Terrific Trees: Secrets to Caring for Trees

What's the secret to number one tree care?


Content Tools

Just two mature trees produce enough oxygen each year to supply a family of four—and a tree absorbs one ton of carbon dioxide throughout its life. Backyard trees provide many environmental benefits, but most of us take them for granted.

Trees let us know when they’re stressed or ailing. Eric Fowler, a certified master arborist with SavATree, says to watch for these symptoms:

• unseasonable leaf or needle drop

• dieback of branches and foliage in the upper crown

• sap bleeding from the trunk

• evidence of insect attack (small holes in the bark, sawdust at the base, insect remains)

A proactive regimen is the best approach to tree care. Fowler offers these pointers:

• Plant trees appropriate to your climate. Choose good nursery stock and follow recommended planting practices. (See "How To Plant a Tree" at www.AmericanForests.org.)

• Provide supplemental nutrition and water to trees that need help to thrive in their environment. Trees planted in urban locations or close to roads are especially vulnerable. Air pollution and road salt are as bad for trees as they are for us.

• Prevent damage to the critical root zone—the ground area that matches the full circumference of the tree’s crown. Construction traffic and equipment are major culprits. Parked cars, equipment sheds and other heavy objects that compact soil also can damage roots.

• Most reputable tree services offer a free consultation by a certified arborist who will point out ways to improve tree health, such as periodic fertilization and careful pruning. Ask the tree service if its professionals are accredited and licensed.