Tree Care Tips

During the course of the year, we will try to provide you with timely tips to help you care for your trees.  If you have any questions, or need additional tree help, please don’t hesitate to call our offices to speak with us.

Mulching Around Your Trees

Your trees roots lie mostly in the top 2′ of soil around your tree.  The feeder roots lie mostly within the top 6″ of soil.  When you have grass around the base of your trees, it competes with the trees’ feeder roots for water and nutrients.  The best practice is to remove the grass to the drip line of the tree and top dress the soil with mulch.  The mulch will break down and add to the nutrients in the soil for the tree, and will also help the soil to retain moisture.

Be sure to not overdo it, though, a 2-4″ layer is more than enough mulch.  Any more will actually cause the feeder roots to come above the soil layer to try to get nutrients, and also contributes to suffocating the roots.  Keep the mulch away from the base of the tree to eliminate the chances of moisture buildup and rot.

Preventing Winter Injury

Young trees are particularly susceptible to winter injury as their trunks are not as thick as more mature trees.  During periods of warm daytime temps, and heavy freezing at night, young trees can experience frost cracks due to the water freezing in the trunk and expanding.  To prevent this from happening to your trees, you can use burlap to wrap the tree. This helps keep moisture away from the trunk and temperature extremes from affecting it as well.

Another issue that occurs in winter is salt injury to trees and shrubs.  If at all possible, keep any deicing salt away from the root system of trees and shrubs.  If any excess salt accumulates around the base of trees or shrubs, you can try to flush the root zone with tap water to dilute the salt in the soil.  In the winter, this is usually not feasible from an outside tap, however, in the Spring you can do this to try to alleviate as much salt as possible from entering the root systems.

Heavy Wet Snow and Ice cause a significant amount of damage each winter in Northern Illinois.  You can prevent some of these mishaps by pruning heavy, or dead branches from your trees.  Even dead branches can cause unnecessary damage by ripping live tissue from the trunk of the tree where it was attached.  If you have either heavy or dead limbs, consider having the pruned, or removed prior to any adverse weather.

Prune Oaks thru February

We have seen more and more cases of Oak Wilt here in Northern Illinois.  Oak Wilt is a vascular disease that infects almost all varieties of Oak tree.  Red Oaks are the most devastated by the disease, and once infected usually do not recover.  White Oaks and Burr Oaks can be treated once infected, and can recover as long as less than 30% of the tree is infected.  Oak Wilt is spread thru the Oak Bark Beetle, squirrels, as well as thru the root system of infected trees.  For more information on Oak Wilt please visit the University Extension Website at:

To prevent the risk of infection thru beetles and animals, Oaks should be pruned during dormancy so that the pathogen cannot be spread thru the exposed tissue.  If you suspect your tree has Oak Wilt, contact us right away for a diagnosis, and treatment options.


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11 Responses so far.

  1. I never knew that the feeder roots lie mostly within the top 6 inches of soil. I can see how the mulch can help get nutrients to the roots but can also suffocate them if there is too much. I’ll have to consider your tips in the future for taking care of trees in my backyard.

  2. Charles says:

    Make sure the mulch isn’t actually touching the trunk of the tree as that can create ideal conditions for insects and decay and ensures the tree won’t live as long. Mulch also shouldn’t be deeper than two inches as that prevents rainwater from reaching the roots. Check the mulch every year and add more as necessary.

  3. Georgia B says:

    I hadn’t thought about how younger trees were more susceptible to winter injury than more mature trees. We just planted some new trees over the summer, and it would be so sad to find frost cracks in them next spring! I’ll wrap them in burlap for now, and then contact a tree service to see what else can be done to protect them from the cold.

  4. This tree care tip is very helpful in winter and I will try this in my trees. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Joe says:

    Excellent reading! (even though we maybe a few years late) Our company believes pruning is one of the most essential landscape practices. When pruning is done suitably, it will maintain the trees formations that were intended. The excellent pruning practice is that which achieves the desired end without destroying the natural raise decoration of the tree. Great write up Tree Care Tips!

    Best Regards
    417 Tree Services

  6. These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to mulch around your trees to keep the soil moist. My husband and I just moved into a new house, and there are several trees here that we want to keep in healthy condition. We’ll definitely look into mulching around the base of them to help the soil retain moisture so they can get enough water. Thanks for the great post!

  7. Steven says:

    A lot of useful information that I did not know. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Trees need special care during winter as they can get stuck by heavy snows anytime in this season to have a long life for your trees. If you are very serious about your trees then kindly consult any of the tree care service as winter is about to come. Thanks for sharing the post !

  9. Knowing how to take proper care of any trees on your property is important to be a responsible homeowner. I’ve decided that I want to plant a few Red Oaks in my yard, so reading up on information about how to take care of them is a great way to help them live a long life. The information about pruning oaks was very insightful, especially the information about vascular diseases that infects Red Oaks. I didn’t know that they’re the most at risk of contracting Oak Wilt through Oak Bark Beetles, squirrels, and through the root systems of other infected trees. Now I can see how pruning them can at least protect them from getting Oak Wilt from beetles and animals.

  10. I didn’t know that you could wrap young trees in burlap during the winter to help prevent damage to them. I’ve got two young trees in my yard that sustained a bit of damage this last winter. We’ll definitely have to try that out next winter to see if we can avoid any further damage to them!

  11. Pruning and mulching seems like a big help for trees to be prepared for the winter season. Thanks for sharing.

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