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 for quick reference and expanded explanations of each step to the left of it.
Healthy Spring Tree Checklist
- Clean up! Prune and tend to trees.
Dead branches aren’t just an indicator that a tree may be unhealthy, they are also a potential safety risk. Remove 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. Completely remove any critical risk trees.
For flower beds, cut back perennials and trim fall flowering shrubs as appropriate.
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. Click to Enlarge
- 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! Avoid this improper mulching technique by ensuring that mulch is pulled 2 to 3 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.
- Inspect! Check and inspect trees and shrubs.
Most trees are leafing and flowering in spring. If one area is looking sparse, something might be wrong. Oftentimes 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 the 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 and fertilizing along with pest and disease treatments.
Caring for your trees means they’ll continue to reward you for years to come. Once you know that your trees and shrubs are healthy, you can start enjoying the beautiful spring weather.
About the Author
The Davey Tree Expert Company’s more than 8,600 employees provide tree care, grounds maintenance and environmental consulting services for the residential, utility, commercial and government markets throughout the U.S. and Canada. Davey has provided Proven Solutions for a Growing World since 1880 and has been employee-owned for 37 years.