Trees are the benevolent guardians of green spaces, the most obvious landmark in most gardens and yards. Unfortunately, American trees are under attack.
According to Science magazine, trees all over the USA are facing threats from invasive pests, with one forest reporting that 25% of its trees were currently under attack.
For the health of your trees – and the entire garden ecosystem – you must take steps when maintaining, planting and nourishing your trees to ensure that they are healthy. The first step in this is looking at existing plants and seeing their state of care.
Tree health checkups
Just as humans need regular checkups to keep them healthy, trees need regular assessment to see what state of repair they’re in.
The Boston Globe highlights a few key features of a potentially sick tree, and that includes bare branches on one side of the tree, indicating root damage; vertical cracks, or seams, in the trunk; areas of smooth wood where bark has fallen off; and small branches sprouting near the base of the trunk.
Any of these, in addition to superficial changes in bark or leaf quality, can indicate a deeper-lying problem that needs to be remedied. It’s important to be aggressive with the problem; look to use good quality treatments, preferably natural in order to stop any damage to surrounding plants and organisms.
An unhealthy tree requires prompt tree removal service, both to stop it being a threat to your local ecosystem and to prevent potentially hazards from the tree falling down.
While it can be heart-wrenching to remove a beloved tree from a green space, it sometimes needs to be done. Consider the tree as part of the natural environment even after removal, however.
Its roots systems and trunk will provide bountiful food for hidden organisms and fungal networks within the soils and undersoils of the green space.
If you want to allocate space for the tree trunk to be laid down, it will provide homes for countless creatures and again foster the growth of organisms in its shadow.
Giving the best chance
The start of a tree’s care begins from the first planting. As New York State highlights, there’s a wide range of factors that can inform a tree’s development, ranging from soil quality and draining capacity through to the type of wind on your property and the amount of sunlight the tree will receive.
It’s important to foster equal growth in the tree, from the very first root through to the last leaf, in order to have a plant that has balance and protects itself against the elements and pests.
Being careful and deliberate in the materials you provide for planting, and giving the plant a chance to stand on its own, will provide this chance.
Be wary of over-tending your saplings. Research has shown that letting plants stand on their own, and not using aids such as guide sticks, will foster better growth when they’ve reached maturity. This can lead to some damaged saplings, but perseverance is key.
As a tree starts to grow, it’s the ideal time for you to look out for pests and invasive diseases; while the trunk is yet to appear, you have a lot of access into the green parts of the plant and its level of development.
Take the time early on to check for diseases in the root structure and quickly remedy them; look at the leaves as they grow out, and the stems, and make sure they’re healthy. This is also an opportunity to deploy holistic gardening.
Building an effective ecosystem around the plant, for instance through encouraging helpful insects and animals, will protect the plant and remove the necessity of using strong chemicals later on.
This move, towards ‘natural’ gardening, is becoming more popular by the year. A good example concerns aphid removal. While aphids will destroy a plant one year and prevent the harvest of fruits or flowers, their presence will attract ladybugs.
Next year, sufficient ladybugs will be attracted to the green space to destroy any aphids; and then, in turn, they can be food for creatures higher up the food chain.
When invasive species and pests appear at your tree, react quickly to prevent issues, but make sure you’re reacting in the right way. If you can take a natural approach to preventing future damage, do it.
Keeping up with change
Nature isn’t a static thing, and neither is the response of your tree to outside stimuli. Indeed, the ability of trees to adapt to new conditions and continue providing their life-giving qualities, protecting the air quality of the local area in addition to the hidden ecosystems in their root systems, are why trees are so highly valued. However, there can be a limit to their resilience.
A good way to consider this is through local air quality. According to research conducted by the United Kingdom’s Forest Research agency, air pollution, and changes in the type of particulates in the air, are having a distinct impact on trees.
While some species are specialized in cleaning the air, others are very sensitive to pollution. Similarly, some species will react more positively to common pollutants when compared to older causes of poor air quality, such as sulphur oxides.
It’s important to consider local air quality and how your specific trees will react.
A healthy tree often indicates a healthy green space. Protecting nature’s own natural defenders will bring health benefits to you and the rest of your garden.
Furthermore, taking a natural and balanced approach to the care of your tree is important, but being aggressive and determined in your decision making will help to provide protection.
At a time when invasive pests are posing a risk to the health of trees everywhere, and the nature and scale of pollution is changing, this has never been more important. Trees are a great feature and provide a range of huge benefits to green spaces – cherish them.