Most people think that when a tree gets mature enough, the only thing you really need to do is look for signs of aging. This isn’t the case at all – in fact, there are many things that you still need to do to ensure that your tree is living its best life. Trees aren’t meant to show many outward signs of aging like people or pets do. Instead, they should look healthful and vibrant until they are just about to die. If you were to look at the inner workings of a tree, you might be able to spot more obvious signs of aging. However, if you are trained to do so, you should be able to spot some problems and take care of them so that your tree can live an even longer life.

Here are some basics that you should know:

Make Sure To Protect The Bark

  • Open wounds can lead to infestations and disease
  • Be careful when doing any pruning – or call a professional
  • Make sure children know to be careful

When your trees are young and established, you don’t have to worry about them as much. Children can play around them, you’ll let them dig near the roots, and you don’t have to if you do make a few cuts on your own. However, once trees age you absolutely need to start thinking about the bark and what it really is – a protective outer coating. Keep all power tools, including lawnmowers and weed whackers, away from the bark and the root systems. A circle of mulch around the base is the best way to make a buffer zone, according to Love Your Landscape.

You do want to be careful to keep an eye on any problems that you do see. If there is a severe storm and something hits the tree, make sure to keep an eye out for any infestation or disease. You will have to check every week or so for a few months until the wound starts to heal. If the wound doesn’t heal, it could be a sign of a problem deeper in the tree.

Think About Pruning

  • Absolutely best left to a professional
  • Prune at the right time of the year
  • Make sure to use the right tools if you do prune

Casey Trees reminds that pruning older trees is best left to the professionals: “As your tree ages, it may become necessary to prune branches in order to maintain the tree’s health and structure or the safety of people and property around it. While most homeowners are capable of pruning very young tree by hand, more extensive work should be handled by qualified tree care companies. Tree pruning and removal can be extremely dangerous and should only be performed by adequately trained, equipped, and insured professionals.”

However, if that is not a possibility for you, then you may wish to get the right tools and ensure that they are clean. Using tools that are dirty (even those just out of the box can have toxic chemicals on them) can lead to even more damage to the tree.

Trees Still Need Water

  • Make sure they are hydrated
  • Particularly susceptible to drought in sandy soils
  • Learn the signs for your specific tree

Remember that trees still need water as they age – in fact, it might even be more important. Trees that run efficiently can better fight off diseases and fungus that threaten them. One great thing to do is keep mulch around the base of the tree. This will help to keep everything moist and protected if the sun is too harsh. Consider putting at least a 3-foot radius, according to Taking Root, and never go more than three inches deep. Do not allow the mulch to touch the trunk of the tree, or rotting can develop. Mulch will also provide protection from those wounds that were mentioned above.

You don’t have to water your trees all that frequently, but do make it a part of your tree care. The best thing you can do is water deeply when you decide to water them by placing a slow running hose on the ground. As you do this task, it is also a good time to check to make sure that the soil isn’t compacted. Break up any soil that seems too hard – just be careful of the roots.

Inspect Your Trees

  • Catching anything early will help make the healing process easier
  • Trees need attention in order to thrive
  • Take pictures with your phone of any areas you have questions about

When you inspect your trees and get familiar with what they look like, you will be able to tell if there is something going wrong. One great tip is to take photos with your phone so that you have them to look back on if you notice something strange. Every month or so, just walk around your trees and take a few minutes to look at the trunk, new growth, branches, roots, and fruits.

According to Trees Are Good, “Growth reduction is a fairly reliable cue that the tree’s health has recently changed. An experienced arborist
can look at twig growth from past years to determine whether there is a reduction in the tree’s typical growth pattern. Further signs of poor tree health are trunk decay, crown dieback, or both. These symptoms often indicate problems that began several years before. Loose bark, deformed growths, and conks (mushrooms) are common signs of stem decay.”

While these aren’t always signs that something is going wrong, they may signal that you need to pay a bit more attention.

If you are looking for a tree care professional in Southern Ontario, give Van Till Tree Care a call today at (705) 653-3777. We will help you to better understand your trees and advise you on particular issues such as green spots, pruning trouble, or soil problems. We can help you with many other issues that you might find among your trees – from the very top of the tree to the roots, no matter how old they are.

Header photo courtesy of cedric lacrambe on Flickr!

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