Top tips for tree owners in Autumn: the four essential tree care tasks you must find time for before winter.
1. Clear Leaves
No gardener enjoys it, yet clearing leaves in Autumn is one of the most important jobs you must do – for the sake of your grass, your trees and yourself! Allowing your lawn to be covered by wet leaves is damaging; it weakens the grass due to lack of light and air, yet moss thrives in such conditions. Also, rotting leaves is an excellent medium for breeding pests, moulds and diseases which can spread to your trees, causing tree problems and tree disease, and weaken them at the time of year when they can least resist. Lastly, wet leaves are a slipping hazard and, for some allergy sufferers, spores from rotting leaf mould cause misery.
2. Inspect for safety
With winter storms on their way, now is the time to inspect your trees to ensure they are in sound condition. Without leaves, the structure of the tree is visible and allows you to check your trees for signs of damage. In particular, check:
- that your tree is upright – beware if your tree is leaning,
- for any sign of tree root damage or erosion of the soil around the tree roots,
- that no part of the tree is too close to buildings, electricity cables or other structures,
- that the junctions of major branches with the trunk look healthy and intact.
If in doubt get a tree inspection from a professional local tree surgeon. Remember, most insurance policies will not pay out for damage caused by a poorly maintained tree.
Remove deadwood from your tree. Deadwood decays and attracts fungi and other harmful tree diseases and pests. While deadwooding can be done at any time of the year, autumn is best for deadwooding, without foliage, when you can see the wood better. Pruning large trees is best left for a tree surgeon on grounds of safety.
4. Protect young trees
Newly planted trees are vulnerable for the first two or three years and young trees need protection over winter. Protect young trees from cold weather by covering with a fleece, sheets, or light tarpaulin using a frame to minimize contact between the cover and the foliage. If strong winds from winter storms are expected then ensure your young tree is securely staked. Also remember that although deer find young trees a tasty meal at any time of year, it is during the winter months that they will most likely visit (even urban gardens) in search of food. Use wire netting around the trunk to protect young trees from deer.