Mature Tree Care

A mature tree

Older trees need care too! Here's how:

  1. Mulch! A 2-4” thick layer of wood bark mulch around a tree makes all the difference in the world. Mulch helps to suppress weeds, maintains soil moisture, and provides nutrients to the tree. There is nothing better you can do for a mature tree than mulch. Ideally mulch will extend at least 2-3’ out from the tree, and can go as far the tree’s dripline if there is space available. However, the mulch should be in a donut shape with a hole in the center so that the mulch does not come within a hands-width distance from the trunk. Mulch piled around the base of the tree will lead to decay.
  2. Weed. Remove weeds, grass, and other plants from the base of the tree. Weeds rob the tree of the water and nutrients the tree needs to thrive. Replace surrounding weeds with a nice layer of mulch.
  3. Remove suckers. These are shoots growing up from the base of the tree, and are often a sign of stress. They should be pruned off as soon as they appear. Left alone, these shoots will grow very quickly and take over the tree, causing the decline of the main trunk and the possible creation of a safety hazard.
  4. Remove any circling objects. Anything wrapped around a tree such as a bike lock, stake tie, or holiday lights can choke the tree and cause its death over time. This is called girdling. Girdling can also occur when bark is removed in a complete circle around the trunk.
  5. Never top a tree. Cutting the top off your tree starves it and makes it prone to rot. This can turn it into a less stable or even hazardous tree. Topping will not work to keep your tree small and will create a maintenance headache. Trees can frame your view, adding to its beauty. Drastic pruning will cause the tree to grow broader and faster, and could eventually kill the tree.
  6. Water is important for all trees when it is hot and dry. Even mature trees may need one or two good soakings a month during the hot, dry season. The need for summer watering of mature trees is becoming more frequent as our summers become warmer and drier. Water slowly and throughout the root zone - not at the trunk.
  7. Remove invasive plants. English ivy is a common noxious weed and can strangle your tree. Protect your trees by cutting vines all the way around your tree. The upper vines will die and then you can remove the rooted plant.
  8. Protect the critical root zone of trees. Most tree roots are within the top two feet of soil, and they extend well beyond the ends of the branches. Building a patio or deck or replacing a sewer line can sever tree roots and eventually kill the tree.

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