Mature trees are a benefit to the land around them, the creatures that live alongside them, and the homeowners who enjoy them. Proper care gives your older trees the best chance of living out a full life and bringing happiness for years to come. How can you help ensure a full tree life? Here are a few reminders.
The first step in keeping trees healthy is to regularly inspect them with your naked eye and a close, personal touch. Check your trees after large storms and as the seasons change. Damage to the canopy or branches is often not easily visible until leaves have fallen, so be diligent in annual inspections during the dormant months.
As you inspect the tree, keep an eye out for broken or hanging limbs, branches with no living leaves, and signs of infection such as sap or bulging. Check for indications of pests or fungus on branches or around the trunk itself. For large trees that are hard to access, hire a tree service to conduct an annual inspection.
Prune as Needed
Pruning is good to keep any tree healthy, but make sure to approach pruning carefully on older trees. Removing limbs creates a wound on any tree, but younger trees can absorb the damage well and refocus growth efforts. Older trees put all their energy into staying healthy, so they don't have as much room for error.
Prune only when it's necessary, such as when limbs are broken or dead. You may also want to prune to keep the canopy away from the house or utility wires. An experienced arborist may best handle additional pruning.
Owners often think of mulch in terms of how much more attractive it makes the yard or how low maintenance it is. However, mulch actually serves important purposes for plants, the most important of which is insulation.
A layer of mulch about two or three inches thick protects the roots of a mature tree from the elements. Mulch helps slow rainwater evaporation so the rainwater absorbs properly into the soil.
Protect From Damage
Who doesn't love playing around a mature tree? A tree's thick and solid branches draw in kids. Pets like to lounge under their shade and play around the base. And humans enjoy making the tree a centerpiece of landscape efforts. But to help preserve your tree for others to enjoy, you need to protect your mature tree from external damage.
To help protect the tree, avoid hanging swings or tires from all but the largest branches. If you need to hang things, use a drilled hole rather than a rope that rubs on bark continuously. Don't let pets urinate on the trunk or dig around the roots as much as possible. And set up a perimeter around the tree so that mowers and trimmers don't scrape the tree trunk as you do maintenance.
Care for the Soil
The soil is a big part of what keeps the tree fed and healthy. Start by making sure the tree gets proper water on a regular basis.
You can also get a basic soil testing kit at most home improvement stores, and this kit can give you a good indication of what nutrients the soil lacks and what pH balance problems may exist. An additive such as lime or sulfur can fix some of these soil problems and help the tree take in the right mixture of nutrients to stay healthy.
The best way to maintain any tree, old or young, is with the help of a professional tree service. At Bill's Tree Care & Landscaping, Inc., we have experience with all ages of trees, and we can give yours what they need to enjoy a long and happy life.