March marks our transition from winter to spring, and it’s a good time to start taking care of your spring tree care needs.
Here are the things you can do each spring to keep your trees healthy, safe and beautiful.
First things first. Before doing anything, take a good look at your trees, shrubs and landscape. Are there any broken tree branches or split tree trunks? Signs of insect or pest damage (like bark eaten by rodents near the base of trees)? Are shrubs bent over from snow or ice loads?
If you see anything that you suspect may be a safety issue, call us for a complimentary inspection and recommendations on the best way to handle it.
>> Check our tips on how to care for trees damaged by winter weather.
When the weather has warmed up, remove any tree wraps, burlap or other winter protection from around your trees and shrubs.
Remove any debris under trees, like fallen twigs or branches.
Also, rake up fallen leaves from disease-prone trees and shrubs, such as dogwoods and roses – this will help prevent or minimize further infection.
Spring is a good time to provide critical nutrients for your landscape, including trees. Wait until the ground has completely thawed before applying fertilizer; runoff wastes money and contributes to groundwater pollution.
Here in Northeast Ohio, we generally start fertilizing trees in late March to early April (depending on weather). If possible, use an organic fertilizer that’s good for your trees, the soil and the environment.
Your trees are only as healthy as the soil they’re growing in – so do a soil test before fertilizing to determine which nutrients your trees really need, and which ones they don’t.
>> Learn more about our Organic Fertilization Services here.
Treat for Insect Pests and Diseases
Many insects and diseases become active in spring. Early treatment (for example, with dormant oil sprays) can control overwintering insects and scale. Fungicide applications help suppress outbreaks of fungal diseases like anthracnose and apple scab.
Spring is a good time to clean up shrubs and trees, particularly any parts that were damaged during winter or injured by frost.
Prune summer- and fall-flowering shrubs and ornamental trees before they start leafing out.
Remove any dead or damaged branches whenever you see them. You’ll be more easily able to tell what’s dead after the branches have leafed out.
With Arbor Day at the end of April, tree planting is top of mind for many people. Visit local nurseries and garden centers for tree suggestions, or give us a call for recommendations. You can’t go wrong planting any of our recommendations for the five best spring-flowering trees or the best trees for fall color in Northeast Ohio.
>> See our tips for how to properly plant a tree.
Both newly-planted trees or shrubs and mature plants will need water if spring weather is dry (wait until the ground thaws). Water slowly and deeply – the goal is to get moisture down to the root zone, which is typically 12 to 18 inches deep. Water is critical during spring when trees are developing new leaves and branches.
If your trees are near areas that have been treated with de-icing salt, water the whole area well to flush the salts away. Learn more about preventing salt damage here >>
Most trees benefit from a layer of organic mulch around the trunk to help suppress weeds and retain moisture. It also protects them from lawn mowers and string trimmers.
If the mulch is less than 2 inches thick, add a few more inches. But be sure to “fluff it up” first to make sure that it’s not just compacted from winter snow loads – compacted mulch can prevent water from reaching tree roots.
Do not create a “mulch volcano”! Keep it away from the trunk and never pile it higher than a few inches.