9:03pm - 02/Jan/2011
What is tree care?
Plant health care or tree care involves all the different aspects of
growing and maintaining healthy woody plants. All plants need certain
elements to thrive within its environment. Different species have
different requirements, but they must meet the needs of that tree or
shrub to thrive. The basic needs consist of light, oxygen and water.
Adequate space is also important. The urban environment can be a harsh
place to grow trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs need to be cared for
if you expect to get maximum results out of your landscape. A sick or
poor quality tree will exist for years, but you may never get the shade
or privacy you were hoping for. What happens above ground is dependent
on what is happening below ground. A poor root system and poor sterile
soil will not support a great tree.
If you want to get the most
out of your investment you need to consider the needs of the tree.
Typically if a tree is affected by disease or insect problems there is
a pre-disposing factor. This means the tree is stressed for some reason
and the tree is weak. Pest problems and disease issues will then take
advantage of this and move in. Some species are more prone to certain
problems then others. As soon as you take a tree out of its natural
environment there will be an element of stress. The key is to recreate
the environment that tree like to grow. In the best case scenario this
is done during the landscape planning. (We will discuss strategies in
the tree planting discussion) Keep in mind the certified arborist is
usually called after the fact. There are ways to solve landscape
problems with tree care practices. If a tree is not getting enough
water, irrigation would most likely be the solution. Plant health care
starts with a detailed assessment of the trees and shrubs within the
landscape. Each species has a specific set of needs, as certified
arborists we need to make sure those needs are being met. If a plant
for example is not getting enough light the surrounding plants may need
to be pruned or removed to create the space needed to get the light.
is one of the biggest landscape problems. Compaction means the ground
or soil has all the air squeezed out of the poor spaces. This is caused
by foot traffic in most cases. Just imagine you have a large shade tree
in the backyard. The tree is forty years old and the same original soil
and grass surround the tree. The kids climb on it and the favorite
picnic spot is under it. The continuous foot traffic is compacting the
soils. Now because the soils are compacted water will run off versus
percolating in to the soil. This is why I recommend watering your trees
with a deep root feeder. Gas exchange between the roots of the trees
and atmosphere are compromised. This will typically show signs of
stress such as a thin crown, small leaves or in some cases dieback.
Compaction can be treated through deep root fertilizing or vertical
mulching with an air-spade.
Poor soils are also a problem for
trees in the urban environment. Lets go back to the tree in the
backyard and look at the soils. The same original soil surrounding the
tree for forty years. The builder or landscaper most likely installed
the minimum amount of soil needed forty years ago. Every year the
leaves (organic matter) are scraped away and disposed of. The tree does
not have the option to go and find new soil. It has to exist with what
was provided. The lack of microbial activity and nutrients within the
soils will lead to stress or even decline in some cases. Remember in
the forest there is a continuous supply of nutrition. Adding compost,
mulch or deep root fertilizing may be needed depending on the situation.
such as insect outbreaks can be a serious problem within the urban
forest. Pests tend to come and go depending on weather and temperature
patterns. Usually if there is a large number of one species planted
close together a pest problem can take place. The European Elm scale
outbreak is a perfect example. Responsible pest control can be provided
through spraying or injecting in combination with other tree care
practices. The Arborest Expert Tree Service Ltd can provide these
solutions for your garden.
Space is usually a problem within the
urban landscape and typically the wrong tree is in the wrong place. Now
that you have invested the time and money into your tree, removing it
and replacing it is probably not your first choice. Proactive pruning
can avoid the need to remove the tree and start all over again.
Keegan Seward, Certified Arborist, Tree Care Specialist