Schedule a tree analysis with an arborist: A professional can best determine the health and stability of a tree in your yard and provide advice on how to care for it. What you pay an arborist now for a sound assessment might save you money later, ensure a long life for your tree, and provide your family with years of enjoyment.
Eliminate chemicals: Soil that has been chemically treated over many years can become degraded as the organic components—the trillions of microscopic living organisms that enrich soil—are compromised. To improve soil health for trees over time, add mulch and compost to at least some portion of the tree’s root zone. As a tree matures, its root system will also act to improve the health of the surrounding soil.
Plant native trees: Trees that are local to our area—such as White oaks, Black tupelo, and Sugar maples--tend to be more resilient than ornamental species from other countries. As trees face greater stresses from heat, drought, and disease, a wide variety of native species in your yard will ensure that should the worst happen, some trees will survive. Native trees also address drastic declines in biodiversity by supporting local insects, birds, and mammals with food and shelter. Defining the Landscapes of Bronxville, published by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy (2016) and available in the Bronxville Library, offers a detailed appendix describing Bronxville’s native trees, with photos. Native tree information can also be found here.
Cut invasive vines: Oriental bittersweet, Porcelain berry, English ivy, and Mile-A-Minute are just a few invasive species, common to our area, that climb tree trunks and smother foliage. Once well established, they can weaken, kill, and bring down otherwise healthy trees. It’s important to cut the vines near their base and allow them to die. Never attempt to pull them off the tree, which can endanger you and further harm the tree.
Consider trees when changing or adding hardscape: More frequent storms, and an increasingly built-up environment, make trees more vulnerable. Every time we pave over or build something new on the land, we reduce the area for rainwater to seep into the ground. The open land that remains becomes waterlogged faster. Because most tree roots are only two feet deep and run horizontally well beyond the drip line of the tree, this saturation weakens the tree. Digging or paving over can harm the tree’s root system. It can also change rainwater run-off patterns, which can impact trees.
Be proactive after a storm: Check for broken or hanging limbs, trunk cracks, or newly exposed roots. Hire a professional to remove any hazards. Resist the urge to over prune and never top your trees. Any professional who is pruning your trees should take care to preserve what experts call their architecture, the balanced placement of limbs along the trunk that give trees their stability and strength.
One key to maintaining a healthy tree canopy is to include trees of all ages—from saplings to mature trees. When you lose a mature tree on your property, please consider replacing it. In fact, don’t wait for the older tree to come down. Plant a young tree today so that when its elder does die, it will be well on its way to maturity. And remember, autumn is a great time to plant trees!