5 tips to maintain your trees
Published on September 28, 2022
Growing a tree on your land involves much more than just sowing a seed in the ground. It’s one of the most effective ways to battle heat islands, not to mention it adds aesthetic value and improves your property value
But where to begin to care for your trees if you weren’t born with a green thumb?
Let our tips be your guide to boosting the health of your vegetation and creating an envy-inducing paradise.
Care from day one
Whenever possible, start maintaining your trees as soon as they’re planted.
If care is consistent, they will better resist pests, disease and stress as they grow.
If you have young or recently planted trees, water them often so the soil remains moist during the summer. You’re helping them to establish roots.
When they reach the age of three, water them so the soil is moist to a depth of about 15 cm. This way, your trees will absorb enough moisture.
As for more mature trees, you should water them less often, but use enough water to soak the roots. Older trees in particular tend to need water during dry periods.
For constant watering, explore watering rings or bags (also called irrigation bags). New on the horticultural scene, these bags are recommended especially for young transplanted trees. Perforated bags provide slow release watering that continuously keeps the soil slightly moist. These bags promote new root development and help reduce transplant shock.
Regularly eyeball your trees and shrubs. Be on the lookout for any signs of fungus, disease or pest infestation. If identified in time, your greenery will have a much better chance of survival.
To spray or not to spray... that is the question
The lure of pesticides may be a tempting way to get rid of anything marring your tree’s beauty. It’s recommended not to go down this path. Repeated and excessive use of pesticides is toxic for human health and harms plant diversity.
If you feel you must, go with a low-impact insecticide.
For young trees, spread 10 to 15 cm of mulch within a one-metre radius of the trunk. And top it up every year.
As a matter of fact, mulch...
- retains moisture
- stabilizes ground heat
- shelters roots from trampling, lawnmowers, etc.
- reduces erosion
- prevents weed development
4. Stakes and protecting trees
Do you really need to stake every transplanted tree? Not necessarily. Trees a few centimetres tall will successfully develop a root system without the help of a stake.
Trees a metre or more tall bought at a nursery do need a helping hand to continue developing their root system and stabilize.
Choose a strap that will not injure the bark on your tree. Any injury to the trunk will weaken it and leave it less resistant to illness and pests.
Pesky rodents drool over fruit trees, particularly in the winter when they munch through bark.
Foil their evil plan by installing plastic or wire mesh. Those in stock at nurseries can be wrapped around the trunk. During installation, start by covering the base of the tree and work your way upward.
A stake and its attachment must be removed once the tree firmly takes root. As a general rule, staking should remain in place for three years or less. Beyond this point, the stake could injure your tree and leave scars.
Fall is the time to protect your trees from harsh winter weather. Cover those exposed to strong winds and snowblower spray with jute, synthetic material or plastic netting.
Tie branches to prevent them from breaking during cold snapsn.
Remove any coverings when spring arrives. Gently remove them so as to not endanger growing buds.
In principle, a healthy tree doesn’t need to be fertilized. A bit of compost every three to five years is more than enough to do the trick because these trees soak up nutrients from nearby lawns and flowerbeds.
You’ll have to get involved the next year if a tree has been damaged by weather, rodents or disease. Choose a nitrogen-rich fertilizer (2-1-1 ratio) that you can apply in the spring just before bud break.
You can also fertilize a tree damaged during the year once the leaves have changed colour in the fall. A potassium-rich mixture (1-2-1 ratio) is then recommended.
Increase your chances of success
As an owner, you are responsible for maintaining the trees on your property. Weak or damaged trees can indeed cause significant damage to your place or the one next door.
Damage caused by your trees is generally covered by your home insurance. Damage can result from a sudden and unexpected event, such as violent winds.
Filing a claim can be more difficult if the damage was caused by negligence. It’s best to stay on top of your tree care.