Newly planted trees require special care for their first few growing seasons. By watching for problems and using gardening products like the Ross Root Feeder and refills, you can ensure your plants grow healthy and strong.
Keep trees hydrated by maintaining a grass-free, mulched circle around the base of the trunk. Mulch cools the soil, conserves water and reduces weeds. Thin out excessive branches to reduce competition for sunlight, help develop trunk caliper and promote branch strength.
A well-kept landscape makes a good first impression on visitors, and healthy trees contribute greatly to the value of a home. They reduce energy costs by providing cooling shade in summer and shelter from winter winds, and they enhance the property’s aesthetic beauty and value, as well as provide a variety of environmental benefits.
While many people don’t seek out tree services unless they are already in trouble, preventative care can help to minimize or even avoid potential problems before they arise. This approach includes pruning, fertilization and insect control. By promoting these preventative measures, you can build a client base that is more likely to continue seeking your expertise when they need it.
The best way to prevent future issues is to keep a close eye on your clients’ property and trees. Look for signs that could indicate a problem, like holes or exposed roots. Also, watch for signs of damage or disease such as cavities, thinning bark, and fungus growth. A fungal infection that starts at the bottom of a tree, for instance, can quickly spread and destroy it.
If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with an arborist as soon as possible to assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatments. Trees, though dominant features in the landscape, share their roots with turfgrasses and other plants, meaning they may be competing for the same water and nutrients. In addition, they are often affected by soil conditions and climate.
Proper maintenance can improve soil structure, allowing the roots to absorb moisture and minerals. It can also help to prevent overgrowth that could interfere with the surrounding plants’ growth and detract from the overall appearance of the garden.
Pruning not only removes dead branches but stimulates new growth by enhancing overall sunlight penetration and air circulation. It also prevents existing damage from spreading and possibly causing long-term damage or even tree death.
Pruning is a preventative way to protect your plants from disease, insects, and to maintain their shape. It’s also an effective way to help them grow in their environment by removing branches that are crowded, weak or dead.
The best time to prune is before the buds begin to swell in early spring and before deciduous trees and fruit plants come out of their dormant period. Pruning is a delicate balance of removing unhealthy limbs while encouraging healthy ones to grow in their place. For this reason, pruning is usually left to professional arborists and tree care professionals.
When pruning, it’s important to make precise cuts so that the wounds heal in a timely manner. This means using sharp pruning equipment and not cutting too close to the trunk of a tree. It’s also important to never leave a branch or stub that extends past what is called the stem collar. This small lip of bark is the junction of a branch to the main trunk, and leaving it extended beyond this point will cause rot.
Lastly, it’s also important to remove suckers as they form. These are the weedy looking, weak branches that grow at the base of a mature tree or shrub. These weak branches are not desirable, and they steal energy from the plant that could be used to promote healthier growth and to produce flowers or fruits.
For ornamental and fruit trees, there are several different types of pruning that may be required. For example, thinning or crown thinning reduces the overall size of a tree while structural cuts improve a tree’s strength and structure. Pruning can be done at any time, but the earlier it’s done, the better.
Many spring-flowering and summer-flowering plants (such as rhododendron, azalea, forsythia, mountain laurel, rose of Sharon, lilac, and crape myrtle) benefit greatly from being pruned immediately after blooming since their flowers are produced on wood that is produced the same year. For shrubs, such as hydrangeas, coralberry, beauty bush and snowberry, pruning should be done in late winter or early spring before new growth starts.
Trees need water to grow and stay healthy. If your region experiences extended periods of hot, dry weather it’s important to make sure your trees have adequate hydration. Even established trees can suffer from stress due to lack of water. Keeping a check on their moisture levels is especially important in the fall, when they may need extra watering to prepare for winter weather and protect against frost.
The amount of water a tree needs depends on a variety of factors, including soil type and the species of the tree. For example, clay-based soil is tightly compact and can hold on to moisture longer than sandy soil. Young trees need more frequent and deeper watering than mature trees. Also, some trees are more tolerant of drought than others, while still other trees are not. If you’re planting new trees, make sure to choose drought-tolerant varieties if possible.
When watering, focus on the roots, not the leaves or trunk of the tree. The roots are where the water and nutrients are taken up, so it’s important to get them hydrated. Check the soil for moisture, aiming for a deep soaking – 12-24 inches deep.
Water the soil under and around the root zone of the tree, and extend that area to the drip line of the canopy (where the foliage falls). Watering the area beyond the canopy helps your tree grow into its surroundings.
Avoid letting the soil become too saturated, which can cause root rot or lead to other problems in the landscape. Overwatering can also cause a condition known as water stress, which is when a tree loses moisture through its leaves and can’t replace it. This causes droopy, wilted leaves and can predispose the tree to insect infestation. Ideally, water new or recently planted trees at night to reduce evaporation and encourage root uptake. Afterwards, mulch the area to help conserve water and keep the soil hydrated.
When young, trees need plenty of hydration and nutrients to help them establish. To provide this, water the ground around the base of your tree weekly and feed it with slow-release fertilizer spikes to get deep hydration where it counts. These are especially critical during the first three years of growth.
Insects can damage the health of a garden and even kill it, but many can be controlled by using the right methods. Examine plants and soils on a regular basis for pest activity, noting the presence of insect excrement or holes in leaves or fruit. Look for caterpillars, beetles and other larvae that chew their way through leaf tissue. Look for twiggy stems or twisted branches that show signs of feeding damage. Record this information to identify problems as they develop and to monitor your success in controlling insects.
If you are growing organically, there are a wide variety of products that can be used to control pests. These include fungicides, bactericides, plant extracts, mating disruptors, repellents and more. When choosing an organic pesticide, be sure to read the label and follow application instructions closely. Some pesticides can have a negative impact on natural enemies (parasitoids and predators), so choose carefully.
In some cases, the best approach to managing a pest infestation is to create barriers that exclude the problem. This can be as simple as placing a “cutworm collar” around the stem of young transplants to prevent cutworm infestation or more complex as a woven row cover designed to allow light, air and moisture through but block insects.
Mulching can also help protect your tree roots and keep the soil around them moist. Avoid letting the mulch touch the trunk of your tree, however, as this can lead to rot and insect infestation. Use 2 to 4 inches of mulch that is not piled too high. Mulch also insulates the roots of your tree, protects it from lawn mower cuts and helps to prevent dry soil under the canopy. Be sure to remove any grass within the drip zone of the tree.