Can Frost on Trees Cause Damage?

By: albertaarb - April 12, 2018

When it comes to frost damage to my tree, even evergreen trees aren’t immune

When The Snow Falls

 

Frost on trees and its effects are not just one set situation. A variety of different factors, including the type of tree itself, locations, and conditions, and the exact weather timing during the period of dormancy. Before asking, “how will I treat frost damage to my tree?” all of these things need to be taken into account.

Frost Damage

One of the most common examples of frost damage that we see for trees are frost cracks, also known as radial shakes. These occur when sudden drops of temperature cause the outer layer of wood to contract faster than the inner layer, resulting in a long vertical crack in the trunk. Part of the issue with these is that when one occurs the first time, it is highly likely to occur annually. There are other types of winter damage as well that can occur with frost. Evergreen trees are generally considered perfect, but they are not immune either. Browning or scorched leaf tips can occur in late winter or early spring. This generally stems from loss of water due to desiccation from winter sun and winds. In addition, the weight of heavy snow itself can break branches.

Temperature Trouble

Sometimes, it’s not about the frost itself, but the temperature that can hurt your trees. A good example of this is root damage. Roots are not good at adjusting to cold soil temperature, and can die easily. In some cases, trees can be caught off guard. An example is a late winter frost, which damages blooms, shoots, and other growing tree parts that are not meant to handle frost.

How To Respond

In some cases, the best way to protect your tree is to choose the right tree for the area that you live. Some are hardier than others. If you don’t plant a tree with this in mind, the odds are stacked against you, but you can help yourself by avoiding late-summer fertilization or pruning. This causes late growth which may be affected by the winter. You also want to keep your shrubs and trees watered as long as possible up until the ground freezes. For your evergreens, you may want to use burlap screens in order to protect from wind and salt spray.

In some cases, frost damage may actually kill a tree. A professional tree service will help you remove them.

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