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Spring Tree Care Checklist

Spring is here and your trees will slowly break out of the slumber of winter dormancy after enduring the prolonged cold spell. In addition to bringing your backyard to life with a splash of colors, trees provide air filtration and make the environment a happier place.

Use our checklist of 10 easy tips to make the seasonal transition easier for your trees in the spring.

1. Inspect the Soil: Jumpstart the transition to spring by paying close attention to your tree’s soil health. The soil is the sum total of nutrients, water, liquids, minerals, gases, and air. There are several types of soils based on location and tree type. What works for maple trees may not work for ryegrass and vice versa.

Make sure to check the soil for signs of mineral deficiency and pH imbalances. If you find anything suspicious, get in touch with an arborist to improve soil fertility!

2. Root Assessment: Tree roots serve a wide range of purposes. In the winter, they store essential micronutrients and macronutrients to keep your trees nourished. Roots transport water and minerals from the soil to the rest of the tree. They also play an important role as an ‘anchor’ that keeps the entire tree firmly planted in the ground.

This is why you should check for signs of root damage such as dead roots, broken roots,  or raised soil and cavities near the base of the tree. Shifting or leaning trees and mushrooms or fungal growth are also signs of root damage. Roots are more vulnerable to damage during new construction and poor soil health.

3. Plant New Trees: New trees in winter are at risk of drying out and dying as a result. This is because winter freezes the ground and prevents the flow of water, which is essential for reaching the roots. Spring is a great time for planting new trees because the weather is more favorable to growth.

Pro tip: Plant trees in early spring if your area experiences scorching summer. Note that excessive heat waves and harsh summers could be too stressful for your trees. If they don’t develop before a heatwave, the fragile roots will likely be unable to pull in the moisture needed to survive the scorching temperatures.

4. Water Your Trees: You’ll notice that your trees are beginning to use water more quickly in the summer because the leaves, roots, and stems are all going through a new growth spurt.

This means you need to water your trees more frequently, particularly if the weather is very arid. A good rule of thumb to see if your tree needs water is by checking the ground for moisture levels. Dig four to six inches and feel for moisture. You’ll need to provide water to your trees if the ground is dry. If you feel moisture, then your trees don’t need supplemental water.

5. Fertilize Your Trees: Now that the soil has thawed out, it’s time to fertilize the soil if it has been deprived of essential micronutrients and macronutrients that the trees need to survive. A good way to figure out if your tree needs fertilization is to observe its growth during the ‘shoot’ phase. A growth of less than 2 inches indicates that more fertilizer is needed.

Of course, there may be other factors responsible for stunted growth during spring and an expert arborist will take a holistic account when looking for a solution.

6. Now is a Good Time to Prune the Trees: Early spring is a good time as any to safely prune dead leaves and parts of the tree that have been worn out due to first damage. Spring pruning is relatively simple and doesn’t require any special tools. Simply look out for dead plants, branches, and wood. During a growth spurt, these dead branches will affect your tree’s growth and overall health.

Pro tip: Just make sure to not remove too much from the tree because it could stress it during the growth season and increase the chances of disease or infestations. Anything more than 20% is too excessive.

7. Look for Standing Water: The snow and ice will eventually thaw out during spring and the rainwater will collect over time. This is a good thing for moisture loving plants, but it could cause damage to trees. You should inspect your trees for standing water and flood damage. Consider planting water loving plants in close proximity to your trees if there is too much standing water.

8. Pest Control: It is common for pests to look for a safe haven in trees during winter until the weather is hot enough for them to emerge from hibernation. You may find small, flat bumps or a sticky substance on your tree branches indicating the presence of aphids or scale.

Pay close attention to signs of pests, especially if your trees are at risk of disease and damage. Consult a professional arborist for recommendations on diagnosing tree diseases and treatments.

9. Look for Fungus or Mushroom Growth: Fungus and mushrooms can grow along the base of your tree’s trunks, or on nearby soil. This indicates that your trees may be about to decay and need immediate inspection. A professional arborist can apply various treatments to suppress fungal growth, which will disrupt their lifecycle. This will reduce their lifecycle during the spring season.

10. Rehabilitate Trunk Wounds: Keep an eye out for cavities or cracks, oozing saps, and sunken or missing barks. The growth of fungi may also indicate structural weakness and decay. It isn’t uncommon for tree exteriors to appear fine except for small cracks and cavities even though the interior is rotting, damaged, or completely hollow.

Wrapping Up: Consulting a professional arborist can go a long way in improving tree health and survivorship. In some cases, a simple checklist like the one above can be enough to keep your trees healthy. However, some cases may require an expert’s intervention.

Our arborists provide a wide range of services including:

  • Pruning
  • Trimming
  • Aerating
  • Fertilizing
  • Restoration
  • Tree removal
  • Preservation
  • Trimming
  • Tree Care Maintenance Plan

For a quote, please click the button below or contact us at: (408) 722-8942 |  moki@smithtreespecialists.com

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