by Andrew Noakes.
Let’s Talk About Tree Health
As we now know the benefits that trees bring to our world, landscapes and lives, let’s talk about the importance of keeping our trees healthy. It starts with early detection, as catching things early can make a world of difference to the long term health of any living thing. Issues with tree health can arise from physical problems, environmental forces, external pathogens, or human intervention.
Weak branch intersections: Can be caused by a number of reasons: imbalanced overall weight distribution, angle of the branch union, crossing branches, weather/storm damage. This can cause an inclusion (rotting) inside which may lead to structural weakness, and increase the potential for the branches to snap out/drop (causing a hazard).
Wood Rot: Can be caused by poor pruning, storm damage, vandalism, pest/disease. Rot speeds up the process of overall decline, inviting numerous pathogens and fungal infection to the tree.
Damaging Tree Roots: Can be caused by natural or man-made damage (ie mowers, animals, etc), or vandalism. The tree can lose stability, becoming hazardous and increasing the capacity of disease.
Dieback: Can be caused by natural decline (ie a mature tree toward the end of its life), lack of nutrient availability, or root damage from chemicals or soil compaction. The crown of the tree will start to decline resulting in increased risk of snap outs, and possible natural felling of the entire tree.
Broken Limbs: Can be caused by traffic damage, storms/high winds - especially in summer and autumn when the leaves are still on the trees. This is hazardous as it can damage nearby property, people, and power lines.
So, if you observe these issues in your trees, what can you do?
Weak Intersections can be treated by formative pruning with awareness to where the limb is likely to naturally grow, ideally before there are broken limbs. This could be by removing crossings branches, pruning storm damage, or general thinning throughout the tree.
Wood Rot can be treated by pruning all dead branches and tidying poor pruning cuts. Removing rotten wood can potentially slow further decay.
Damaged Tree Roots can be treated by stopping all traffic access underneath the tree (animal, pedestrian and vehicle). Feed the tree with fertilisers, cover the area with mulch, and give a good watering.
Dieback can be treated by reducing the tree to make it safe, which will help prolong its life. Feed and mulch the area.
Broken limbs can be treated by removing them safely, being careful not to damage more of the tree in the process. Prune to a suitable junction.
All tress should be kept under close observation and fed/mulched/watered as needed. As always, if in doubt, consult an Arborist.
Next month… Did you know trees don’t heal?
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