5 Keys to Preventative Tree Maintenance

While we are still enjoying the warm rays of summer, it pays to start thinking about your tree maintenance before winter hits. We all know that the weather has been a bit extreme, and after many years of drought and unpredictable weather patterns – it’s hard to know exactly what to expect in Central Valley this winter. That’s why it is always best to plan and prevent rather than deal with a tree problem once it occurs.

Trees can become wind traps, and strong gusts can cause them to collapse on cars, property, and even people – thus, preventative measures are the best way to stop this from happening. Winter also means rain, which increases the chance of disease and rot in trees; therefore, they are particularly susceptible to collapse at that time of year.

These are our preventative tree maintenance tips that will help your trees make it through the winter:

Scheduled pruning

One of the first steps in preventative tree maintenance is to schedule your pruning correctly. Pruning the smaller branches in trees creates more of a corridor for the wind to travel through and makes it less likely to catch the bigger branches of your trees, causing them to topple.

Shear - Garden Tool

Research the best times of the year to prune the trees in your garden and then stick to it – year after year. The California Native Plant Society provides this handy post on pruning Californian native species. Exotic trees may have a different schedule than native plants, so check out exactly when you should be pruning. It’s also important to remember that spring and summer are prime bird nesting seasons, and you should watch for nests during your tree maintenance in these seasons.

Assess your trees before the storm.

Pre-winter maintenance should be done yearly, as it is the best time to identify weak branches, diseased trees, or rotting root systems. As landscape maintenance professionals, we are inundated with calls after the season's first storm, mainly from people who have failed to identify weak spots at the end of summer.

So, to avoid injury or damage to your property, we highly advise that you schedule a pre-winter check for all of your large trees. Your pre-winter check can be done on your own, but for the bigger trees that may be of concern – calling a tree maintenance company is undoubtedly your best bet.

Watch for signs

One of the most important aspects of any tree maintenance preventative plan is identifying when your trees have potential problems. The most pressing things to keep an eye out for are:

    • Deadwood: Dead branches don’t bend with the wind as living branches do; therefore, they tend to break a lot more easily. Any dead branches should be removed immediately.
    • Cracks: Large cracks in the tree trunk or branches should be noted, and a professional should check just how deep the cracks go—if they go deeper than the bark, they will be considered dangerous.
    • Decay: The worst thing about trying to figure out whether there is decay in your tree is that it starts in the middle, and the tree itself will keep growing around it. This can make the core incredibly weak and could result in collapse. This is something best diagnosed by professionals.
    • Root issues: Trees with root issues are the most likely to blow over, so you must keep watching your roots for signs. The most common indicators of root problems are cracked/broken roots, leaning trees, and obvious signs of rot in roots above ground. Even trees move in the soil on wet, windy days.
    • Watch for mistletoe in the canopy of the tree. Early detection is critical to the survival of the tree.  Remove immediately

Consider hiring professionals

Tree maintenance is a big task – it can take up much time and is potentially dangerous. Consider hiring a local company to do the checks for you, as they have experience, and their expert opinions are invaluable. This is especially true regarding commercial properties, as understandably you aren’t there 24 hours a day, and falling trees/branches can cause tons of damage to expensive property, or even worse, to one of your clients.

You can get extra tips on year-round tree maintenance from experienced professionals and have more expert advice at your fingertips. Find out everything you need to know about maintaining your commercial property by reading our ebook Landscape Maintenance for Commercial Property, which can be downloaded here.