Quick & easy ways to make sure the trees in your garden are healthy & free from disease. Discover how to spot problems early on.
How to Give Your Trees a Simple Health Check
If you’ve travelled around Buckinghamshire, you can’t have failed to have noticed that it’s a very leafy county. While some of the most notable trees are to be found on National Trust properties, such as the ancient woodland at Ashridge or the UK’s largest horse chestnut tree at Hughenden, many trees and hedges are in and around private gardens. They undoubtedly look lovely, but trees don’t come without problems.
As many of us are forced to spend much, if not all, of our time at home at the moment, we spoke to Milton Keynes tree surgeons Kings Landscapes (who cover the whole of Bucks) to find out how you can spot potential problems, what you can do about them, and when to call in the professionals.
Check out the leaves
A quick way to assess the health of a tree at this time of year is to take a look at how they come into leaf. Note whether the tree has bare patches or whether it has failed to come into leaf at the top. Problems with trees coming into leaf, known as leafing out, can indicate anything from disease to a dying tree.
As well as looking at whether leaves have grown, and whether coverage is thick and even, you can also check the colour of leaves. Uneven colouring can be a sign of nutrient deficiencies. If trees look yellowish when they should be green, for example, this could be a sign that they need a fertiliser treatment. Speaking to a qualified arborist will ensure that the correct fertiliser is applied, as they will be able to pinpoint which nutrients are low or missing.
Check for pests
While you are examining the leaves you may notice the presence of pests and insects. The Royal Horticultural Society has compiled a comprehensive guide to some of the most common pests found in UK gardens. Many of these can infest trees, particularly fruit trees.
Luckily there is a wide range of over the counter treatments that are more than adequate for treating minor infestation. Although, as with the application of any pesticide you should exercise caution when applying them, and follow the manufacturers guidelines.
Alternatively, if you are trying to avoid chemical use you may want to investigate biological pest control methods. While these aren’t suitable for the treatment of all pests, there are some that can be used.
Look for disease
As well as pests such as aphids and beetles, you should also check for signs of diseases. Besides problems with leaf growth or appearance, signs of diseases in trees can include
- Fluid seeping from tree trunks
- Growth on leaves or trunks
- Discoloured bark
- Dead twigs or branches
Spotting that something isn’t quite right with your tree or trees is usually much more straightforward than identifying what exactly is wrong. Given that the sooner a disease is treated the more likely you will have a positive outcome for your tree, it is recommended that as soon as you notice a problem then you seek professional advice. This can make the difference between being able to save the tree as oppose to having to fell it completely.
Check for damage
Even though the weather has been much improved lately, we’ve still seen some high winds which can cause damage to trees. Take some time to look around your garden and look for any damage to branches. Look for snapped branches, particularly those that could come dislodged, causing additional damage or even injury.
You may be able to remove lower branches yourself, but for anything significantly higher, it’s better and safer to speak to a tree surgeon. To eliminate physical contact, look for a tree surgeon who offers an online quotation service and can work without requiring contact. This will allow you to submit photos of your problem, and they can come back to you with an idea of cost. As all work will be carried out outside your home, you won’t need to have any concerns about breaking any social distancing guidelines.
Check for blocked pavements and walkways
As trees and shrubs start to grow more vigorously, make sure that they are not blocking pavements or other walkways. Under the Highway Act, homeowners or occupiers have a legal responsibility to ensure that any ‘public highway’ next to their property is not obstructed.
Generally, cutting back trees and shrubs is a relatively easy task that can be tackled yourself. Although for larger jobs you might again want to get the professionals in. This also has the added advantage that they will take any debris away with them, leaving your site clear.
A note on security
As more and more of us are having domestic CCTV fitted it’s also worth checking that trees haven’t grown in such a way to obstruct their view. This is something that is frequently overlooked, but a security system that only provides you with a view of foliage is no use to anyone. Make sure that you check any cameras regularly.
Having trees on your property has a number of advantages. They can provide shade, create a secure border and offer a habitat for local wildlife, and of course they look beautiful. If you do have trees however ensure that you carry out the easy checks that we have outlined in order to keep them healthy for years to come.