After a long winter, your garden may be in need of some attention. It is especially important to check your trees.
Take a close look at your trees and look for any parts that are not growing leaves; this could be a sign of dying branches. Then follow these four spring lawn & tree care tips to help your plants thrive!
Check for Pests and Diseases
As the cold winter weather gives way to warmer temperatures and precipitation, it’s a good time for homeowners to venture outdoors and examine their trees and shrubbery. Look for signs of damage or disease that may have occurred over the winter. This is also a great opportunity to check for any pests that might be emerging early in the season.
A thorough inspection can reveal a number of health concerns that should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent a more serious problem from developing. For example, if the bark of a tree has been damaged during a harsh winter, this can allow harmful organisms to enter the interior of the trunk and cause serious problems. If this is discovered, a professional arborist should be consulted to discuss options for treatment.
Other symptoms to watch out for include premature leaf loss, branch thinning or dropping, and abnormal coloration of leaves or fruit. In general, if a tree is showing any of these warning signs, it is a sign that the tree is stressed or sick and needs immediate attention.
An ISA certified arborist can assess the condition of a tree and recommend a course of action. In addition, it is a good idea to have the soil tested to ensure that the proper amounts of nutrients are available for healthy growth. In addition, a deep watering routine should be implemented to guarantee that surface roots receive direct access to the water supply.
Another important step is to remove any debris that has accumulated around the base of a tree over the winter. This will help prevent fungus and other pathogens from growing. It is also a good idea to weed the area and remove competing plants, such as ivy, from under or near the base of your trees.
Finally, this is a perfect time to prune dead or unsafe branches. This can be done safely while the weather is still cool and will reduce the risk of infection from insects or fungi.
Trim the Branches
When trees or shrubs have been damaged during a storm, they should be cleaned up as soon as possible so that disease can’t spread. This is especially true for limbs that have broken off or fallen due to the weight of snow or winds. The same is true for branches that have become overgrown. They should be trimmed so that they don’t interfere with people or cars passing by.
When pruning, it’s important to use sharp tools so that clean cuts are made and wounds heal well. This will also make it easier to spot areas that need attention. Branches that have been damaged or broken should be removed, as should those that are growing inward toward the center of the tree or that are rubbing against other limbs. These rubbing branches can cause injuries to the plant that lead to insect and disease problems. Branches that are too low or that hang over homes, sidewalks or other structures should also be trimmed. Those that interfere with power or utility lines should be left to professionals trained to deal with such issues.
If a tree or shrub has grown too tall, it can be pruned during the spring to encourage new growth and reduce its size. It’s also a good time to remove suckers, the weak, weed-like growth that forms at the base of a trunk and steals energy from the desirable branches.
After the vigor of spring has passed, it’s easy for vigorous tree and shrub growth to overtake and unbalance an area that was shaped in winter. It’s important to periodically step back and look at your plants from all sides, so that you can spot any areas that may need additional work. It’s also a good idea to deadhead flowers as the season progresses so that they don’t keep coming out and competing for nutrients with new growth.
While it is true that most trees need some fertilization in order to grow, the wrong kind of fertilizer can damage your trees. A well-balanced slow-release fertilizer applied in the spring will help your trees achieve their full potential and become part of a healthy landscape.
Newly planted trees are especially prone to nutrient deficiency. They start off with a small store of energy that they must conserve and a limited root ball that must supply all the water and nutrients the tree needs to get established. If the tree doesn’t receive enough supplemental nutrients, it will show symptoms such as yellow leaves or stunted growth.
Nutrient deficiency also causes a weakening of the tree’s defense systems, making it more susceptible to insect pests and diseases. If your tree is showing signs of nutrient deficiency, it’s best to have the soil tested by a professional before deciding to fertilize it.
Before applying any type of fertilizer, remove all weeds and grass from around the base of the tree. This will make it easier to reach the roots of the tree and ensure that the nutrient is not washed away or diluted by nearby competing plants.
Granular fertilizers are the easiest and most cost-effective to apply. They can be spread evenly across the ground around the tree, starting at the drip line and working outward. Ideally, you should apply the granular fertilizer before it rains so that the beneficial nutrients are washed into the soil and absorbed by the roots.
When choosing a fertilizer, look for one that is specially formulated for trees or woody shrubs. Some brands have formulations specifically designed for deciduous or evergreen trees, while others offer an all-purpose formula that will work for either. Liquid fertilizers can also be injected into the trunks of certain trees using a hose and a commercial pump, but this method is best reserved for professionals who know what they are doing and should only be used in extreme cases. If you are going to use this method, be sure to thoroughly test the soil to determine which supplemental nutrients are needed and avoid injection holes that can quickly become infected with wood rots.
Watering is an important aspect of tree care, and it’s something that should begin right after the ground thaws but before trees start growing. When watering, it’s important to soak the soil, not just the leaves or trunk. If you’re not sure if the soil is dry enough, dig down 2-3’ around the original root ball and feel it. If it’s wet, wait a few days and water again.
You’ll also want to hydrate the soil before fertilizing, as this will help the tree absorb the nutrients. This is particularly important for young or recently planted trees, as it will help them grow faster and more robustly. When watering, it’s important not to overdo it, as this can lead to root rot and other problems. Make sure to water in the morning or evening, to reduce evaporation and conserve water.
Mulching is another great way to help trees thrive. It helps the soil retain the moisture you give it, and it also regulates the soil temperature and suppresses weeds. If you’re not already using mulch around your trees, we recommend giving them a layer that’s about three or four inches thick all the way around the base of the tree.
Then, rake the area about 3’ out from the base of the tree and remove any debris such as fallen leaves, twigs, or fruit that may have accumulated over the winter. This will help prevent fungal growth and pest infestations.
Depending on your climate, the amount of rainfall, and the temperature of summer, you’ll need to adjust how often you water. In general, however, you’ll need to water the soil around the roots every three to five days. For new or newly planted trees, it’s important to water them more frequently during the first three years. If you have sandy soil that doesn’t hold water well, you may need to increase this frequency as well. To ensure that you’re watering the correct amount, measure the caliper inch of the tree (the measurement of the width of the trunk at its widest point). This will help you determine how much to water.