Now that warm weather has arrived, remember to include your street tree in your spring gardening chores. An annual maintenance program should include:
- Clearing away any mulch within six inches of the tree trunk to avoid buildup. When clearing the mulch, also clear away the dirt around the trunk and look for any roots that are encircling the trunk just below the surface above the tree collar. If you have encircling roots, they should be cut away and removed — roots that encircle the trunk will inhibit future growth by strangling the trunk.
- Removing any grass growing within 18 inches of the trunk. This grass is taking the nutrients and water from the soil that are better used by the tree. Also, if you are trimming the grass that is too close to the trunk, you risk damaging the trunk with your weed whacker. Continually damaging the bark will inhibit your tree’s growth.
- Cutting all lower branches that may impede people walking on the sidewalk as well as those branches hanging low over the street. Once the greening up of the tree is complete, cut out any dead branches. These will eventually break away and fall causing damage especially when we have high winds. If you don’t have the proper trimming tools or are uncertain how to remove these branches, notify our property manager at 904-242-0666 (ext. 13) and he will arrange to have the lower-branch trimming done for you.
- Fertilizing your tree. Jobe’s tree spikes are easy to use and are cost effective. Three applications a year will help your tree maintain healthy, constant growth. If you prefer to use a granular fertilizer, a slow-release type with a high content of nitrogen and potash and a low phosphorous level works best for trees (e.g. a 16-4-8 combination).
- Last, giving your tree a good long drink. Regular lawn irrigation usually does not provide enough water for trees that are trying to establish themselves. They appreciate a slow constant watering with a hose every now and then, especially when rain has not been adequate.