How To Care For Old Trees

The majestic oaks and the towering maples which provide shade and branches strong enough to hold a swing require special attention.

As trees age and become more mature, they focus their energy to maintaining living tissue. They devote less energy for extending limbs and root or increasing girth” says David Mercker, Ph.D. An Extension forester from the University of Tennessee. “Old trees don’t focus on growing; they’re focused on their survival.”

The time a tree is considered “old” is based on the type of tree. Mercker mentions that sequoias along the West Coast have been around thousands of years ago, while redbuds in the East Coast might not live longer than a few years.

Mature trees, sometimes referred to as veterans trees, or heritage trees, in recognition of their size, age and condition, do not just look great, but they also provide significant benefits to the landscape. The larger trees are more efficient than their sapling counterparts in helping to save energy, cut down on stormwater runoff, enhance the quality of air and provide wildlife habitat. They also provide habitat for wildlife. U.S. Forest Service also estimates that mature, healthy trees could boost property values by at a rate of 10 percent.

Mercker observes that trees with a long history have stood the age of the trees, adding, “Old trees know how to survive; they have endured the heat, droughts, and floods and they have learned to adapt.”

Tree Care Tips for Aging

Older trees require extra care to grow. In order to make sure that older trees are healthy keep these maintenance tips in mind:

Dr. David Mercker

Take the grass off:Your lawn competes with the roots of your tree for water and nutrients. The removal of grass under the tree canopy will redirect the needed resources towards the tree, which helps it grow in older years. Mercker recommends using a labeled herbicide to kill grass or using manual labor to get rid of the sod layer.

Mulch can be added:Mulch helps retain moisture it also helps control weeds competing against the trees for nutrients. It also promotes earthworm activity for better soil health. It also assists in loosening the soil, which gives the roots to expand.

“If you take a look at the floor of the forest there’s nothing but mulch,” Mercker says.

The mulch layer under the canopy of trees should be anywhere between two and three inches deep , and as wide as is possible.

Check the soil Test the soil:Contact your local extension at your university for soil testing. Mercker suggests knowing the soil’s pH and balance of nutrients within your soil can help make decisions regarding fertilizing your older trees. Based on the results of your test your extension specialist will suggest changes to improve the condition of your soil. The addition of organic matter is a typical suggestion. An arborist who is licensed can inject liquid fertilizers into your tree in order to correct nutritional deficiencies.

Take note of pruning veteran trees begin to cut off their lower limbs and their interior branches, and focus their efforts on the maintenance of higher outer branches. It’s recommended to remove limbs that appear in decline or dead (which can improve aesthetics and safety and also improves the health of trees). Avoid cutting healthy limbs as mature trees do not produce any new growth.

Prune during the dormant period not in when it is growing, according to Mercker.

“The sap that flows from the wound could attract insects which carry diseases, and may make the tree die” the doctor adds.

Increase the amount of irrigation like saplings, older trees need lots of water. It is particularly crucial to turn on the hose to the huge roots during times of drought. When watering trees that are old It is best to water them in the evening when the trees are less stressed by the heat. Use drip irrigation or a soaker hose to slowly increase the amount of water in the soil.

“As they get older certain trees may be larger than buildings, and require a great deal of water to sustain them,” Mercker says. “Watering is important to do in a controlled manner as trees age.”

Even with the best of care the trees weren’t designed to live for ever. Most of the time, Mercker explains, the sugar (energy) required to sustain the tree is greater than the production of the tree, leading to the tree to end up dying. This process can happen quickly or it could take years. An arborist certified by a professional can evaluate the health and longevity of your tree, and give additional suggestions for the care of your tree.

How old is my Tree? Simple Method to estimate the Tree’s Age

The first step to estimate the age of a tree is to determine the circumference of the tree, as University of Michigan student Esther D’Mello is doing. Credit: University of Michigan. Mich. SEAS, CC 2.0

The age of a tree can be accurately determined by observing those annual rings that are located in the trunk. You can get them by using an increment borer that removes a cross-sectional plug from the middle of the tree (or keep it in place until it topples it), which allows you to determine the number of annual rings to determine an idea of the age for the trees.

If you do not have a borer in your arsenal (or you’d prefer not to cut down your favourite conifer to get an excellent view of the rings of the tree) it’s still possible to determine the age of each tree. All you need is a measurement tape as well as a little math.

The reason is that The Atlanta-based International Society for Aboraculture developed an algorithm to determine the approximate age of trees that are already in existence. The formula is able to be used to estimate how old a tree is provided you know the species. Trees grow at an average rate. Learn the growth rate of your tree and then you can estimate the age of your tree.

Step 1: Take a measurement of the tree’s the circumference of the trunk.

Place the tape in the middle of the tree. Take measurements the same way arborists do it -not at levels at the ground but rather at the breast, which is about 4 1/2 feet above the ground. Jot down the measurement, in inches. This is what’s known as the “DBH” -“DBH” – size at the breast height.

Step 2 Step 2: Calculate the diameter

The maths are coming. Remember learning pi school? It’s that infinity number 3.14andonandon. It’s about to be useful. The diameter of the circle will be pi (3.14) times the circumference. The circumference is already there therefore to calculate an estimate of the size of the tree,, divide your circumference in 3.14.

For instance on an oak tree that has 72 feet of circumference, the diameter would be around 23 inches (72 multiplied 3.14 = 22.9). 3.14 equals 22.9)

Step 3. Multiply Diameter Growth Factor

Based on our years of observations and observation, we have a general idea of the rate at which trees develop. To determine what age your tree has, simply multiply its diameter by inches by the rate of growth.

Below are a few common trees and their growth rates along with an example of age calculation for a tree that is 5 feet (60 inches) in circumference.

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