October 26th, 2017
So you’ve got a tree on your property. It looks great, it provides shade, but what do you do with it? How do you care for it? If you ignore it, what will happen?
Consulting with an arborist for all things tree related is always a great idea, but first, let’s take a quick look at some of the basics of tree maintenance.
Low Maintenance Trees
Is there such a thing as low maintenance trees? Sort of—it all depends on the type of maintenance you’re talking about. Evergreen trees such as pine and spruce need very little to no pruning. However, they may drop cones, shed needles and cause grass or plants under the tree to die due to lack of light. Deciduous trees—those with leaves—shed seasonally, require more pruning and may also have messy seeds or flowers.
The best way to have a low maintenance tree is to do your due diligence. Have a tree with leaves? Get it pruned while it is young to promote the best health and structure and you will save yourself a lot of trouble in the future. Plant your tree in an appropriate place. Don’t put a spruce tree right against the house; your gutters will fill with needles over time. Concerned about seeds, cones or flowers? Talk to your local nursery to see what tree stock they have that has these traits bred out.
Too much or too little water is harmful to your tree. A tree should be watered immediately after planting, and for the next two summers you will need to water fairly often to avoid stress caused by the heat. Most established trees are fine with a good thorough watering once or twice per month, April to September. If it’s really hot, you may need to water once a week. To water your tree, place a garden hose at the tree’s dripline (the place where water falls from the tree when it’s raining) and move the hose occasionally so that the area under the dripline is saturated. You do not need to water during the winter. Adding mulch around the base of the tree helps prevent soil moisture loss but never put the mulch directly against the tree trunk!
Root Fertilizer and Deep Root Fertilization
If you have healthy soil, there is no real need to fertilize your tree. Absorbing tree roots are found in the top 2 – 8” of soil, so if you fertilize your lawn, your tree will also absorb some of those nutrients.
Deep root fertilization is a process where a pipe is put 8 – 12” into the ground and then fertilizer is pushed into the ground under pressure. As absorbing roots are found higher in the soil, the process of deep root fertilization is unnecessary and can even be harmful to the environment.
Tree Hazard Assessment
Concerned your tree is too tall? Notice a crack? Something else causing you concern? Talk to an arborist about providing a tree hazard assessment. They will inspect your tree while considering a wide variety of factors such as the type, age, structure and possible effects of failure of the tree, and then provide you with a course of action. When in doubt, ask for an expert’s help.