Tree Care and Maintaining Your Tree's Health
Tree care is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy tree. Proper tree maintenance carries throughout the trees life, starting when the tree is first planted and ends upon the trees death. By implementing proper tree care techniques you will be able to successfully lengthen the trees life and make your tree more visually appealing.
There are many steps to making sure that your tree lives a successful and healthy life however this guide should be applied for teenage or mature trees. If you need help with planting or with taking care of a younger tree visit our Planting a Tree guide.
Below are different ways you can take care of your tree to ensure that it can become healthier, and more vibrant in the upcoming seasons. Some techniques may require the help of a professional arborist.
Watering Your Trees
One of the most basic ways to ensure your tree lives healthy is to water it. Trees need a lot of water to soak up nutrients and to ensure they live through the winter. While more mature and established trees do not need to be watered very often, teenage and newly planted trees need to be watered on occasion during the summer to ensure that they survive droughts and don't become dehydrated.How to Water Your Trees
While it is bad to under-water your tree over-watering your tree is bad at well. Check to see how hydrated the soil is by digging a small hole about two inches deep near the base of your tree. If the soil at the bottom of the hole feels moist your tree shouldn't need any watering. If the soil is dry you should water your tree. Take a garden hose and spray the base of your tree for 30 seconds until the soil feels moist to the touch.
Remember that some trees are more resistant to drought and dehydration and won't need as much water. Know the species of trees in your yard and which ones will not need as much watering during a time of extreme heat. Age and how established your tree is also plays a big role in if you need to water it or not. Older and more established trees do not need to be watered very often because their vast root systems will bring in sufficient nutrients.
Mulching Your Tree
Another important and yet often times overlooked part of tree care is mulching. Mulch is generally tree bark however it can be rocks, rubber, and many other things. For mulching trees it is recommended that you use tree bark mulch because it provides better health for your tree's roots. Mulch is important because it helps insulate the base of your tree and its roots, it retains water so your tree does not get dehydrated as fast, it helps prevent root competition by making it so weeds can't grow near the base of your tree, and finally it helps prevent lawn mower damage from influencing roots at the base of your tree.How to Mulch
Mulching is a relatively simple way to maintain your trees peak health. Simply cut a circle around your tree approximately 3 feet in diameter. Remove all grass and weeds in the circle so that only the soil remains. Pour the mulch into the circle creating a maximum depth of around 3 to 4 inches. Remember that while you are doing this to keep the mulch away from the immediate base of your tree.
Pruning Your Tree
Pruning starts at a very young age for a tree and helps promote healthy limbs as well as visual appeal. Pruning is generally done in the winter but can be done in the summer as well. Pruning in the winter causes a remarkable burst of speed in the growth of your tree when spring comes around and is the safest practice disease wise. Pruning in the summer helps slow the growth of your tree because the tree won't have as many leaves slowing growth and production for the tree. Pruning should NEVER be done in the fall, fungi spores spread profusely during this time and will get into your tree potentially harming it or making it sick.Proper Pruning Techniques
For larger branches that need to be cut at the base, saw a cut at the bottom of the branch about half way through the branch. The cut should be made just outside of the ridge collar. Then make a second cut about half an inch further up the branch from where you made the first cut and keep sawing until the branch falls off. This technique is used so that the bark doesn't rip and makes for a much cleaner cut. Use this technique even if you are shortening the branch.
For smaller branches use well sharpened pruning sheers and cut outside of the collar. If you are shortening a branch make the cut at an angle around one fourth of an inch beyond a bud. For high branches use a pole pruner or call a professional arborist if even that is out of your range.What to Prune
Pruning is most effective at a young age. Throughout the trees life you should check and remove limbs that are broken or dying, are competing with the leader, and are swolen from insects or eggs. Root sucklers and narrow angle branches should also be removed. In general remove branches that are doing more harm than good to the health of your tree but remember to never remove more than 1/4th of a tree's crown in a season.
Cabling and Bracing
Cabling and bracing is used to take stress off of limbs that could be ready to collapse under their own weight. This is advanced work that should only be done by a professional arborist. For more information on how it's done visit our Cabling and Bracing section of the website.Disease and Sickness
There is usually not much you can do for a disease or pest problem on your own. Calling a professional arborist or doing some research could help to save the tree. Visit our Pests and Diseases section of the website to learn more information.