You may have the idea that the trees in your yard are well-established, resilient, and capable of taking care of themselves — which is mostly true. Although mature trees are pioneers of survival, there are some things you can do to help preserve the old trees in your backyard.
Spread Mulch around the Trunk
Spreading mulch around the trunk of a tree is one of the best things you can do for it. Mulch insulates the soil and provides protection from heat and cold temperatures. It also retains water to help keep roots moist, prevents weeds from growing and competing with the roots for resources, and discourages soil compaction and lawn mower damage.
Add mulch around your tree by removing grass within three to ten feet around the trunk, depending on its size. Spread an even layer of mulch a few inches thick and make sure it doesn’t actually touch the trunk so that it does not suffocate the tree. Rake through your mulch occasionally to prevent fungus and encourage better drainage.
Protect the Bark
A tree’s bark is its protective armor which keeps the underlying and vulnerable growing tissue and water vessels safe. Keep landscaping tools such as mowers and weed whackers from striking and damaging the tree’s bark. Avoid hanging things such as rope swings and hammocks as the rope can wear away the bark.
Water during Long Dry Spells
Although mature trees have deep roots and can usually thrive off rainfall, they still need watering during long dry spells that last more than a few weeks to avoid stress.
A mature tree needs a deep, slow watering so that the roots have time to absorb the water. Lay your hose at the base of the tree and turn it on to a slow trickle. Move the hose a few feet every 20 minutes or so until the water is distributed equally throughout the root zone.
Prevent Compacted Soil
It’s important to keep the soil around a tree’s root zone from becoming too compacted. Compacted soil makes it hard for a tree to absorb the vital water, air, and nutrients it needs to be healthy. If a tree is in compacted soil, it may decline in health over time or even die.
Prevent compacted soil by deterring foot traffic and heavy loads such as parked cars or equipment.