As winter approaches and Maryland vegetable gardens are no more, it is a good time to turn our attention to caring for our trees. While it is too late to transplant established trees you can still plant new ones. Or, you can prune and feed your trees.
Please continue to water your trees if the weather is dry. Currently the rainfall in Baltimore is well below average for November. Make sure the soil around the tree is damp but not soggy. Mulch can help keep the soil moist but it should be only about two to three inches deep. Avoid mulching with leaves or other debris from your garden as this could harbor bugs or diseases. Also, if you have a problem with voles they will be attracted to tunneling in deep mulch.
Fall is a good time to prune trees because once the leaves begin to fall you can better see the structure of the tree. At the very least, remove any diseased or dead limbs. After that, step back from the tree and see if there are any branches that are too long or that prevent the tree from having a pleasing shape. Trim carefully and step back and look at your work frequently.
Mature trees do not need to be fertilized but younger trees can benefit from an application of a low phosporous high nitrogen fertilizer. This can be done as long as the ground is not frozen. You should use about 1 to 1 ½ pounds of fertilizer for each 1,000 square feet. Begin under the tree and spread the fertilizer to 8 to 10 feel outside of the tree’s canopy.
Fall is also a good time to assess the health of your trees and consider removing any that are dangerously decayed. You don’t want a tree falling on your house or car after one of our Maryland ice storms.
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