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Partner Post: Prepare Trees for Spring in Four Easy Steps

New blooms, warm rain, and bright sunshine are just a few reasons to love spring. Sleeping plants slowly awaken and the birds sing with joy. A quick look around tells you it’s time to start working on your landscape.

Spring is a great time to give trees the extra TLC they need to make it through the rest of the year. Prepare your trees for warm, sunny days with this springtime checklist.

Healthy Spring Tree Checklist:

1. Clean up! Prune and tend to trees.

Dead branches aren’t just an indicator that the tree may be unhealthy, they are also a potential safety risk. Clean up unsafe branches that were damaged by winter weather. 

In general, never prune more than 25 percent of your tree's foliage at one time. Use sharp, clean tools to make small cuts. Any pruning that cannot be managed from the ground should be handled by a certified arborist. Remove completely any critical risk trees.

For flower beds, cut back perennials and trim fall flowering shrubs as appropriate.

2. Prepare!  

With storm season arriving soon, homeowners need to protect their homes and families.  Identifying and fixing a potentially damaging tree could mean saving thousands of dollars or even your home.

Cable, brace or remove weak limbs to prepare for severe weather. Consider lightning protection installation on mature or treasured trees in advance of spring storms.

3. Plant and Care! Mulch your landscape.

Spring is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs. Consult a certified arborist or your local garden center professional to determine the right tree for your space. 

Mulching is one of the most beneficial practices a homeowner can use for better tree health. It conserves soil moisture, controls weeds, reduces potential damage from mowers and provides the organic matter trees need beneath the soil surface. But do not volcano mulch! Ensure mulch is pulled 2 inches to3 inches away from the trunk, allowing the base of the tree to be exposed. This lets moisture escape, reducing the growth of fungi and minimizing the risk of decay.

Apply a slow-release fertilizer before trees and shrubs enter peak growing season. This replaces nutrients and helps to reduce potential injury from certain diseases, insects and stress. The right fertilizer provides balanced nutrients to the landscape and is part of a good soil health program. Ask your local arborist for advice on the right fertilizer for your trees, region and soil.

4. Look Up! Check and inspect trees and shrubs.

Most trees are leafing and flowering in spring. If one area is looking sparse, something might be wrong. Often times when a tree is stressed, branches die from the top, or crown, down. Tree stress can be caused by insects, diseases, drought, soil compaction or root disease.

Check leaves. Yellowing leaves could be a sign of excess water from winter or spring storms, indicating poor soil drainage and too much moisture.

While healthy trees bend along with the wind, decayed wood may crack and break. Look for wounds, holes and cankers or peeling bark. Inspect trees and shrubs for insects and diseases.

Finally, check the roots. Look for stunted growth, discolored, loose, or soft wood and fungi growing near the base of the tree. Certain fungi can weaken wood tissue, resulting in cracks, seams and other internal wounds.

Trees showing signs of stress should be cared for immediately. Consider enlisting a professionally trained arborist for further inspection and maintenance. An arborist can evaluate trees for problems and provide options for services such as pruning, fertilizing, and pest and disease treatments.

Caring for your trees means they’ll continue to reward you for years to come. Once you know your trees and shrubs are healthy, you can start enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

About the Author

Jason Gaskill is the Assistant District Manager for Davey Tree’s Wilmington, Delaware, office. He is a graduate of The University of Delaware, an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist #PD-1566A and a Tree Care Industry Association Certified Tree Care Safety Professional. Jason will celebrate 6 years of service with Davey Tree this October, and can be reached at the office at 610-358-5542. With nearly 9,500 employees throughout North America, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides solutions for residential, utility, commercial and government clients. Rooted in research, the company’s vision is to achieve balance among people, progress and the environment. Tree experts since 1880, Davey provides diversified tree services, grounds maintenance and environmental services. Celebrating 40 years of employee ownership, Davey is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Kent, Ohio. Want to join us? Discover your Davey career, and apply today.