Tree health and human health
Tree health is important for our health, the value of our homes and for the health of the planet. You don’t have to be an eco-warrior today to be aware that trees fight pollution and that through photosynthesis trees absorb the carbon dioxide that can cause problems. Healthy trees are important for our wellbeing too.
Mature trees and new trees
When we look at mature trees we get a connection with the past. There’s a good chance that right now you’re not too far from a tree that was planted or started to grow before you were born!
When we plant young trees and decide to care for older trees it’s as if something inside is saying quietly ‘we’re going to look forward to the future, we want to leave something for the next generation’. There are trees alive today that were planted and cared for 500 years ago!
‘we’re going to look forward to the future, we want to leave something for the next generation’
Tree care and maintenance
Like children, trees do best when appreciation, smiles and love is mixed with a good dose of practical and physical care.
So, let’s look at some practical ways to care for the trees in your care.
Trees and the environment
The starting point is to remember that trees are part of the surrounding landscape. To nurture and maintain your tree stock in your garden or site you need an eye on how close the buildings are, the space available for growth and the quality and type of soil for the roots. It’s all about keeping your eyes open, good planting practise, and lifetime care. Don’t worry it’s rewarding work.
5 practical tree care tips for the garden
Here are our 5 tips for short and long term tree care and management:
Tree care tip #1 – Watering when young and in drought
There are 2 times in the life of a tree when you need to water – when it’s young and in times of drought.
The first 2 seasons after planting are the most critical for tree health. If the weather is very dry then 5 watering cans a week will usually make sure that water reaches right down to the depth of the growing root system. Of course your soil type will always affect how water is held.
Well established trees shouldn’t really need watering unless common sense is telling you that a long period of drought is harming the tree.
Tree care tip #2 – Mulching.
A mulch of older wood chip, leaf mould, bark, or well rotted manure, has 3 main benefits for the care, health and maintenance of your tree. Use biodegradable mulch to:
- suppress weeds which will compete for water and nutrients in the soil
- retain moisture by slowing down water evaporation from the surface of the soil
- provide a slow release fertiliser
Place the mulch in a circle around the tree about 4” deep. Leave a hole (like a donut) in the middle for the tree trunk – mulch should not touch the tree stem. Mulching, (best applied from late spring to autumn), has the added benefit of acting as a tidy ‘border’ which reduces maintenance time in the garden.
Tree care tip #3 – Weeding Young Trees.
There’s always a competition happening in your garden. Weeds, grasses and nearby plants are always looking for a share of the soil nutrients, soil moisture and available light. So, keep a good 3 ft diameter around your tree trunk free of turf or other plants.
In the Spring, when weeds get a growth spurt, hoeing, hand pulling or hand weeding can be good for the soul and give your trees a fighting chance of survival.
If physical weeding doesn’t appeal then you can buy weed suppressant groundcover or landscaping fabric which will kill established weeds and prevent new growth.
Tree care tip #4 – Protecting Young Trees.
When you’ve been to the garden centre and planted your new tree the work of protection begins. Protect your tree from:
- Lawn equipment – Lawn mowers and strimmers which damage the layers of trunk behind the bark can interfere with water take up and also provide easy access for pests and disease.
- Chemical damage – Herbicides and pesticides designed for other areas of the garden can burn growing tissue.
- Wind damage– strong wind in exposed locations can stress, bend and kill young trees.
Tree boards and protectors work well as a physical protection barrier. Protection from chemical damage is all about watchful application and wind stress can be reduced by the use of tree stakes and ties – 3 simple ways to protect your young trees.
Tree care tip #5 – Pruning
This is where tree health becomes tree safety too. That’s why it’s best to get a professional eye on it.
Tree pruning is the removal of dead branches. It improves the quality of the flowers you see, the fruit you might eat and the general health of the wood. Careful pruning regulates the size of the tree in relation to the space in your garden and helps reduce disease. There are 3 main pruning jobs to be done:
‘where tree health becomes tree safety’
- Crown thin – Thinning of smaller outside branches lets more light into the tree, reduces dangerous resistance to the wind and reduces the weight of the tree
- Crown lift or crown raising – Removing of some of the lower branches to let more light in or better access under the tree
- Crown reduction – Reducing the height and spread of the top part of the tree so that it ‘fits in’ better, allows more light through and reduces the stresses produced by the weight of so much timber.
A competent tree surgeon will look at your tree and advise and explain all of these options. (This tip is as simple as picking up the phone :))
Finally, tree care and maintenance is as good for people (some not even born yet) as it is for trees.
With a mix of diy and professional help your garden can become a place of joy. If you’d like to talk to us about pruning your special tree then get in touch
In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.