Treat Your Trees to Health: Celebrating Arbor Day

Arbor Day was founded by J. Sterling Morton, a journalist with a passion for trees and spreading agricultural know-how. His appeal to the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture was accepted in 1872, and to this day, the last Friday of every April is set aside to celebrate nature by planting both forest and fruit trees.

But while new planting and growth is important, what about tending to the health of your existing trees? Drought, disease, invasive species, pests and improper planting are just a few of the reasons that a tree may look unhealthy. And diagnosing the problem can be a challenge, whether you’re a shrubbery newbie or a foliage aficionado. But the good news is, there is a wealth of standard information available online, as well as a vast network of professional arborists and foresters who are ready and willing to help.
Here are just a few ways that you can bring more vitality to your treasured trees:

Drying Up

Drought stress is one of the most common tree issues, impacting everything from photosynthesis to root growth and nutrient absorption. Trees can survive initial drought conditions, but a prolonged period of stress can make them susceptible to insects and diseases. Prevention is an optimal treatment plan, making sure to water regularly during dry periods. However, if you live in a consistently parched area, growth hormone regulators can help increase fibrous root growth and tolerance to drought.

Bugging Out

Tree pests tend to hunker down for the frigid winter months; however, warmer climates make it much easier for them to remain active year-round. No matter where you live, it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with the most prominent pests in your area. ArborDay.org is an excellent resource for identifying the biggest bugs and what you can do to lessen their threat.

Proper Planting

While it may seem as simple as digging a hole and providing hydration, planting a tree is not a “just-add-water” type of project. Depending upon the kind of tree you’re working with, the root configuration largely determines where and how you put it into the ground. There are plenty of online guides and videos to walk you through the process, but it could be well worth the effort to talk with a licensed forester to make sure your greenery gets off to a great start.

Irrigation Overload

Adequate water is essential to tree health, but it’s all too easy to overwater trees, especially those grown in heavy or poorly drained soils. A loss of vigor, yellowing leaves, and water-soaked blisters on the stems and leaves are just a few signs of excess irrigation. Until you’re certain of the cause(s) of the problem, stop all watering and fertilization. Allowing the tree to dry out for a bit will often work to get it back on the road to health. But if not, consider a consult with a specialist for a thorough soil analysis and wellness check.

Treacherous Trimming

We all want well-groomed trees. But seemingly innocent trimming can often lead to tree toppling…onto your property, or worse yet, your neighbors (crushing their brand-new convertible with your giant fallen oak tree does not make for pleasant conversation). Even if you’re skilled with power tools, it’s wise to consult a certified arborist before you commence with any serious chopping.

Try out one or more of these tips to honor the natural gifts trees offer…on Arbor Day and every day.

KEY DATES IN APRIL:

  • APRIL 1: April Fools’ Day
  • APRIL 5: National Walk to Work Day
  • APRIL 7: World Health Day
  • APRIL 20: Volunteer Recognition Day
  • APRIL 21: Easter Sunday
  • APRIL 24: Administrative Professionals Day
  • APRIL 26: Arbor Day

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