Whether they are newly planted or have been there for decades, your trees need the right kind of TLC to be healthy and look beautiful. Healthy trees are happy trees that can offer shade, bear fruit, reduce pollution, host a tire swing, and even improve the value of your home. That said, unhealthy trees can look bad and pose threats to your property and/or family’s safety.
To help you get the most from your trees, here are seven pointers.
1. Regular Maintenance
Admittedly, regular maintenance casts a fairly wide net. That’s because different trees can require different types of maintenance and frequency. This can include basic trimming, watering, and more. We will go into more detail in the next steps, but adopting the mindset of regular maintenance should be first and foremost when it comes to tree care.
2. Neat and Trimmed
Just as we all benefit from getting our hair cut now and gain, a good tree trimming can keep your trees looking their best. Tree trimming is really a pretty basic task, but it’s not always easy. That’s why it’s something you may be able to handle yourself, but if you are unsure, you should definitely contact a tree care professional. Trimming regularly ensures dead branches are removed to assist the growth of new branches. Beyond basic tree health, trimming is sometimes needed for those branches that are getting too big to be too close to the house. It just takes one ice storm or some high winds for loose or overhanging branches to cause (often costly) damage to your home.
3. Soil Samples
If you feel like your trees aren’t growing as well as they should, or perhaps they just don’t look at good as they could, it might be an issue with your soil. Less-than-ideal soil conditions will have a greater impact on seedlings or any trees that have been recently replanted. A soil test will give you a breakdown of the minerals in your soil, as well as pH levels. With this information, you can take any necessary steps to improve your tree health.
Soil tests aren’t cheap, though. They can run you about $1,000. Still, over the course of the life of your trees, that’s much more of an investment than an expenditure. That price is for professional testing. Your local nurseries or home improvement stores might have a take-home kit you can use to discern your own levels, but these are rarely as thorough as a professional test.
4. Regular Watering
Let’s be clear right from the start: watering is very important for newly-planted trees. How important? We are talking about 10-gallons-of-water-for-every-inch-of-the-trunk’s-diameter important. Don’t worry about over-watering. Really soak it. As trees age, their root systems grow deeper and are able to soak up water from a wider area. In fact, a large tree can draw 100 gallons of water through its roots in just one day. As they age and grow, trees will require less maintenance in general, but those new and/or replanted trees need lots of water regularly.
5. The Benefits of Mulch
You may be of the mind that mulch is just a nice landscaping element for decoration. The truth is that mulch is actually good for your trees, too. In addition to looking good, mulch around the base of your trees can help retain water and insulate against significant temperature changes. As with watering, this is particularly helpful for young and/or newly-replanted trees.
How much mulch you will need naturally depends on how big your tree is. On average, you are looking at 3-10 feet of mulch around the base of the tree.
6. Tree Diseases and Pests
Of all the items on this list, this one can be the most frustrating. No matter how much care you put into helping your trees grow big and beautiful, you could still find yourself up against common diseases or pests. Early detection gives you the best odds of correcting problems. If you see changes to your trees, such differences in growth patterns, spots on leaves, or even fungi growing, you should take notice. These are the most common signs that some sort of disease or pest is present.
While your trees can become a residence to different types of animals, some will sing pretty songs and others will cause damage. Insects are a very common tree pest and, fortunately, there are a host insect control products available at nurseries and home improvement stores. Sometimes, though, the problem is more severe and requires a more potent action. In such cases, it is strongly recommend you convene with a tree care specialist and put their experience to good use.
You’ll find that tree disease will usually fall into one of two categories: rot or fungi. The appearance of fungi is an early sign of decay. Rot, on the other hand, should be dealt with right now.
As with pest control, there are a host of different fungicides on the marketing that can help get rid of the fungus and prevent it from spreading.
In some cases, if it is left unnoticed for too long, the tree may be beyond treatment. In that case, you’ll want to have the tree removed. A rotting tree is a very expensive accident waiting to happen. Depending on the size of the tree and the business you consult, you can be looking at about $500 for tree removal.
Before the winter cold really sets in, ideally even before the first frost, you’ll want to take some steps to get your trees ready for winter. You’ll want to pay special attention to fruit trees, transplants, and smaller trees. If possible, you’ll want to protect these trees from frost by covering them with a tarp or sheet. In addition, to prevent nutrient loss over the winter, spread a layer of fertilizer around the base of the tree.
Finally, give your trees one final pruning for the season, so they are ready to grow once again when the warmer spring weather returns.
Because they are seen as a symbol of strength and longevity, it can be easy to take our trees for granted. With proper care, however, they will provide lifetimes of enjoyment.
Tree care is a critical component of landscaping, but it is not the only one. To speak with a landscape professional, simply contact E.P.M. today or give us a ring at (517) 990-0110.