There’s nothing like living in the country and being surrounded by luscious greenery and trees. Not only do trees offer natural beauty and shade in the warm months, but they also increase property value. Unfortunately, trees can also be expensive to replace. Even a small tree can put you back a few hundred dollars. That’s why it’s worth knowing how to keep trees in your garden healthy and protect your investment. Here are ten tips to keep your garden green.
Leave Them Alone
The good news for tree owners is that they are relatively capable of taking care of themselves. Think of all the trees in rainforests that have survived by themselves for hundreds of years. Those trees didn’t need human intervention. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your tree is leave it alone.
Be Careful When Digging
Construction is the main hazard for mature trees, particularly construction involving heavy machinery. Even if the construction is happening a good distance from the tree, keep in mind that trees have expansive root systems. These roots extend up to three times as far as branches. This means that heavy machinery up to even sixty feet away could impact the soil or damage tree roots, slowly killing the tree over time.
If you’re planning on building something new in your garden, such as a shed or driveway, consider taking steps to protect your trees. Specify areas where heavy machinery can and can’t go. Consider marking the ground around the trees to make it clearer. Cordon off an area at least ten feet from the drip line of your trees, which is the farthest the branches reach.
Trees are No-Parking Zones
While you can park yourself under a tree with a good book, don’t leave your car under one. The soil under the car gets compacted over time, which damages and kills trees over time.
Be careful if you control your garden with mowers or weed whackers. These machines can be dangerous for trees, nicking away at bark and weakening trees, providing easy entry points for disease and pests.
Mulch Trees Regularly
You should apply mulch around the base of the tree. Apply a 1-4-inch-thick layer of shredded bark, wood chips, shredded autumn leaves, pine needles, straw, or your preferred biodegradable mulch. Start the mulch layer around an inch or two from the trunk of the tree and apply the mulch to either the drip point or at least three feet away from the base of the trunk. Mulch protects the tree against damage from lawn equipment, prevents weeds from growing, and helps keep soil moisturized.
Avoid Overdoing Water and Fertilizer
Your mature tree shouldn’t need much extra help when it comes to finding food and water. While trees do benefit from additional fertilizer and water for the first three to four years of their life, large trees can get damaged when given too much water or fertilizer. Trees can also be damaged by herbicides used in the garden. Remember that herbicides don’t distuingish between “good” and “bad” plant matter. This is another reason to put down that layer of mulch mentioned earlier. It will help you avoid putting chemicals down too close to tree roots.
Cut Back on Cutting Back
Another way you can help your tree by leaving it alone is by not pruning as much. Mature trees don’t require much pruning at all. The only things you have to remove from them are damaged and dead branches. You should also remove suckers that shoot up on the base of the tree. You can also trim thin and crowded growth, especially with fruit trees. However, other than that, your tree will mostly take care of itself. In any other case, refer to the 4-point care system for trees.
Learn About Tree Diseases
While it’s true your trees don’t need a lot of help from you, you should still keep an eye on them and learn about the dangers they face. Some tree diseases only affect specific tree species. Be sure to learn about the unique problems your trees may face. Get your hands on a reference book or other learning materials.
Walk the Property
Take regular walks around your property and take a good look at your trees as you do. Check the branches and leaves for insects and pests, dead twigs, mushrooms, and odd spots on leaves. Walking around your property is also good for your health of course.
Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy
Nothing offers quite as much beauty with quite as little work as a mature tree. Take a few minutes to sit back and appreciate the beauty of nature every now and then. You’ve got trees in your garden – you might as well enjoy them. n