Taking Care of Trees: How to Keep Your Beautiful Trees Healthy

Taking care of trees is a job many homeowners overlook. Yet, trees give so much to our home landscape. For instance, trees provide shade, beautiful foliage, privacy, some even flower and fruit. And of course, there’s the matter of the oxygen trees produce. So, it’s important to take the steps necessary to keep the trees in your garden and landscape healthy. That way, you will reap the rewards of of a beautiful back yard for many years to come. Read on for more details.

CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn all about taking care of trees and how to keep your trees healthy, including:

Keep Your Garden Trees in Perfect Health

You are undoubtedly proud of the trees in your garden.

They enhance the look of your backyard, provide shelter for birds and other wildlife, and they help create different zones in your garden for a lovely outdoor living space.

The trouble is, you’ve noticed that some of your trees are looking unhappy. Worse, they’ve suffered in silence long before showing any signs of trouble.

Trees are hard-wearing elements in any garden, but you still need to tend to them as you would any plants or flowers in your backyard.

With that in mind, here’s how you can keep your garden trees in perfect health.

Create a Border Around the Trunk

If you let grass and plants grow right up to a tree’s trunk, that tree will have to compete with those items for air, water, and nutrients. That’s why it makes sense to dig a border around tree trunks.

You can make those borders look decorative by circling tree trunks with pebbles or gravel, for example, or you could create a more natural look by adding some mulch around the tree trunks.

You just want to be sure to leave some space around the trunk of the tree so it can breath. A good rule of thumb is to keep the mulch at least 5″ (13 cm) away from the tree trunk.

Another big mistake when mulching a tree is creating a “volcano” around it. That can lead to the tree’s roots growing above the soil line, which can girdle the tree.

Adding too much mulch can smoother the tree and cause moisture to build up. You’ll want to limit the depth of your mulch to 2-4″ (5-10 cm).

So be thorough, but use a light hand. That’s might be all you need to fend of weeds and plants that are vying for the nutrients and water your tree needs.

Prune Your Trees Properly

It can be tempting to let trees to grow freely without ever maintaining them. That’s understandable, especially if you want large trees with many branches in your garden.

But it’s misguided.

A lack of pruning can damage the structure and strength of your trees. Plus, it can result in a poorly shaped tree that has problems in the future.

If trees become severely neglected to the point where large branches break off with hardly any effort, you may need to use tree removal services. Or worse, start again from scratch.

That’s why it’s essential to prune your trees and to do so correctly.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Pruning Trees

Do

  • Cut limbs that rub against each other.
  • Remove limbs that rub against the trunk.
  • Eliminate obviously dead limbs.
  • Trim water shoots (which grow straight up) and “suckers” (branches sprouting from the trunk).
  • Cut limbs flush (avoid leaving a stub).
  • Make sure big branches don’t pose a threat to your roof, siding, or windows.

Don’t

  • Prune a newly planted tree unless you’re removing a dead or broken limb.
  • Remove more than 25% of growth a season.
  • Trim near any power lines. (Hire a pro!)

For larger trees, consider hiring a certified arborist. That way, if you feel outside your comfort zone when it comes to tree pruning, or you don’t have the available tools and know-how to do the work yourself, it will be done right.

Pruning mistakes can have a lasting negative effect on the life of your tree.

Water Young Trees Regularly

You should make sure that you water young and growing trees as often as possible. Remember, it’s just a baby!

Ideally, you’ll want to give trees a deep watering to discourage shallow roots. Doing so will help the trees grow strong and survive harsh weather conditions. What’s more, regular watering is also a must if you experience regular drought periods where you live.

Another consideration to make is that mature trees get an occasional deep watering, especially if it hasn’t been raining for a while in your area. Their roots may run deep, but they will appreciate the extra water.

Keep Pests at Bay

One problem that many homeowners have is fighting a constant battle with garden pests.

For example, Japanese beetles and caterpillars are two pests that can significantly weaken both young and mature trees.

The good news is you can purchase treatments that you apply to the base of trees that help keep such pests at bay. They are granular treatments, and it means you don’t need to spray leaves – especially on large, mature trees.

Whenever possible, opt for natural or organic pest solutions. They can be just as effective minus the harmful effects of chemicals on the environment, i.e. your yard.

You’ll want to become well-versed in tree diseases and pest so you can recognize signs of trouble early on.

Consider Conducting Some Soil Tests

Lastly, a soil test can give you a clear indication of each tree’s health.

Soil tests can tell you if there are any nutrients missing that are causing problems. Some examples are yellowing leaves on trees, or if you find your young trees aren’t growing correctly as expected.

You can purchase soil test kits online or hire a soil testing company to check the soil around your trees for you. Some argicultural organizations offer free soil testing, like the UMASS Extension Services. They’ll do a full analysis on your soil to determine what’s missing, the pH, and more.

Then, you might need to amend your soil so your trees have everything they need to be healthy, and yes–beautiful!

Final Thoughts on Taking Care of Trees

When you think of how much trees give back, taking these simple steps to ensure their good health is not a lot to ask.

In fact, caring for your trees with proper pruning, watering, protection, and feeding might turn out to be one of the most rewarding gardening chores in your season.

You may even want to enhance your landscape by planting more of them. If so, click here to read about creating a beautiful spring display with early blooming ornamental trees.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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