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Posted on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 : 7:25 p.m.

Winter activities for healthier spring trees

By Brenda Woods

A stand of snow-covered trees can make for a completely charming scene. However, this beauty masks the fact that during the bitter winter months, those barren trees may actually be fighting to survive. A Michigan winter can be hard on trees, but there are a few things you can do to help your trees continue to thrive once the spring thaw begins.

According to an article from the International Society of Arboriculture, completing a few critical tasks will ensure healthy trees year-round.

The first activity, adding a thin layer of composted organic mulch around the tree, is best done before the snow starts to fly. If the bases of your trees are already blanketed in ice and snow, don't worry, but consider mulching next fall. By the same token, you may not be able to fertilize now, but adding essential elements over a mulch layer will be a good idea next year.

Prevent damage to young trees by wrapping their still-delicate bark. Prune your trees carefully to remove deadwood or structural faults. Then identify any greenwood branches that are in poor health. Cut greenwood carefully and selectively if necessary.

As winter loses its icy chill and days turn more mellow, consider watering very lightly once the soil has thawed. Remember that droughts are possible in the early days of spring, not just in the blazing days of summer.

Tend to your lovely, "sleeping" trees in the winter, and you'll be rewarded with another gorgeous show of delicate buds in the spring.

Global ReLeaf of Michigan, a grass roots, volunteer, 501(c)3 not for profit organization, encourages readers to maintain the health of their local trees and to plant more trees in their communities.