Trees are great – they add beauty to your home, as well as value and a sense of well-being. They’re also good for the wildlife in your area too, as they offer a safe habitat, shelter and even food to birds and small animals. You should protect them, then, especially if you have bought your trees from The Tree Center or another plant nursery. Here’s how you do it.
Leave well alone
In general, your trees don’t need you to do much; after all, they’ve been growing without our help for quite some time. There are a few things you can do to give them a good start, but in general, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Be careful where you dig
Construction work is the biggest danger to established, mature trees, especially if heavy equipment is used. You need to remember that the root system of a mature tree is often two or three times as wide as its crown, so if you’re using earthmoving or compacting equipment, be very careful that you don’t cut or crush roots too near to the tree. You need at least ten feet of clearance around the crown of the tree.
Don’t park under your tree
Parking vehicles under the trees can compact the soil over several years, which will slowly kill the tree.
Watch where you whack
Lawnmowers and weed-whackers are also enemies of your trees as they can make small cuts in the bark or the roots, making the tree vulnerable to fungi and diseases.
Don’t forget to mulch
You should always mulch the base of your trees. Use a one-to-four inch-thick layer of mulch made of wood chips, old autumn leaves or straw and place it a few inches from the base of the trunk to around three feet from the base. This layer protects the tree and its roots from mowing and also keeps down weeds and retains moisture.
Don’t over–water or over-fertilize
Once a tree is mature, it doesn’t need much watering or feeding, as the root system will take care of all that. Younger trees – five years or younger – do need a bit of extra help, but older trees can actually be damaged by too much water or fertilizer as it can cause oxygen deprivation and root rot. If you tend to apply weedkillers, avoid the base of the tree – that’s what the mulch is there for.
Lay off the pruning
Just focus on problem branches – ones that are broke and frayed, or that rub against other trees or branches, as well as crowded growth on branches and any suckers.
Watch out for diseases
You should be familiar with the symptoms of problems and diseases, and also know which diseases affect which trees, as they’re often species-specific. Invest in a good book, with pictures and cures, and read it before anything goes wrong.
Spend time with your trees
You don’t have to hug them or talk to them, but do look them over regularly and watch for dead or dying twigs, insect invasions, fungi or strange-looking marks or spots on leaves.
Once a tree is mature, it’ll give you shade, flowers, maybe even fruit, for not much work, so sit back and make the most of them!