October 2015 webinar: How Can Minnesota’s Urban Forests Be More Functional?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015, noon – 1:00 p.m. Healthy urban and community forests provide a variety of public and private benefits relating to property values, water quality, recreational value, and quality of life considerations. Diverse, healthy urban forests provide greater ecosystem functionality. This presentation will focus on key practices to improve the functionality and value of urban forests. Speaker: Gary […]

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Seasonal Care for Trees and Shrubs in Northern U.S. Climates

Welcome to the world of tree care! In the left hand column of the image below, you will find links to the many maintenance duties you can do to help keep your landscape trees healthy and safe. The accompanying chart highlights the most favorable timing for the listed tree care activities. Below this chart you can find links to other complete chart versions that are larger and easier to read.

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Seasonal care for trees & shrubs: Safety

Inspect your landscape trees and shrubs often- especially after storms. After storms, hazard trees with loosely hanging branches or split trunks need to be removed as soon as possible to avoid any damage to buildings, people, and to other trees or shrubs.

At other times of the year keep a watchful eye for developing decay in trunks and roots, broken and hanging branches, dead branches or trees, an abnormally leaning tree, or anything that may indicate that a tree or part of it could fail and cause damage or injury.

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Seasonal care of trees & shrubs: Stem and branch protection

The stems of landscape trees and shrubs may need protection from animals or mechanical equipment, especially during the winter months. Animal damage (feeding or rubbing) can be avoided by placing wire mesh or hardware cloth at least 3” from the stem. Mechanical damage (e.g. lawn mower or weed whip abrasion) can be avoided when a mulch ring (see mulch) or a plastic guard is in place. The plastic guard should only encase the portion of the lower stem that is most likely to be damaged by lawn equipment. As the tree grows the plastic guard will need to be removed and replaced in order to prevent girdling or stem constriction.

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Seasonal care of trees & shrubs: Fertilizing

The recommendations in this chart refer only to nitrogen applications. Before fertilizing your landscape with a complete fertilizer (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium), contact a soil testing laboratory for a basic soil test [For MN only: U of MN Soil Testing Labratory]. A basic soil test will provide you with readings on organic matter, pH, cation exchange capacity, macronutrients and micronutrients (Smiley, 2003). Soil testing laboratories may offer timing and quantity recommendations for complete fertilizers (N-P-K).

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Seasonal care of trees & shrubs: Pruning deciduous branches

How to prune trees is an excellent publication designed to illustrate the types of pruning that can be done, how pruning cuts are made, when to prune different plants, and more.

Waiting until the plant is dormant is the safest time to do any live-branch pruning. However, unless the tree or shrub is susceptible to infectious disease (e.g., oak wilt, fire blight), removal of weak, diseased, crossing, rubbing, or dead limbs can be done throughout the year if needed.

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