This is difficult to comprehend following the recent wet December, but drought is a very common problem for trees during the winter months, when they are unable to draw up water from frozen ground; evergreens and newly planted trees are at most risk of this problem. If the weather is unseasonally dry, then soil moisture levels of your trees need to be checked frequently; follow this link for advice and remedial action NICHOLSONS Planting and Watering Guidelines.pdf then apply a thick mulch for protection and moisture retention.
This is one of the most enjoyable of winter tasks, with fruit trees especially benefitting, to encourage fruiting spurs for bountiful harvests. If the weather doesn’t look inviting, fast forward to Spring and daydream – all that blossom buzzing with pollinating insects will be the result of your efforts. Winter pruning is mainly for apples, pears and quince (pome fruit); do not prune stone fruit, such as plums and cherries, at this time of year, to prevent fungal diseases taking hold through pruning cuts.
All trees will benefit from formative pruning in their early years to establish a good shape and what better time to see their structure when they are laid bare in winter. Remove all dead, damaged, diseased, or chafing branches, and those growing towards the centre of the canopy, cutting back the rest by a third; aim for an open goblet shape to allow plenty of airflow through the branches and penetration of sunlight for fruit ripening. Trained fruit trees should be pruned in the spring before bud break and again in the summer, to maintain their shape and maximise cropping.