Winter Tree Care: What to Do About Cold Stress and Branch Breakage

trees, shrubs, winter, pruning, watering, mulching, cold stress

Caring for your shrubs and trees in the winter is very important. Ornamental shrubs, evergreens and shade trees are the biggest investments that you have in your lawn. Winter can be hard on lawn plants as you know, so here are some tips to help you protect your valuable woody plants.

Combating cold stress

For exposed and isolated trees of a lawn, winter is a very stressful time. There are some things you can do that will mitigate these stresses.

Cold stress often happens with late growth when there is an early sudden frost. Late-season growth is more at risk because it hasn’t had the same time as established growth to prepare for the cold. Ice crystals form that can rupture the cell walls of the new tips of branches that die off the following season.

What to do:

To avoid this hazard, do not prune your trees until they have gone into dormancy. Pruning too soon encourages new growth increasing the risk of damage from a frost. Also do not use fertilizer with a high amount of quick-release nitrogen. While trees benefit from proper fertilization in the fall, it is important to know what to avoid.

Branch breakage

During the winter branches become more vulnerable. The wood of deciduous trees hardens and become somewhat more brittle and thus susceptible to damage from wind. There is also a problem for both deciduous trees and evergreens when ice and snow accumulate on their branches.

What to do:

The key to keeping branch breakage to a minimum lies in good year-round tree maintenance, especially when pruning. To make the tree less susceptible, you should prune week and vulnerable branches and remove one limb of a pair sharing a deep “V” crotch.

It is certainly true that winter is tough on everyone including shrubs and trees. But if you take care of your trees year round, you may not have winter damage.

How I Learned to Eat Better and Lose Weight Counting Calories

This model is measuring out food like I do.

I have tried to lose weight by just eating less, but I found I didn’t lose much weight that way. It seems that my weight is a balancing act with calorie consumption a part of the equation. When it comes to losing weight, it’s calories that count. And counting those calories is the only way to keep track so that you burn more of them than you eat.

There are two ways to burn those calories. One is by reducing the extra calories from eating and drinking, and the other is by increasing the calories I burn through exercise. The trick is that I need to keep strict track of both. Every mouthful and every mile.

Once I understood the equation, I was ready to set weight-loss goals and make a plan for reaching them. I also asked for help from my doctor and family. I had to decide if this was a good time to make these changes, and the honest answer was that there was no better time than the present. So I made a smart plan including how I would handle tempting situations and setbacks.

I found an app that helped me by knowing most of the UPC codes of food, so I didn’t have to worry about trying to type into the app everything myself. I also bought a scale for the things I cooked for myself. The app told me how much equaled a serving.

Then came the hard part—staying with the plan. Oh, I started out all enthusiastic, but then the inevitable happened. I got tired of doing this. Real tired. But I had anticipated that happening, and part of my plan was to have days when I ate whatever I wanted without worrying about keeping track. Those vacation days—one or two a week—kept me from burning out.

My other temptation had to do with eating while I worked. Crunching on things helps me stay on track. So I traded my chips for popcorn and rice cake snacks. I also crunched carrots and celery.

Exercising has helped as well. I exercise before I start work. After a workout, I am not as hungry as usual, so I don’t snack as much.

Over the past 5 months, I have lost over 40 pounds. It hasn’t been easy, but it is worth it.

ghostwriter, blogger, social mediaAnn Mullen has been a “paid writer” for the last 20-something years since she began writing for a newspaper in South Texas in the early 1990s. From 2011 through 2015, Ann worked with several marketing agencies where she learned she loves the creative side of inbound marketing. Researching, creating gripping text and coming up with engaging images for the various media are her passion.

She has now struck out on her own as a freelance writer. You can find her by emailing her at, on Facebook, on Twitter at Ann Mullen@AnnMullen4, on Google+ or by calling 512 278 8288.


7 Tips to Being Productive in Your Home Office

7 Tips to Being Productive in Your Home Office

working from home, self-employed

More than 30 million Americans work from home. Around 15.5 million are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015. This number was 1 million more than in May 2014. And experts say the number is going to climb. By 2020, a separate study estimates that there will be more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, who will be independent workers. This includes freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.

For the past five years, I’ve been one of the self-employed. But when I decided to write about a “how to” on being productive in your home office, I learned a thing or two. The big question is “How do you stay focused and productive while working from home?”

Here are a few of the suggestions I have for you.

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Idea Killers and the Fear Factor

idea killers and the fear factorFear–the true motivation behind idea killers–can ruin good ideas, plans, changes, suggestions, creativity. A lot of research has gone into the language of idea killers, but little into why these comments spring so easily to the tongue.

I found idea killer personality types and lists of deal killer phrases. What was so incredible is that for the most part each of the writers had some phrases that were not on any other writer’s lists. But throughout all the readings that went along with these lists, no one addressed the issue of fear.

Whether the idea is one a person proposes to himself or proposes to a group, someone or maybe many someones will trample it into the ground without giving the idea a fair trial. Scott Burkun in his article Idea killers: ways to stop ideas suggests that

Mostly these are used as thought inhibitors: they don’t require any thought to say. They’re used as flinch negative responses, dismissing without explanation. Unlike real critical thinking, which offers a path (e.g if you can overcome x, y and z we’ll consider it) idea killers are lazy dead ends.

This is a result of these idea killers, but again Berkun doesn’t explain the origin of this behavior.

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Writing: Being the Voice of a Business

Athena from Zeus' headI am a writer, of sorts. And I am out of sorts because I have realized that I have become a slave to having my subject given to me. Yes, I was the one coming up with the subjects. I was the one checking out keywords. I was the one writing the content.

BUT when it comes to writing for myself. I am wordless.

I think I have just figured out the reason for discussions around concepts and editorial calendars. I just took an idea that was already super-sized and ran with it, quite cleverly I must humbly add.

This space, however, is like the blank screen that faced me when I was writing true romance short stories. I wrote over 30 and had 7 or 8 published.

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