November 4, 2021
3 Important Things to Know About Tree Maintenance Services
Did you know that there are more trees on our planet than stars in our galaxy?
According to a study from the journal Nature, there are an estimated 4 trillion trees on Earth…that’s just over 420 for every person! With that many trees around, we figure that tree maintenance services have plenty of job security.
People near Dallas, Fort Worth, and surrounding Texas suburbs, are fortunate enough to live close to an incredibly wide variety of tree species. In this post, we’re going to cover some of the best practices when it comes to how to water trees, the best time to prune trees, and how to fertilize large trees. We’ll also cover what to look for when it comes time to hire tree trimming companies.
The Value of Trees
Trees are incredibly important. It doesn’t normally cross our minds as we go throughout our day, but the trees around us provide us with the air we breathe, the shade we enjoy, and the food we eat. Beyond that, they create relaxing places to spend our time and unwind. Not to mention, everything made of wood was at some point a tree.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, “Every year, one large tree:
- Saves $32 in summertime air conditioning;
- Removes 10 pounds of air pollution;
- Generates 260 pounds of oxygen;
- Equals 10 room-size air conditioners in net cooling effect;
- Retains 1000 gallons of stormwater.”
Taking care of these leafy giants isn’t difficult when they’re in a natural setting, but it does take some intentionality when they’re a part of a planned landscape or near a structure (homes, power lines, etc.). Let’s look at some of the basics of caring for trees that tree maintenance services and homeowners should know.
How to Water Trees
Trees vary in water needs depending on several factors including whether they are established or newly planted, their age and type, what season it is, and the soil they’re in. Here are some general guidelines for the more common situations:
- Young, Newly Planted Trees
When someone purchases a tree from a nursery its roots will either be in a plastic container or wrapped in burlap. For the first several months after it is planted, those roots will remain in that same basic position.
Therefore, it is important that the root ball continues to get plenty of steady moisture while the tree is getting established. This will encourage the tree to begin putting out new growth.
- Established Trees
After a few months, you should expand the watering zone to include all of the areas underneath the canopy of the tree, known as the “drip line.”
It can take a couple of years for a tree to become fully established, so be prepared to provide regular water until then. Be especially diligent during hot, dry seasons in Texas.
Most of a tree’s roots will remain within the top 10-18” of the soil. An established tree’s roots will usually extend well beyond the drip line, so as the tree grows, be sure to extend your watering a few feet past that point to keep those roots moist.
The rule of thumb for watering is to apply enough water to provide moisture at least 10” deep. A good way to check this is to push a screwdriver (usually 6-8” long) into the soil around your tree. If it goes down easily and comes up looking a little wet, the tree is probably fine. Dry soil will make it difficult to poke a screwdriver in. In that case, it’s time to add water.
The most common method of landscape watering is overhead irrigation. However, it’s not the most efficient way to get moisture to the roots of a tree. Most of the water gets lost to evaporation. Water that is slowly delivered on the ground through drip hoses is much better.
Encircle the tree with enough soaker hose to cover the area and let it run for an hour or more. Then test the soil with your screwdriver to see if you’ve watered enough.
The Best Way to Prune Trees
At some point, trees in urban and suburban settings will need to be pruned, either because of storm damage, disease, or limbs that are in the way. Pruning allows trees to develop to their maximum potential. By removing dead limbs or ones that are rubbing together, you can help prevent disease. Pruning inside the canopy of a tree opens it up to better airflow and foliage growth.
When and how to properly prune trees is something every homeowner and tree maintenance service needs to understand. Trees are best pruned in late winter during their dormant season. However, dead or diseased branches can be removed any time of year.
Professional tree trimming companies are best equipped to handle larger projects or situations where falling limbs could cause damage. But if you’re comfortable taking on a smaller pruning job yourself, here’s the best way to do it (for more detail, this article from Fiskars is helpful):
- Branches that are small enough to trim with a hand pruner will put on new growth. Snip them at a 45-degree angle just beyond a bud that is facing outward.
- Larger branches need to be cut using a 3-step method:
– Make an upward cut from the bottom of the limb about 18” out from the trunk of the tree. This cut should only go about halfway through the limb.
– Make a downward cut several inches beyond the first cut. Go all the way through, and let the limb drop. (Be sure nothing is below the limb that could get injured or damaged.)
– Make a final cut close to the trunk of the tree next to the “collar” of the limb. This is a slightly swollen-looking area where the limb connects to the trunk. It’s important not to try and make a cut flush with the trunk because this tissue around the collar is what the tree will use to heal itself and stay healthy.
How to Fertilize Large Trees
Trees growing in the forest get their nutrients from decaying leaf matter and other naturally composted materials on the forest floor. Mature trees in landscaped settings, however, may occasionally need our help to get the food they need.
Applying fertilizer to newly planted trees is fairly straightforward. As we mentioned above, the roots haven’t spread out very far yet. When it comes to fertilizing larger mature trees, it can get a little trickier.
If your tree is growing in an area with mulch or leaves (like in a landscaped flower bed), you can give it the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium it needs through a granular fertilizer. As it gets wet, the nutrients are released to leech into the soil. Don’t apply fertilizer right up against the tree, though. Keep it at least a foot or two out from the trunk.
Trees that are surrounded by grass need to be fed a little differently. Because turf will absorb so much of the nutrients, it’s best to drill a series of holes into the soil in order to get beneath the roots of the grass. Using a drill and an auger bit, bore several holes 8-12” deep about 3’ apart all around the drip line of the tree. Fill the holes with a water-soluble fertilizer and let it soak in.
How much you apply will depend on the size of the tree. Check the instructions on the fertilizer’s label for best results.
Call LH for Tree Maintenance Services in Dallas, TX
We’ve provided tree and landscape care in Dallas, Fort Worth, and surrounding areas for over 20 years! We currently manage over 5,000 trees in this area.
We know how important healthy trees are to your property, and we have what it takes to meet your needs. Take a look at our Tree Services page for more details.
Then contact us to schedule your free estimate!