Keeping your tree healthy and looking its best requires year-round maintenance. Often, the leaves are the first indicator you will notice of a tree’s health. If you discover that the leaves are discolored, falling too early in the year, or appear to be shriveling up, these are good signs that the tree itself is suffering. That’s why we recommend regular inspection and maintenance of your tree’s leaves. Here are 8 tips to keep your tree healthy throughout the year:
- Inspect the leaves regularly
There are a wide variety of diseases and afflictions that can affect trees, and many of them will cause the leaves to display symptoms. For example, if you happen to notice that your leaves are starting to yellow during the summer months, this could be a sign of a fungal infection. It could also be a sign of limited sunlight, or a lack of nutrients in the soil. As soon as you notice symptoms like these, it’s a good idea to call a tree service to inspect, diagnose and take steps to help your tree.
- Prune your trees regularly
As anyone who has had to care for trees knows, the importance of pruning cannot be overstated. Deciding how and when to prune your tree depends on a number of factors. The species of tree must of course be taken into account, as well as the purpose of the pruning. In most cases, the late winter is the best time to prune your tree as this is when invasive insects, bacteria and fungi are dormant. It will also improve the tree’s growth once spring arrives.. If, on the other hand, your tree is growing more than you would like, pruning during summer will help to slow this growth.
- Take preventative measures against disease
We’ve already mentioned keeping a regular eye on your tree to check for signs of disease; it’s important also to take preventative measures. Fungal spores are a frequent cause of illness in trees; as they spread through decomposing matter, it’s a good idea to regularly clean any dead plant matter out of your yard. You can also apply a fungicide to the bark of your tree. Make sure to do this before the spores begin to spread (usually in early spring) to ensure maximum effectiveness.
- Protect your tree from insects
Besides fungi, bacteria, and viruses, insects are also capable of doing great harm to your tree. While every tree will have insects living in it – many of which are beneficial, such as ladybugs – you will want to regularly check for signs of harmful insects. There are many types of insects that damage trees. While some will only cause cosmetic problems to the leaves, others are capable of doing greater harm or rendering the tree vulnerable to disease. Signs of insects include a very fine sawdust left around the tree (caused by borers such as the carpenter ant) or shriveled, yellowed leaves (often caused by aphids). The preventative measures you will need to take depend on the type of pest you’re dealing with. Aphids can be controlled with organic pesticides such as neem oil, while borer beetles require different pesticides along with the removal of any dead wood.
- Guard your tree from the weather
Extreme weather conditions can damage and weaken trees, even ones that are native to the Vancouver environment and accustomed to the local climate. Hot temperatures can lead to drought and dehydration, while extreme cold can cause stress and cracking bark. A layer of mulch around the base of your tree will help during any conditions; during the hot weather months it will help to trap moisture and during the colder season it will provide a layer of insulation, preventing the roots from freezing.
- Practice proper nutrition
Just like people, trees need proper nutrition or they will become unhealthy. Yellowed, wilting leaves are a possible sign of malnourishment in trees; you will need to check the pH of your soil regularly and make sure you are using the proper fertilizer for the species of tree you are growing. This is another issue that a professional will be able to help greatly; if you are unsure of what growing conditions would best suit your tree, contact an arborist or tree service for advice.
- Keep animals at bay
Especially during the winter months, when food is scarce, wild animals may look to your tree as a food source. Depending on where you live, your tree can be threatened by anything from mice to bears, and you will want to take proper precautions to keep these bothersome animals away. One option is to purchase a scented deterrent. This is a harmless spray that is scented with something strong that animals dislike, such as pepper, and it will cause most pests to think twice about using your tree’s leaves as food.
- Hire a professional
As we’ve already mentioned, the best way to keep your tree healthy is to have it regularly inspected by a professional. Just as a person needs regular check-ups at the doctor, a tree should occasionally be looked at by someone trained to ensure its health. A professional tree service can advise you on exactly what your tree needs, and if necessary, render whatever service it might require.