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“Old Man Winter’s” bitter cold grasp hasn’t been as tight around our wooded community as in years past. Early January’s mild temperatures have prematurely started the budding of leaflets on trees and shrubs, which has also led to the sprouting of early spring flowers. Hopefully, spring will fully arrive sooner than later, lessening the chances of a late winter cold-spell. Before spring arrives, a couple of important late winter tree care tips should be practiced before the warmer months are in full swing.

· Insects that are normally out and about during warmer months are not active during the winter months. Insect sensitive trees should be pruned during winter months, allowing the pruned tree to start the healing process around the necessary cuts.

· A 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch should be applied around the drip line of a tree. This helps establish a healthy root zone which is essential to a tree’s development. This mulch layer can also help a tree maintain the necessary moisture in the event of an early spring drought. Do not pile the mulch directly on the trunk of the tree. This practice is called “volcano mulching” and can lead to severe decline in the tree.

Practicing correct mulching and pruning practices can greatly improve the health and vigor of your property’s trees. The following are educational/environmental facts from the Morton Arboretum’s January 2007 Newsletter:

· Trees and woodlands release oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping reduce the effects of global warming.

· A mature tree intercepts about 1,000 gallons of water a year, decreasing the severity of down-pours allowing water to drip gently onto soil, and helps control flooding and soil erosion.

· Native plants support birds, bees and a vast array of wildlife. Plants hold soil in place preventing erosion.

· Birds and bees are pollinators that make it possible for plants to reproduce. Birds control leaf eating insects and keep trees in good health.