Tips on Tree Health and How to Care for Your Trees
Do you have trees on your property? Here are tips about tree health and how to better care for them.
Trees offer many great benefits that it would be very wrong to just remove one from your home without any valid reason. But sometimes tree removal is necessary. It may be because you didn’t fulfill your obligations as the tree owner. A tree isn’t just an object like a piece of furniture that you need to maintain and protect from damage. You also have to remember that it’s a living thing—it can get sick, wounded or even die. That’s why tree health is so important for the tree owners.
But how do you monitor the health of your trees and take good care of them? To help you succeed and prevent a tree removal that could have otherwise been avoided, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips and nuggets of info for tree owners like you:
- The first and perhaps most important rule is that you should get the help of a tree service professional. It’s like having a doctor to monitor the health of your kids. As a tree owner, you simply do not have the knowledge, training, experience, and equipment to deal with all possible threats to the health of your tree. You need an expert who can provide you with a complete and comprehensive health care program for your trees and for your whole landscape including other plants as well.
- Like people, trees can get sick due to stress. Stress for trees can be avoided if you make sure that they get enough sunlight and water. You also need to make sure that they get the right balance of nutrients. It’s possible that you may give them too much instead of just too little of the nutrients they require.
- Take note of just how much resources you have for your trees. A tree can compete with other trees and plants for the nutrients and water available. You have to adjust the growth and development of the tree to factor in the availability of the nutrients. If you don’t, the stress the trees may feel can make them more vulnerable to diseases and insects.
- If you think your tree has a health issue, the first step is to correctly identify the species of your tree. That’s because diseases and insects may only target certain types of trees. When you know what kind of tree you have, you can then have a shorter list of suspects.
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- Next, compare the damage and symptoms of the tree to the state of the other trees in your property. If the damage is limited to only the tree/s of a certain species, then most likely a disease or an insect infestation is the culprit. However, if the problem occurs within a large portion of your property and several types of trees and plants are showing the same type of damage, the problem may be something that doesn’t discriminate. The suspects can be the weather, poor drainage, some type of physical injury (such as caused by construction equipment) or even some sort of chemical damage.
- Observe the landscape carefully. You can check the state of the trees in the adjacent land to see if the problem affects them too. You can also do research on the history of the property and find out if the same problems have occurred before.
- Also, take note of how quickly the signs of the trouble appeared. Usually, if you have ma pathogen that causes disease, it takes quite a while for the symptoms to show up over the affected areas. But if signs of the problem appeared very quickly, then insects or diseases aren’t probably the cause of the issue.
- Check the tree roots. What’s the color? If it is brown or black, that can be a sign of trouble. If they’re brown, it usually means the soil conditions are too dry or the soil may contain toxic chemicals. If the roots are black, either the soil is too wet or there are organisms in the area that are rotting your roots.
- Take a good long look at the branches and the trunk. Are there any wounds? These could have been caused by fire, bad weather, heavy equipment, or even animals. The wounds then could have provided entry points for pathogens and root-rotting organisms. If the wounds are extensive, the tree may become severely hazardous.
- Diseases can be infectious (like chicken pox is to humans), and they can be transmitted by carriers such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, or fungi. But they can also be non-infectious (like cancer or stroke for people) and they can be caused by several different factors. These factors can include sudden changes in moisture levels or temperature, pollutants, nutrient deficiencies, and compacted soil. Even vandalism can cause diseases.
- To determine the right type of treatment, you need to find out if the disease is infectious or not. But that’s not always easy, as the symptoms for both types can be similar. It’s another reason why you need an expert since they can differentiate between the two types of diseases and also propose a treatment plan.
- If it’s not due to disease, then insects may be the cause of the problem. However, what you need to keep in mind is that in most cases, insects actually are good for trees instead of harmful to them. So simply exterminating all the insects in the area may do more harm than good for the health of your tree.
With insects, you need to identify the particular species that are causing the problem. The species and the severity of the problem can then help in determining the right treatment, which your tree service expert can then provide.
- It’s also very likely that you may want to have turf grasses to go along with your trees for your landscape. These turf grasses offer similar benefits that trees do, and they’re beautiful and helpful for the environment because they filter dust, entrap pollutants, and reduce erosion.
The problem is that your tree and your grass selections must be compatible with each other. They can compete with each other for resources, and the presence of a tree may be detrimental for the grass (or vice-versa).
So if you have a large tree that covers huge portions of the land with its shade, you may want to think about getting grass varieties that are shade-tolerant. If the lawn is your main landscape feature, you need smaller trees with open or high canopies so the sunlight can get through to the grass beneath.
- You may also want to think about proper mulching, as this can do much for the health of your tree. Mulching can reduce the amount soil moisture that can evaporate. It can control weed growth and insulate the soil to protect the tree roots from extreme temperatures.
It can improve the soil fertility and various other aspects of the soil such as the drainage, soil structure, and biology. With mulching, some diseases can be inhibited too.
In forests, trees enjoy a natural environment with soil that gets plenty of nutrients from organic materials, leaves, and various living organisms. The nutrients the soil needs are recycled and replenished.
That’s not the case with most urban landscapes, which is why mulching is so essential. The soil in most people’s properties is of poorer quality as they don’t have as much organic matter. Most of the time, there’s also huge fluctuations in moisture levels and soil temperature.
That’s why you should apply a layer of about 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch so that the tree environment can become more natural so they trees can become healthier.
While there are inorganic mulch types available, most experts recommend the organic variety. These mulches decompose, which then improves the quality and fertility of the soil.
- Don’t apply too much mulch. It can lead to more problems instead. It can cause too much moisture on wet soils, and that can then in turn lead to root rot and stress for the tree. The mulch can also become matted, so the air and water may not penetrate as well. The soil pH can be affected, which can then lead to the buildup of toxins or deficiencies in nutrients.
- Just place the mulch out to the edge of the tree’s crown. Don’t let it pile against the trunk of the tree, and instead pull it back a few inches so you expose the base of the trunk.
- You can use fresh wood chips, but avoid the fine non-composted variety. As these non-composted wood chips decompose, the roots may take up the soil nitrogen.
For mature trees, you should have a well-planned healthcare program with preventive maintenance measures and regular expert inspections and follow-up care when necessary. By finding problems and correcting them before they get worse, you can make sure that your trees stay healthy for a long time to come—and your kids and grandkids may even be able to benefit from them too!