How to care for frost damaged trees in the desert

How to care for frost damaged trees in the desert

Recently, freezing temperatures in the Phoenix area have caused significant frost damage to homeowners' trees. Damage from frost to trees will vary due to micro-climates and the variety of trees that can be found in the Salt River Valley.

To determine whether your tree has been damaged by frost, examine the foliage. If the leaves are brown and wilted, your tree most likely has frost burn, especially so if the foliage was green prior to the recent cold snap. It is important to note that you should not trim the damaged leaves until the risk of freeze has passed. In the Arizona desert, March 15 is the average first frost-free day.

As the weather warms, your trees’ metabolism will accelerate, resulting in an explosion of leaves and flowers. Until that time, it’s important to maintain a vigorous watering schedule, allowing the soil to dry out in between watering while temperatures remain cool. Consistency is the key! Adequate water will ensure proper growth while the tree recovers from any damaged caused by frost.

Although frost damage on trees is unsightly, it’s recommended to refrain from pruning or removing the damaged areas until at least the month of May. By that time, the extent of the exact damage caused by the frost can be determined, which will help prevent the removal of healthy leaves or branches along with the dead wood.

If a tree has suffered severe frost damage, it is usually best to withhold the application of any fertilizer until new growth has been established. Native desert tree species, such as mesquite, palo verde, palo brea and ironwood can suffer frost damage, but may require closer examination to determine the extent of the damage. Larger, older trees may require trimming and pruning performed by a tree service expert, so make sure the contractor you hire is a qualified arborist.

Remember: Water is the key!


About this Angie's List Expert: Mike Macchiaroli, owner of Mike Macchiaroli Tree Company, has 45 years experience working with trees in Phoenix, beginning as a boy on his family's citrus operation.  Mike is a Phoenix native and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture.  His accredited company is A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau and received the Angie's List Super Service Award in 2011 and 2012.

As of Feb. 1, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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