With the potential for high temperatures and drier conditions, summer can be tough on trees. With this in mind, properly caring for trees during the summer months is essential for a happy, healthy landscape.
Here are some top tips from an expert tree surgeon to help you keep your clients’ plants and trees in the best possible condition this summer.
Pruning plays an important role in the maintenance of trees, enhancing the safety, appearance, and health of the tree.
Peter Yeates, owner of Peter Yeates Arboriculture, offered this expert pruning advice:
“When pruning, you should try and cut back to a growth point where possible, avoid tearing the bark, and cut parallel to the branch, leaving the smallest area possible for the pathogens to land on, minimising disease ingress.”
As for the best time to prune, that depends on the type of tree. Although you can prune or trim during any season, it is always best to do so during the tree’s dormant season. Remember that leaves help keep trees cool and, if you over prune the tree, you risk exposing the bark to too much sun. This can result in sun scalding and is particularly problematic with younger or thinner trees.
Peter said: “Some pruning is best avoided during the height of summer and others, such as fruit trees or those requiring heavy reductions or pollards, should be left until the colder months to minimise the stress on the plant or tree.”
Mulch is a great addition to landscaping as it can help retain moisture, which is particularly helpful during the drier, summer months. Acting as a natural buffer from extreme hot and cold temperatures, mulch helps to prevent soil compaction, keeps weeds out, and helps reduce the risk of potential damage caused by lawnmowers and trimmers.
Peter agrees: “Mulching helps keep moisture in the soils where it is needed, can supress weeds, and can look aesthetically pleasing.”
To mulch around a tree, remove any grass surrounding the base, before pouring natural mulch, such as bark or wood chips, over the area. Make sure the mulch doesn’t touch the trunk of the tree.
The summer months are a popular time for pests, such as sawfly larvae or alder leaf beetles. Although a tree may look healthy at first glance, it’s always worth taking a closer look. Trees should be checked regularly for signs of pest infestations. This ensures you uncover any potential issues, and help solve them, as early as possible.
While it can be tempting to water trees frequently during the summer, overwatering is a fairly common problem. As a general rule, avoid watering the tree so much that the soil becomes soggy. A steady stream of water for around 30 seconds is usually enough to achieve damp soil that will dry quickly.
Peter said: “Trees should be able to sustain themselves in summer, even if it’s super dry. Watering would probably be welcomed by the tree but it’s not usually necessary. The same goes for hedges.
“If you choose to plant a tree in the summer (which is not a good choice – tree planting should always be done over winter), you’ll need to water it constantly. And, even if you plant the tree in the winter, you’ll need to keep watering it for the couple of years during dry spells. Of course, if we have wet weather, you’ll probably not need to water, nature will take care of it for you.”
And what should you use to water the trees?
“If you can, use rainwater from a water butt as it doesn’t have the added Chlorine and Fluoride found in tap water. Plants can sometimes be sensitive to this. If you have to use tap water though, don’t worry too much!”
And remember, never water the leaves! This can burn them, causing lasting damage!
Fertilising a tree properly is the key to long term strength and health. After all, fertiliser adds nutrients to the soil, and the healthier the soil is, the healthier the tree will be too. Ensure any trees are kept well fertilised during the summer months as this is a key time for growth.
Follow these expert tips to keep your clients’ trees healthy throughout the summer!
@Peter Yeates Arb - do you have any photos you can supply of your work for us to see?