By John Stonaker, Apr 30 2019 07:49PM
Your trees are experiencing their greatest burst of new life in the spring. You can help them develop strong, healthy new growth and extend the life of your trees with some basic maintenance.
1. Clean up around your trees. Collect fallen leaves, branches, and other tree waste to eliminate places that can harbor insects, fungus, or disease. Once cleaned up, you can easily perform step 2.
2. Inspect your trees for signs of damage, disease, or insects. Check the roots for heaving above ground or mushroom growth. Examine the trunk for loose bark, slits or cracks, or soft spots. Piles of sawdust are a clear sign of insect activity, as possibly are holes in the tree or a sticky substance on the bark. If you see signs of insect infestation and you catch it early, you can spray insecticide specially made for trees and the particular species of insect. However, check with a professional first.
3. Fertilize. Don’t forget that your trees need food, just like your lawn and gardens do. If your tree is in a lawn that is already fertilized, you may not need more. However, a stressed tree may need extra nutrients. Apply fertilizer around the drip line, and make sure you water it deeply. Check with a trusted tree service if you’re not sure how to best feed your tree.
4. Mulch. If done correctly, mulching provides numerous benefits to trees. Some homeowners choose to use stone, which can effectively block weeds, but white stones (the most common choice) can increase the soil temperature and leach into the soil, raising the pH level.
Organic mulch not only blocks weeds, but also provides nutrients as it decomposes. It slows water evaporation, decreasing the need for watering, and keeps the soil at the correct temperature – cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Make sure the organic mulch is fully matured, not freshly cut. Apply mulch 2-4 inches deep around the base of the tree, to at least 2-3 feet out from the trunk. Do not apply all the way to the trunk – allow the root flare at the base of the trunk to be exposed.
5. Keep your trees hydrated. If you’ve mulched, this should not be a difficult chore. The spring usually comes with ample rain, but as summer arrives, make sure your trees have the moisture they need.
Tree roots need a deep soaking, so water deeply around the drip line, where most of the roots are. Set your hose on a light setting so you can leave it to let the water slowly soak into the roots, coming back occasionally to reposition it around the tree. The goal is not to create puddles but to deeply moisten the soil.
Bonus: Now is the time to plant new trees. Before you choose the variety or location, talk to a
tree professional. What is your intention for the new tree? Do you want shade in a few years? Do you want color, beauty, fruit? An expert can talk to you about the tree’s likely growth pattern as well as its soil and sunlight needs and help you position the best tree to help you achieve your goals.