Springtime maintenance tips for healthy trees all summer long

Even if your trees appear healthy and strong, they’ll also need a little spring cleaning to help them thrive all summer long. Here are some how-to tips to do just that.

Springtime maintenance tips for healthy trees all summer long

Like all living things, trees need attention if you want them to stay vibrant, healthy and flourish all summer long. As such, their maintenance needs will vary depending on the type of trees you have. Flowering, evergreens and fruit trees all have different care requirements.

Hardwoods

First inspect the trees to see if any branches are broken. This is a good time to tidy up the tree.

  • If you need to perform a little structural pruning (trimming healthy branches to maintain its shape or as a safety precaution), do so in early spring before the tree starts budding.
  • In some special instances, you must avoid pruning certain trees in March and April, as this is the time of year they produce sap. That includes species such as maple, birch, elm, walnut, poplar and willow. In this case, wait for their leaves to emerge before trimming.
  • Never remove more than 20 per cent of the branches of a tree. You can prune deciduous trees more aggressively in the fall, at the beginning of their dormant period.
  • Early spring is also the time to apply a layer of mulch around the trunks and to fertilize young or fragile trees.

Conifers

Conifers should not be trimmed in the spring, but rather in summer, when new needles start to emerge.

  • Conifers require very little maintenance or spring cleaning, unless they've been damaged over the winter. If so, damaged branches should be removed to prevent further harm to the tree.
  • Your cedar hedge can be trimmed any time during the year, although trimming in the fall will produce best results the following season.

Flowering trees

  • Flowering trees like magnolia, almond or shadberry should be pruned after flowering to stimulate next year’s production.

Fruit trees

An apple or pear tree in the yard is a beautiful feature for any property, and their blossoms are both colourful and deliciously fragrant but they can be high-maintenance.

  • In the spring, to ensure optimum fruit production, you’ll have to prune the entire tree. However, in fall when you're enjoying fresh fruit you'll be glad you did!

Remove "greedy" suckers on fruit trees

The most important thing to do is to cut the "greedy" green branches. These new stems grow vertically on the main horizontal and fruit-producing branches.

  • Suckers zap the tree of its energy and obscure the sunlight, which reduces the quantity and quality of the fruit.

Apply dormant oil spray and fertilizer

Spring is also the time to apply dormant oil. It helps rid the tree of harmful insect eggs, which have spent the winter nestled under the bark.

  • Dormant oil recipe: 15 millilitres of vegetable oil and five millilitres of dish soap diluted in a litre of water. Spray the trunk and branches in early spring before budding.

This is also the time to apply a small dose of fertilizer to your trees, especially mature fruit trees.

  • Note that fertilizing is best done in the spring and not in the summer, as the trees are just starting their most vigorous growth cycles.
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