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: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/focus/oakwilt.cfm
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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