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Many Kiwi homeowners are fortunate enough to be the proud owners of properties with mature trees. They provide many amazing benefits, like protection from noise pollution, privacy, shade, and aesthetic appeal.
However, we often take it for granted that our trees will thrive without our assistance and take everything in their stride. Mature trees are indeed resilient, but they aren’t indestructible. If you have mature trees and want to take better care of them, don’t make the following mistakes.
Don’t Damage the Bark
Tree bark or cambium is a tree’s lifeline. Trees need it for disease protection and to transport nutrients and water to where they need to be to keep the trees healthy. While it can be tempting to hang children’s swings from their branches and nail bird boxes and fencing into trunks and branches, you’re potentially risking your tree’s health.
It’s only natural to want to welcome native birds into your yard, but there are ways to install bird boxes without damaging tree bark. Instead of nailing them into tree bark, run a wire hanger through the top of the house and cover it with rubber hosing to protect the bark from wire cuts.
If your chosen bird box doesn’t have a hanger, install an eye screw into the top and run rubber-covered wire through it. You can also use string, but this will require replacement in the future.
Don’t Pile Lawn Clippings Around Trees
After mowing the lawns, it can be tempting to scatter the clippings around the bases of your trees to give them much-needed nutrients. However, you’re doing more harm than good. Lawn clippings can become slimy with time and start rotting and creating heat as the grass decomposes. This resultant heat and dampness can allow diseases to thrive, which damages the tree bark.
If you want to use lawn clippings as tree mulch, compost them before applying a light layer around the bases of your trees. Fortunately, composting is a straightforward process. Create a base layer with coarse plant matter like branches and twigs before adding up to 25cm of fine plant material like grass clippings and dry leaves. Add around 2cm of soil or manure on the top and repeat the layers. Add water in each layer to accelerate decomposition.
Don’t Damage the Roots
There is more to a tree than what you can see. They have complex root structures under the ground that are necessary for a tree to be healthy and strong. These root structures are easier than you might think to damage, and simple acts like driving over them and compacting the soil, flooding the ground, and digging up the roots can be detrimental to their health.
Root damage can lead to die-back in the tree, death, and the tree falling over. The next time you park your vehicle near a tree or undertake any excavation work, remember that most of a tree’s roots are within the first 60cm of topsoil. Getting too close to a tree’s roots and causing damage might result in its death.
Don’t Forget to Water Them
You’d water your flowers and vegetables, so why not your trees? Trees need water just as much during hot spells as your other plants.
When the mercury starts rising, water your trees deeply at least once per week. Some experts recommend 38L per week for every 2.5cm of tree trunk.
Don’t Prune Without Knowledge
If your tree isn’t looking at its best, it can be tempting to haul your trimming tools out of storage and get to work. After all, alongside the aesthetic benefits, tree trimming is beneficial for the health of your trees, reducing insect infestation and disease, maintaining structural integrity, and eliminating hazards. It also allows you to remove broken and dead branches, clear footpaths and assets, and identify any problems.
However, tree pruning is an art form requiring qualified and trained experts to prioritise tree health. It’s all too easy for the average homeowner to remove too many small branches and too much inner foliage, impacting the structure and your trees’ ability to thrive and survive.
Tree care experts undertake pruning based on the tree species, age, and pruning objectives while helping you avoid damage and catastrophic tree failure.
Don’t Perform Tree Topping
Tree topping is the practice of removing the tops of trees, trunks, and large branches. While it might solve a problem relating to unsafe branches, it can cause significant tree stress while creating safety issues.
When you remove large branches, trunks, and the tops of your trees, the remaining lateral branches are not large enough to become terminal leaders. Performing tree topping also puts new bark at risk of sunscald and potentially increases the risk of fungus and decay. You might even find that the significant loss of leaves prevents your trees from being able to photosynthesise, causing them to starve to death.
Instead of topping your trees, talk to tree care experts about reduction pruning. This practice involves removing branches from the outer portion of your trees’ canopies. Everything you want to achive with topping can be achived with reduction pruning but it will not damage the tree.
Call In the Experts to Care for Mature Trees In Auckland
You likely take great pride in having mature trees, especially when we have such beautiful native species like tī kōuka (cabbage trees), Kōwhai, and Pōhutukawa. Don’t be responsible for their illness or untimely death. When the time comes to undertake tree maintenance, leave this task in the capable hands of trained arborists in Auckland like Pro Climb. You can then enjoy your tree for many years to come.
Why is professional pruning essential for mature trees?
While pruning is beneficial, incorrect techniques can harm your trees. Understand the importance of qualified experts who consider species, age, and health objectives when pruning to maintain the tree’s integrity.
What’s wrong with tree topping for mature trees?
Tree topping, despite seeming like a solution, can lead to stress, sunscald, and even tree starvation. Find out why reduction pruning is a safer alternative that achieves the same goals without harming the tree.