Birds are singing, the snow has finally melted, and the first bits of green are about to spring up all around us – spring is here! For homeowners, spring is the time to head back out into our yards and take stock after the winter season. Because trees are one of the major features of many home landscapes it’s especially important to pay extra attention to your trees in spring.
Here are five things to put on your spring checklist when you’re ready to start your yard work for the season.
Task #1: Delay Clean up
Yes, it’s important to tidy up your yard in the spring, but, if you have leaf litter and standing plants around the yard they could be functioning as homes for overwintering pollinators. Bees, moths and other insects burrow into leaf litter and hide in hollow stalks of plants for the cold season.
Cornell University has a pledge you can take, cheekily called “The Lazy Gardener Pledge“, to leave some parts of your yard messy over the winter. One of the items on their list is to delay your garden clean up until spring and wait until there have been several 50℉ (10℃) days to allow the overwintering pollinators to emerge from their hiding places and move on.
Task #2: Remove the Debris
At the end of winter, you may find a fair amount of twigs, branches and old leaves settled around the base of your trees from winter windstorms. Many gardeners believe the twigs and leaves will break down and help to provide nutrients over time and are better left in place. This can be true in many cases.
But, if you have trees that have struggled with pests and diseases removing the debris, especially the leaves or evergreen needles, could help further infection in the future.
Task #3: Inspect Trees
While trees are certainly accustomed to winter it’s important to check your trees for signs of winter damage before the branches become overgrown once more with greenery. If you had heavy snow or ice storms there could be broken or hanging branches from the weight of all that snow and ice. If there was a late spring freeze, make sure to pay special attention the the new leaves as they grow and expand in the coming weeks to make sure they’re healthy and growing to their full size.
Task #4: Mulch
Next to watering, mulching is arguably the best practice for keeping newly planted and older, established trees healthy long term.
Mulch is an organic material spread on the soil surface to protect the soil and tree roots from from things like heat, cold, and drought. As it breaks down mulch also improves the soil around the tree.
The benefits of mulching include soil moisture retention, root insulation, increased air exchange for the roots, improved soil structure, decreased competition from other plantings like grass, and protection from lawnmower damage.
You can read our guide to exactly how to put mulch around a tree and how to avoid mulch volcanoes!
Task #5: Add Nutrients
The urban landscape, including your yard, is actually a pretty tough spot for trees to grow. There are a lot of stressors like root disturbance, soil compaction, drought stress and air pollutions. So how do you help your trees thrive in this challenging environment?
You can add supplemental nutrients like compost, fertilizer and bio-stimulants to your trees in spring to increase the soil fertility and nutrition for your trees.
If you’re a gardening aficionado, then you probably have a great compost heap you can pull from. If so, you can start there. Before mulching your trees (task #4) spread a nice wide ring of compost around your tree. Then you can cover it with a mulch ring. The compost will seep into the soil and the mulch will break down over time, both adding fertility to the soil around the tree.
If you’re not a composter, no worries. You can purchase eco-friendly fertilizers from your local garden store. Be sure to consider the types of trees when you purchase over the counter fertilizer as what is good for one type of tree, may not always be ideal for another. Read all of the labels and consult with a staff person on duty before purchasing. We generally recommend a very light fertilizer for trees.
If you live in the Madison, WI area we can consult with you about what natural nutrition would be best for supporting the long term health of your trees.
Task #6: Trim Those Branches
This is one of those tasks you may not want to tackle on your own trees in spring. Why? Because logging is the most dangerous job in the United States and falling branches are often the main cause of incidents.
So, whether you’re taking down the full tree or just pruning a portion of it, enlist professional help whenever possible and make sure they’re a certified arborist. (Read what is an arborist and why you should hire one).
If you have a large tree that has broken branches and is close to your home, this is especially important as a strong breeze may cause it to fall onto and damage your roof.
Task #7: Outsource the Job
Yard work of any kind is labor intensive, so naturally, not everyone has the time, will or patience to see it through. Even for those who can, a professional certified arborist may pick up on signs of disease you might otherwise miss. As we mentioned before, it is also safer than attempting to tackle tree trimming or removal on your own.
Gardening is a relaxing and fulfilling hobby. However, when it comes to trees, you may need professional tree care services to diagnose possible problems before they become bigger issues or, if the tree itself is the problem, to safely remove it. With our help, you can keep your yard looking its best year-round. Schedule a consultation with ECO Tree Company to get started. Let us help you promote the health of your trees in spring this year!