The fall is an excellent time to give your trees a little bit of TLC. As the leaves begin to thin and the growing season comes to an end, you can get a better picture of what your tree is really doing. By taking a few steps in the fall, you can protect your trees from winter damage and also encourage healthy growth in the spring. Fall is also an excellent time to give some attention to tree care because the temperatures are cooler but not too cold. As you are preparing to care for your trees this fall, consider these fall tree care tips.
Fertilizing Your Trees
Trees, just like all types of plants and shrubs, gain nutrients from the soil. During the summer they pull quite a bit of nutrition from the soil, but in the winter they still need to feed. Fertilizing with a slow-release fertilizer will replace nutrients that the roots pulled out of the soil during the summer growing season. The right fertilizer will deliver needed nutrients to the root system to keep them growing well all year long. After fertilizing, spend some time watering and then lay a layer of mulch over the top of the soil. The mulch will help add organic matter to the soil and prevent moisture loss throughout the winter.
Winterizing Your Trees
Winterizing your trees means preparing them while dormant for the harsh realities of cold winter weather. Extreme weather, including cold, ice and snow, can put them under tremendous stress, so now is the time to prepare.
First, make sure you prune in the fall. Fall is a good time to do this because you can better see the structure of the tree when the leaves start to fall. Pruning will prepare the trees for vigorous growth in early spring because it reduces stress. Find branches that are dead or at risk for dying, and prune them back. Prune branches as close to the trunk as possible, because branches that are pruned in the middle can die and add to the tree’s stress. If you are not sure how to properly prune a tree, talk to the pros at Senske for advice.
Next, consider removing trees that look to be unsafe. Trees that have more dead branches than healthy ones or who have obvious damage to their trunks are at risk of falling, and the weight of snow or ice can cause them to tumble at an inopportune time in the winter. Taking it down in the fall is a much safer choice.
Finally, remove the buildup of leaves and branches around the base of the tree. These are not healthy for the tree or the lawn surrounding it, and if you allow them to stay all winter they will become compacted and create problems in the growing season. Keeping your yard tidy in the fall is healthier for your trees, shrubs, grass and other plants.
Protect Your Trees
As you prepare for winter, make sure you are adding the protections they need to start the growing season out strong. When you are pruning, take a look for signs of weak limbs. The weight of snow and ice can cause these to snap. If you do not wish to prune them, use a cable or brace to support them.
If you have young or new trees, consider wrapping the base with a hard, plastic guard to add protection from extreme weather or the actions of animals. Then, when spring arrives you can remove the wrap and allow the tree to grow again. This can also protect the tree from accidental damage from snow plows or shovels.
Finally, take the time to inspect your trees for signs of insect pests or disease. If you notice problems, take care of them now, before the tree reaches another growing season. Common signs of pests or disease include:
- Growths on the trunk
- Shelves on the trunk
- Black flowers
- Yellowing or browning leaves in the growing season
- Mildew on the leaves
- Spotting on the leaves
- Physical damage from pests
- Holes and wounds from pests
If you notice any of these signs, get professional help to know how to best address the problem. The sooner you work to protect your trees, the healthier they will be next year when you are ready to enjoy them once again.
Your trees bring many benefits to your yard. From shade to the aesthetics, you want to do all you can to protect and nurture them. The team at Senske is ready to help. For assistance with your fall tree care, talk to our certified arborists, and let us help you give your trees a healthy, hearty winter to prepare them for excellent growth in the spring.