Summer is almost here and the trees have finally filled out, providing comforting shade from the sun and privacy from nosey neighbors.
But wait. Why does one tree look small and puny and another has no leaves? What am I doing wrong?
You don’t have to have a degree in horticulture to grow healthy, strong trees or understand the tell-tale signs that a tree may be dying or (yikes) already dead.
Here are some tips on growing healthy trees faster and knowing when it’s time to remove a dead tree.
How can I make my trees grow faster?
The first step, of course, is to plant a tree, but then you need to make sure you care for the tree properly to give it the best chance of growing big and strong.
Here are 3 tips to help your new trees grow faster so you can enjoy their shade and beauty sooner:
1. Stop hitting your trees.
Like us, trees are living organisms; any time the bark of a tree is injured it affects the tree’s health. Every time you (accidentally) nick a tree with a lawn mower, edger or weed whacker, the open wounds become tempting entranceways for infectious pathogens.
2. Give your trees space.
When planting trees, make sure to dig out at least three feet away from the trunk. This ensures the tree’s plant neighbors can’t steal away the essential nutrients its roots need to grow. And add some mulch to create a protective boundary to help prevent #1 from happening.
3. Root, root, root for your tree.
To grow big and strong, trees need healthy root systems to pull in water and nutrients from the soil. This means you need good soil. If the dirt around your tree is rock hard or poor quality, loosen it up and mix in some compost, mulched leaves or coffee grounds.
As a bonus, encourage root growth by applying a fertilizer that contains a root stimulator hormone to give your trees that extra “boost” they need to flourish.
So now you have the know-how to grow beautiful, healthy new trees, but what about the old ones that have seen better days?
How can I tell if my tree is dead or dying?
Just because a tree has little to no leaves does not necessarily mean it is dying.
Here are 4 quick and easy tests you can go today to help determine if your tree is dead:
1. Bend Test: Find a few small branches on the tree and bend them. If they snap quickly, without first bending, the branches are dead.
2. Scratch Test: Scratch off a small section of the outer layer of bark from the trunk of the tree. If there is a green layer underneath, the tree is still alive; if it’s brown and dry, it’s dead.
3. Trunk Damage: As trees age, their bark should continue to replenish itself, with new layers replacing old ones. If the trunk of your tree has sections where there is no bark, this may indicate your tree is dying.
4. Fungus Growth: If your tree has large fungus growing on the trunk, it may be a sign of internal rot.
Can a tree with multiple trunks have only one dead section?
Yes. Trees with many trunks, like Crape Myrtle or River Birch, may have one trunk die while the others remain healthy. In this case, remove the dead sections of the tree without cutting into the healthy trunks.
Why is it important to remove dead trees?
If a tree is dying or dead it is more likely to fall over during a storm or in strong wind. Depending on the size of the tree, it could cause extensive damage to the surrounding area.
What happens if I ignore a dead or dying tree?
If you are aware of a dead tree on your property and you choose to look the other way, things will only get worse over time. It’s especially important to remove dead trees ASAP if they have any chance of damaging a neighbor’s property. Keep in mind, dead branches can fall without warning.
How can I tell if my tree is diseased or dead?
Diseases can negatively impact trees and eventually kill them. Sometimes you can remove the diseased section of a tree and try to save it. Root rot is a common tree disease that is difficult to detect. Without substantial roots to hold it in the ground, a tree can fall without warning or blow over in a strong wind.
How to identify tree disease
Look for light brown spots of dead tissue on the leaves, deep cracks in the bark of the tree or indents on branches, fungal growth, wilted yellow leaves, or small black spots on leaves. If you think your tree is in trouble, it’s best to consult with a tree expert.
Tree maintenance is a landscape service Five Seasons Landscape Management offers to Columbus, Ohio, residential and commercial properties. If you want a professional opinion about growing your trees, determining if a tree is dead or dying, or you need tree removal services, contact us today.