Summer pruning with Jeff

Enhancing tree health in your garden

Here are some ways to help improve the health of trees in your garden.

Healthy soil means healthy plants. A healthy soil contains countless numbers of microbes: Bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that help your tree feed. These microorganisms may also keep soils pathogens away by out-competing them. Reduce or avoid applying any herbicides around trees, trunk or root plate areas. Read label of product, care is needed with some grass care products which can contain selective herbicides that impact on amenity trees and their growth patterns. Avoid use of any lawn care or weed control products around the dripline of a tree.

Reduce soil compaction and injury to tree roots:

  • Are the roots of your tree impacted in anyway by buildings, driveways or cars parking on their roots? Tree roots do not like soil compaction and this can reduce tree health by stopping water absorbing into the soil, reducing oxygen in the soil as well as physically damaging the roots of tree which can allow the entry of diseases.
  • Ensure minimal root disturbance i.e. if livestock are grazing in area then fence trees off.
  • Try to minimise root loss through planting or cultivation activities, look at selecting low clumping or bulb type plant varieties if planting is desirable under established trees.

Use Mulch:

  • We use wood chip much to help improve the soil around trees. We‘ve noticed that helps plant establishment and growth. It helps keep water in the soil, keeps soil cooler, and produces better habitats for soil microorganisms.
  • Wood mulch is often free from arboriculture companies.
  • Keep mulch away from the stem or trunk, but you can pile it up to 20cm deep. Replenish mulch as it breaks down (sometimes faster in some seasons than others).
  • Homemade compost is also a good top-dressing for around trees and plants.
  • Practice good hygiene in your garden, keep tools clean to avoid spread of any pests or diseases. You can use pure alcohol or methylated spirits to sterilise tools.

Apply Fertiliser:

  • Only use fertiliser on garden or plantation trees. Wild natural trees or stands of vegetation should not be fertilised.
  • A light application (50g/m²) of general purpose fertiliser in spring could be useful for a sick tree. Sprinkle evenly and work into the top 2 to 3 cm of the soil taking care not to damage surface roots. We use natural products such as fish meal, blood and bone or sheep pellets as support the soil microorganisms as well as the plants.
  • Seaweed based fertilisers can be used if blood and bone attracts vermin, and use of products with humic acid, and trace minerals can help with soil health and root development. Products with phosphorous and potassium can help with root and shoot development.
  • Organic products are more sustainable and natural based products are recommended.