree, between the outer bark and the inner core leading to cracks, this is commonly called frost cracking.

There is usually very little that can be done to prevent frost cracking. And, in many cases, the tree is able to repair itself, although the cracked area remains weakened and subsequent cracking at the same place can cause major damage. In the case of young trees and trees such as tropicals,you may want to consider wrapping the bark as part of the autumn maintenance procedure, you can use cold weather tree blankets for this purpose.

Sudden Early Frost

This particularly affects late growth, as late season tree growth has not had the same time as established trees to prepare for the cold. The formation of ice crystals within the tree cell walls can rupture causing branches and possibly the tree itself to die off the following season.

Pruning after the tree has entered dormancy in mid to late autumn can avoid this happening, but be careful not to prune too early as this can encourage new growth and increase the risk of frost damage. Additionally, fertilizers with high amounts of quick release nitrogen should be avoided.

Branch Breakage

Branches are more susceptible in winter, the wood hardens and becomes somewhat more brittle and susceptible to wind damage.

The key to stopping breakage and possible emergency situations lies once again in a good autumn tree maintenance routine, particularly in pruning. Removing weak and vulnerable limbs can make the entire tree less susceptible to damage.

Snow Preparation Tips By Bob

  • Maintain good tree upkeep all year round.
  • If any damage found, treat promptly.
  • Remember, prune after the tree enters dormancy.
  • Lay a layer of compost/mulch around the bases of your trees to help with temperature changes and moisture.
  • Check your trees occasionally, especially after a severe cold snap or snow to see for signs of breakage or damage.
  • Do a post-cold snap/spring inspection every year.


If you are looking for help with your tree or anything else please do contact us on 07775 764 669