Tree Care After A Construction Project

Provided that you have done everything possible to guard against damage to your trees during a construction project. You have taken steps to avoid excess soil compaction near the tree & you have not disturbed anything inside the drip line of the tree which is the critical root zone. With proper care, trees moderately affected by construction damage will recover. Homeowners can help trees recover by practicing annual tree care as outlined in the following:

Aerate the soil. Pull out cores of soil 12 to 18 inches deep to aid movement of oxygen and moisture into soil and help combat compaction. Fertilizer may be placed in the holes. Use compost to backfill the holes. New roots quickly fill in the cores.

Water deeply. During dry periods, moisten the root zone of stressed trees. Let the water soak in 12 to 18 inches deep by applying a slow trickle throughout the spread of the tree’s roots.

Inspect the tree for damage. Stressed trees are more susceptible to disease and insect attack. Check them frequently to catch pest problems before they become severe. Treat with a pesticide, if necessary. Prune out any dieback that develops.

Mulch. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of trees helps prevent soil compaction, reduces weed competition and conserves soil moisture. Keep the mulch away from the tree trunk to prevent collar rot from developing.

Fertilize. Severely stressed trees should not be fertilized until they become re-established a year or two later. Young, rapidly growing trees should be fertilized annually. Mature trees may be fertilized every two or three years. Using a complete fertilizer, apply 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet. Fertilizer may be spread over the soil surface or distributed among aeration holes punched 12 inches deep every 2 feet under the tree’s canopy.

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