The Life of a Tree

Trees are living and shedding organisms that annually execute their life cycle. Beginning in the late summer, plant growth ceases and trees begin the process of winter dormancy well before fall. Buds are formed for the following year’s foliage and flower production.

What’s next? Natural selection kicks in and branches are shed by the tree in favor of more vibrant branches with rich healthy foliage. Branch die off is a natural process in a tree’s life. In nature, this goes on as an ordinary occurrence. In our landscapes, trees need assistance from us and for two good reasons. First, dead branches can become dangerous and second, they are unattractive. 

It is human nature to call it quits for our landscapes in the fall. The upcoming seasons are time for rest, right? In actuality, some of the most important tree care maintenance activities should be undertaken in the fall and winter months. 

Winter Pruning

Pruning in the winter has many advantages. The leaves have fallen, leaving the tree’s architecture exposed. It is much easier for a trained arborist to see the weakened or damaged branches to prune. As an added bonus, opportunistic insects and diseases (such as Oak Wilt) aren’t attracted to the pruning operation.

Managing the soil is the next important task ranging from hydration, encouraging soil microbes and nutrition. Each year is a bit different, but in addition to natural precipitation, some landscapes will need extra inches of irrigation per year. Supplemental watering is essential during characteristically warm fall seasons and also during the late winter. The same goes for woody plants; some assistance is necessary to make soils more hospitable for tree and shrub growth. We recommend incorporating ArborKelp into your landscape to service your soil needs. ArborKelp is our exclusive organic compound that improves soil structure and augments soil microbial activity which is essential for nutrient absorption by the roots.

We know that each spring is the renewal season for landscapes. During the advent of spring, we see leafy plants and deciduous trees produce buds with new leaves and flowers, and fresh needles appear on conifer trees. This anticipated sequence happens each and every year.

But much to our dismay, dead branches still appear! And so we ask the question, why do branches die?

Metaphoric Budget

During the growing season, trees produce energy in the green living tissue which is stored in both the roots and woody parts of the tree. This energy can be thought of as money or currency for the tree. This currency is then spent to grow, maintain defenses from pests, and produce reproduction parts. Besides the main currency, a reserve fund must also be maintained simultaneously. Storm events including hail, snow, and freezes may result in partial or total defoliation of the tree. In response, new leaves are then formed taking energy from the tree or a withdrawal from the figurative bank.

Moving forward, plants in your landscape will maintain and continuously energize this metaphoric budget. Energy is produced in the green foliage and used to manage processes essential for life. The idea is to avoid running out of energy resulting in failure and death of the tree. This brings about the idea of shedding parts, and healthy trees don’t hoard excess plant parts.

Every landscape varies but we have the expertise and resources available to help your landscape flourish. Can we stop the shedding process? No, and we shouldn’t. The tree knows its business way better than we do!


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