Summer – time to get the lawn and landscape beds in shape and to enjoy the great outdoors. And, it’s also important to take care of your trees too. Here are some tree care tips…
Trees require water all year round, and in the Atlanta metro area, approximately 1 inch per week. Most years, trees get that from nature because our average annual rainfall is 50 inches. When trees don’t get that, they become stressed, and therefore vulnerable to attack by predators, fungi, etc. If you water your trees, you reduce that stressor, and help your trees stay healthy. A browning lawn may well draw your attention but look out for wilted foliage as a sign of the impact on your trees. A good rule of thumb for tree watering is this, if your tree’s leaves are wilted in the morning, the tree needs water. Wilted leaves at the end of a hot day are normal.
An effective watering plan covers the entire area within the drip line of your tree’s canopy. Use a sprinkler and place a shallow dish within the spray pattern. Stop watering that area when the depth of water in the dish reaches 1 inch. That’s enough for the week. And 4 inches per month is adequate too. Don’t go over the top – as over-watering can be as bad as no watering.
Limit pruning during the heat of summer. Simply remove dead, diseased or damaged branches and open up a little light for nearby shrubs and grass. Small diameter cuts only please. Remember that pruning is a stressor too and the larger the cut produces the most stress. Click here Check out our pruning video. It is a 3 minute video entitled How to trim a Japanese maple; however, it applies to almost all tree pruning.
The state of your soil is vitally important – this will be where most issues you encounter later on will begin. Use a three-inch layer of mulch to help soil retain its moisture but don’t allow this to touch the trunk of the tree – creating a ‘donut hole’.
Avoid hanging, nailing or tying anything to your tree to keep the bark in the best possible condition. Consider a guard around the base for the best protection.
The rigors of a long winter may well have weakened your tree and don’t forget that the summer can be pretty stormy too at times. Consider trimming weak or damaged limbs, and reducing long branches to protect them and prevent a hazard.
Be careful with these – using them in and around a tree to tackle weeds can actually cause damage to trees. Don’t view anything in the yard in isolation.
Be on the lookout for sawdust or small wood chips around the base of the tree trunk, oozing bark, pitch tubes stuck on the side of the trees, white dust in holes in the trunk (or strange ‘toothpicks’ sticking out the side of trunks and branches), mushrooms around the base of the tree, wilted leaves in the mornings. Most tree issues can be treated if done so early on. Don’t wait to call an arborist for help.