Green Tips: The Importance of Caring for Trees

The large and majestic trees along our streets and on your property make up the urban forest.

Winchester is lucky to have so many beautiful trees. The large and majestic trees along our streets, on your property and in the make up the urban forest. While we are aware of their beauty and benefits, we might not realize that many of our larger trees are suffering from environmental stress and neglect.

Unless we protect them, a majority of our heritage trees will disappear within 20 to 30 years. Air pollution, soil compaction and contamination, construction injury, exotic invasive insect pests and limited water, oxygen and nutrient availability has taken a toll.

Mother Nature also causes stress with sudden ice storms, high winds, extreme low temperatures, a devastating spring snowstorm or summer drought. Many new, large growing trees are planted in confined spaces with soil devoid of essential micronutrients. And the life expectancy of newly planted street trees is only 25 years; it is unlikely they will ever reach the grandeur of the majestic trees today.

Trees are slow to respond to wounding and stress. It’s not unusual for trees to die years after an adverse situation and unfortunately, an arborist is typically called when it is usually too late to save it. Root and branch dieback, decay and foliage scorching are all symptoms of stress and put the tree into a weakened condition.

Weakened trees are more susceptible to insect problems and disease.

There are several proactive and organic approaches to prolong the life of a tree and maintain its good health and vigor.

  • Fix the soil with organic supplements. Raking our leaves removes vital organic matter; toxic chemicals and high nitrogen based fertilizers deplete the soil of important nutrients. Healthy, nutrient rich soil determines how well your trees grow.
  • A tree needs to be periodically inspected for structural defects, insect pests and disease.
  • Trees should be pruned properly and focus on removing dead, dying, diseased and broken branches.
  • Proper irrigation and mulching, especially in times of drought, are essential to maintain a tree’s good health.

Trees are not living statues – they need care and protection just like any other living thing.   Trees play a critical role in the health of the planet.

Information compiled from Bostontreepreservation.com

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.


WinchesterResident May 21, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Can the town do anything about the winter moths caterpillar that are literally destroying some neighborhood forests? The wood behind my house are almost completely deleafed!
Betsy Wild May 23, 2011 at 01:34 PM
Thank you for your comment and concern. You are right, the winter moth is a serious pest. The town has a small budget for urban forest trees in Winchester Center and a few select parks, but unfortunately for the forest (I assume you are talking about the Fells) there is no budget. If abutters want to get together and raise money for treatment of some of the forest trees, Boston Tree Preservation could treat (781-729-0095), but the treatment window is coming to a close for this year. Trees will push out a second growth, but after 2 -3 years of defoliation, the tree will decline.


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