Advice on Maintaining Trees in your Garden

Trees can add an element of class to you home and look wonderful in a well-landscaped garden. They can also be a pain when their roots start affecting your home or their branches interfere with electricity and telephone wires. If you keep your trees well maintained you can enjoy the pleasure they provide in your garden with no problems. Here is a guide to keeping your trees healthy and out of trouble.

You need to consistently care for your trees for them to have constant health. You are responsible for your trees under the Common and Statute Law to make sure they are safe and do not pose a risk to any visitors or pedestrians walking by. Here are some of the things you need to do to keep your trees healthy and safe:

Watering

This one isn’t rocket science but your trees need to be adequately watered to remain healthy. The first three years of your trees life is the most important time for watering. The most critical time to water your trees is between May/June to September. Obviously in the UK it rains a lot so you can judge whether the weather has taken care of it or not. After year 4 you don’t need to give your tree as much attention.

Mulching

Mulching basically means that you make sure moisture is available at the roots and that the tree isn’t competing too heavily with grass. When you mulch a tree you place either leaves, bark, needles and/or fine wood chips in a ring around the tree’s base but shouldn’t touch the tree. This mulch concoction will mean you don’t need to use any fertiliser. Try to keep a mulch level of 4 inches over the roots for the first 3 years. After the initial 3 years you can mulch your tree whenever you like but it will really appreciate it during the spring.

Root Collar

Roots that encircle the trunk at the root collar can cause health and safety problems. The root collar is the transition zone between the stem and the root at the ground line. If you plant your tree correctly your root collar should be free of encircling roots and clean. If you pile soil or if you mulch too close to the tree you will encourage strangler roots. Mulching can solve most root collar problems. Major collar problems develop in the first 3 years so afterwards a regular mulch should keep it healthy.

Inspection

If you are concerned about a tree in your garden you need to get a tree expert in to figure out the health as determining the health of the tree is difficult. You can, however, look for signs.

  • Has the growth been less this year than others? A dramatic reduction in growth may suggest bad health.
  • Does the tree have any dead limbs, strange colours or a patchy crown?

These two signs can indicate that a tree is unhealthy and should be inspected.

Pruning

If you are pruning a newly planted tree then only prune the critical branches, which are the ones that are dead or broken. If you also have several leaders you make want to select one central stem and prune the others.

After the first 3 years you need to prune your tree for form and function every 3 years. If you have a fruit tree, prune it every 1 to 3 years. Make sure you be careful with any electricity or phone lines that may entwine with your trees and cause serious damage. Also address trees that grown over your home. You do not want a storm to cause the tree to damage your home directly.

If you have questions about your trees you can contact the Forestry Commission at www.forestry.gov.uk, The London Tree Officers Association www.Itoa.org.uk, The Tree Council www.treecouncil.org.uk, The Woodland Trust www.woodlandtrust.org.uk and Groundwork London www.groundwork.org.uk/london.

Do you have any tips on how to take care of trees in your garden? Do you have any special recipes that work wonders on trees during those first few years? Any pruning tricks?


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