Tree Care

Just because they’ve been around for millions of years, doesn’t mean trees don’t need a little bit of TLC. Trees, especially those found in the urban areas, still need to be maintained and cared for, to ensure they remain health and disease free.

Selecting the right tree

If you’re thinking of planting trees in your garden or just around your home, make sure you choose the right one that will thrive in your area. First, think of what is the function of the tree. Is it for decoration? For fruit? For shade? This will narrow down your choices. Weather is the most important consideration. If you experience snow, then tropical trees are a no-no; you’re better off with something that can thrive in the winter. Next, think of the size of the tree. If you have acreage, then you can have practically any size you want. But, if you have a small yard or garden, then you’ll want to make sure the size of your tree will match your available space, which will save you the trouble of replanting or cutting it down later. The type of soil available is also important – for example, silt soils can retain a lot of water and thus varieties such as hickory and birch are best for this kind of soil. Sandy soil, on the other hand, is much dryer and trees like avocado, oak and cedar are much more suitable to this kind of soil.


Planting the tree

Most trees purchased from nurseries come as either bare root, root balled or container grown. Whichever one you purchase, it is important to know that most transplanted trees are vulnerable to transplant shock, which will cause a tree to reduce its growth and even die. When digging the hole, make sure to loosen the surrounding soil, to help the roots dig in firmly in their new surroundings. Don’t dig too deep. In fact, it is better to make the hole wide, rather than deep, and making sure the tree flare is partly exposed. Do not pack in the soil, but rather, gently fill it in and add some mulch to retain the moisture. If needed, provide support by staking the seedling.




Maintaining the tree’s health

Transplanted trees need care for the first few months up to the first couple of years, depending on how vulnerable it is. A tree basically needs sunlight and water, but the amount varies per type. Trees can suffer from over watering, as much as under watering. Avoid water logging the tree, and make sure the water goes to the roots, and doesn’t just run off the surface. Keep weeds away from the tree, even grass, as these compete against the tree for water and nutrients in the soil. Don’t use commercial weed killers as these can damage your tree’s health. Next, you’ll want to think about pruning the tree. This helps the tree develop its shape and have a strong trunk. Generally you should wait at least a year before pruning, only cutting branches which have been torn or damaged. After the first year, you can apply other techniques. The best time to prune is in late fall or winter, during the “dormant” season, as this will minimize sap loss and there are few insects and fungi around to spread disease. Always use clean and sharp tools for pruning.

Thriving trees not only add aesthetic value to a property, but increase a home’s worth by as much as 20%. Properly caring for your trees ensures that you will have healthy trees for many years to come.