What a blessing to be able to enjoy all the benefits that trees provide us! Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they offer shade in the summer, photosynthesis for oxygen and wood for building. This wonderful natural resource also enhances our quality of life, cleans the air, helps prevent water pollution and soil erosion, provides homes for birds and other wildlife and marks the seasons. Trees are well worth investing in and preserving.
If you are fortunate enough to have one or more trees on your property, it’s easy to take them for granted and let them grow without doing anything to help preserve and protect them. And many trees don’t need special attention to grow and thrive. But, like all living things, trees can benefit from preventative care. Being aware of and quickly responding to possible threats to their good health allows your trees to continue to provide all the wonderful benefits they bring to you and your property.
What to do to help your trees thrive
Annual inspections by an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist is a good idea. The arborist can identify pruning needs and ways to protect the tree from potentially damaging problems. Make sure the tree is getting enough water but also has proper drainage. Pools of water around the base of the tree can cause the tree to drown. Clear the deadwood from the tree and pull weeds so the tree gets the most nutrients from the soil.
What to watch for that can cause problems for your trees
Is your tree leaning? It’s not always a bad thing. Some trees were crowded while maturing and then self-corrected their upward growth, or the tree is exposed to continual high winds and has developed a strong root system to compensate. A tree suddenly starting to lean, however, indicates a problem that should be addressed promptly.
Does the tree have problematic bark or split tops? Deeper than normal cracks in tree bark or unusual amounts of peeling bark are worth noting. As are two distinct tops from one main trunk. Multiple tops weaken the tree as both tops take resources in the attempt to be the dominant stem of the tree.
Is there excessive deadwood or wood decay? Shedding an unusual number of limbs/branches indicates the tree is attempting to conserve resources by reducing its shape, which can mean there’s a problem. Tree decay often manifests as mushroom-like spores (aka conks) growing on the branches or trunk.
Are there indications of insects infesting the tree? There are three main types of insects that can endanger trees: those that bore into the stem, branches or roots, those that chew and attack the foliage or fruit and those that suck moisture from leaves and branches. Boring insects are the most dangerous.
How are the leaves and branches? Compare them to previous year cycles. Are there fewer leaves than normal? Are they changing color and falling at the normal times? Are they firmly attached? You can also break off a small branch, checking its color and flexibility. It’s good if it bends and the cambium tissue below the bark is green and damp. It’s concerning if the cambium is brown and dry and the branch was brittle.
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