How Should I Care For My Trees?
Mulching - One of the most beneficial one can take to enhance a tree's health is to apply a layer of mulch around the base, covering as much of the "drip line" (area from the trunk to the ends of branches) as possible. Mulch should be applied no closer than 5 inches to the trunk, and should be applied 2-4 inches deep. Hardwood grindings, bark chips, or even pine straw are fine for most trees, and should be applied 2-4 inches deep. This keeps moisture in the ground, conditions the soil, and protects surface roots from damage.
Trimming - A sick or stressed tree need not always be cut down. There are four main types of trimming operations that will advance the health and aesthetic value of of your trees, and in turn, add value to your property.
- General Pruning - This should be done to most trees periodically for several reasons. The most common is to remove dead or damaged limbs before they fall (causing damage), or before there decay reaches a main limb or trunk (which can cause lasting problems for the entire tree). Pruning is also done to keep limbs from damaging your home or other structures.
- Raising the canopy - Removing the lower limbs up to a desired point is most often done to allow more sunlight to reach grassy areas. Another person is to clear a roof, power line or other structures.
- Thinning the canopy - Often on trees with dense foliage, interior branches will recieve inadequate sunlight and die off. In other cases, trees under stress will grow small chutes (called "water sprouts) from the trunk and along main branches. In both cases these should be removed and the canopy thinned for the long term health of the tree. On large, potentially havardous trees, thinning the canopy will reduce the weight that the trunk must support and will reduce wind pressure on the tree by allowing the wind to pass through more easily.
- Crown Reduction - If your goal is to "make the tree smaller" , a crown reduction is what your tree needs. This is done by pruning the outer portions of all main branches to reduce their length. This must be done carefully and selectively by an experienced professional. On a Bradford Pear tree, this operation performed at the 10-20 year mark, will keep the tree from splitting and allow it to live out a full, healthy life.
These services can be performed moderately at any time of the year, but on most trees, any extensive pruning or crown reduction should be done between the months of November and February. Generally, not more than 20-25% of the live canopy of the tree should be removed in a single operation. These guidelines make for a healthier, safer, and more attractive tree.
When Should I Remove a Tree?
When deciding whether to remove a tree, we look at several different risk factors. Generally, if a tree two or more of the following risk factors, or one that is extreme, we reccomend removing the tree.
Weight Distribution - Most of the time, a tree will collapse in the direction it is weighted. If a tree is leaning significantly or has all of its growth on one side, this puts uneven stress on the root system, and the tree stands a chance of uprooting. If there are valuable "targets" in the direction of the weight such as a house, power lines or a trafficked area, this may be reason enough to remove the tree.
Trunk Damage - Regardless of whether a tree's canopy appears healthy, trunk damage can render a tree structurally unstable. If you can see a cavity or outward signs of decay any place on the trunk (especially at the base), then the tree's stability may be in a steady decline. Once the decay process has started, it is irreversible.
Ground Conditions - There are several ground conditions that decrease the stability of a tree, regardless of its health. The first is the slope of the ground - A steep slope provides a less stable foundationfor a tree than flat ground. Another risky position for a tree is right along a creek or a river bed. In this case, the dirt underneath the tree is being constantly eroded away and the tree will eventually collapse. A third hazardous location is one where water collects and keeps the ground wet. Less firm soil means less "grip" for the roots. This is why many trees uproot in heavy rainstorms - the combination of a soggy ground and high winds is enough to bring down even the most healthy, well-established tree.
Multiple Dead Limbs - When a tree has several large dead limbs (roughly 25% or more of the total canopy), this is a sign of a serious circulatory problem. If you look closer, you will probably notice trunk decay or a disturbance of the root system. The tree is likely in a decline toward death. If the dead branches are over a structure or play area, either the branches or the tree should be removed.
Eight Signs of a Sick Tree
Your trees provide shade, beauty and character to your home and yard. The last thing you want is to cut down atreasured tree that doesn't need removed. But a sick tree can be a danger to both your house and your family. If you suspect that one of your trees is sick or damaged, check to see if it displays any of the following indicators of a tree in trouble:
- Mushroom-type fungi growong at the base of the tree
- Sawdust along the trunk base or root zone
- Cracks in the trunk or major limbs
- Hollow or decayed areas
- Wilted or discolored leaves
- Insect damage
- Dead branches
- Man-made wounds
If you have a sick tree and want it removed, call a reputable insured company like North East Tree Service Ltd. Offering custom removal services that match your needs and budget. If you love your sick tree and want to know if it can be saved, we can still help. We have the technology and expertise to determine if your tree can be nursed back to health, or if it has to go.
Even if the tree can't be saved, it's important to prune dead, diseased or damaged branches promptly . Not only can diseased branches cause further problems with the tree, a large falling branch can cause considerable damage in its own right.