Basic Tree Maintenance Tips

Trees can often be taken for granted but intense weather can take its toll. It’s important to keep trees healthy and try to prevent diseases or weather damage.

One of the first things you can do is learn about the trees you want to care for and their specific needs. If you’re not sure about the kind of tree you have, there are many resources online to help you, such as the Forestry Commission Tree Name Trail. When researching trees, the main things to look out for are:

  • Type of soil needed
  • Amount of water needed
  • Specific sensitivities (drought, water, wind, etc)

Once you know more about your trees, follow these 5 tips to keep your trees resilient and healthy.

Protect the roots

Focus on the zone around a tree up to where the branches extend. Roots can extend beyond this zone but this is the area where roots are more sensitive. The key is to make sure that the soil is not too compact so that roots can keep absorbing water and oxygen.

Protect the bark

Think about the bark as an armour that protects the tree. Protecting the tree bark will prevent infections, diseases or insect activity. Watch out for potential dangers that could damage tree bark, including:

  • Vehicles: trees near roads or driveways can suffer hits from tall vehicles. Remove lower branches to prevent breakage and make sure trees are visible at night.
  • Lawn sprinklers: a spray of water that repetitively hits bark at the same place can cause damage. If you use sprinklers to water your lawn, make sure these don’t directly hit trees.
  • Branches: branches rubbing against each other can cause damage to the bark. Prune branches correctly so branches don’t get entwined.
  • Lawn equipment: don;t get lawn equipment close to the tree trunks as this can cause serious damage to the bark.

Water effectively

Trees generally thrive well in existing moisture conditions and don’t require any extra watering. However, depending on your local climate, you may need to water your trees during extended periods of drought. If you do need to water trees in the summer, an occasional deep watering is preferred to a frequent misting. In winter trees shouldn’t need any watering.

Prune properly

We’ve previously written about pruning trees as it’s an essential part of tree maintenance. It’s something you can do yourself if you know what you are doing, otherwise you can always hire a professional. The main things to look out for are:

  • Crossing branches: remove the smaller branch so the stronger one can grow without being damaged.
  • Broken and dead branches: a clean cut will help the tree heal.
  • Low branches: remove branches that are low and are prone to damage (i.e. by an impact). You can also remove low branches for aesthetic purposes.

Keep soil healthy

There are two ways you can make sure that the soil around your tree is rich in nutrients.

  • Use mulch. Spread a layer of mulch around your tree, about 2 to 4 inches thick. The mulch does not need to touch the trunk.
  • Plant grass or some type of ground cover. Dead plant material will decay in the ground and enrich the soil. Make sure your plants can thrive in the shade and that their roots don’t compete with the tree.

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