Nine comprehensive tree care tips will take you step by step, from selecting and planting the right tree to the care and upkeep of a mature tree.
It is important to remember that proper tree care starts when you select a tree and that what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span. Following these steps will make sure your tree gets on the correct foot and remains healthy throughout its life.
- Finding a Tree
- Selecting a Healthy Tree
- Tree Planting
- The Importance of Mulch
- Tree Watering
- When to Prune
- Keys to Good Tree Pruning
- Annual Tree Pruning Steps from Planting to Maturity
- How to Identify Pest and Disease Problems
*info provided from Arbor Day Foundation
If you’ve ever visited Los Angeles, California in May or June, you may have seen the iconic Jacaranda tree in full bloom. The Jacaranda features vibrant, purple flowers that help to brighten up a gloomy weather season that locals refer to as “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” Turns out, the Jacaranda’s presence in southern California can be attributed to Kate Sessions (see her bio link below), a pioneering female horticulturalist who leased and tended to 32 acres of land in San Diego in 1892 that was later re-named Balboa Park (visit link below). In this park, she planted many different plants and trees, including the Jacaranda. In the 1920s and ‘30s, the Jacaranda was planted extensively in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, becoming one of the most recognizable trees in the region.
Link to Balboa Park – https://www.balboapark.org/
Link to Kate Sessions’ wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Sessions
By onthehouse on February 11, 2018
You may be looking out of your window at your yard and wondering, “where am I even going to start”. Bayeradvanced.com released an article that says, “trees are low-maintenance, not no-maintenance” and they are the right place to start. When it comes to spring care, tree maintenance should be high on your priority list. Here are six easy steps to taking care of your trees once spring arrives.
-Start by cleaning up. Take down any holiday decorations that may still be up and rake up around the base of the tree.
-Follow that up with some mulch. A layer of mulch will not only help maintain moisture, but it will also assist in keeping those unwanted weeds out.
-Next, give your trees a good watering– especially in those areas where the de-icing product was used. This may also be a good time to check your sprinkler systems for leaks or clogs.
-Then, give your trees a trim. Now that the leaves are beginning to unfurl it will be easy to locate and remove any dead, or damaged tree branches.
-After you give your trees their spring haircut, take some time to inspect their trunks. If there are any signs of disease or excessive damage, call Hometown Tree Experts at 301-250-1033 if you are in the Howard/Montgomery Counties of Maryland or nearby area.
-Finally, find out if there are any new or existing pests that may threaten your trees. If so, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to keep your trees safe.
Study on the cooling effect of black locust and linden trees in from Technical Univ. of Munich
Trees cool the environment; however, the degree of cooling depends greatly on the tree species and the local conditions. In a recent study, scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) compared two species of urban trees – the black locust and linden.
The analysis by the research team becomes clearer by comparison: The output of a mechanical air conditioner is between one and ten kilowatts (kW) that of a linden tree up to 2.3 kW. This cooling capacity is fed by various processes such as their dense treetops that provide shade. Or the fact that the leaf surfaces reflect the short-wave rays of the sun and also use them for transpiration.
Article by John Fech from March 14, 2018 Tree Service Magazine
Pines grow in most every state of the U.S., and are planted for many reasons. They offer year-round color, protect homes from wind and snow, subtle fragrance, harborage for wildlife and a great backdrop to help show off ornamentals planted in front of them. Unfortunately, they are susceptible to several maladies.
It’s important to keep pines viable by providing good tree care especially in two areas, separating trees from turf and proper planting procedures. These basic, but foundational factors are all-important and should always be a reference point when diagnosing tree maladies such as ones on pines.
Separation & Planting
Why are separation and planting so important? There are many reasons, but perhaps the most influential is that these are implementations that get a tree off to the best start possible if done correctly and mistakes that can’t be corrected if not.
Separation – This means designing or re-designing the landscape so that the trees are here and the turf is over there. Think about it. Trees are woody, while turf is herbaceous. Turf usually receives moderate to high volumes of water and fertilizer, and requires mowing. When trees are growing in a co-located landscape setting, they are usually over fertilized and over watered, and constantly run into with lawn mowing equipment; not a healthy environment.
Planting – Good planting practices include: digging a wide but shallow hole, pulling tangled roots apart, placing the root mass such that the uppermost lateral root is even with or slightly above grade, using existing/native soil instead of amended soil to backfill around roots, watering thoroughly to settle the roots, placing wood chip or pine needle mulch over the roots but not the bole and checking the soil moisture weekly to make sure that it’s moist but not soggy or dry. These are all important parts of the process. Way, way too many times trees are planted too deeply, in heavily amended soils, watered once and forgotten, covered with rock mulch and planter boxes built over the roots and more — these practices prevent tree success.
