Trees should be checked in the spring to see whether there has been any winter damage.
Spring is the only season that trees experience new growth. Taking the time in the spring to inspect your trees helps prevent major problems in the future.
It’s important to find broken branches, indicators of disease and pests, and other tree issues that can be seen in the spring before new growth hides the signs.
Follow our Spring Tree Care Tips to learn how to protect your investment and maintain the health of your trees for many years to come.
1. Spring Clean Around the Trees
Spring cleaning is important for the health of the trees in your yard. Removing debris helps keep away the overwintering pests that live in the debris and cause disease. The same leaves that helped the soil during the winter need to be removed so they don’t smother the soil in the warmer months.
How to Spring Clean Around Your Trees
Use a rake to remove leaves and debris so that the base of the tree is clear.
Pull out any weeds that have started growing near the base of the tree.
Remove any new plants or tree offshoots that are close to the tree trunk.
Clear the area of any fallen branches or sticks.
Make sure to remove any fallen fruit and trash so it doesn’t attract rodents.
2. Check how Healthy the Trees are in the Spring
It’s important to check for tree health in early spring to prevent any serious problems later. Early spring is the best time to check for winter damage and root health, as well as to remove potential safety hazards.
Tips for Checking the Health of Your Trees in Spring
Look for broken or dangling branches, or branches missing bark.
Examine the branch connections to the trunk to check that the branches are securely attached.
See if the trunk has any large cracks, cavities, sap, or areas where the bark is broken.
Check the exposed roots and soil for fungus or mushroom growth.
Examine the leaves for discoloring or uneven canopy growth.
3. Check for Signs of Pests Emerging as Temperatures get warmer
Pests become dormant when colder weather arrives in the winter. Pest populations surge in the early spring when temperatures warm up. The earlier you find a pest infestation in your trees, the sooner you can stop them from causing damage.
Tips for Checking for Pests on Trees in Spring
Inspect exposed roots that are growing on top of the soil and lifting tree roots.
Examine the bark for holes, patches, or loose pieces.
Thinning patches of needles or leaves can be a sign of infestation.
There may be a pest problem if branch growth has slowed.
Discoloration of leaves and needles can also be an indication of pests.
4. Prune Your Trees in Early Spring
Winter weather, especially storms, can cause branches to weaken, die, or break. These are not only bad for your tree’s health, but they are also dangerous. Pruning your trees in the early spring is essential for removing potentially dangerous branches. Pruning is also important for promoting your tree’s growth.
However, pruning trees is not as simple as it appears. Keep in mind that if a tree is not properly pruned, it weakens and becomes susceptible to disease. Those who cut trees at a level higher than their shoulders risk injury or worse.
Tips for Pruning Trees in Spring
Multiple factors influence how much and how often a tree should be trimmed.
Make sure to remove dead branches correctly so the tree is not susceptible to rot.
Remove rubbing branches; branches need to be cut off near the trunk.
Make sure you have the proper tree-pruning tools, such as a pole pruner, loppers, and a pruning saw.
Prune what you can from ground level, then call a tree professional to do the rest. Pruning a tree from a ladder is extremely dangerous and can be harmful to the tree.
5. Mulching is an Important Step for Spring Tree Care
All trees need to be mulched or re-mulched in the spring. Mulch is essential for tree growth because it retains moisture and nutrients in the soil, protects roots, and inhibits weed growth. Mulching not only benefits trees but also improves the appearance of your yard.
Tips for Mulching Trees in Spring
Make sure the soil is dry and warm before mulching.
The best type of mulch to use for your trees is organic wood chips.
The mulch layer should be between two and three inches thick. Too much mulch will suffocate and starve your tree.
Start your mulch ring about a foot away from the tree trunk. Mulching next to the trunk kills the tree.
Spread your mulch ring all the way out to the tree’s outer leaf canopy.
6. Add Fertilizer to Help Tree Growth in the Spring
It’s crucial to apply fertilizer in the spring so that the roots can absorb nutrients during the growth season, combat pests and diseases, and have healthy new growth. Fertilizers come in a variety of forms. There are fertilizer spikes, basic tree fertilizers, as well as fruit and flowering tree fertilizers to choose from.
Tips for Adding Fertilizer to Trees in Spring
Choose fertilizer with the appropriate nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratios for the tree species.
Check the fertilizer package label to see how much fertilizer to use, too much fertilizer harms trees.
Spread the fertilizer around evenly in the area above the tree’s root system.
Rutgers University recommends using a pound of fertilizer per 1000 square feet.
After putting down fertilizer, water the area right away so the tree roots can take in the nutrients.
7. Water Both New and Established Trees to Promote New Growth
Watering your trees differently after winter is a vital step in getting them ready for spring. Spring is the only time that trees have new growth. Trees need more water in the spring to prepare for new growth as temperatures start to warm up.
Tips for Watering Trees in Spring
Start watering your trees when the soil has thawed and is no longer wet.
Check to see if the soil is dry by inserting a screwdriver into it. If it’s hard to push in, you need to water your soil until it’s moist.
Overwatering hurts trees. The soil should be moist but not wet.
Don’t water the tree trunk or its foliage directly.
Water trees with a soaker hose or a lawn hose placed to drip near the trunk and beneath the leaf canopy.
8. Get a Professional Tree Inspection Done in Spring to Prevent Problems
While most of us can see obvious signs of tree distress like broken branches or loose bark, we can’t always recognize the subtler signs of an unhealthy tree. Early signs of disease, fungus, and pest infestation aren’t always easy to recognize. More importantly, trees that seem healthy because they are growing and have nice green leaves can still have a weak structure and pose a safety hazard.
Why we need a Professional Tree Inspection to Help Trees Thrive and Prevent Problems
Finds branch connections to correct any structural safety issues with the tree.
Identifies the less noticeable signs of insect infestation or the spread of disease.
Checks for weight imbalances in the canopy for possible structural issues.
Examines the roots for structural flaws and root health.
Ensures your trees remain healthy so you can plant new ones.
9. Tips for Planting New Trees in the Spring
Spring is typically the most popular time for planting new trees, although some can be planted in the fall. When planting trees in the spring, the best time to plant is when the soil is thawed and moist but not wet. Make sure to plant new trees in plenty of time before the weather gets too hot.
Tips for Planting New Trees in Spring
Check to learn if the tree you wish to plant in your yard should be planted in the spring or fall.
Choose the best place to plant your tree based on the amount of space required, the amount of available sunlight, and the type of soil it needs.
The depth of the hole for the new tree should only be as deep as the tree’s root bulb.
Multiply the width of the roots by two to estimate the width of the hole required for the new tree.
After planting, water immediately. Water sparingly since overwatering will damage your newly planted tree.