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Understanding and Caring for Trees in Autumn

Every fall, we get to witness a gorgeous change in our landscaping and scenery. Leaves begin to turn brilliant shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and brown, as the weather becomes colder and colder. 

Over time, the leaves will of course fall as well – what kind of care do trees need during this time? We are going to talk about why the leaves change colors in the fall, and what sort of tree care you should be implementing during this autumn season.

First, let’s start with why.

Why Do Leaves Change Colors?

Typically, most deciduous trees actively produce pigments that are called ‘anthocyanins’ in the fall. This causes the leaves to light up with fierce, warm colors and actually has the ability to lower the freezing point of the leaves. With that ability, the leaves are able to be sustained on the tree for a longer time.

Why is that important? This process maximises the nutrients and energy absorbed by the tree before it finally becomes dormant in the winter time.

As for the falling leaves – a tree’s leaves are programmed to fall by the short autumn days. The trees will retain most of their energy within their branches and trunk, so the leaves become crisp, dry, and flakey, and eventually they drop from the tree.

They shed their leaves because all the winter conditions would do is damage them, and the tree would simply waste too much energy with repairing and replacing the broken leaves. It is similar to winter hibernation for animals – trees have simply adapted to the cold weather by reducing their energy and becoming dormant to survive.

How to Take Care of Your Changing Trees

Throughout early autumn, it’s recommended that you stop watering your trees (both the evergreen and deciduous ones). The pause in watering allows the trees to enter their transitional phase and avoids causing fresh growth that will not be hardy enough for winter.

Once the leaves begin to fall, give your trees one last deep watering before the ground gets too hard and frosted to allow water to penetrate through to the roots.

After the leaves fall, make sure to rake them up into piles. Don’t let the leaves clog up your landscaped areas around the trees, as they will stop the soil from allowing water in and breathing.

After the leaves have been removed, put some organic compost mulch around your trees. This will assist them in reducing temperature extremes and retaining the water they receive. Also, if you do water your trees sparingly in the winter, make sure to do so when the temperatures aren’t below freezing.

It would also be a good idea to put either a metal hardware cloth or plastic guard around your tree to help prevent breakage from ice and snow. Burlap and plastic wrap are also incredibly helpful in keeping the temperature of the tree from getting too low. It is important to note however, that these must be moved once spring arrives to prevent stunted growth.

Prune your trees during the fall as well. The structure will be easier to see without leaves, and it’s a great time to do it since the trees are about to go dormant.

Fall tree care is fairly simple, you just want to make sure that your trees are prepared for the cold winter ahead, and ready for spring once it arrives.

If you do find that you have questions or need some assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Arborist Now at any time for guidance! 

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