Diseases are not just biological — it’s both — pathogenic and abiotic causes that challenge the overall health of pines. Regular scouting, often referred to as monitoring will help identify possible concerns that are site related (mower blight, leaving stakes on too long, deep planting, over mulching, etc.) and ones that are caused by fungi, nematodes and bacteria. Inspection packages go a long way toward avoiding tree troubles.
Blog on Arbor Day Foundation website – written by James R. Fazio – February 15, 2018
Trees in a forest are usually thought of as fierce competitors, each struggling for control of available light and soil moisture, usually at the expense of neighboring trees. But Canadian researcher Suzanne W. Simard and her colleagues found that Paper Birch trees can actually aid their neighboring Douglasfirs.
A couple of weeks ago, local temperatures were quite frigid. During a similar stretch of severe weather up in west Michigan, most of their sycamore trees across town literally exploded. As a species, sycamores retain a great deal of water. The water within the wood can freeze to the point where the expansion in the wood cells causes tree trunks to burst.
-Following steps were taken from an article by John Fech in the November 2012 issue of Tree Services Magazine
By itself, tree decay can be a major concern, especially if found in a soft-wooded tree species such as your silver maple or poplar. Fortunately, some species are quite resistant and if other stressors aren’t present in a significant capacity, it may not be as worrisome as other problems such as poor location, planting errors, over fertilization or drought. A step-by-step approach works best when inspecting trees for decay:
- Use your eyes. Look for rot pockets, oozing, weeping, conks and different colors on the bark and branches.
- Walk the property extensively and identify possible targets.
- Use your experience. Certain tree species in certain locations are likely to develop decay. Locate tree parts that could fall on a target.
- Look closer using probing tools: golf club, rebar or irrigation flag. Use a rubber mallet or the butt of a hatchet to tap the tree trunk where you suspect decay is present.
- If necessary, use invasive tools such as a resistograph or core sampler. Reserve these for important tree specimens. Consider the use of a sonic tomograph, a device that can illustrate the inside of the tree without cutting into it.
- Consider the potential for each tree defect to cause failure in conjunction with the proximity of an important target.
- Put it all together in the form of a relative hazard assessment, combining the presence and extent of the decay with other defects.
*shared from Tree Services Magazine article by Sharon Lilly from 1/1/13
There may be a battle brewing on your property between your trees grass. Trees and turf tend to be mutually exclusive in nature; you don’t see many trees growing in the prairies or grasslands as you may have noticed that grass is not common on the forest floor.
Our urban landscapes represent an unnatural ecosystem in which we force two somewhat incompatible plant types together and expect optimum performance from each. Trees and turf compete for sunlight, water, mineral nutrients and growing space below ground. Turf roots typically outcompete tree roots and win the belowground battle. However, the dense shade of a tree’s crown can be too much competition for turf, and trees win the aerial war.
Shade leads to reduced grass density, increased root competition and increased weed invasion. There are some varieties of turf that are somewhat shade tolerant, but this may be a partial solution, because shade-tolerant grasses tend to be less tolerant of wear.
Pruning for light penetration
Pruning to increase light penetration should be considered, keeping in mind that it is not a permanent solution. An important axiom to remember is that trees will grow into the voids created by pruning. Keep in mind the old rule of thumb not to remove more than one-fourth of the tree’s foliage-bearing crown in a single pruning. If a tree is topped or thinned too much, it will be stressed and will probably produce many water sprouts (suckers) along its branches to compensate for lost foliage. This defeats the purpose of pruning to allow more light penetration.
It may help to “raise” a tree’s crown to improve light penetration. Crown raising involves the removal of lower branches, and most tree species are tolerant of this pruning practice. Crown raising, however, does not significantly increase sunlight to the turf in most cases.
Some trees have a tendency to form surface roots, which can be a major problem in lawns. Besides ruining the appearance of the turf, they can interfere with mowing equipment, and can even become a safety hazard. Homeowners always want to know to what extent they can prune or remove tree roots without bringing about the demise of a tree. Since cut roots tend to develop more roots, root pruning is usually not a good solution.
The most simple maintenance recommendation is perhaps also the most important: mulch. Mulching the root areas of trees is probably the least expensive but most beneficial thing you can do to enhance tree health and minimize competition with turf. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, moderates soil temperature, and reduces competition from weeds. Organic mulch can help condition the soil and improve microbial activity.
