The year passed by too fast and fall is almost around the corner. We must be anticipating the orange leaves, hot cognacs, warm clothes and finally the arrival of winter, but amidst all this excitement and anticipation, we usually tend to forget how much our trees need to be taken care of during this time. The leaves are turning yellow and sooner than you know, they will start falling. The trees will soon go to sleep – and this is the time it requires us to take care of it so it can be prepared for the spring bloom.
Proper tree care during fall is necessary so that the tree can remain healthy while it rests and once the spring season comes, come back to life again. Delaying the tree maintenance until winter will make it difficult for your efforts to reap fruitful results because winter simply makes the job harder to be done.
Why is fall ideal for tree maintenance?
One may wonder why fall is the perfect time to start tree maintenance. During fall, the tree goes dormant and all the vital activities happening inside the tree stop temporarily. Also, the pathogens that are responsible for causing diseases in trees are inactive during the fall, because of which the chances of fresh tree cuts being infected are very low.
Cutting and pruning the trees during warm months will make them more susceptible to infections and diseases. Take them as just as us humans; we must let our wounds dry out and keep them away from water and humid conditions or the bacteria start building in. It applies to the trees as well. A tree must be prepared to recover from the hot weather that just went by, in order to have a healthy long life. Proper tree maintenance gives strength to trees to face the harsh winter weather as well, so they can maintain their vitality during spring.
Proper fertilization during fall
Soil is the most important element when it comes to plant growth. Soil has all the nutrients that are required for the plant to grow healthy. If the nutrient content in the soil is inadequate, it directly affects the growth and becomes the reason for many diseases. Excessive heat during summer can affect the soil. It increases the heat stress on the soil, which then affects the tree’s ability to transpire properly. If the heat stress is combined with water stress, it affects tree’s water uptake, which will affect the overall root growth, especially in young trees. The way to protect the soil and ultimately your tree is to regularly fertilize the soil during the fall season, so it can restore all the nutrients it lost during the summer.
Fertilizers naturally release nutrients, gradually over the period of months, which is why fall is perfect for soil improvement so when the spring comes, the tree can be ready. Other than this, fall and winter are normally dry temperature wise, so the nutrients do not evaporate from the soil as they do in summers. High quality commercial fertilizers contain all the essential nutrients that a tree needs to grow. This allows the soil to feed on the fertilizers and let the roots grow. You can use compost, organic matter, and organic fertilizers. If your soil has too much alkaline content in it, you can add acidifiers like peat moss, pine needles, limejuice or elemental sulfur in the soil to increase its acidity.
Watering in fall
When the winter comes, it becomes difficult for roots to absorb water from the soil. Watering trees in winter is different than watering them in summers or spring. When the fall comes, you are not supposed to water evergreen and deciduous trees at the onset of the season, so the water does not promote any further growth and allow the tree to enter into dormancy. You start watering the plant in late autumn where all the leaves have fell down. Evergreen trees will not go in complete dormancy though.
Shallow watering will not work in winter to keep the tree hydrated. Deep-water injections are required along with a water irrigation system when the winter finally arrives. This is because the frost will prevent the roots to absorb water from the soil. Do not water near the trunk, instead water around the drip line, which is where the feeder roots will draw up all the water from.
Pruning trees in fall
Do not prune trees during fall because fresh wound will not be able to heal quickly and decayed fungi leave their spores during this season. Pruning stimulates growth and pruning the tree in fall will spur growth just when the tree is about to go dormant and this will weaken the tree.
Leave the tree in its natural state during fall. Also, do not prune the tree if it is damp around it or the weather is humid because it will lead to growth of many diseases. However, winter is the most common season when people prune their trees, since the tree is dormant so it could result in significant growth of new branches in spring.
Planting new trees in fall
It is believed that fall is when the lifecycle of plants is paused and no growth takes place during this time. However, the truth is quite the contrary. Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees because it enables the tree to establish its roots before the spring starts and when it does come, the tree is already in the position to grow faster.
After planting the tree, you are supposed to water the plant every week up to 2 inches. Do this before the first frost. Make sure to wrap the trunks of young trees when the winter comes, around November, to protect it from extreme cold, frost cracks and sunscald which causes permanent damage to tree barks. However, remove the wrap when the spring begins. To maintain the soil temperature around the young trees during winters, mulch up to 2 to 4 inches. This will protect the tree from damage caused due to fluctuations in soil temperature and will contain the warmth inside.