Keeping your Tree Healthy

Trees are majestic monuments, overseeing the change of seasons with a distinguished grace. Keeping your trees healthy is not just a duty but a privilege, allowing these natural giants to thrive and, in turn, offer their numerous benefits, from the air we breathe to the shade that cools our summer days.

The secret to vibrant and vigorous trees lies in understanding their needs and tuning into the subtle hints they drop about their well-being.

Keeping your trees healthy
Large Live Oak Tree

Watering Your Trees

First and foremost, water is on top of the list for maintaining your tree’s health. However, it’s not just about quantity but timing and technique as well. Let’s continue.

With thirsty roots spreading through the soil, young trees require frequent watering to establish themselves. Mature trees, on the other hand, prefer a deep and less frequent quenching that encourages their roots to delve deeper into the earth, seeking moisture and nutrients.

The trick is to water at the base, especially during the first 1-3 years after initial planting.  Avoid watering the leaves this will prevent fungal diseases, and water either early in the morning or late in the evening but not too late to reduce evaporation.  Watering by drip system is good but deep watering once per week is better.

Often customers ask me if watering at night is beneficial, it is not, doing so and the chances are good your tree will get a fungus.  Learn more about fungal diseases in trees and plants.

Fertilizer is another cornerstone of tree health. Just as we thrive on a balanced diet, so do trees require a mix of nutrients to flourish. A slow-release fertilizer applied in early spring can work wonders, providing the necessary boost for growth and vitality.

However, moderation is key; too much love in the form of fertilizer can be detrimental.  It is best to use a well-balanced tree/shrub fertilizer.  Most granular fertilizers are in pellet form and are ideal for slow-release fertilizing.

Insects on Trees

The most common insects on trees are aphids.  These little creatures can devour foliage in no time. From my experience, they will suck on the foliage of Ash trees, and all fruit trees.  They are normally green in color. Spray with horticulture oil in early spring. This will prevent aphid eggs from hatching, thus fewer bugs during the growing seasons.

Pruning your Tree for Maximum Benefits

Pruning is a skill that can be easily mastered. It’s about removing the old to make way for the new, encouraging new growth while maintaining shape and health. Dead or diseased branches should be removed promptly to prevent the spread of decay and to allow the tree to direct its energy toward healthy growth.

Remember, pruning should always be done with a purpose and with an understanding of tree biology to avoid unnecessary harm.  What is tree biology?  Read more at Wikipedia.

The best time to prune trees and shrubs is January through March.  However, dead branches and stems can be removed at any time of the year.  More on pruning trees at… Pruning tips and tools.

What about fruit trees?

Keeping your trees healthy
Apple Fruit Tree

Fruit trees are good for the environment, fruit trees are champions in their own right by providing a habitat for birds and beneficial insects. Their roots help prevent soil erosion, and their foliage offers much-needed shade on hot days, contributing to cooling down urban areas.

The cost of fresh fruit adds up, but with your own supply, you can enjoy organic produce without the hefty price tag. Plus, any surplus can become gifts for neighbors or be preserved for year-round enjoyment. More about fruit trees here.

Lastly, observance against pests and diseases can save many a tree from untimely death. Regular observations can catch problems early when they are most manageable. From leaf spots to aphids and bark beetles, early detection followed by appropriate action can make all the difference.


Observation is key to keeping your trees healthy. It is a blend of science and hard work. It requires patience, observation, and a bit of tender loving care. However, the rewards are immense – not just for us but for generations to come, who will stand in the shade of the trees we nurtured and feel connected to the timeless cycle of nature.

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