Keep Trees Healthy During Fall With Our Tree Care Checklist

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One of the most beautiful signs of fall’s arrival is the leaves changing colors and falling off.

More than just the sign of pumpkin spice and peppermint sweets, these falling leaves are also a sign that it’s time to make sure trees are ready for winter.

Now is an ideal time to make sure your trees are not only ready to make it through winter, but to thrive in the spring. By taking advantage of these chilly days to care for your trees, you can keep them safe while also providing them with the ideal habitat for growth in the seasons to come.

To make sure your trees are prepared to withstand the winter weather and keep growing well, we’ve prepared the following comprehensive fall tree care checklist.

Soil Care

The rich soil that trees grow in is what allows them to flourish. Often, this soil and these nutrients come from fallen leaves and organic matter that is present on the forest floor.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case for your home’s landscaping. There are three specific things you can do to enhance your home’s soil and make it more nourishing.

Fertilize In The Fall

Applying a slow-release fertilizer in the fall helps to ensure that trees obtain more nutrients.

Slow-release fertilizers provide your tree with nutrients throughout the course of the following seasons in a manner that mimics nature. 

Having steady access to nutrients encourages plants to develop new leaves, roots, and wood as the seasons change.

Fresh Mulch

Top-notch, organic mulch helps your trees maintain healthy growth. It contributes to the soil’s organic content, preserves soil moisture, keeps soil temperatures stable, and strengthens soil against erosion.

Wood chips, weed-free straw, and ground-up leaves can all be used to create organic mulch.

So, just how much mulch should you add to your trees? In the fall, add 1 to 2 inches of fresh mulch made of shredded hardwood and leaves to the area around the tree. 

As a note, it’s best to avoid so-called volcano mulching which involves covering the tree’s trunk in a thick layer of mulch. This runs the risk of decaying the bark surrounding the trunk. It’s best to keep the mulch 2 to 3 inches away from it.

Don’t forget to mulch in the fall before the ground freezes. When possible, distribute the mulch over fallen leaves as opposed to removing them to provide even more nourishment.

Lower Irrigation Needs

During the hot, dry months of summer, irrigation systems can keep your garden and your landscape green and flourishing. 

As fall approaches, the temperatures drop and rainfall increases. This leads to the soil naturally staying more moist, meaning plants require less water given to them.

Trees also require less additional water as they lose their leaves and go dormant. Soils lose less water via direct evaporation when the temperature drops. 


To prevent soil flooding, irrigation should be scaled back or even stopped. For advice on your particular situation, feel free to reach out to our team at Beautiful Country Tree Services

Overwatering at this point can lead to root disease developing and choking the roots in the soil.

To avoid this, reduce irrigation until soils are typically damp and cool to the touch, but never inundated – unless by normal rainfall.

Clean Up

The next crucial fall tree maintenance stage is the clean-up process. 

To help keep trees healthy this fall, deal with leaves and branches in the proper manner.

Get Rid Of Leaf Piles

The fall is when a tree’s leaves are at their most beautiful. However, they do fall down eventually.

The key to maintaining the health of your yard and preventing the growth of snow mold is raking them up. Rake fallen leaves onto a plastic tarp before moving them to make transporting them simpler.

Put yard clippings, fallen leaves, and leaf debris from gutters in a compost container. To aerate the leaf pile, turn it over once a month using a garden fork. 

A bonus: You may use this as compost or mulch to provide trees and shrubs healthy organic matter the following year.

Trim Trees

Annual tree trimming is another important task to keep trees healthy.

In addition to protecting you, your house, and your possessions, removing dead, diseased, or unsafe branches helps to impact the future structure and shape of the tree.

Trimming dead branches also keeps them from perishing from the winter winds and snow.

Cut limbs that are loose, cracked, or that appear to be sickly close to the trunk without leaving a stub. Keep wounds open so they can recover.

If tree limbs appear to be too big for you to handle safely, please get in touch with Beautiful Country Tree Services for assistance.

Get Ready

Making sure your trees are ready to take on the winter season means preparing them for snow, frost, ice, and cold temps.

Reinforce Weaker Limbs

Your trees may require additional assistance to survive the harsh winter cold if they have any especially large or weak limbs.

Tree bracing or cabling is a good preventative measure. For large trees, this strategy can sustain weak or inadequate branch unions as well as overextended limbs. 

It also lessens strain and stress damage that can be brought on by strong winds and significant accumulations of ice and snow.

Keep Evergreens Hydrated

Before winter sets in, the fall is the best time to give your trees a good drink of water to keep them hydrated through a dry, cold winter. 

When the roots of your evergreens are frozen, absorbing water from the ground is more difficult. On top of that, harsh winter weather can cause water loss in the needles of your plants.

Your tree should be well-hydrated in the months before winter in order to produce an appropriate water supply in the soil. 

Throughout the fall, irrigate your evergreen tree regularly so that the soil is consistently moist but not saturated. You can continue to water until the temperatures cause the ground to freeze. 

The best method is weekly deep root irrigation with slow soaking.

Keep An Eye On Trees And Shrubs

It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for pests and illnesses when you’re taking care of your trees so they don’t settle in and spread. 

Should you find any problems, seek the advice of a quality tree care service that can accurately identify problems and recommend cures. Conspicuous damage, early fall color, or other stress-related symptoms could be indicators of a potential underlying issue.

Fall is the right time to have your trees evaluated for general safety in addition to cutting out or supporting problematic branches.

Insect And Disease Damage To Trees And Shrubs

Though it’s important to be aware of pests, finding evidence of disease and insect damage on your own is a challenge.

For one, it’s tough to know what stage of development the damage is at. On top of that, you’ll need to understand how to treat that specific pest or disease at the right time. 

In these situations, consulting with tree professionals is your best bet.

mushrooms growing near tree base

Tree Safety Hazards

Your trees are a valuable resource. When they are not cared for, however, they can become liabilities.

The autumn is an excellent time to monitor any potential safety risks that your trees may pose. Do you see any severed or deceased limbs? Does your tree have the potential to pose a structural or safety risk?

Some issues can be solved quickly with a targeted response. You can easily remove a dead limb, for example, without having to remove the whole tree.

Mushrooms

To keep your trees healthy this fall, watch out for mushrooms developing on the base of your trees. Since they only exist for a few days at a time, tree owners are frequently the first and only individuals to view these.

The roots of some mushrooms can be attacked and destroyed. The best defense against fungus or mushroom growth on your trees, though, is prevention. To avoid encountering mushrooms, remember to:

  • Avoid overwatering – fungus love wet environments.
  • Avoid damaging machinery (mowers, trimmers, heavy construction) around a tree’s roots – this can cause disease infections that weaken and kill roots.
  • Preserve soil organic matter and reduce soil compaction – this helps the growth of healthy mycorrhizal fungi.

Keep Planting

The fall is the best time to plant new trees and bushes. This gives them a head start on forming roots in cool, wet soil during the dormant season before the following spring.

Professional Help To Keep Trees Healthy This Fall

Need help identifying pests or diseases on your trees? Want help removing some larger limbs? Beautiful Country Tree Services is here to help make sure your trees are in great shape heading into the winter season. 

To hear more about our services and schedule one for yourself, feel free to get in touch with our team today.