As you get ready to tackle spring cleaning jobs, don’t forget your trees. Keeping trees and landscaping green takes constant commitment; and, as they say, timing is everything.
As we turn away from the harsh winter months and head toward the growing season, here are some tips from expert tree care professional Mark Chisholm to help keep your trees and plants healthy. Chisholm is a third-generation arborist with the Aspen Tree Expert Company in New Jersey and a two-time winner of the International Society of Arboriculture’s (ISA) International Tree Climbing Championship.
PREPARE TO PRUNE
The best time to prune trees and shrubs varies depending upon species and desired results. Pruning during the dormant season, when the trees have no leaves, is usually best. This is the time to prune young trees for future structure, remove live limbs that are too low or close to the house, and remove limbs that might have been damaged in winter storms. Keep in mind, though, that dead and damaged limbs can be pruned any time throughout the year.
MAXIMIZE YOUR MULCH
Trees and landscape beds respond well to being mulched. Remove competing grass away from the trunks of trees and plants to help them flourish. Just remember that, in this case, more is not better. Keep mulch thickness down to just a few inches and pull it back near the trunk to avoid contact as if mulch is piled around the trunk, it holds moisture and heat. This can cause developments of cankers and other ailments. It also encourages a secondary roots system to develop above the primary one, which could include girdling roots.
Now is the time to make any necessary adjustments to your sprinkler system. Watch to see if there is any water pooling around trees and provide a remedy if there is. Watch to ensure that plants that are prone to fungal problems are not sprayed directly with sprinklers, which could result in a severe issue if left as is. For example, if your sprinklers are spraying the foliage of a dogwood tree, it may be more likely to host powdery mildew and anthracnose. A mugo pine battling with diplodia tip blight will have more trouble defending itself with the extra watering. Be sure to look into the needs of each species within the sprinkler’s reach.
REMOVE LEAF LITTER
If the trees in your landscape are susceptible to certain fungal problems, removing leaf and needle debris will help reduce this effect.
STUDY YOUR SOIL
A soil sample can alert you to any nutrient deficiencies in your trees. Have a specialist come out and take a sample before you start a fertilization program of any kind. Prescription programs are much more precise than blanket programs and they can help you to save money if fertilizer and additives are not needed.
TALK WITH A PRO
Get in touch with an ISA Certified Arborist or a Board Certified Master Arborist now to discuss your specific landscape needs. They can spot problems that need your attention before they develop or advance too far. They can also make sure that you are in tune with how to best care for your trees and provide accurate advice so that you can keep them green on your own.