From beautiful, towering oaks and maples to twisted apple trees and far-reaching magnolias, old trees add beauty and character to any home. These trees have been rooted longer than most of us have been alive, and they’ve spent years – or even decades – providing our families with shade and beautifying our yards.
This is why it’s so heartbreaking to learn an older tree has health or safety issues and may require removal. Dedicated old-growth tree care can help keep these gentle giants around for years to come.
Read on to learn how to take care of mature trees so they can continue to thrive for years to come.
Here’s How to Find out How Old a Tree Is (Without Cutting it Down)
First, it’s time to figure out which trees in your yard are older and may need extra care.
If you’ve lived in your home for many years, it’s easy to point out trees that have been fully grown as long as you’ve been around. But if you’ve just moved into a new home, a core sample test done by an expert can tell you an exact age. If you’d rather make your own guess, you’ll need a long string to wrap around the trunk and a measuring tape.
- Wrap your string around the trunk of your tree at about knee height, making sure to keep it parallel to the ground.
- Mark the string with a pen or tie a knot where it overlaps with the loose end.
- Remove the string from the tree and lay it flat to measure it. Write down the number in both inches and centimeters. This is your tree trunk’s diameter.
- For a rough estimation, take the trunk diameter in centimeters and divide it by 2.5. Since trees average about 2.5 cm of growth a year, this gives you an idea of their age. However, this method doesn’t take specific species growth rates into account.
- For a closer age estimate, take the trunk diameter in inches and divide it by the growth factor for your tree’s species.
What counts as “old” depends on your trees’ species, but old-growth forests are mostly made up of trees older than 120-150 years. If your tree is over a century old, consider paying closer attention to the care it gets.
How to Take Care of Old Trees: The Basics
Once you know the age of your trees, you can schedule mature tree care services and support your mature trees by:
- Watching for signs of pests and disease.
- Pruning dead and dying branches regularly.
- Clearing your tree’s root crown.
- Scheduling regular tree inspections to catch problems early.
When problems do arise, respond quickly to minimize the damage that may leave your trees struggling.
How to Straighten a Mature, Leaning Tree
Storms, erosion, and simple old age can all cause a tree to lean dangerously. While you can straighten small trees with stakes, larger trees need more intensive methods. Some professional tree care companies can haul a mature tree straight with pulleys and cables, then anchor it to a nearby healthy tree. Once secured upright, cabling and bracing can shore up damaged parts of the tree so it’s stronger and less likely to fall.
How to Water Mature Trees During a Drought
If conditions are dry, even mature trees will need watering. Many tree species need a thorough, deep watering one or two times a month without normal rains. Water slowly, soaking the ground towards the edge of the tree canopy rather than at the tree base. This provides water to far-reaching roots without drowning the trunk and inviting fungal growth.
Pruning Old Apple Trees (Or Other Fruit Trees) So They Continue to Bear Fruit
Apple trees are some of the most common backyard fruit trees. Without regular pruning, apple trees may stop producing fruit every year. Encourage your older fruit trees to bear fruit with professional pruning – or take care of them by:
- Pruning away dead, damaged, or diseased branches.
- Removing heavier scaffold limbs that block airflow.
- Reducing the crown density.
- Pruning unsustainable new growth.
Related Content: How to Prevent a Tree from Growing Too Tall
Transplanting Mature Trees So They Flourish
If you want to skip the sapling stage and head right into full trees, it’s possible to transplant mature trees. However, the process is complicated, requires specialized equipment, and can be very expensive. The crew must maneuver everything carefully so they don’t damage your property or your new tree. Leave mature tree planting to the professionals.
Many trees should be transplanted in the fall or winter to minimize shock, though this may change depending on your region and your tree. Schedule a tree inspection with an arborist who can tell you whether your tree is healthy enough to be moved. If it is, prepare your mature tree for transplanting with thorough watering and fertilization a week before the big move. Once the crew has it settled in its new home, your tree may take 3-5 years to settle fully. Water regularly and schedule regular fertilization with our soil health care service to keep the tree healthy as it takes root again.
Care for Your Mature Trees with a Little Help from the Pros
Mature trees are a beautiful part of any property. Monster Tree Service will help you keep them healthy and long-living.
We do this with mature tree inspections where we look for weak branches, signs of disease and pests, as well as dangerous leaning. Treat problems like insect or disease damage as soon as possible so your trees can grow and prosper for future decades to enjoy.
For all of your tree care needs, call your local Monster Tree Service at (888) 744-0155: or request a free estimate today.