Spring has well and truly sprung. All you need for proof of this is to look out onto the snowstorm of pink and white that seems to endlessly flutter down from the candyfloss coloured crowns of almost every tree in your neighbourhood.
It’s a time of rebirth, of warming weather, and of rain, plenty of rain. It’s also an important season for your trees, so we’ve got five tips for ensuring that your trees stay happy, healthy and looking glorious all the way through to the summer and beyond.
Clean and clear
Just like you might have a spring clean around the house, the same should be true for your tree environments as well. The winter is always a harsh time and just because trees look impervious, it doesn’t mean that they will always come through the season unscathed. Every spring it’s important to check your trees to identify any scaring or damage that’s incurred throughout the winter and that could impact on the tree’s health and stability throughout the spring and summer months.
It is also good practice to clear all the debris from the ground around the trees – twigs, leaves, fallen fruit, all of which can be the perfect dark, moist, warm breeding ground for fungi and insects that could infest and infect your trees if not cleared away.
Pests and diseases
Not always the easiest to identify, but once the weather starts to warm up, insects that have slept all winter long will start to emerge and have their merry way with your trees if not discovered and eradicated.
Look out for hollow branches, holes and crumbling bark as indicators of insect infestation. Also look out for any decay or fungal growth, as this should be removed to prevent spread. Unchecked fungi can weaken the structure of the wood and make it prone to cracking, making it more susceptible to weather extremes and breakage.
Also look out for patchy, sparse growth or discoloured leaves as these are signs of stress, potentially from disease, drought or infestations, dead areas that are likely to spread from the top down on a tree.
Mulch, mulch, glorious mulch
Organic mulch placed around a tree base – especially around trees less than 10 years old – a couple of feet wide and 2–4 inches deep, will encourage healthier growth. Mulch suppresses weeds, retains moisture and regulates soil temperature, so it’s excellent for roots, but for these exact reasons it’s bad for the bark of trees as it encourages fungal growth, so make sure your mulch does not ride up the base of your trees.
Remove the grass for several feet around the base of your tree and add a layer of mulch to give smaller roots more freedom from competition for moisture from grass roots.
A light prune
In most cases, the best time to prune is when your tree is in its winter dormant state, before the spring kicks in, but a little light pruning to encourage healthy growth can happen all year around. Removal of dead branches, infected limbs, infested areas and rotten bark is essential, and a little light shaping can be engaged in to maximise fruit harvests or crown width for the summer months.
Always use sharp, clean tools to ensure the resulting wounds on your tree heal more rapidly and prevent disease or insects from getting in. You have to think of the bark and flesh of a tree as a little like your own skin – cut yourself with a jagged, rusty knife and you’ll suffer a long and infection-prone recovery, but ask a surgeon to use a disinfected scalpel and recovery time is significantly reduced and far safer.
Different trees require different soils, need to be located in different places in a garden, and at different times of the year, but spring is an excellent time for planting new trees in your garden. Always check with an expert where, what and how to plant to ensure best results. But hurry, as early spring is the latest you should plant new trees in your garden.
Of course, you can do all of this yourself, but should you be looking for any advice, guidance or help with your spring season arboreal routine, call in the experts, call Thor’s Trees on 0208 292 8992. We’re always happy to pop round or to help with a little advice.