It’s fall. What should you be doing for your trees?

Apples, Cider, and Art-Prize signal that the Michigan summer is coming to a close. Trees are already lighting into their October glory of brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. Soon enough, Halloween and leaves will signal the approach of colder, harsher weather. While some of us may lament the end of Michigan’s brief summer, fall is a perfect time to concentrate on the care of our trees.

Cooler temperatures and wet weather mean that fall is a perfect time for tree planting. The extra months prior to our hot, dry summers give our fall-planted trees a boost. Indeed, fall-planted trees consistently outperform those planted during other times of the year. If you have been putting off installing a new tree, it’s time to visit your local nursery and tackle that project.

As trees go dormant during the fall months, they have stored significant sugars to provide for the spring leaf flush. Removing branches at this time will not significantly deplete a trees resource. Fall and winter are perfect times for pruning. Take some time to examine your trees and observe safety or health concerns. If a problem would require that your feet leave the ground or power equipment be utilized, contact a reputable tree service. Otherwise, grab your loppers and pruning saw and get to work.

Significant daily changes in temperature during the winter can cause rapid expansion and contraction of a tree’s bark — causing damage. Young, smooth-bark trees (e.g. maple) should be wrapped with a white or cloth tree-wrap along their main truck. These wraps can be purchased at most gardening centers and should be applied each fall and removed each Spring until the tree is well established.

Contrary to popular belief, trees still need water in the fall. In Michigan, we often have sufficient water to support our trees until the ground freezes. However, if we experience a fall dry-spell, it might be important to apply several gallons of water to your young trees — even if they have no leaves. As long as the ground is not frozen, your tree is still growing.

Lastly, consider checking your mulch levels. Ground level should be flush with the tree’s root collar. Remove any excess mulch and keep at least 3 to 4 inches away from the root collar. Excess mulch may create a suitable home for rodents who might gnaw at the tree during a harsh winter.

Whether you plan to plant, prune, or wrap we hope you find Michigan’s gorgeous fall a perfect opportunity to dedicate some time to your trees. Remember, if you don’t have trees or get your work done early, come out and lend us a hand. October is NeighborWoods; let’s show our trees we care.

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