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Prepare Your Trees for Winter – Protect the Urban Forest

October 1, 2012 – The City of Thunder Bay and the Urban Forest Stewardship Network are encouraging citizens to take five easy steps to prepare trees for winter. By following these five easy steps, residents across Northwestern Ontario are contributing to a healthier, stronger urban forest.

  1. Water until the ground freezes.  Most urban trees suffer from drought.  If soil is dry, water the root zone on a slow drip for approximately 30 minutes, once or twice a week.

  2. Replace mulch.  Maintaining a circle of mulch (woodchips, leaves or other organic matter) helps reduce fluctuations in temperature and keeps the soil around the roots from drying out.  Make sure your trees have a wide circle of mulch (approximately three inches deep) spread around their base.  Make it a doughnut shape so that mulch does not touch the bark on the trunk as this holds moisture and can cause decay.
  3. Let fallen leaves lie. Leave are Mother Nature’s natural fertilizer, as fallen leaves decompose they are transformed back into the nutrients and organic matter the tree needs. However, diseased leaves should be removed from your yard to help avoid repeat problems the following year.
  4. Avoid salting the earth.  Excessive use of salt on driveways, walkways, and other areas can cause serious damage to trees- even those located as far as several meters away.  Instead of using salt, remove snow promptly from high traffic areas, chip ice away where necessary, and apply small amounts of sand for traction.
  5. Prune during dormancy.  Pruning can be done on most tree species during winter months.  Contact a certified arborist before attempting any major pruning, as large limbs can be dangerous to remove and incorrect pruning can damage trees.  Proper pruning can prevent future problems and extend the life of urban trees.  If a tree is City owned (on your boulevard) call to request to have a branch pruned (625-2195).

For more information on the City’s Urban Forest or if you have questions regarding trees, visit

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Contact:  Rena Viehbeck, Urban Forest Program Specialist, City of Thunder Bay, 625.2956 or