Many people tell me they don’t think that trees need care or attention.
They think that trees in the woods don’t need help to survive, so they don’t do anything to help them. I can appreciate this perspective, but I disagree with it. A healthy woods is sustainable but suburban backyard conditions are far from healthy for trees.
Our soils are often compacted, lack organic matter, and have been drastically changed from a healthy woodland soil. Poor soil conditions can lead to all sorts of problems like girdling roots, chlorosis, root rot and other stress-related problems. About 80 percent of all tree health problems are due to soil-related issues. Most other tree problems are due to imported insect and disease issues.
To help improve soil conditions we can properly mulch our trees. The mulch decomposes, and as it does, it replicates soil conditions a tree would find in a woodland environment. Please no “volcano” mulching, though. We are trying to mulch the roots and soil, not the tree trunk. A layer of mulch that is a few inches thick to the edge of the canopy is a great start..
If a tree falls over in the woods it’s probably not going to hurt anyone or cause damage. Landscape trees pose a risk of failing and creating safety concerns. Pruning is recommended to lessen the risks associated with trees in the suburban environment. In some situations trees need to be removed because the risk associated with them is too high.
We can also help our trees by watering in drought, fertilizing them and managing insect and disease issues. A certified arborist can help you determine what your trees need. The International Society of Arboriculture administers a proficiency test and continuing education to qualify a person as a certified arborist.
Trees are an important part of our environment, and properly caring for them maximizes the benefits they provide while minimizing the risks. Do what you can to care for your trees!
Shawn Kingzette, Certified Arborist IL-0959A