In the landscaping industry, we know that lawn maintenance is a year-round commitment. However, trees deserve the same detailed attention that customers want from their lawn and plants. Lawn care professionals should identify weaknesses that could be caused by bugs, disease or uneven watering, and work to prevent problems from becoming rampant. One part of that process — and a way to stand out in the industry — is to educate your customers on the best practices for ensuring healthy, happy trees.
After all, it can take decades for a tree to grow into a masterpiece. Not to mention, tree removal is expensive. Regular tree maintenance and care can actually be more cost effective in the long run. The fall season is a prime opportunity to get ahead of the game, sell more services and save your customers money.
- Take a close look at the tree for anything unusual
It sounds obvious, and that’s because it is. We often take trees for granted, but your customers are familiar enough with their trees to be able to tell when something doesn’t look right. Tell them to look for things like early leaf drop, storm damage, or insects that are causing stress or wounds to the tree. Fall is a good time to do this because the tree is experiencing minimal weather stress, and the thinning leaves can reveal previously hidden issues.
- Do a soil test to make sure it has proper pH levels
Not all soil is created equal. In order for trees and plants to thrive, the soil needs to have properly balanced pH levels and essential nutrients to feed them. Fall is a crucial time for this, and proper nutrition can help prevent early leaf drop and disease before winter dormancy sets in.
Offer to perform a soil test on the area around your customer’s trees. If the test returns unfavorable results, there are many remedies that you can suggest. These include tree-specific fertilizers that you can apply to the turf to help with the uptake of key nutrients. You can also more directly treat the tree by injecting nutrients into the tree using micro-infusion tree injection technology.
To be more thorough and long-term focused, you can use some more indirect tactics such as aerating the turf under the tree canopy. Aeration reduces compaction in the soil and allows water, air and fertilizer to better flow into the soil. The healthier soil will, in turn, produce a healthier tree in the years to come.
- Prune dead wood to reduce the risk of storm damage
Just like pruning a plant helps it recover when injured, pruning a tree can accomplish the same goal. Dead wood on a tree can impede growth, cause the tree stress, and interfere with the flow of vital nutrients. If certain branches are dead or damaged, advise your customers that they should be trimmed or removed to prevent further damage to the tree or property.
If there are wounds on the tree from insects, disease or storm damage, examine them and remove and dispose of any damaged or dead wood. Also, point out these wounds to your customers and have them monitor their status over time to see if they get worse.
- Cover the root system with mulch to protect against deep frost damage
In the northern part of the United States, the first frosts of the season come quickly and without warning. Although trees naturally go dormant in the winter to protect from damage, shallow roots become susceptible to deep frost damage if they’re exposed to bitter cold for a long period of time.
Deep frost damage occurs when the water in the actual tree tissue begins to freeze, causing stress to the tree, even when it’s dormant. One way to prevent that is by adding one more blanket of protection in the form of mulch around the base of the tree. This will also show your customers that you’re concerned with prevention and winter preparation. You won’t be able to wrap their trees in a warm coat all winter long, but an extra application of mulch can help keep vulnerable roots protected from the elements.
- When in doubt, contact an arborist or trusted tree care professional
Many lawn care professionals have added tree care to their offerings. Tree care helps expand your business, increase your bottom line, differentiate you from the competition, and you have an existing base of customers to sell to.
If you’re a lawn care pro that does tree service, you still may not know as much about trees as an arborist. So, if you’re wondering what your options are with a tree issue, contact an arborist and let them weigh in. They’re trained and highly qualified in the intricacies of trees and their many challenges, and they can provide expert advice.
So, before you close up shop on your lawn and turf care efforts this season, make sure to take a close look at the trees, and have your customers do the same. After all, they’re a part of the landscape, and you can offer services to help keep them healthy, and keep your customers happy.
Article provided by Jack Rikess, J.J. Mauget Company.