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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.

If you've ever strolled down our city streets and admired the grandeur of the Elm trees, you probably already know how important they are to our urban landscape. These big beauties provide shade, character, and that sense of home we all love. But did you know that keeping them in top shape involves more than just watering now and then? Yep, you guessed it – it's time to talk about giving those Elm trees a haircut, or as the experts call it, pruning. Pruning is essential for maintaining the health and beauty of your trees, pruning ensures: 

Disease Prevention and Management

Elm trees in Calgary are susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease (DED), a destructive fungal infection that can quickly spread and decimate entire populations of these majestic trees. Proper pruning is a frontline defense against DED. Removing dead or diseased branches helps eliminate potential entry points for the disease, reducing the risk of infection. Early detection through pruning can also aid in the prompt removal of infected branches or trees, preventing further contamination.

Structural Integrity

Pruning is essential for maintaining the structural integrity of Elm trees. Over time, branches can become weak, diseased, or develop poor attachments. Without intervention, these issues can lead to limb failure, posing a significant risk to property and safety. Professional pruning ensures that the tree's crown remains balanced, reducing the likelihood of branches breaking during storms or heavy winds.

Encouraging Healthy Growth

Regular pruning encourages healthy growth in Elm trees. It helps stimulate the development of strong, sturdy branches, which not only enhances the tree's overall structure but also extends its lifespan. A well-pruned Elm tree is more resilient and better equipped to withstand environmental stressors, such as drought or pests.

Aesthetic Appeal

Beyond the practical benefits, pruning also enhances the aesthetic appeal of Elm trees in Calgary. Well-maintained trees with proper structure and balance are a sight to behold. Pruning can help shape the tree to complement its surroundings, enhancing the overall beauty of your property and the cityscape.

Regulatory Compliance

Calgary has established a by-law window for pruning Elm trees, typically running from October 1st to March 31st. Pruning during this period is allowed without special permits. Adhering to these regulations is not only important for the health of the trees but also for avoiding potential fines. Hiring a professional arborist ensures that your pruning activities are in compliance with these regulations.

Pruning Elm trees in Calgary is not just a matter of aesthetics; it's a crucial component of responsible tree care. It plays a pivotal role in disease prevention, safety, and the long-term health of these iconic trees. By investing in regular pruning and seeking the expertise of certified arborists, we can ensure that our Elm trees continue to thrive, enriching our urban environment for generations to come. So, as the pruning season approaches, let's join hands in caring for Calgary's Elm trees and preserving the green heart of our city.

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Live beside a tree that’s encroaching on your property? Neighbours trees can have large root systems that impact soil quality, impact grass growth and create a mess. The question is: can you actually do anything about it if it’s not your tree? Here’s how we recommend you go about it.
Can a solution be reached amicably? Of course, the best case scenario is having a talk to come to a conclusion or compromise that leaves everyone happy. Yet, we understand that this is not always the case. So, when talking it out is no longer an option, it’s best to be informed about the do’s and don’ts. Here’s the facts: 
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When’s the best time to prune or trim your trees? Why, right now, in early spring!

Why Early Spring?
Trees are still in their winter dormancy right before they bloom, making it the best time to clean them up.  They are not actively growing, which means as soon as they come out of dormancy, wounds heal faster and the tree can put more energy into developing thicker leaves and blooms. Harmful pests are also less active in the dormant season, making wounds less susceptible to infestations. Visibility is also increased without the leaves on the trees, making it more effective for our team to work our magic.
Note: The only exception to this timing is for Maple and Birch trees, which bleed sap throughout the spring. For these trees, pruning is best done after the sap flushes out.
How often should I prune? 
Pruning trees every 3-5 years is the best practise to ensure they continue to grow healthy and strong. Get an estimate on your pruning job.

How can you improve the quality of the soil around established trees? Here are all of the easy wins: 
  1. Mulch the area around the roots. Mulching promotes healthy bacteria within the root structure and also combats the growth of harmful weeds.
  2. Use natural compost. Adding compost from the kitchen or pelletized manure adds essential nutrients to the soil.
  3. Develop an irrigation system. The amount of water and moisture the roots receive is essential to a tree’s development. This simple drip irrigation system can make all the difference.
  4. Till the soil. When the soil is too compact, it can impact water intake and therefore growth. Loosening it up by raking or tilling allows water, oxygen and healthy bacteria to help the tree thrive. 
  5. Minimize foot traffic. The more the soil is walked on, the more compacted it gets. Ensure the soil around the tree is protected from foot traffic.
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A dangerous tree could not only cause damage to your property, but could also cause injury and create liability. If you notice any of the following signs, it’s important to have it taken care of professionally as soon as possible: 

It’s always better to be safe instead of sorry. If you are unsure of whether or not your tree is posing a threat, get an estimate below for our expert team to assess the situation.

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We love what we do and couldn’t do it without our trusted tools. From chainsaws to rope, here’s  a list of our favourite tools, which have been created by some of the best brands in Canada and make our jobs easier and safer everyday. 

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Salting side-walks and roads is important in the winter to prevent wipe-outs, but can be extremely harmful to our trees. Salt (especially the kind that contains sodium chloride) can cause long-term damage to not only our trees, but also most vegetation. Here are some tips on how to prevent damage from happening:

Now, let’s explore what salt damage looks like. The best time to spot damage is at the end of the winter or early spring. Pay special attention to the trees that border roadsides and sidewalks, which if damaged, will have browning and dying leaves, wilting branches or stunted growth. If you notice symptoms of salt damage, book a consultation as soon as possible, or get a free estimate by using the form below.

It may seem straight forward, but you would be surprised how hard some of these signs are to spot: 

If you notice one or more of these signs, having a professional come to assess the tree is important to both preserving it and protecting your property. Get a free quote by filling out the form below: