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Talking Trees Live: Evergreen Tree Care & Winter Watering Tips

Davey arborist Michael Sundberg shares proven tips for keeping your evergreens healthy during the winter months.

What is an Evergreen?

And What is the Difference Between a Deciduous Evergreen?

An evergreen is a plant that holds onto its green foliage for more than one season. Versus deciduous plants completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season. (00:04:19)

How Can We Tell the Difference Between Natural Browning and When it’s an Issue?

It’s very natural for evergreens to shed their interior needles because they prioritize the outer needles that receive the most sunlight. Also, it is natural for evergreens to shed their needles as part of the growing cycle. (00:07:49)

Signs of an issue could be browning of the exterior or at the top where the sun reaches. (00:09:20)

The tips of the needles are the farthest from the roots, so if it’s thirsty and not getting enough water the tips will show signs of dehydration first.

Evergreen Winter Watering Tips

For regions that go through a dryer season, what are things we can do for evergreens? (00:10:36)

Arborist Sundberg encourages for healthy or stressed evergreens, to continue watering through the winter months because evergreens really benefit from it.

Our recommendation is once a month but depending on your region and the weather conditions it may need more.

The best watering techniques are with deep root injection where you can go below the soil and the water goes right to the roots or a slow watering trickle with hose or sprinkler because you don’t want the water to run off the surface and not get to the roots.

Follow the dripline, which is the outer edge of the canopy. It’s the most important part of the root system that drinks the most water.

How to Tell if Your Tree Needs Water

This is a tricky one because the signs are not immediate like an indoor houseplant. Proper watering maintenance is key! Once something is really drying up, it can be difficult to turn it around. (00:15:24)

In the Colorado region, it’s recommended 10 gallons of water per trunk inch diameter.

Evergreen Insects (Pests) and Diseases

If you see something physically crawling on the leaves or needles, call your local arborists. (00:18:19)

Common evergreen pests and diseases:

How to protect trees from sunscald and frost cracks?

Arborist Sundberg suggests wrapping your younger trees during the winter months, November-April. It acts like an insulator and helps protect the bark during the drastic temperature changes. (00:21:31)

How to Tell When the Tree Needs to be Removed

It’s going to be case-by-case, but it’s not a good sign when it’s not putting out new growth in the spring or if your evergreen lost more than half of its needles. (00:24:26)

Do Evergreens Need to be Trimmed (Pruned)?

There are certain situations like if it is rubbing up against a house, it can be a safety hazard. But in general, you are not pruning an evergreen to thin it out. (00:29:36)

Some evergreens, like the upright junipers, homeowners want to have that tight, upright shape so you can prune/shear them for aesthetic purposes.

Why is My Evergreen Dying from Bottom-Up or Top-Down?

If your tree is dying bottom-up, it can be from sunlight which is a natural process. Those limbs aren’t getting enough sun. Here’s additional information. (00:33:41)

If your tree is dying top-down, it is more of a concern because your trees are pushing new growth at the top. It is the most important part of the tree. (00:36:30)

Viewer Questions

What makes evergreens stay green?

The needles and leaves contain chlorophyll, which gives them their green color. Since evergreens do not drop their needles, they remain green year-round.

Evergreens also utilize their needles in colder months because they are “winter proof.” Just like deciduous trees, they still grow year-to-year and go through dormancy, which means they aren’t growing. The buds are waiting until the next spring for growth. (00:05:18) 

What are the best evergreens for privacy?

Upright Juniper! At maturity, some junipers are 3-5 ft wide and 20 ft tall, so they are great for narrow spaces because they are tall and skinny.

They are also hardy, so it’s tough to kill a juniper. (00:06:23)

Here are some additional fast-growing trees for privacy.

What plants grow well underneath white pine trees?

Arborist Sundberg suggests a Japanese yew shrub or holly. Both do well in shade. (00:13:03)

When is it too late to plant trees?

It depends regionally, but ideally fall is a great time of year to plant trees because the cooler temperatures are best on the roots and sets them up for spring growth. (00:22:52)

A pine snapped in half during a recent windstorm, was that tree suffering from damage?

Most likely, but sometimes physics wins. There is only so much a tree can do with so much force. Uprooting can also be a problem. (00:28:14)

High winds have been an issue lately, how can we protect our evergreens before a storm hits?

You may want to consider utilizing cables and rods. Like if you have a pine or spruce. It can help with reinforcement. (00:30:57)

Do evergreens need to be mulched?

Some mulch themselves with their low canopy and as they drop their interior needles it creates their own mulch. (00:32:00)

If you have a pine tree that doesn’t have a lot of coverage and it’s just bare soil, you can add mulch to help insulate the ground. It helps moisture stretch further because the sun is hitting it.

Avoid volcano mulch at all costs!

Can pine needles be used as mulch?

Really anything can be used as mulch to cover barer soil, even rock can be used. (00:38:19)

Upcoming Talking Trees Live Series

Tune in for the next Talking Trees Live event! Each series will explore various tree care topics from damaging tree insects and diseases to landscape best practices and seasonal tree care tips. 

Have all your questions and concerns ready! You can ask them all live during the streaming interview. 

Be sure to ‘like’ Davey’s Facebook page to access the Talking Trees series live.

Don’t have Facebook? No worries, you can access all the past videos here.

>>> Check out the schedule here for upcoming Talking Trees Live topics!

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