Over the last few decades, more and more homeowners have begun to realize the value trees provide. This has led to a drastic increase in the number of trees planted in residential properties across Melbourne and the rest of Australia. And while this is certainly deserving of celebration, many of these newly planted trees are struggling, thanks to a few especially common mistakes homeowners often make when installing or caring for their trees.
Some of the most common mistakes include:
1. Watering Too Frequently
Whether because of drought or species-specific biological requirements, some trees require supplemental water to remain healthy. But it is important that this water is supplied in the correct manner. This not only means providing the right amount of water, but doing so on an appropriate schedule.
When trees are provided with small amounts of water on a frequent basis, they tend to develop very shallow root systems. This can subject them to wind throw and it hampers their ability to reach water located deep underground. By contrast, if you soak a tree’s root mass completely but infrequently, the tree will usually develop deeper roots. This will make the tree more stable and wind-resistant, and it will also help them access their own water during dry periods.
2. Planting Too Deeply
Many homeowners make the mistake of planting new trees too deeply. Although they probably do so in an effort to ensure the tree’s stability, planting a tree too deep in the ground actually increases the chances that it will fail. Trees should be planted so that the root flare (located near the base of the trunk) is clearly visible above the ground. When trees are planted deeper than this, the trunk is subjected to too much moisture. This can allow fungi and bacteria to attack the trunk tissues, ultimately resulting in a weakened tree that is likely to snap at ground level.
Just remember that tree planting holes should be wide rather than deep. Although you want to encourage deep root penetration, it is just as important (if not more so), that a tree spreads its roots far and wide.
3. Improper Species Selection
Few things will doom a tree more quickly than planting it in an improper location. Instead, you must select new trees that are well-suited for the space you have available. This not only includes picking trees that will reach an acceptable size for the location, but it also means selecting trees that are capable of surviving with the amount of sun exposure and rain the site receives. Additionally, you must be sure that the soil in the area is appropriate for the tree’s needs.
This doesn’t mean that trees always require perfect conditions to thrive. You’ll occasionally see trees growing in absolutely terrible locations, while tolerating environmental difficulties in stride. However, such trees are the exception and not the rule. You will be investing large sums of money and effort to install a new tree on your property, so you always want to give it the best shot at success by selecting a good species for the location available.
4. Improper Pruning
Every time you cut a tree’s branches, you are exposing it to a variety of pathogens. And while trees have a variety of defense mechanisms that help to protect them from these threats, these strategies do not always work. Fungi will often make their way into a tree’s tissues via an open wound, and if not kept in check by the tree’s defenses, the fungus may begin digesting the tree’s tissues, ultimately weakening it and leading to premature failure.
You can reduce the chances of this happening by making all pruning cuts in suitable locations. Generally, this means making the cut right outside of the branch collar (a swollen area that can be seed at the base of most large branches). The branch collar contains a variety of chemicals the tree uses to help seal up the wound, which will help prevent fungi from colonizing the wound.
If you simply avoid the problems listed above, you’ll likely give your trees a great chance at living a long healthy life. However, it never hurts to enlist the help of a professional arborist, who can help ensure you are caring for your trees properly and avoiding most of the common (and not-so-common) mistakes homeowners often make. In this case, just give your friends at Trav’s Tree Service a call. We’ll send out one of our experienced arborists, who can assess your trees and provide you with actionable advice on how to best care for them.