Spring 2015 - Why Should I Care for My Trees

By: Keith Glaznap, Certified Arborist #WI0678A

Well what do you think? Do trees need our help? I was first introduced to this line of thinking early in my career as people would ask me, “Why do I need to treat my trees?” Some tree species as a whole have thrived in their native environments for perhaps thousands of years. One scientific fact that helps to explain this can be stated simply that nature does not care about individual trees; it cares about the survival of the species. Many trees die every day in the natural environment. It is part of the cycle of life. So why would we want to care for the trees in our yards or on our properties?

The philosophical answer to this question is actually pretty simple. We want to care for our trees because they are part of our everyday lives. Maybe it’s the tree that acts as a bird sanctuary in front of your window or it’s the towering oak that provides shade and beauty for your entire yard. Or maybe it’s a tree that you never gave much thought to until it became a risk to you and your family as it began to die. The trees in your yard are not simply random trees out in nature. Rather your trees are living with you and they do have an impact on your lives. 

The scientific answer to this question is also pretty simple, although perhaps not as obvious. The key to this answer lies in an earlier comment I made. I mentioned that trees have thrived in their ‘native environments.’ The soils in our yards have been forever altered by the construction process and the urban environment.

Construction has stripped away the fragile layers of topsoil and compacted the less fertile soil that is left behind. If some of our trees were present at the time of construction there would have undoubtedly been tree roots cut, torn, and killed from any grading or digging activity. Another point is that most of us have planted lawns under these trees. This has further altered the microbiology of the soil making it less suitable for growing trees. Finally we must also remember that many of the trees we select for our landscapes are not native to the soils where we live. All of these factors put an enormous amount of stress on our trees which can cause them to decline long before their time. 

Whether your reasons for tree care are philosophical or science based, an arborist can take steps to help you manage the stress in your trees. Strategies may involve improving root development, improving soil microbiology, improving nutrient availability, or a combination of all three. These strategies can help to extend the life of your stressed trees beyond what they might be capable of on their own.  In order to properly assess your trees, your certified arborist at Wachtel Tree Science must first determine what your goals and needs are as a client. The next steps are to assess the level of stress in your trees and the quality of the site on which they are growing. Once all three of these key pieces of information are considered your arborist will then be able to help you determine what is appropriate for you and your trees. See what you can do for the stress in your trees and call to schedule an appointment with your Wachtel certified arborist today!

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