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Tree Care
Autumn Tree Tips
8/4/2014 12:58:08 PM
Autumn Tree Tips

Hopefully you are all managing to find the time to enjoy your trees this summer, however, it’s not too early to start thinking about what autumn might bring. With that in mind, this month’s offering contains some topical tips on what to look for with fungal parasites, as well as some brief words on Ash Dieback.

Autumn is the season when fungi are most obvious. It is therefore the best time to assess their impact on your tree’s health and to plan any remedial action that may be required over the winter. There are hundreds of species of fungi that live on or alongside our trees, some harmless, some fatal; it would be impossible to list them all here. However, to get a rough idea of risk to your trees, there are 3 areas of a tree that should be checked for fungi: Firstly, pay close attention to the base and the area immediately around the tree looking for cavities, areas of rot or discolouration with or without any fruiting bodies (brackets, mushrooms, canker, etc.). Also, look for any collections of mushrooms upon the ground that might be associated with the tree’s root system.

Secondly, inspect the stem (trunk) and major limbs for discolouration and any erupting fruiting bodies, particularly, in this case, brackets. If your trees have sustained any damage over the previous year, these areas require particular scrutiny as they afford excellent points of infection for spore-based organisms.

Finally, take time to inspect the tree’s crown, both as a whole and along individual limbs, looking for areas of premature dieback, and large or obvious pieces of deadwood.

Should you encounter any of the symptoms above, or have noticed fungi growing on or around your trees, or have any suspicions about the health of your trees in general, get in touch for a free, expert assessment.

Lastly, a few words about Ash Dieback (Chalara fraxinea). Whilst symptoms may have been evident on infected trees from the first flush of ash leaves in May, it is worth paying close attention to ash over late summer and early autumn. Look for browning leaves, dieback in the crown and marked stains on twigs, branches and the tree stem. For a complete guide, including a handy download pack and instructions on how to report a suspected outbreak, go to http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara

Spring Tree Tips
3/10/2014 10:29:31 AM

Spring is nearly here and your trees are about to burst into leaf. Help them get the best start to the growing season by following these simple tips:


1. Thoroughly check your trees for signs of damage sustained during the winter. Remove broken or damaged limbs, bearing in mind the resulting overall structure of the tree for balance and its aesthetic appearance. 


2. Ensure supports for young, espaliered or trained trees are solid after the rigours of winter. This means checking both the solidity of the anchorage of a stake or frame, as well as the condition and tightness of tree ties - remember, too tight is as bad as too loose.


3. Water, water, water. As crazy as it sounds, especially given the amount of rain we endured this winter, lack of water in Spring and early Summer is a significant killer of young trees. A newly planted standard tree can absorb up to 30 litres of water a day during the growing season (that’s 6 gallons for us pre-decimals). Don’t be scared - providing your soil isn’t heavy clay, drainage is adequate and you’re sensible, it’s practically impossible to over-water a tree. The key is regular watering; a good soak once a week is better than 3 days running followed by nothing for a month.


4. Finally, it is important to apply a liberal mulch around the base of your trees. Mulching with wood chip or leaf mould assists with water retention and will also suppress weeds and grass, both major competitors for water and nutriment. Never heap mulch above the root collar of your tree as this can encourage abnormal basal growth as well as introduce fungal pathogens. Finally, if using wood chip, remember that it must be part-composted or it will leech nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. Six month old chip is ideal.

Winter Tree Tips
11/20/2013 10:58:35 AM

Whilst it might look as if your trees sleep through the winter, exposure to low temperatures and icy winds can cause significant stress. You can minimise seasonal stresses by following these simple steps. If you take care of your trees in the winter, you'll be rewarded in the spring.

Three Steps to Success:

1. Give trees a drink. Drought is as much of a killer in winter as in summer. If temperatures permit, an occasional watering during the winter on young trees can be a life saver. Remember, be sure to water only when soil and trees are cool but not frozen. A thin layer of mulch will help water retention and also act like a blanket and give the tree's roots a little extra winter protection.

2. Prune your trees. For the majority of species, winter is the best time to prune as it is easier to see the structure of trees without their leaves. Unless you are an experienced arboriculturist, limit pruning to deadwood and poorly placed branches, thereby saving as much live structure as possible. As always, any use of ladders or steps introduces the risk of injury to you. Never climb a tree on your own; if you’re at all unsure of your safety, you probably shouldn’t be doing it! As experienced tree surgeons, J Hitchcock Tree Services Ltd can help.

3. Prevent / correct mechanical damage. Winter conditions can cause significant physical injury to your trees, whether through weight of snow, the freeze / thaw action of ice or winter gales. Whilst it is often impossible to protect trees against all these threats, it is possible to protect young trees to some extent by wrapping stems with burlap or cloth and ensuring they are properly staked. Remember that a hard frost can easily dislodge stakes or newly planted trees so remember to check your trees throughout the winter months. For mature trees, check for damage or distress after periods of very cold weather or strong winds; if you spot damage it is advisable to have it sorted as quickly as possible. Again, your local tree surgeon can help.

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