1. Arborists offer advice.
Many factors can be controlled by homeowners to affect the health of trees. Steve Nagy is a board-certified arborist, assistant district manager, and master arborist at the Davey Tree Expert Company. The largest residential tree care provider in North America. He shares with homeowners what arborists would like them to know about caring for trees.
2. The health of a tree is affected by many factors.
They ask many questions. It’s necessary because so many things can affect the health of a tree. Nagy says that the first thing to do is play detective by asking questions. When did you move into the house? What did you do? “Who mulches your trees?” These questions can help an arborist identify the culprits and provide a solution.
3. All begins in the soil.
Nagy says that the soil and roots are what we look at first when a tree is having problems. The root zone is the first place that most stressors will affect. The thin roots, which absorb water and nutrients, can be damaged if the soil is compacted or if the soil is excessively moist. This will rob the tree of its nourishment. A malnourished plant is more susceptible to pest infestation. Nagy says that once homeowners understand the root cause, they can then move their diagnosis upwards.
4. Native trees are best.
Nagy says that each tree is unique in its ability and willingness to heal or defend itself. Some trees are more tolerant of certain conditions than others. Native trees are more tolerant of the local soil and climate than ornamental plants accustomed to other climates and soil types. Non-natives require more maintenance to thrive in your yard.
5. There are two ways to prune trees.
Nagy warns that different tree species will respond differently to pruning. It is, therefore, important for the person who prunes your trees to be aware of these differences. Certified arborists adhere to the American National Standards Institute’s best practices. The standards are based on the principle that the health of a tree is the most important thing. They also include specifics such as how to trim a tree and how to remove a branch.
6. Arborists can help with compacted soil.
Tree roots are much more widespread than we realize. Nagy says that tree roots extend three times the distance of the canopy and are only found in the top 18 to 12 inches. An arborist can help if the soil is impacted by heavy machinery or trucks. Nagy explains that “we do vertical mulching,” which is when you auger into the soil and then replace the compacted soil with a loose gravelly material to allow water and oxygen to move through.
7. Trees do not die because of a single insect or event.
Nagy says that “trees are stressed by a variety of factors, and this leads to their decline or death.” Insects and diseases that affect trees are often secondary effects of other stressors. Stress is caused by anything that disrupts the tree’s ideal growing conditions, such as drought, flooding, soil compaction, or physical damage. Nagy says that a struggling tree will emit pheromones to signal its weakness. Then, diseases and insects will quickly take over.
8. It can be beneficial to plant shrubs under a large tree.
Nagy says that planting under a tree is good for it because it can loosen up compacted soil and allow “air and moisture to move better through the root layer.” Start with small plants if you decide to plant under a tree. This will reduce soil disturbances and damage to tree roots. Finish off by adding a layer of two inches of mulch on top to protect the soil from moisture loss.
9. Tree root damage often happens during landscape installation.
Landscapers who work on the lawn of homeowners can cause damage to trees by not being careful when using their equipment and tools. Nagy says that moving heavy equipment over tree roots can cause soil to be compacted or roots to be ripped out by digging. He also says that incorrectly applied herbicides or other chemicals can be toxic to trees.
10. Your yard has microclimates.
The same tree species may not thrive in every part of your yard. Nagy says that “we treat each area around a home as a microclimate.” You may find that the front of your home is always in the sun, and the temperature there will be warmer than in your backyard. So you should consider the different microclimates of your yard and how these may affect your trees’ health.
11. Do not be scared of a branch that hangs over your home.
“That is a classic myth: that people will pay money to remove tree branches from their roofs. If the branch is structurally sound and the tree has been pruned properly, it poses no danger to your home. If you lop a branch off without removing it back to the tree’s trunk, the tree can lose its structural integrity. Nagy warns that if you mistakenly believe you are protecting your home, “you will end up damaging the tree, as it won’t heal.” Improperly pruning “disfigures” the tree and causes decay to reach the trunk.
12. You may need to water trees at times.
Even though older trees need less water than younger ones, they may still need a drink during long periods of drought. Water can be absorbed into the roots of the tree using drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Mulch around the tree in a layer of two inches will keep the soil moist.
13. Your trees should be inspected at least once a year.
Preventing major damage to trees and your home is the best option. Nagy says that an arborist will be able to tell if anything is structurally incorrect and could affect your property. You should therefore call them in for a checkup every year. If you are moving into a home that has older trees, an arborist is advisable. An arborist can help you determine which trees are in good condition, which are struggling but worth saving, and which are too old or not worth the effort. An arborist will also help you to identify trees that would work well in your garden.
14. Trust the pros.
Arborists in north shore auckland offer tips on how to maintain your trees and identify the signs of trouble.