Trees provide us with so much, including shade, clear air, moderate temperatures and a beautiful environment. In order to enjoy all of the gifts that trees have to offer, it is necessary to maintain them.
The single most important and simple aspect of tree maintenance is watering. A standard 6-foot or 2-meter tree requires at least 30 liters of water a week. What should be understood is that young trees are not able to tap into the underground water supply due to lack of deep roots. Therefore, it is essential to water young trees at proper intervals.
The method of watering trees should be slow and deep. Avoid watering during the day (especially around noon), as a lot of water tends to evaporate. Instead, try watering early in the day or later in the evening.
Another important thing to remember is that once the tree has been planted in the ground, it is almost impossible to over water the tree. After around 4 years, the watering can be reduced gradually.
It’s also important to be vigilant about weeds when it comes to young trees. Weeds compete for water and nutrients in the soil and hinder the growth of young trees, so it is necessary to periodically carry out weeding. Adding mulch (a mixture of natural, organic materials like wood chips, dry leaves, etc) helps to increase moisture and fertility and insulates soil along with inhibiting the growth of weeds. The mulch should be slightly composted, so that it does not leach nitrogen from the soil while decomposing. The mulch should have a maximum depth of 4 to 6 inches.
Some young trees have weak stalks, so their trunks tend to bend. Staking these trees can help with maintaining proper structure as well as control over growth of the tree. In places where animals such as dogs or cats roam free, adding a guard rail around the perimeter further facilitates tree maintenance.
Inspecting a tree’s health is a professional’s job, but there are a few signs that can tell about a trees health. If the growth of a tree is less compared to previous years, it could be a sign of lack of proper nutrition or water, or disease and poor health. Smaller leaves can be a sign of dehydration and drought.
Checking for dead branches will help bring any problems to light. Dead branches are hard and snap when bent, but healthy branches are easy to bend and supple. The bark of a tree should not be loose or peeling off (apart from certain trees like eucalyptus or maple). Wilting of a tree may be due to lack of water, too little sun, or disease, but it also may be due to other causes like overfertilization or overwatering.
Pruning is another important task in tree maintenance. Pruning helps to increase visibility and public safety. Pruning requires knowing terms such as branch ridge, which is the raised area where the branch meets the parent stem or truck, and branch collar, which is the area just around the branch ridge. (The branch collar is part of the parent stem or trunk.) While cutting, it is important to remember to cut as close to the branch collar as possible, but not cut the collar or ridge. The most common way of pruning a branch is to cut the major part of the branch first, while leaving about a foot or so of branch connected to the trunk. This small part of the branch can then be pruned with precision, thus preventing any damage to the branch ridge and collar.