The British summer can be an unpredictable season. You know where you are with autumn, it’ll be cold and wet, in winter it’ll be cold and wet, and in spring it’ll be wet and slightly less cold. But summer can be so many things. There could be summer storms, sweltering drought and even flash floods. It could be unseasonably cold or hot, or seesaw between the two throughout. But while we Brits are used to the random roll of the dice that is our summertime weather, trees are less resilient so we need to prepare for every eventuality.
Here are our top 5 tips for summer preparations for your garden trees:
- Pruning. Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned in other articles that pruning should be done in the winter time, but there are three very good reasons for summer pruning:
- Storms. The crown of your tree – the leaves and branches that make up its canopy – can, if too thick, act like a sail and pull a tree this way and that in the wind. The greater the thickness, the greater the strain on the limbs and trunk of your tree, and the greater the possibility of something breaking, and you don’t want that. So, if you live in an area that suffers from summer storms, even once in a while, it would make sense to thin the crown just enough to allow the wind to pass through more freely.
- Debris and disease. Weak limbs/branches can fail under the strain of a windy day or night, and diseased branches can fall at any time, so it’s important to check your tree to make sure that all infestation, infection and weaknesses are reviewed each season. Infestations can be dealt with, infections can be cut out, and weak limbs can be removed or stabilised with cables or braces. You wouldn’t want one to fall on your neighbour’s car, their house or, heaven forbid, your neighbour.
- Fruit trees. Pruning in fruit trees is a matter of yield. Over-prune and you negatively impact next season’s crop, but pruning can be a way of controlling growth to maximise yield potential or slow growth towards buildings or border fences.
- Mulching. The summer time often has uncharacteristically warm periods. On occasion, these can reach drought levels. To combat the possibility of your trees suffering from the heat it is important to remove the grass in a wide circle around your trees and to cover the roots in mulch. This serves the dual purpose of reducing competition between the roots and the grass for the moisture in the soil, and mulch will naturally regulate the soil’s temperature. Healthy roots, healthy tree.
- Watering. Keep your trees hydrated, especially younger saplings, as they are most susceptible to the heat. Water your trees once a week, twice if it’s really hot in order to keep your roots cool and fed.
- Lightning. Summer storms often come with a light show. Therefore, if your trees are among the highest in your neighbourhood it would make sense to protect them with a lightning rod. The installation of a simple conductive cable can transmit the discharge from a strike harmlessly down to the ground. Without this, damage can range from a light scorching to your tree being split in two with splinters flying everywhere – I’ve seen it happen.
- Damage. Regularly check your trees for signs of damage. Summertime is when insects come out in force that could burrow into your trees, lay their young in the bark, and bring with them diseases that can rapidly infest your trees. Damage to your tree in the form of a cut or wound can offer these insects an entry point, so this should be noticed, recognised for what it is, and dealt with as quickly as possible. Yellowing leaves, dieback of branches or weeping wounds can be indications of something being wrong and be a reason to call in the help of your friendly neighbourhood arborist.
To find out how a professional arborist could help you plan for the summertime in your garden, call us on 0208 292 8992. We’re here to help.