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Winter in Calgary can be tough on our trees. The combination of freezing temperatures, Chinook winds, and heavy snowfall can lead to a lot of tree problems. To keep your trees healthy and thriving during the cold season, it's essential to recognize and address these common winter tree issues:

Frost Cracks

Frost cracks are those long, vertical lines that can appear on a tree's bark when winter temperatures take a nosedive. Calgary's weather can be pretty unpredictable, and these cracks are often a result of the bark's outer layer contracting quickly in the cold while the inner wood, protected by the bark, moves at a slower pace. The bark contracts quickly, leading to these cracks.

To keep your tree in the clear, wrap its trunk with some light-colored tree wrap. Prune any damaged branches, and maintain proper tree care practices to keep the tree robust.


Sunscald can occur throughout the winter months, especially on younger trees with thin bark. Sunscald mainly messes with the outer bark layer. During sunny winter days, the sun beams right through the bark and heats things up. But when night comes, it's back to the cold grind. This temperature whiplash can lead to sunscald, where the bark expands and contracts like crazy. 

Give your tree some shade! Wrap it up in tree wrap or shade cloth during winter. Keep the tree hydrated with good soil moisture and a cozy mulch blanket to help control those temperature swings.

Frost Heaving 

Frost heaving, a common winter issue, happens when the winter chill gets into the soil and turns moisture into ice, causing the ground to shift upwards. When the ground starts to freeze, your trees might feel like they're being lifted out of the ground. This can be risky for trees, especially those with shallow roots. 

To keep your trees safe, try adding a nice 4 to 6 inch layer of mulch around their base. The mulch works like a cozy blanket, keeping the soil temperatures more stable and protecting the roots from getting too cold. It's an easy way to make sure your trees stay happy during the winter chill!

Heavy Snow

Heavy snowfall during the winter months can be a significant threat to the well-being of trees. The weight of accumulated snow on tree branches puts a lot of pressure on the branches, and if left unattended, it can result in several consequences like branch breakage, branch distortion, or even snow mold. This typically occurs during heavy snowstorms or prolonged snowy periods. 

To address this gently remove snow from branches using a broom or your hand to prevent damage. Proper pruning to reduce branch length can also prevent snow accumulation.

As the snow blankets the city of Calgary, our trees face the challenges brought on by the frosty embrace of winter. Open Canopy Tree recognizes the importance of providing proper care to your trees during this season. To help you protect and maintain the health of your trees in the midst of the winter wonderland, we have assembled some essential tips to guide you in safeguarding your trees from the winter's icy grip.

Assessing Snow Load and Branch Damage

After a snowfall, inspect your trees for excessive snow accumulation on branches. Heavy snow can weigh down branches and lead to breakage. Gently shake off excess snow using a broom or your hands, being careful not to cause further damage. Look out for any broken or damaged branches and address them promptly to prevent further harm.

Preventing Salt Damage

With snow often comes the use of de-icing salts on sidewalks and roads. Unfortunately, these salts can harm your trees by drying out the soil and interfering with nutrient absorption. Shield your trees from salt damage by creating physical barriers using burlap or other protective materials. Additionally, consider using alternative de-icing agents that are less harmful to your trees.

Maintaining Proper Hydration

Giving the ground a thorough soak before it freezes and applying a layer of mulch are essential practices for maintaining soil moisture and promoting overall plant health. Adequate soil moisture is crucial, especially in regions with harsh winter conditions, as it helps prevent dehydration of plant roots during the colder months. 

Protecting from Winter Pests

Winter doesn't always deter pests, and some insects can pose a threat to your trees even in the coldest months. Regularly check your trees for signs of pest infestation, such as damaged bark or unusual webbing. Employ preventative measures and consult with our arborists at Open Canopy Tree for effective pest management strategies tailored to your specific tree species.

Considering Professional Tree Care Services

For comprehensive tree care during the winter season, consider seeking professional assistance from Open Canopy Tree. Our experienced arborists can conduct thorough assessments, provide specialized treatments, and offer tailored solutions to ensure the health and longevity of your trees throughout the winter and beyond.

By following these winter tree care tips, you can fortify your trees against the challenges brought on by Calgary's snowy season. Remember that proper care and attention are essential to sustaining the beauty and resilience of your trees, even amidst the frosty landscape. Should you require further guidance or professional assistance, our team is here to provide the expertise and support needed to protect your trees and promote a thriving urban forest in Calgary.