Connect with Trees this Winter!

People tend to forget about trees during the winter months. We assume that’s because the trees are dormant, they don’t have growing leaves or flowers, and little maintenance is required. However, winter months can, and should, be utilized by those of us who may be concerned with the health of our trees and those of us who just want to connect with trees year-round!

Winter Tree Maintenance Tips

Wintery weather is coming back to Grand Rapids this week making us wonder: have you checked in with your trees yet? With storms, ice, de-icing salts and temperature fluctuations it is time to connect with your trees, let see how:

1. Remove gator bags

First, if you have a Gator bag or other watering bag around your tree, it’s best to remove it during the winter months. Every time I pass by a gator bag crumpled up next to a tree in the winter I cringe a little. During winter, these gator bags can attract mice and other small mammals who may like to snack on the bark of your young tree. Remove gator bags until we are past frosty weather.

2. Prune

The natural winter dormancy of many trees, as well as improved visibility of a tree’s limbs and structure when leaves are gone, make winter a good time for pruning your trees. Here at the Urban Forest Project, we believe the main reasons to prune a tree are for safety, health and aesthetics. Let’s go over the tips for pruning your trees:

Pruning Young Trees

First, you will want to assess your tree and determine if it is developing a healthy branch structure. Producing strong structure should be the emphasis when pruning young trees. Visit the International Society of Arboriculture’s (ISA) young tree pruning guide. Remember however that pruning newly planted trees should only be limited to the removal of dead or broken branches. All other pruning of young trees should be withheld until the second or third year post-planting, when the tree has recovered from the stress of transplanting, and has established itself in the new environment

Pruning Mature Deciduous and Evergreen Trees

Remove any damaged or diseased limbs, crossing branches or branches that are growing too close together. For a neat and simple infographic on when and why to prune, visit the Back Yard Boss here.

In our Citizen Forester Maintenance and Pruning class, participants learn how to use the 3-cut method of pruning trees:

  • Cut 1: Underside Make a shallow cut on the underside of the branch that needs to be removed, near the branch collar. This cut will stop any bark that attempts to rip down to the main trunk.
  • Cut 2: Bulk Remove the bulk of the branch’s weight. Cut about 5 cm further from Cut 1.  The second cut should be outside the first cut, all the way through the branch, leaving a short stub.
  • Cut 3: Precision Make a precise cut just outside the branch bark ridge/branch collar, eliminating the majority of your stub.

Take note of branches that could fall and cause injury or property damage, as well as branches that are growing in or towards a utility line and call an arborist for consultation if concerns are identified.

Connect with Trees at an Upcoming Winter Event

After our recent mid-winter warmth spell, you may be itching to get outside and stretch your legs. As the temperatures rise and the days get a little bit longer, the outdoors become more inviting! The Urban Forest Project has many events coming up that will make sure you stay connected with trees through the rest of this winter (we are all in this together!).  All of our upcoming events are free and open to the public.

February 12th at 3:30PM:  Winter Tree ID & Education Walk – Part of WinterWest 2017

A hike in the Richmond Park’s woods is a great way to stave off the winter blues, and if you’re a tree nerd like I am, winter hikes provide a fun challenge: tree bark, twig and bud identification! During this hike you’ll learn how to identify some of the most popular trees in Grand Rapids using buds, twigs, tree form, and other forestry tricks! Adults and children will enjoy this activity.

Facebook event link

February 15th at 6PM:  Brewers Grove- Tree Beer Kick-Off Event

Join Friends of Grand Rapids and the Beer City Brewers Guild for a kick-off event for this season’s TREE BEER at Harmony Brewing in Eastown!  The Brewers Grove project started in 2013 when local brewers asked Friends of GR Parks (FGRP) how they could celebrate being named Beer City USA by give back to our parks and public spaces.  The idea was seeded to create tree-themed beers that would be offered for a limited time with proceeds going directly to FGRP’s Urban Forest Project and tree plantings. $1 of each tree beer sold goes towards tree planting in the city! Can you think of a better way to support trees while enjoying a delicious brew indoors this winter?

This season’s Tree Beer will officially kick-off on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 and it will run through March 15th, 2017 or while supplies last.

Facebook event link

March 8th at 12:30PM: Book Signing and Q&A with author Jill Jonnes

We’ll be meeting at Books & Mortar for a book signing and Q&A from author Jill Jonnes.  Jill Jonnes is the author of Eiffel’s Tower, Conquering Gotham, Empires of Light, and South Bronx Rising. She is the founder of the Baltimore Tree Trust. Jonnes most recent book titled Urban Forests: A Natural History of Tree and People in the American Cityscape is a celebration of urban trees and the Americans whose passions have shaped and ornamented the nation’s cities.   As nature’s largest and longest-lived creations, trees play an extraordinarily important role in our cities; they are living landmarks that define space, cool the air, sooth our psyches, and connect us to nature and our past.

March 8th at 7PM: Urban Forest Project’s Guest Lecture Series: Jill Jonnes Presents

Join us for a guest lecture at the Grand Rapids Public Library (Main Branch). This guest lecture is based off Jonnes most recent book titled Urban Forests: A Natural History of Tree and People in the American Cityscape.  As nature’s largest and longest-lived creations, trees play an extraordinarily important role in our cities; they are living landmarks that define space, cool the air, sooth our psyches, and connect us to nature and our past.  This guest lecture will celebrate urban trees and the Americans—presidents, plant explorers, visionaries, citizen activists, scientists, nurserymen, and tree nerds—whose arboreal passions have shaped and ornamented the nation’s cities, from Jefferson’s day to the present.

March 18th at 1:00PM: East Hills Winter Series – Nature in Winter

Join the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks – Urban Forest Project and the Blandford Nature Center in partnership with the East Hills Council of Neighbors for a winter series on “Nature in Winter.”  Come for some family fun tree and bird focused activities and for free hot cocoa!  This event will include a special take home “pine-cone bird feeder” activity!

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