winter tree bark damage

Do you know what winter tree bark damage looks like? Bark acts as a suit of armor against the elements, and strong bark is essential for protection. During the winter, however, extreme weather is notorious for damaging this sturdy layer. Sunscald and frost cracks may threaten a tree’s health. Here’s how you can tell if your tree’s bark is in danger.

The Signs of Sunscald

Tree bark is multi-layered. The exterior, woodsy layer (the side you see) is the outer bark. Once you pass that layer, you’ll reach two inner layers—the phloem and cambium. The phloem layer transports food throughout the tree. The cambium layer creates new wood.

Winter weather is unpredictable. During the day, it may be sunny outside, but at night, temperatures may plummet. Sudden fluctuations in temperature can harm a tree’s bark. When the sun shines down on a tree, it activates cells within the bark’s inner layers. But when the temperatures fall in the evening, these cells get injured. Sunscald causes discolored, sunken bark, and you’ll usually find it on the southwest side of the trunk.

Sunscald doesn’t always kill a tree, but it can affect the growing process. It’s especially dangerous in young trees that don’t have a fully-developed outer layer. Mature trees usually survive this type of damage. However, if the damage is too widespread, removing the tree is the only solution.

Facts about Frost Cracks

The ever-changing temperatures of winter can also lead to frost cracks. Warm temps can cause the inner layers of bark to expand, and freezing weather makes them contract. If the temperatures fluctuate too much over a short period, the bark will eventually crack. A deep crack that appears suddenly in the winter is most likely frost crack.

Although frost cracks don’t kill trees, they do create an opening for opportunist insects and disease to get inside. If an infestation gets out of control, the tree may succumb. As soon as you notice cracks forming on the bark, it’s time to reach out to a tree expert for advice.

Protect Your Trees from Winter Damage

Tree bark is resilient, but there can be a breaking point. Both sunscald and frost cracks can damage your trees seemingly overnight. To prevent this from happening, remember to water your tree throughout the winter. Well-hydrated trees are less prone to bark damage. Mulch around the trunk will keep the temperature more stable. Planting shrubs nearby can also help shield your tree from direct sunlight.

Engram’s Tree Service can help protect your trees from wintertime damage. We are leaders when it comes to tree health. Our arborist will make sure your tree is strong enough to survive the cold months. We also offer trimming and removal services. With over 25 years of experience, you can rest assured your tree is in good hands. Schedule service with Engram’s Tree Service to ensure your tree doesn’t fall victim to winter tree bark damage.