MAKE SURE TREES STAY PROTECTED
Advice on how to check health, supports and insulation
SO far, this winter has been mild but it has been blowy, with gales sweeping in and causing problems for the unprepared. As soon as any storm has abated, check around your garden for damage and make sure taller trees and shrubs haven’t been uprooted or weakened.
This is especially important with newly planted specimens because their roots may not have the reach or strength to keep plants anchored. The roots of container-bought trees will still be confined within a relatively small area, and bare-root trees or those dug up from nursery beds will also have small root systems.
You will probably have secured your young trees to stakes at planting, so check that these are still in place and the ties are firm enough but not so tight that they bite into the bark.
If you need to add an extra stake, choose one that is roughly one-third the height of the tree as this will support the roots but let the trunk move and thicken.
Site the stake on the side of the prevailing wind so the tree is blown away from it, and attach the tree with a rubber tie that is tied in a figure of eight. This lets the tree move, but stops it rubbing against the support.
Cut back broken branches to undamaged wood using a clean saw, loppers or secateurs. If the branch is in a dangerous situation or is too high to reach, enlist the help of a friend or call in a professional tree surgeon.
Also, check trees and ground-planted hardwood cuttings after heavy frosts, which can lift the soil around the roots. Firm the soil back down around the trunk, but don’t add more mulch as this will trap the frosty cold in the soil.
You should always right any container trees that have been blown over and move more vulnerable ones against a sheltering wall. If you wrapped their pots in fleece or bubble wrap, check that it is still securely tied.
Check that protection is still in place after a storm and repair or replace anything that has broken Firming soil after a frost Keep your trees secured