Have you ever wondered how old a tree was? The United States is the home of the oldest tree in the world. The long-lived Great Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California is 5,000 years old.
Of course, you want to look after the trees on your property but how do you know how they’re doing? What are the signs of a healthy tree? Read on to learn how to properly measure tree health.
Inspect the structure of your tree. Most healthy trees will have one lead branch at the top of the trunk. This provides stability to the tree.
If the tree looks lopsided or isn’t straight because there are multiple leaders, it may be unstable. These competing leaders may need to be removed. Removing these branches should be done with care and it may be necessary to do it over several years.
Multiple leaders can result in splits in the tree. I split in the tree can provide harmful insects or diseases with a route to enter the tree and cause harm. These infections may need to be treated.
There are some trees for whom a strong single trunk is not the norm. These trees are perfectly healthy with several leads and indeed require them. Many fruit trees have several trunks but each should have a single lead.
A healthy tree will show healthy growth. This growth occurs in both the trunk and branches. The gap between last year’s buds and this year’s buds will give an indication of the rate of growth.
What’s a healthy growth rate? This varies from species to species so you’ll have to look up the expectations for your tree variety. The growth of the trunk can be measured by measuring the girth of the tree at the same point each year.
A tree that is not growing may be having problems. It’s very likely that the tree is struggling to get nutrition from the soil it is growing in. The tree maintenance for a tree that is not growing can include rehabilitating the roots and providing the tree with some new soil.
Healthy branches are a sign of a healthy tree. Check the branches for any dead wood. A dead branch will not have green under the bark if you scrape it. A dead branch will be less flexible when bent and is likely to break.
If there are any dead branches prune them back to living wood. Failing to remove deadwood as part of tree care can result in diseases infecting the living tree.
The bark surrounding the trunk and branches of your trees is a good indication of your tree’s health. It should be free from damage. Any damage will be a route into the tree for insects or diseases.
It’s wise to protect trees from any infection by covering any cracks or wounds.
Most trees will retain the bark and if any bark is coming off the tree this indicates a health problem. There are a few trees where peeling bark is a feature of the tree and is completely natural. Some maple trees, birches, and eucalyptus shed their bark and this is fine.
If fungi or moss is growing on the bark of your trees this is a sign of potential weakness. The tree may need strengthening by rehabilitating the roots.
A deciduous tree is one that loses its leaves during the winter and regrows them again in the spring. It’s normal for the branches of deciduous trees to have bare branches during the winter. It’s not normal for a deciduous tree to have bare branches during the summer months so investigate any bare branches in case the branch has died.
Evergreen trees do not lose their leaves seasonally. The branches should hold leaves all year round. Sometimes, there will be bare branches where the branches have become bare.
These trees are ones that have needles rather than conventional broad leaves. Pine trees and spruces are examples of this type of tree. If the tree is short of water or nutrients it will protect itself by reducing the work it has to do to maintain itself and it does this by shedding needles.
A bare branch may be the result of pests eating the leaves. Diseases of various types can also strip leaves from the branches. Insect infestations can have the same effect.
Human impact on your trees can also result in loss of leaves. Poor pruning technique, improper use of pesticides, and careless use of weedkillers could all be possible causes.
The color of leaves can be an indicator of a health problem with your trees. Normal leaf color suggests the tree is healthy.
Deciduous trees most often have the following leaf color. This is likely to be green leaves in spring and throughout the summer. In the fall, leaves turn yellow, orange, or even red.
Evergreen trees are, as the name suggests, green throughout the year.
Some trees have natural healthy variations from the standard pattern. They may have patterns or variations in color on their leaves.
If leaves turn a different color from the standard color for the season there may be a problem. This is likely to be because the tree is not getting enough water or that it’s not getting the right nutrients.
The solution is to help the roots be more effective at providing both these essentials. Improving the soil and rehabilitating the roots will help.
Stress and Disease
If a tree is not producing fruit or flowers as it should or leaves are distorted the tree may be suffering from a disease. Any irregularity such as strange growth patterns, wounds in the tree, or loss of sap could indicate disease.
Signs or wilting also indicate that the tree is suffering some stress such as under or oversupply of water.
Tree Health Check
Check your trees for these signs of tree health. Apply the remedies or seek professional help. That way you will help your trees have a long and healthy life.
Make contact to discuss your tree’s health right now.