The most common misconception in tree care is that trees take care of themselves. The truth is that most trees in yards across America are growing in somewhat unnatural environments, and could use our help to service and flourish. The National Arborist Association identifies the following key practices for optimal tree health.
Fertilization of Trees
Just because you fertilize your yard does not mean that you fertilized your trees. When trees require extra nutrition, they should be fertilized in specific ways to assure they receive the maximum benefit from the treatment. Over-fertilization can create tree health problems, so the need for fertilization should be determined by the measuring annual growth, checking visual symptoms and chemically analyzing the soil or tree leaves. Timing of fertilization in tree care is important in some cases to avoid a late flush of growth.
Tree Watering Schedule
When it comes to tree care, once established, trees generally don’t need regular watering. However, they may need extra water in long dry spells. Be careful – too much water can be just as harmful as not enough! In the summer months, trees obviously need to be watered more frequently. When watering your trees, look for signs of stress from under watering; curling leaves, brown tips and dry soil around the irrigation area. The soil around the roots of the tree should be moist.
Pruning Trees For Beauty and Longevity
Trees are pruned for various reasons, but in most cases, proper tree pruning is a tree health treatment. Removing dead or dying branches discourages the spread of decay or insect infestations and removes safety hazards while improving the tree’s appearance. Proper pruning in tree care can also help prevent storm damage. By contrast, topping and lion’s tailing, while sometimes touted as ways to “make trees safe”, instead cause severe and permanent damage to trees.
A two to four-inch mulch layer over the tree’s root system has many benefits. It protects the base of the tree from mower damage and reduces competition with turf or weeds. Mulch tends to stabilize soil temperatures and increase the soil’s water-holding capacity, which translates into less watering. Finally, mulch can increase soil microbial activity and loosen the soil, which can reduce the need for aeration and fertilization. In short, mulch emulates the tree’s natural habitat. Mulch can be applied any time of year.
DIY Tree Care
You may be able to carry out most tree maintenance yourself, especially for small trees, but it is best to have a professional evaluate their needs first. Remember, a tree is a living thing, and its health and stability changes over time