Summer is time for soaking up the sun — which is exactly what your trees are doing. By shading your home and property, trees are reducing your energy bill, creating a cool and sheltered place to relax outside, and providing beauty and value to your property. Though you may think they're perfectly healthy following their spring show of bursting buds and blooms, there are best management practices to consider every season, and staying on top of your trees needs instead of waiting for an issue to arise is the best (and most cost effective) way to keep them safe and beautiful year-round. Below is a list of recommended services to consider for your landscape this summer…
SHAPING, DEAD WOOD & REMOVALS
You may have spotted dead wood on other seasonal lists. That’s because it’s a task that can be done any time of year and should be taken care of regularly for the the tree’s health (dead wood begets dead wood and attracts pests and diseases to the tree). Plus, if we’re talking dead wood, now is a good time to take out the biggest form of dead wood — dead trees — which are an obvious eye sore in your landscape now that everything around them are lush and green.
Another great pruning task for summer is shaping, since the tree is all leafed out and the fast spring growth has begun to slow. By now, your once tidy tree may be reaching a little too close to your house, driveway, or street and needs to be gently trimmed back into place. While a skilled tree worker can shape a tree even in winter when it doesn’t have leaves, you’ll get that instant gratification dopamine hit by seeing it go from shaggy to orderly in a matter of hours and stay that way the rest of the growing season and even into next spring.
As an added bonus, if you have a real runaway tree that’s simply outgrowing its space year after year, substantial shaping pruning in the summer could help to reduce its growth the following year and lessen the maintenance burden in the long run.
ROOT & SOIL CARE
Drought is a recurring issue for us in Texas. If you find your soil drying out in the summer, you’ll want to use a long, slow watering process. Too often folks water everything the way they would their grass, with a weekly (or even daily) spritz. Trees prefer to swing back and forth between wet state and dry state, as opposed to staying slightly damp round the clock. Instead, roughly twice a month (more in extreme heat/drought conditions and/or for stressed or new trees), give your trees a slow, thorough soak. As a general rule, you’ll want to water until the soil is saturated, or you can see water standing on the surface. Then wait until the soil is completely dry even a few inches below the surface before watering again. You can also consider having your trees and landscape beds freshly mulched this time of month, as mulch helps prevent moisture evaporation from the soil and insulates the soil from the hot sun.
Summer is also a good time for soil amendments. In forests and other uninhabited areas, trees receive plenty of food in the form of organic matter (leaves, logs, plants, and animals) rotting on the forest floor. But in most urban landscapes, soil is severely lacking in nutrients because we keep our lawns and flowerbeds mowed and clean. That’s why fertilization and other PHC (plant health care) services are important to keep your trees healthy. In the hot, dry months, it’s a good idea to make sure your trees have the nutrition they need to continue thriving.
If you didn’t already have your trees inspected when it leafed out in the spring, now is the time to jump on that bandwagon. Prevention is by far the best strategy when it comes to pests and diseases that could harm your tree. Frequently, by the time an infestation or infection is discovered, the damage has already been done and it’s much harder (read: costly) or even impossible to help the tree recover. Having an Arborist look over your trees once a year can help head off any threats before they strike, keeping your urban forest healthy and beautiful for decades.
SEVERE WEATHER PREP
Though DFW is far enough north to not have to worry too much about hurricane season, we still get some pretty rough summer thunderstorms rolling in from the west. Not to mention our trees often fall victim to ice loading in the winter, so you can get ahead of the curve by anticipating those risks now. If you’re already having your trees assessed by an Arborist, ask if any of them are considered high-risk to your property (as in, if they fell or broke, would you end up with a hole in your roof or a tree on top of your car?) and if anything can be done to minimize that risk. Often times, weight reduction pruning (especially now while the tree is full of heavy leaves) is enough to help, and in some cases cabling or bracing may be recommended for added protection.
HOT WEATHER PLANTING
Depending on the species, the heat of summer can actually encourage roots to grow more quickly. There can also be a better chance of avoiding transplant shock which occurs when roots are relocated from cooler to warmer climates. Plus you’re more likely to see fuller leaves in the hot weather. And finally, you’ll see blooms sooner than planting in the fall, when the tree is dormant. Some trees that do well with summer planting include crepe myrtles, red maples, Emerald Green arborvitae, palms, cacti and yucca.
So get out and enjoy the warmth and sun this summer, but don’t forget about the gentle green giants keeping you and your home shady. If nothing else, at least give them a drink for all the hard work they do providing value to your home and family!