It’s tempting for homeowners to think that once they plant a tree, it will, basically, take care of itself. After all, that’s what trees do in the forest, and some of them manage to live and stay healthy for hundreds of years. A person who has trees in their yard has the task or privilege of taking special care of them so that they achieve optimum health and beauty. Here are some ways to properly maintain a tree:
The Right Tree for the Right Place
Taking care of a tree begins before it’s bought. A homeowner needs to know which type of tree is best for their climate and if the type of soil in the yard is good for the tree. Some like rich, fertile, crumbly soil that drains well. Others prefer soil that’s wet, and some can still thrive in soil that’s poor. The homeowner needs to figure out how much sun the tree will receive and if it will be exposed to damaging winds, especially in the winter.
It’s important to know how tall and wide a tree will be when it’s mature. This averts the mistake of planting it too close to the house or garage.
When the homeowner decides on a tree and finally plants it, the hole should be wide and deep enough for the roots to spread at the bottom. Burlap needs to be removed from the rootball, and any root fibers that look like they’re circling the ball have to be cut to prevent strangulation in the future.
About Water and Fertilizer
A newly planted tree needs to be watered deeply and regularly. Watering twice a week is good. However, the tree may need more watering if the area is undergoing a drought. Water the tree more often if it’s in sandy soil and less often if it’s in clay. Mulch lessens the need for water, suppresses weeds, and keeps the roots at an even temperature. It shouldn’t touch the crown of the tree and shouldn’t be deeper than 4 inches. Mulch can be made of everything from old coffee beans to pea gravel, but mulch made of organic material, such as rotted leaves or wood chips, decomposes over time and enriches the soil.
Most trees don’t need fertilizer unless the soil is very poor. However, some gardeners toss a handful of Epsom salt over the roots now and then before a rain. This puts magnesium into the soil.
The area around the tree needs to be kept clean, so the gardener or homeowner should remove fallen twigs, fruit, and leaves from the ground beneath the tree regularly. Some diseases and pests take advantage of debris to overwinter, and emerge in the spring.
One way to maintain a tree is to prune damaged, diseased or crossing branches or limbs. Ideally, this should be done when the tree is dormant. Pruning and trimming allows air to circulate among the branches and gives the tree a lovely shape.
Call a Tree Surgeon When Necessary
There are some jobs a homeowner can’t or shouldn’t do, such as climb up in a tall tree to remove diseased limbs. Call a tree surgeon for these jobs.
Placing a tree in the right place, making sure it gets plenty of water until it’s established, mulching, judicious pruning, and calling in an expert, if necessary, are all parts of keeping any tree healthy, beautiful, and growing.