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Tree Care Basics

 

Select the right tree for your area and take care of it

Choosing the right type of tree for where we live is important; knowing how to care for it through its growing stages and into adulthood is even more critical.

We don't really worry about the tree's health until warning signs arise. The leaves may be turning yellow and brown or they may be falling off in batches. You may see signs of infestation, such as partially eaten leaves or black spots.

You should consult a tree-care expert at the first sign of any of the above problems.

If leaves are dropping or changing from a bright green to dry brown or yellow, the tree roots may need some intensive aeration. One method for a quick fix is to poke holes into the ground. You'll need to go about twelve inches deep. Apply a combination of fertilizer and lava sand around the base of the tree and fill the holes. Add a layer of mulch. Water the area and monitor it with a water gauge.

Often, the problem lies in the tree species. There are few that should be avoided, especially the fast-growing types.

Cottonwood tops our list of trees that should be outlawed. Not only do they grow brittle as they age, risking everything in their path, their root system is massive and disruptive. In the spring, cotton begins to fly and can literally coat an entire neighborhood. The fluff can cause serious damage to air conditioning units blocks away from the culprit tree.

Other tree types to avoid include mimosas, which are disease magnets; poplars for being disease-prone and short-lived; and some pines, which can become diseased and seemingly infect an entire neighborhood.

If you're thinking of planting a young tree, here are a few tips to keep it healthy.

Do not add stakes. Choose a tree with a good root ball, plant it in sturdy soil and you probably will not need to stake it. This popular procedure can weaken a young tree.

Once you have dug a hole for the tree, replace the same soil around the root ball with no amendments. The tree's roots need to adapt to the existing environment; as the roots spread, it will have already made the adjustment.

Add a deep layer of mulch around the tree once it is planted. Insert a water probe about 12 inches down to monitor moisture.

For young and old trees, here are a few suggestions:

If you are expecting a lot of traffic in and around the tree, such as remodeling or even extensive foot traffic, barricade a wide area to protect the root system. This especially holds true for any type of digging exercise.

Quite a few people prune and that's a personal choice. Most experts frown on the whole trimming process, which causes a great deal of stress for the tree. Cutting back lower limbs or topping off a tree are injurious unless you are dealing with a dead area. If you do prune, make a slanted cut, rather than a flush cut. Slice just beyond the collar on a branch so the area can heal.

Many experts say that it is not necessary to paint cuts, which they believe can delay the healing time.

Again, always check with the professionals at your local nursery or garden center; they will know which trees are best for your area and for the soil types around your home. They can help with ailing trees and help you get the saplings in the ground and off to a good start.

 

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