Your Spring Tree Health Checklist

As spring approaches, it's important to check the health of your trees to make sure they are ready for another growing season. Trimming, transplanting, and heavy pruning are all better done before summer hits, so checking your trees for problems should be part of your regular spring yard maintenance. 

Here is a basic checklist to help ascertain the health of your tree, and whether you might need to provide extra care or trimming to keep your tree growing strong.

  1. Is there any damage to the bark? Bark damage can be common in winter. Animals like deer and rabbits can strip the bark from trees. Unfortunately, if the bark is stripped all the way around, there is little to be done to save a tree. Small patches of missing bark can be patched, saving your tree from infection or pests.
  2. Are all the leaves coming in together? Leaf growth indicates health. Leaves should come in evenly over the tree crown. If the top of the tree is missing growth, it's a sign of growth dieback, which means the tree has experienced stress. The crown dieback will need professional trimming to resolve, but it might not save the tree.
  3. Are there split or missing branches? Snowstorms can cause weight that cracks or breaks branches. Check branches for splits and openings. If you notice a branch is injured, prune it back properly before it breaks away from the tree. Pruning can prevent tree loss, as heavy branches can split into the trunk, causing irreparable damage. 
  4. Are there shoots and leaves near the base of the trunk? The presence of new growth near the base of the tree is troubling. Usually, this means the tree is struggling to survive. The new shoots are the tree's attempt to continue living but without the same energy requirements of feeding the entire tree together. Energy that should go to healing the canopy instead goes into these new leaves and shoots. Consult a tree care specialist about what can be done to save a tree that is in this stage of conservation. 
  5. Are there other living things using the tree? Look for ants, bees, termites, and other pests that will undermine the tree structure. You can also get an idea of the tree's health by looking for fungi or mushrooms, which thrive on trees that have decomposing sections. 

For more information on troubleshooting problems with your tree and its care, contact a local tree maintenance service.