A tree-lined landscape is a beautiful addition to any property. However, trees can be susceptible to disease and pests.
To keep your trees healthy, there are a few key steps you can take. These will help ensure that they’ll continue to thrive and add value to your home.
1. Water Well
When it comes to maintaining healthy trees, one of the most important things you can do is water your trees. Without enough water, your trees will be stressed and more prone to pests and diseases.
Newly planted trees will need extra water when they are first established, so you should water them every day until they are established. Once they are established, water them only twice a week during dry weather.
The best way to determine whether a tree needs water is to check the soil for moisture. Most tree roots are close to the surface, so you only need to check if the top 6-12 inches of soil are moist.
Once you know your tree’s need, make sure to water your tree in a wide band around its outer reaches called the drip line. You can use a garden hose or a sprinkler set on a timer to water the tree in this area.
For mature trees, or those with trunks over 12 inches in diameter, you should deep water them as much as possible, a few times a week. To do this, you should use a long, hose or pipe inserted into the soil at a depth of about 12-24 inches.
Often, you will need to apply the water from many different angles to ensure that the entire root zone is being saturated. Another option is to install aeration tubes that will direct the water directly to the tree’s roots. This will help them take up water and nutrients more efficiently. Also, it will help alleviate the stress of compaction in the ground. In addition, aeration tubes can reduce rot and improve soil quality.
2. Protect the Trunk
The trunk of a tree is an important part of its vitality, which is why it’s so crucial to protect this section of the plant. A damaged or disrupted trunk can make the entire tree weaker and less healthy.
For young trees, the bark transports minerals up from the roots and also serves as a protective barrier against damage. If this bark is ripped off by critters like mice, rabbits or lawn mowers, the resulting wound allows pathogens to enter and damage the tree.
Deer ruts can be particularly damaging to young trees because they strip the outer bark. This destroys the cambium layer, which transports water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves and is essential for the tree’s survival.
Another way that young trees can be damaged is by heavy equipment like construction mowers and weed whackers. These types of tools can nick the bark and damage the tree’s health, opening it up to diseases that can kill the entire tree.
To prevent this type of damage, a few simple steps can be taken.
1. Wrap the Trunk:
Tree wrapping is an excellent and tried and true way to keep your tree safe from sunscalding, bark damage and disease. It’s also a great way to prevent insects from entering your tree and causing problems.
2. Protect Your Trunk When Planting:
When planting a new tree, it’s best to use trunk protectors that cover the lowest three feet of the trunk. These protectors help save the tree from a lot of problems, including sunscalding, insect damage and snow accumulating higher than two feet.
3. Don’t Mow the Trunk
Mowing over a trunk is a common tree care mistake. It can cause serious damage to the bark and roots, weakening the tree while inviting insects and disease.
A much more effective solution is to leave the trunk in place and maintain a 2- or 3-foot wide grass-free area around it. A layer of natural mulch works well here, too.
Having an appropriate amount of soil is also important; too little can lead to root failure, while too much can deplete nutrients from the ground below. Using a soil tester or digging a hole to a depth of about two inches is a good start.
Lastly, the best way to keep your tree healthy is to make sure it gets enough sunshine. To help the process along, select plants adapted to the special light conditions under your tree.
4. Keep the Soil Moisture Levels High
Soil moisture is an essential component of tree health and can be easily checked. Just insert a digital probe or a traditional scale into the soil to measure the moisture levels. The results should not take too long to read, and you can check the soil moisture in several areas of your yard to get a general idea of the water content.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that a dry soil can be difficult for your trees to absorb nutrients from, leading to leaf senescence and even disease. If you see clumps of soil that appear to be clogged with water, this is another sign of an unhealthy soil.
To test the moisture level in the soil, dig a hole around the base of the tree and determine if it’s dry, wet or compacted. If it’s hard to get a shovel in the ground, then it’s probably dry.
This is a good time to check the soil for any insects or weeds that may be growing in it. If you find any, remove them before the soil dries out too much to ensure that your trees have ample water available for proper root growth and nutrient absorption.
Keeping the soil moisture levels high is an important aspect of tree health and should be done in conjunction with other maintenance practices, including pruning, mulching, and ground cover. These methods can help improve a tree’s overall condition, which in turn will make it more resilient to disease and infestation. Maintaining a healthy, vigorous root system is the best way to protect your tree from damage and encourage its growth. It’s a simple, but highly effective strategy that will pay off in the long run. Consult Kelowna Tree Service today to start giving your trees the care they deserve!
5. Don’t Compress the Soil
If you have ever been to a construction site, you know that soil compaction is an ongoing problem. The constant movement of heavy equipment and wheel traffic compresses the soil into a dense mass that hinders air and water transportation to roots, inhibits essential gas exchange processes, and slows root growth, ultimately affecting tree health.
Soil compaction also reduces the capacity for nutrients to reach roots, which can result in nutrient deficiencies, reduced vigor and eventually tree death. The best way to prevent this problem is to make sure you don’t compress the soil in any way.
For example, if you have kids playing in the back yard, be sure to place some flat stones on the ground so they don’t compact it as they walk. If you’re putting down mulch around your trees, be sure to use a wide layer to distribute your weight so you don’t compact the soil as much.
You can also create paths in the soil near your tree’s root zone. Just be careful to not over mulch, as that can also lead to compacting.
A good way to keep the soil from being compacted is to mix compost into the top 8-10 inches of soil and create a mulch ring. This will add nutrients to the soil and help keep people off of it while they are in the trees’ root zones.
The biggest danger to tree health is soil compaction, which is a common threat in cities and neighborhoods where foot traffic, lawn mowers and other equipment plow over the soil regularly. However, it’s important to remember that it isn’t always easy to spot the signs of this problem.