Apply mulch about 3 to 4 inches deep, but do not pile it against the trunk of the tree. As far as the trees are concerned, the bigger the mulched area the better. Group trees together in mulch beds and extend the mulched areas as far out as practical.
There is a long-standing, but inaccurate, belief that trees must be “deep-root” fertilized. This belief is associated with the myth that a tree’s root system is an underground mirror of the crown. Because most of the absorbing roots are actually in the upper few inches of soil, it makes little sense to place the fertilizer deeper.
If the lawn is being fertilized and trees are occupying the same area, the trees might not require supplemental fertilization. The key to any fertilization program is to base the application on the plant’s needs. Soil and foliar analyses can provide the information required to make an educated decision about nutrient needs.
Mowing equipment and string trimmers can damage trees. Most people don’t realize the degree of damage that can be caused by the bumping of a mower or the whipping action of the nylon string in a trimmer. A tree’s bark can provide only so much protection against these devices. Young, thin-barked trees can be damaged almost immediately. In the worst-case scenario, the trees are eventually girdled and die. Those that are not killed will be stressed. The wounds may serve as entry points for diseases, borers or other insects. Many canker rot and root decay fungi have entered trees from wounds created by lawn and landscape maintenance workers.
Herbicides, especially broadleaf weed killers, are often used on lawns. Since most trees are broadleaved plants they can be injured or killed if high enough doses reach them. Homeowners must keep in mind that “weed and feed” fertilizers contain herbicides that can damage trees.
Achieving a balance
Trees and turf can peacefully coexist and even thrive together in a landscape. Armed with an understanding of how each affects the other, you can modify your landscapes and adjust your maintenance procedures to optimize the growing conditions for both.
One of the best things you can do to ensure a beautiful, healthy and thriving spring landscape is to properly put your yard and plants to bed before the harsh weather arrives.
Whether you’re mourning summer’s end or unpacking your winter boots in anticipation of cooler days, these tips will help you prioritize what needs to be done before the snow flies.
In The Yard
- Prune back shrubs in late fall (after a couple of frosts) to keep them protected from winds and heavy snow and encourage healthy spring growth.
- Wait to prune and shape your trees until after they have gone dormant.
- Harvest all fruit from trees and the ground to prevent them from rotting in the winter, attracting pests and diseases.
- Mulch around your trees to help moderate the soil temperature and prevent the loss of moisture. Adding a good fertilizer will help promote root growth for robust new growth in the spring.
- Wrapping your trees from top to bottom can help prevent sunscald and damage from deer and other animals throughout the winter.
- Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs. Young trees have a chance to become established before the heat of summer, and the cooler temperatures help promote new root growth.
- Remove all diseased or dead branches and trees from the yard before they become a problem next year. If they’re too large or hard to reach, hire a certified tree removal company to do it for you.
- Don’t forget to water your lawn, trees and perennials during dry spells. Even while dormant, plants need water to survive.
- Rake leaves and dead grass periodically throughout the fall and winter. A buildup of debris on your lawn can harbor pests and fungal disease, prevent proper drainage and suffocate the grass below.
- Aerating and fertilizing your lawn before winter sets in is a good way to stimulate root growth and encourage a healthy yard next spring.
In The Garden
- Pull out vegetables and annuals that are done for the season and discard or compost them. Leaving them in the ground during the winter encourages pests and disease.
- Remove any lingering weeds now; some weeds can overwinter and go to seed early the next spring.
- Layer mulch on your garden beds and ornamental shrubs. Leaves or straw work well as a winter cover, or you can use burlap sacks, which should be removed in early spring. This helps the soil retain heat and moisture, while suppressing weed germination the following season.
- Cut back on the amount of work next spring and prepare your garden beds now. Adding compost and manure in the fall allows the freezing and thawing cycle to work it into the soil for you.
- Tilling garden soil before the ground freezes helps to prevent dormant insects from taking residence in your garden during the winter (and at the same time, provides a nice snack for the birds).
In The Tool Shed
- Now’s the time to clean and disinfect garden tools and pots by removing caked on soil, rinsing them with bleach (to prevent the spread of disease), and storing them in a sheltered place.
- Take note of which garden supplies need to be replenished and purchase them now at a discount!
When it comes to your yard, a little work now will make for a beautiful spring. When your landscape is properly “put to bed” for the winter, it will be healthier and require less maintenance next year, allowing you to sit back and enjoy spring’s show.