Spring is upon us and it’s that time to take special care of your trees.
A tremendous amount of growth occurs during spring due to the stored nutrients the tree holds throughout winter. By the end of spring, the tree has used up most of these nutrients and will begin the process of photosynthesis or the making of new supplies of nutrients. In some cases, a tree may only have enough nutrients stored to begin leafing out but not enough to continue growing. This is why it is critical not to do your heavy pruning after spring.
Most routine pruning can be done year around with little effect on the tree. You can prune to remove weak, diseased, or dead limbs. As a rule of thumb, growth is maximized and wound closure is fastest if pruning takes place before the spring growth flush. Some trees, such as maples and birches, tend to “bleed” if pruned early in the spring. A few tree diseases, such as oak wilt, can be spread when pruning wounds allow spores access into the tree. Susceptible trees should not be pruned during active transmission periods.
Proper tree care of course occurs year around. So how can you care for your tree? Soil moisture is primary and yet not as easy as it may sound. Too much moisture or even too little can cause the tree to begin dying back. Tree soil needs to be moist between 12 to 18 inches of depth. You can check moisture depth by carefully digging or by using a soil probe after watering the root area.
Many people make the mistake in believing they are watering their tree when watering their yard. Trees do not typically get enough water this way. The lawn, which is competing with the tree, soaks up most of the moisture. Secondarily, thatch in the lawn will act as a water repellant. A better choice for watering your tree is to use soaker hoses or root waterers. Water must be applied all year around, even in dry winter periods.
The type of soil your tree is planted in is also important. There may be a variety of soils beneath your trees, from clay and alkaline to sand and silt. Determining what type of soil is beneath your trees will help you take steps in improving it. If you have a lot of clay soil, you may need to aerate it often to provide it with enough oxygen. If the soil is lacking nutrients you may have to fertilize it – not as much as you would in fertilizing the lawn.
To fertilize your trees, wait until the ground has completely thawed. This way the fertilizer will seep into the soil and not run off. As the weather warms, you can also begin removing tree wraps, if they have been used throughout the winter.
As for pruning your tree, you will want to do this in the spring as well, prior to the tree leafing out. To prune your tree, begin by removing damaged branches.
If you don’t have trees to care for yet, now is the time to put them in the ground. Visit your local nurseries and greenhouses for suggestions and recommendations for your area.
About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit http://www.centraltexastreecare.com.