Essential Tree Maintenance Advice

Tree maintenance is one of the many responsibilities of being a homeowner. But there are some (homeowners) who are reluctant to do it themselves for believing that they don’t have green thumbs.

Having green thumbs is handy with tree maintenance. But if homeowners don’t possess it, it’s all right! The good thing about tree maintenance is it has specific methods that everyone can easily follow. These methods are focused on the tree’s roots up to its’ vegetation.

To ensure efficiency of the method applied, here is the top 6 tree maintenance advice you can do as well:

6 Tree maintenance advice

1. Identify the soil’s structure

The soil serves as a home for the trees. It is said that the more fertile the soil is the healthier the tree will be. Also, it must have good water drainage and aeration. This is the reason arborists always start their routine by identifying its’ structure.

One way to do this is by feeling its’ texture – get a handful of the soil, moist it with water, then rub it with your index and middle finger.

The basic soil types in most States and Territory are the following:

  • Sand

The sandy soil texture is dry, light and loose. This soil is the most ideal for trees because it is not as fertile compared to heavier soils. It easily drains the nutrient and water away, leaving the tree dry out most of the time.

Arborist often advises homeowners to use organic fertiliser and compost. The organic fertiliser and compost enhance the ability of the soil to absorb and hold water. Also, this provides the nutrients that the tree needs to grow healthy and strong.

For the mulch, harder type of mulches are recommended (e.g. bark and nutshells).

  • Clay

Clay soils texture is smooth and flat. Unlike with sandy soil, clay soil is rich in nutrients and can hold water well. Though these qualities are good, clay soil still needs more work in tree maintenance. This is due to the limited air space making the clay susceptible to waterlogging and compaction.

With this reason, arborists advise homeowners to use organic matter for the fertiliser, compost, and mulch. The fertiliser (e.g. gypsum) and compost (e.g. aged manure) will help the clay soil to improve its’ drainage and loosen its texture. While for the mulch (e.g. straw), it will protect the soil against compaction and minimise the growth of weed.

A little tip: In determining the clay soil’s overall structure, you need to check the acidity and alkaline level as well. Too acidic clay soil can reduce the natural nutrients of the soil. You can check this by using a home soil test kit or call a reliable arborist.

  • Silt

The silt soil is a combination of clay, silt, and sand. But since it is dominated by small clay particles, you can expect to feel a smoother texture. This is commonly found anywhere near the riverside.

Compared to the other basic soil types, silt soil is the most ideal to use because it can hold water well, has good drainage and aeration, and can store nutrients well. The only downside of this is its compaction, it has the tendency to waterlogged.

With this reason, arborists opt to build tree fences to prevent everyone from walking on it. This is a huge help to prevent the soil from compacting.

For its fertiliser and mulch option, arborists advice the use of organic type.

2. Mulch your tree

Mulching may seem to be a minor task in tree maintenance, but it is one of the tasks that have the most benefits. It can improve the soil overall condition such as its fertility, structure, provide better insulation around the roots, and protection from extreme heat and cold.

Arborists only have one reminder for the homeowners whenever doing the mulching themselves. And that is always making sure to spread mulch evenly or in accordance with the instruction provided. Mulch has tons of benefits, but too much or less of it can destroy the tree’s health.

3. Protect tree roots

The roots are the part that is penetrated on the soil to allow the tree to grow with better stability and foundation. Not to mention, it is soaked in nutrients and water for the tree to keep its good health and long life.

This is how important roots are to the tree. To ensure it will live a long life, arborist advises homeowners to AVOID the following:

  • Cut too many roots when installing a root system;
  • For clay soils, compacting the soil or placing heavy equipment on it;
  • Mulch the tree even noticing signs of damage (e.g. decay or pest damage);
  • Building mulch volcano as it invites pests and wood-decaying disease.

4. Bark protection against girdling

There are certain things on the tree that no one can control. One of them is acquiring damages such as girdling. Girdling is fatal for the tree if not immediately repaired. The traditional method to resolve this is by trapping or poisoning the rodents or other animals that may cause harm to the tree.

