The Importance of Regular Care for Healthy TreesReading time: 7 minutes
Trees aren’t just beautiful – they’re a crucial part of a functioning ecosystem. And you need to do more than just plant trees for them to grow up healthy and strong.
Good tree care is critical to preventing pests and diseases while ensuring your trees have enough nutrients to meet their needs. Some tree care can even prevent decaying or dead limbs from breaking off, hurting people, or damaging property. If you’re investing in trees, you should invest in their longevity with regular maintenance.
Caring for trees doesn’t have to be difficult, whether in your backyard, around your business, or in your city’s public spaces. We’ve gathered our top tips for regular tree care so you can reliably maintain healthy trees you can be proud of from Green Drop.
Like all plants, trees need water to survive and turn light into food. Without enough moisture, trees will stop growing and can die, starting with the branches. Trees that have only lost a few branches due to underwatering can usually be rescued, but trees that have dried out to the trunk may be unsalvageable.
You should also avoid watering your trees too much since oversaturation can cause the roots to rot, destabilizing the tree and starving it of nutrients. Consider the amount of rainfall your area gets each week so you don’t overwater your trees.
How To Water Your Trees Based On Age
How often you water your trees should be based on their age and stage of development.
Newly planted trees need more frequent watering than established trees to promote long, deep root growth and a sturdy trunk. For the first couple of weeks, water your new tree saplings daily. Then you can water them every few days until they’re around 3 months old.
For trees between 3 months and 2 years old, you can water them every week or two, depending on how dry your area has been. A fully grown tree can be watered once or twice a month.
In the winter, stop watering your trees when the outdoor temperatures dip below zero, or the ground freezes over, whichever comes first.
Quality Mulch & Soil
You should also ensure your trees have quality soil and mulch around them to protect the roots and provide nutrition. A layer of mulch will slow water evaporation, which is great during hot summers, and helps filter rain as it flows through the mulch and into the tree’s root system.
Good quality soil is also vital for your trees – don’t assume enough nutrients are available for your tree to grow just because it’s been planted in the ground. Poor-quality soil won’t hold enough moisture and can constrict the tree’s roots, preventing them from absorbing as much.
When looking for soil, make sure it’s dark in colour and crumbly in texture. If it’s too dry to clump up, this could be a problem. The darker soil, the better because this signals that nutrient-rich organic matter has been broken down. Earthworms are a good indicator that your soil is healthy.
Regularly fertilizing your trees can be a boon to their health. A tree will continue to grow, even without adequate nutrients, which can cause it to become thin, tall, and lanky with a small root system and insufficient trunk girth. The long-term prognosis of trees that aren’t well cared for and fertilized enough is poor. They usually die much sooner than well-watered and fed trees due to stress and chronic malnutrition.
Like with watering, you should fertilize young trees more often. Every year is usually adequate unless your arborist recommends more frequent treatments. Mature trees can be fertilized every other year or every three years, depending on your area's tree and soil quality.
RootBoost From Green Drop
Try Green Drop’s signature RootBoost treatment, specially formulated to help trees develop a strong and healthy root system resistant to drought, pests, and disease. This treatment is done seasonally and applied directly to your trees' root zone for maximum effect.
Pest & Disease Treatment
You might think once your trees are planted, you can let nature take its course, but trees of all ages are at risk of becoming damaged by diseases and pests if they get out of hand. And if an infestation or illness isn’t diagnosed and treated quickly, the health of your trees could be seriously impacted.
Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) For Your Trees
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a pest control service that combines chemical and non-chemical pest elimination strategies to keep pest populations under the economic injury level (EIL). Ecologists and entomologists endorse IPM pest control for its role in preserving a healthy environment and ecosystem and minimizing the negative impact of pests on human health.
Why Work With A Professional For Pest & Disease Diagnosis
Identifying pest infestations, diseases, and other problems with your trees is a job for professionals. Experienced arborists know what to look for and what treatments to use to effectively remove pests and diseases so your trees stay healthy and look great.
Pruning, Trimming, & Weather Considerations
Trimming and pruning your trees is another important part of keeping them healthy and helping them to grow strong and sturdy. Pruning helps protect your trees from damage during severe weather and can help optimize their growth and structure, so your mature trees stand tall.
Tree pruning is usually done in the winter when there aren’t any leaves on the trees, so you can easily see which branches to cut and where to cut them. Pruning is best done sparingly – remember that less is more. If you cut back too much, you may cause harm to your tree and limit its new growth abilities.
It’s also essential to avoid topping your trees. One of the common misconceptions is that topping helps your trees withstand high winds and heavy rains. It causes more harm than good and can result in more damage or even the death of your tree.
What To Avoid
When taking care of your trees, there are several things you’ll want to avoid, like:
Overwatering your trees
You want to water your trees just enough to absorb water. Dry roots can’t absorb nutrients, while oversaturated ones become soggy and eventually rot.
Staking your trees if it’s not necessary
Contrary to popular belief, even very young trees can hold themselves up with little support. You usually don’t need to stake trees that are developing typically or don’t have any problems.
If you do and the tree doesn’t need it, it can become weak and unstable. Stake your trees when exposed to high winds, where there is a lot of foot traffic, or when your tree isn’t standing straight enough.
Pruning too much or too little
Like watering, you must also prune your trees just enough to stay healthy and grow lush foliage. Over-pruning will potentially impact your trees’ ability to absorb enough nutrients from the ground, but it can also disfigure or even kill them.
While a lack of pruning won’t end your tree, it can cause structural defects or damage to your home if branches are overgrown.
Using too much mulch
When you put too much mulch down on your tree roots, they can’t get as much oxygen from the soil around them, which causes them to wither and suffocate. Aim for about 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of your tree. More than that is where you start to have problems.
Using too much fertilizer or fertilizing at the wrong time
Overfertilization is a problem, too and can result in a tree that is too tall for its root system and ends up being unstable or even falling due to insufficient support. Even if your roots still hold up, your trees will bear fewer fruit and flowers if they're overfed.
Be careful not to fertilize your trees too soon before or after rain when groundwater may pull all the nutrients away from the tree’s roots.
Get Reliable Tree Maintenance From Green Drop Arborists
Regular tree care is crucial for good tree health but is also commonly overlooked in landscaping. At Green Drop, our skilled arborists can help you create a tree maintenance plan to keep your trees looking their best every season.