by Eric Pugh, Natural Resource Forester
Everyone gets excited about their yards in the spring from their lawn to their perennials and annuals and their trees. Here are some tips to consider about planting, pruning, and caring for your trees through the seasons.
- The premium time to plant trees is in the fall from Sept 1 to Oct 15. Trees will continue to grow roots and expand the root system without having to support the top and leaves during this time frame giving them the best chance to thrive. Trees can be planted in the spring and summer but need more care and a lot of water.
- While we have some choice when we plant trees, pruning trees should only happen in the winter months. This is not true for bushes and hedges. The best time to prune bushes and hedges is when you have the time!
- Stake trees, not rigidly, for one year only.
- When choosing your tree, choose one that has a large root container with a good quality top. Trees grown in an ideal nursery situation that have a large trunk and canopy and small root container will will typically not thrive and may die.
- Choose native trees. Non-natives and special variants are typically not as durable in the landscape over time.
- Diversity, diversity, and more diversity.... over planting the same species is a large problem in our urban forests. Maple trees are overwhelmingly represented currently in local communities. Oaks are under used because people want a faster growing tree. But it is equally important to consider the long term future of properties. Elm trees are actually starting to make a comeback.
- The current tree topic in the news is all about the Emerald Ash Borer. It is likely to devastate the ash in the canopy. Treat your young and/or healthy ash trees now and continue to treat to maintain. Losing the ash is going to decrease our diversity for a time. Look to replace them with natives or the newly developed Elm trees.
*Eric has his B.S. in Forestry from Iowa State University and is currently serving on the Winterset, Iowa Tree Commission.