Spring is the perfect time to review your trees and get them prepared for the season of growth. This quick list will provide you with guidance and tips to set your trees up for a successful growing season.
- Cleaning – “spring cleaning” is not just for the interior of your home. This is a very simple step involving cleaning the area surrounding the tree. Rake around the base of the trunk and under the canopy, a minimum 3’ out from the base of the tree, removing old fallen leaves, twigs, and fruit as they can become a breeding ground for unwanted fungal growth. If perennials, groundcover, or vines are growing in the tree ring or planting bed, check for garbage and remove it. Over the winter months, it is easy for garbage to blow in and get nestled under plant material.
- Mulch – check to ensure tree rings and planting beds have 3” – 4” of mulch. Laying mulch against the tree trunk is highly discouraged as it will retain moisture against the trunk encouraging fungal growth. Leave approximately a 6” gap between the mulch and the base of the tree and extend the mulch as far out towards the dripline (the outer reaches of the branches), as possible. Be sure to install the mulch level and at all costs avoid “volcano” mulching. If no tree ring(s) exists, consideration should be given to the establishment of them.
Mulch is exceptionally beneficial to trees and woody ornamentals. To name a few, mulch allows for the soil to retain water rather than quickly evaporating under the hot sun or swiftly running off to the sewer, mulch is fantastic in weed suppression, mulch ensures organic matter is being added to the soil profile and mulch provides a nice buffer to reduce accidental tree damage from equipment such as lawnmowers and string trimmers.
- Visual inspection – during the winter, our landscape is exposed to extreme weather such as sleet, snow, and winds. Look for any damage; broken branches, cracked branch unions, dead limbs. Keep an eye out for abnormalities such as loose, detached or missing bark, animal damage, or fungal growth.
Scout for early spring insects. Many leaf-eating insects and mites that appear early spring, just as the leaves emerge, can be controlled with dormant oils. Treating to prevent damage from these pests are critical to maintaining or improving tree health. Dormant oils are safe and effective treatments that aid in the suffocation of over-wintering pests before they can develop into adults to cause plant injury.
Seek the help and advice of an ISA certified arborist to determine if treatments or other remedial strategies are warranted. When in doubt, take a photograph of what you are seeing on your tree and send it to your sales arborist.
- Pruning – contact your sales arborist and pass along any observations you made during the visual examination of your tree. It is important to remember professional arborists have the training, education, and equipment to properly prune trees.
- Water – trees use an extraordinary amount of water during dormancy break and as they develop their new leaf tissue. To ensure your trees are performing at their peak potential, be sure to provide supplemental water during periods of low rainfall to encourage good leaf and shoot growth. Check soil moisture, minimum once a week, 6” – 8” below the surface. Soil should be moist, not wet. If you have an underground irrigation system, inspect it for any leaks or clogged sprayer heads or drippers.