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.