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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.

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