But if you have pets on your own, or want an option with less work,  most arborists advise homeowners to install either a fence or tree guards. These two options are both effective in containing the damage and keeping the rodents away from further damaging it.

5. Tree protection against extreme weather

Trees are like humans when exposed on too much heat or cold – this can cause stress. To prevent it from getting worse, arborist advise doing the following preventive care:


  • Mulching

Mulching is known as reliable protection against extreme weather. For cold weather, the best time to do mulching is in late fall up to early winter. Spread a thin layer of organic mulch on it at first. But when the ground freezes, add more mulch and pile it directly against the trunk.

  • Pruning

Most arborists find winter as the best time to have your tree’s inspected and pruned. In terms of inspection, they can easily look at the overall structure of every branch and see if there are damages. While for pruning,  doing this during its’ dormancy period will not cause damage on it and prevent disease to spread out (if there’s any).

  • Watering

Watering the trees is still a requirement even under cold temperature. It will just have few conditions depending on the tree’s age or condition. Overall, trees must be well-watered all throughout the fall season. You will only stop watering it when the ground freezes or it is fully covered with snow.

But not for newly-planted trees, it’s recommended to continue watering it as long as there is no snow covering it and the temperature is above 40°F.

  • Wrapping

During cold weather, trees are susceptible to damages. Sunscald is one of those damages.

There are two ways from preventing this to happen wrapping and painting. The two are both effective, their only difference is the painting method is permanent while the wrapping needs to be removed as soon as spring comes in.

You can wrap the trees with brown paper, crepe paper, and a plastic tube. While for the colour for painting, you can choose any that appeals to you or complement the property.


  • Fertilisation

Summer is the season where insect activities increases and prone to drought. For the trees to live on harmoniously during this season, it will need to have enough nutrition. Applying fertiliser is just the right solution for it.

Follow the arborist’s instruction in putting the right fertiliser type and amount. Typically, they will instruct to increase the amount of fertiliser if you are living on residential or any suburban areas.

  • Mulching

Summer is the season when weeds grow. To prevent it from spreading around the trees, put some mulch on it. Just avoid piling it against the tree’s trunk to avoid encountering insect or wood-decaying diseases.

  • Watering

Everyone understands that water is always a necessity for trees. The only question is, how much water exactly the tree needs?

Most arborists answer will depend on the type of soil and trees, itself. For clay type of soil, water it slowly and shorter rate; then wait for the soil to dry out before watering it again. While for well-structured soil, water it directly at the base of the trees longer and at a slower rate.

  • Pest inspection

Everyone often hears the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’. So, don’t wait for the pest to invade your tree, call a professional pest control company and have your tree inspected.

6. Familiarise yourself with tree maintenance terms

Having a brief understanding of tree maintenance terms may not have a huge impact on the tree, but this will help everyone to understand easily what the arborist is saying.

The arborist will often explain their findings with technical tree maintenance terms that you are not familiar with. It will be an advantage if the arborist you’ve hired is friendly to explain it all, one at a time.

But if not, it’s wise to familiarise even just the basic tree maintenance terms. Few of these tree maintenance terms are the following:

  • Mulch is the layer of material that is spread over the surface of the soil to boost the tree’s fertility, growth, and conservation of the soil’s moisture. The material is either composed of organic or inorganic matter.
  • Dormancy has the same concept as hibernation (in animals), it is the period where the tree’s life cycle slows down. You will immediately know if the tree is on its’ stage of dormancy when it starting to lose all its’ leaves.
  • Sunscald on trees is the damage to the bark due to freezing during the winter season. This is most common to happen for the young trees, so it’s ideal to apply preventive care before the winter season sets in.
  • Girdling is the complete removal of the bark around the tree’s circumference. This is commonly done by animals because they are feeding on it during the winter season. This has a fatal impact on the tree, so, it’s recommended to call a reliable arborist to resolve it immediately.

Featured Photo Courtesy of Pixnio

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