Healthy Trees Begin from the Ground Up

The phrase ‘healthy trees begin from the ground up’ underscores the idea that a tree’s vitality and longevity directly result from the care and attention given to its roots and the soil in which it grows. Proper tree planting, followed by maintenance practices, including root care, soil management, and ongoing care, are essential for nurturing healthy trees. This is especially important in Minnesota’s climate, where the growing season is shorter, and the loss of a mature tree to your landscape can have an impact for decades to come. Read our expert advice on how to ensure your trees have the proper foundation to thrive from the ground up! 

How to give your trees a strong foundation for growth

In order for your trees to do more than survive, there are several things to consider in the urban landscape. Keep in mind that the forest floor provides optimal growing conditions that likely don’t exist in your yard. And, trees can cost several hundred dollars to purchase and plant–maintaining its health is a small cost to protect that investment. Below are considerations for giving your trees the healthy foundation they deserve.

tree planting

Proper planting is the first step

Planting a tree correctly is essential for its long-term health. This includes ensuring that the tree is planted at the right depth, with proper spacing, and that it receives adequate initial care, such as watering and mulching. Issues such as stem girdling roots due to improper planting can cause a tree to fail once it reaches a certain size. Read our expert tips on proper tree planting here!

A properly mulched tree

Mulch around your tree

Mulching around the base of a tree helps regulate soil temperature, retain moisture, and prevent weed competition. The root structure of turfgrass will compete for nutrients and moisture (and win), and mulching eliminates this competition. In addition to supporting your tree’s health and growth, mulching the base of a tree can reduce the likelihood of damage from mowing, edging, and soil compaction.

trickle from a hose watering a tree

Water, water, water!

Newly planted trees require regular watering for approximately two years to help establish roots. Mature trees native to Minnesota do not require frequent watering unless there are drought conditions–however, with three consecutive years of drought from 2021-2023, even mature trees may experience decline or die without supplemental irrigation. Get pro tips on how to water your trees properly!

Pruning the roots of a tree

Protect those roots

The health of a tree’s roots is critical for its overall well-being. A healthy, well-established root system provides your tree with essential nutrients, water, and stability. Proper root care, such as adequate soil aeration and avoiding soil compaction, is essential for ensuring that the tree can access these resources. Additionally, protecting a tree’s roots from damage–such as construction activities, mowing or edging damage, or heavy foot traffic–is vital. Root system damage can weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to insects and diseases. 

Airspade breaking up the soil

Manage nutrients in the soil

Due to construction, turfgrass, and other landscape practices, most urban soil is depleted of the nutrients that provide a sustainable environment for optimal root development. Testing your soil and adding the right nutrients through fertilization and organic matter can promote healthy growth and resilience against pests and diseases.

Tree Pruning

Professional tree pruning

Young trees require formative pruning as a maintenance practice to help develop strong branches and tree trunks. Formative pruning also minimizes costly corrective pruning once trees mature, which helps them live longer and look better. In particular, fast-growing tree species (such as Autumn Blaze Maple, Silver Maple, Elm, and Cottonwood) are prone to developing a weak structure without formative pruning as often as every 1-3 years.

Concerned about your tree’s health? Schedule a consultation with one of our experts today!

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