Trees require care just like any other type of plant does. It is true that they can thrive in the wild, and this is proven by their existence today. Despite that, most trees have specific needs when in a more urban environment, such as on your property. This is especially true in the case of trees that are native to other areas or young saplings. Plant health care is the best way of ensuring that you meet all of the requirements of your trees so they can thrive.
For some people, the term plant health care can be confusing when applied to trees as it seems that something such as tree care or “tree health care” would make more sense. In reality, plant health care includes caring for all types of plants, whether they are trees, shrubs, flowers, or something else1. The idea behind plant health care is that all plants live in the common resource of soil; no matter the type of plant, its roots will mix with those of the other plants, competing for nutrients and water. This means that any treatment that you apply on your lawn, such as herbicide or fertilizer, will affect trees as well as grass and flowers. Even specific tree treatments, such as fertilizing or pruning, may influence the underlying grass. It is this concept of every plant being connected that leads to the use of the term plant health care since the care you provide applies to every plant on the property.
Most people view plant health care as a holistic approach because it provides for the needs of all plants at the same time. The main goals behind it are to allow healthy plants to grow and to help them stay free from pests2. These two goals go hand in hand as healthy plants are less likely to have pests as disease and insects are more likely to affect plants with stress, and that stress is less common among healthy plants. Even if healthy plants do develop pests, they will be more tolerant of them. A classic example of this would be if aphids are on your shade trees, in which case an arborist will probably tell you this is fine as long as the trees are not under water stress.
One of the most important plant health care needs for trees is caring for its critical root zone, sometimes abbreviated as CRZ3. An arborist can help you locate the particular CRZ for your trees, but it is usually the area directly underneath the tree going out to the dripline. Whenever you improve the conditions within the critical root zone, the tree’s overall health will improve, making it a critical element of tree care.
As with any plant, trees require sufficient space in order to grow. The act of planning out your landscape and ensuring that any new trees on your property have enough space is simple and can easily fit under the category of plant health care. No matter the type of tree you are planning to plant, you need to ensure that it has enough room to grow, including both its branches above the surface and its roots below4. As with finding a tree’s CRZ, figuring out how much space it needs is something that will be easier if you consult an arborist, although you should be able to find the relevant information online.
When your trees are young, a crucial part of their health care is mulching. Mulch is any material that you place on top of the soil surface with the goal of improving the availability of moisture as well as the temperature, oxygen levels, and soil structure. When you add mulch correctly, your trees and the rest of your landscape will appear well-groomed and enjoy great health.
Many homeowners ignore the need to fertilize their trees; they think that because trees can grow in the wild without fertilizer it is not necessary in their yard. The thing to remember, however, is that the conditions in your yard are different and because of this, you should fertilize growing trees throughout the year. Be sure to use the heaviest applications in the early spring or summer and reduce the amount of fertilizer used as the tree ages.
As with fertilizing, you may not think of regularly pruning your trees unless they get in the way because this is not done in forests. By pruning trees, however, you can remove weak or dying limbs, weak points, or injuries that leave the tree susceptible to disease and insects. Tree pruning is also useful for ensuring that a tree does not hit your home or a power line, although that application is not technically related to its health.
Depending on where you live, your trees’ plant health care needs may also include protecting them from inclement weather. Winter is one of the times that trees are most susceptible to damage, especially brittle trees following snow or ice storms. The ideal method of reducing these issues is to select sturdy trees, but even if you live in an area that rarely sees s now, your trees will need protection from other inclement weather. Storms in particular can be damaging, between lightning, rain, and hail.
The best way to prevent this damage is by consulting an arborist when selecting your trees and choosing where to plant them. The arborist will tell you which trees are best able to survive your area’s weather conditions and where to plant them for the best results. A final situation in which you need to carefully consider the plant health care needs of your trees is if you are having any construction done on your home. An arborist can help you decide which precautions are necessary to protect the trees, whether it is building a small fence around it or identifying critical root zones so contractors know where to avoid.