Including trees in your landscaping adds both beauty and value to a property. However, trees that aren’t properly cared for can become more of a burden than an asset. Here are some tips for tree care and maintenance so they will continue to be a welcome addition to your property.
Pruning is Part of Basic Tree Care and Maintenance
Pruning is one of the most effective ways to maintain your trees. Pruning is the act of removing weak, diseased, or dead limbs from trees. Most experts recommend pruning just before spring weather kicks growth into high gear. Tree pruning may involve:
• removing damaged or diseased limbs
• taking off low-hanging branches
• selectively thinning certain areas by removing branches
• removing lower branches to create clearance under the tree
• keeping branches away from power lines and parts of your home
Note: Pruning is not the same as tree topping, which is the removal of the top trunk and branches of a tree to reduce a tree’s height. Topping is not recommended because it weakens and harms even healthy trees.
Mulch Around Your Trees
Mulch is any material you spread around the base of your trees. Organic mulch improves your soil’s fertility through the natural decomposition process. Mulch is especially beneficial if you live in an area where temperatures tend to fluctuate fairly regularly. The amount of mulch needed depends on the size of the tree. For most trees, an area covering between 3 and 10 feet of mulch is recommended. Mulch should be 2-4 inches deep and should not touch the tree’s trunk.
Remove Vines and Other Invasive Growth
English ivy is a common vine that grows on and around trees. Any invasive vines can damage your trees and should be removed. When removing vines, wear protective clothing, especially if you can’t identify the vines. There are several ways to remove invasive growth, including:
• gently pulling it off by hand or with a rake
• using sharp pruners to cut it
• cutting vines from the highest point you can reach – cutting where it’s attached could damage the tree
• using herbicides according to the manufacturer’s instructions
For Tree Care and Maintenance, Enrich Your Soil With Fertilizer
Late April and early May are considered the best times of year to enrich the soil around your trees. Spread fertilizer evenly over the soil that surrounds your trees. To get the right formula, do some research to see what nutrient problems are most common in your area. Choose a fertilizer that makes up for those deficiencies.
Make Sure Your Trees Get Sufficient Water
A simple tip for tree care and maintenance is to water them correctly, not just regularly with occasional garden hose spritzes. The general rule of thumb with tree watering is about 10 gallons of water per inch of the diameter of a tree’s trunk. Older and larger trees typically need less water than newer and smaller ones.
If the tips mentioned above aren’t helping to improve the overall health of your trees, have a soil test conducted. You can pay a professional or buy an affordable DIY test kit to get an idea of whether or not your soil is effectively supporting your trees. Some trees may need to be removed if they are at the end of their natural life or damaged by storms or disease.