Few landscape elements can grant as much charm to a property as healthy old trees. For its impressive size and overall majesty, a mature tree on your land is well worth preserving. To help you in that effort, here are the best ways to maintain the health of your existing trees.
Keep Your Soil Healthy
Along with moisture needs and sun exposure, soil quality is one of the most significant determiners of a plant’s continued health. High-quality soil contains all the nutrients that are essential to a tree’s future growth. The best soils also respond well, becoming moist while allowing any excess water to drain.
One of the best ways to ensure the health of your soil is to apply a topdressing. A few inches of organic mulch, such as bark mulch, will go a long way towards moderating soil temperature and moisture while breaking down into nutrients your old tree will eventually absorb.
Although it can be alluring to walk beneath a large tree canopy, you should try to minimize the times that you do so. Walking on the soil that sits above your tree’s roots causes it to collapse slightly in response to your body weight. With each footstep, you compact the soil making it more difficult for water and roots to move through it easily.
Do your best to prevent people from walking directly on top of your old tree’s roots. Often, you can use design elements such as edging or to prevent your garden visitors from compacting your soil. If you do, you’ll be giving your tree the best chance to expand and take in all the nutrients and water it needs.
Protect Your Tree’s Bark and Branches
Bark is a tree’s most important protective layer. While each tree species comes with a unique type of bark, all bark serves the same purpose — to protect the vital layers of plant tissue below the bark that carry water and nutrients throughout the tree.
Do your best to protect your tree from any scrapes, breaks, or other damage to its bark. Likewise, you should also be mindful of your tree’s branches. If you want your old tree to live its longest life, you should not place any extra weight on its branches.
Prepare Existing Trees for Construction Projects
Anytime you have an upcoming development or construction project coming up, you should take specific measures to protect your trees. Construction activities produce pollution that can harm your old trees. The vehicles involved in construction can also cause compaction or damage to tree bark.
For those reasons and more, you need to prepare your existing trees for any upcoming construction projects. Invest in some form of bark protection and set up a fence to keep workers and machines at a safe distance from your tree. Protecting the entire area beneath the tree canopy is ideal for keeping your tree’s roots and branches intact.
Give Your Old Trees the Water They Need
One of the best aspects of having an old tree in your yard is that they tend to be more self-sufficient than their younger counterparts. Compared to a young tree, mature trees are at a stage in life where they need less maintenance in the form of frequent watering and fertilization. But old trees still have a need for attentive care in some scenarios.
Old trees need the most attention during drought periods. In those cases, your tree will do well if you give it some water to keep its soil moist. Notice when there’s been a hot spell with little rain for a few weeks or more. Then, give your old tree the water it needs to continue to thrive.
Know the Signs of Tree Damage and Disease
The best way to keep an existing tree healthy is by being preventative. The sooner you can notice and identify signs of damage and disease on your old tree, the better of a chance you have of restoring your tree’s health. Here are a few of the most crucial signs that you should watch out for:
- Unusual spots or discoloration on foliage
- Broken or decaying limbs
- Cracks in bark
- Bleeding sap/fluid
- Mold and mildew
By no means is the list above represent all of the ways an old tree could exhibit signs of distress. But they should help you be vigilant in monitoring your tree’s health. Once you notice one of the signs above, you’re best off contacting a professional to come to assess your tree to see what should be done.
Large mature trees add a lot to the landscape. But we’ll have no chance to enjoy them if we don’t know how to care for them. If you are lucky enough to have old trees on your land, use the tips above to keep it in the best shape.