In Autumn, leaves will start turning orange and red, and then they will fall to the ground, leaving you a lovely mess to clean up. Autumn is also an important time to prepare your trees for winter and the be healthy over the next several seasons. These tasks, like raking leaves, help reduce the spread of disease to your trees and prevents rot from setting in around their trunks. The following are four tips to help you care for your trees this fall.
1. Rake Leaves Onto a Tarp
Raking the leaves is not the hard part - the hard part is transporting the leaves where you need them to go. An easy way to do this is to rake all of the leaves onto a tarp. Then, when the tarp is full, you can pull it to the area where you want to dump the leaves and fold the tarp over itself so the leaves come tumbling out.
When you rake, place the tarp downwind; otherwise, the leaves will keep blowing off the tarp and back at you. If you are raking on a slope, place the tarp downhill. As you work, try pulling the tarp now and then to test how heavy it is and ensure you can still move it. Don't put so many leaves on the tarp that you strain your back pulling it.
2. Dispose of Diseased Leaves Carefully
If you are certain that your trees are healthy, you can mulch some of the leaves and scatter them through your lawn as a fertilizer or till them into your garden soil. If the leaves have any white or brown spots on them, however, these leaves show signs of fungal disease. Never use diseased leaves as mulch. The fungi can continue to replicate, re-infecting your trees the next spring.
You have three good ways to get rid of diseased leaves:
- Burn them.
- Bury them.
- Arrange to have your municipal leaf collection service pick them up.
Spotted leaves are usually caused by anthracnose, a mild fungal infection that should clear up over winter if you dispose of the leaves properly and have the tree trimmed before spring arrives.
3. Don't Prune too Soon
Late fall can be a good time to trim your trees, but you need to wait until all the leaves have fallen and the tree is fully dormant. If you prune too soon, the tree's wounds will take longer to close, which may attract insects and fungi. November is a good time to prune most trees. When you prune, remove all damaged and broken branches so they do not present a hazard to your home and property during winter storms.
Don't worry too much if you don't get to pruning this fall - you can also do it in the early spring before buds appear too.
4. Apply Mulch Around Your Trees
Once the leaves have fallen and the raking is done, spend an hour or two spreading mulch around the base of each tree. Mulching in the fall is preferable to mulching in the spring. When you mulch in the fall, you help seal moisture and warmth into the soil before winter. Mulching in the spring, on the other hand, can keep the soil from warming properly, resulting in slow tree growth.
Medium-textured mulch works best for trees. Pine bark, hardwood bark, and hardwood chips all work well. Apply a three-inch layer in a donut shape around the base of each tree, being careful not to let the mulch touch the trunk, which can lead to rot.
With the tips above, you should be well prepared for autumn tree care. If anything seems amiss with your trees, or if you are looking for a professional to help with the tree trimming this fall, contact Joe Webster Tree Care, Inc. for help.