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Performing regular pruning to trees and shrubs is not only important for the aesthetics of plants but is also crucial to minimize potential damage from heavy snow-and-ice loads. Structural pruning and removal of dead or weak branches enable trees to better handle the additional weight and all-too-frequent winter winds.
By going through your trees and performing those tasks now in winter dormancy, you can substantially increase the odds of decreasing winter damage from future storms.
Repairing Winter Damage
As you begin spending more time outdoors, you may discover some winter damage once hidden by the snow.
Throughout the winter hundreds of little critters known as voles were busy searching for and eating seeds and bark. They wore trails in the lawn and fed on the bark of young trees and shrubs.
Start repairing damage by gently tamping any uprooted grass back in place. Overseed badly damaged lawn areas this spring. Or you can wait for the surrounding grass to fill in small areas.
Check trees and shrubs for damage. If the voles ate through the bark all the way around the trunk, they girdled the plant, and that stem or trunk is dead. Prune out damage on suckering shrubs. Totally girdled single stemmed trees will likely need to be replaced.
Prevent the problem in the future. Next fall, surround new and susceptible plants with a cylinder of hardware cloth 4 feet tall and sunk several inches into the ground.
A bit more information: Make your own lawn patch kit. Mix a handful of grass seed in a bucket of topsoil. Rake away any dead grass and sprinkle this mix over the damaged or bare areas in the lawn. Water thoroughly and then often enough to keep the soil surface moist. Once the new grass sprouts you can cut back on the watering. Keep some of your homemade lawn patch mixed and ready to use as new bare or damaged spots occur throughout the growing season.
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