Caring for Mature Trees
By the time a tree has made it to maturity, it is well adapted to the soil and other environmental conditions of its location. It has withstood stresses such as drought, extremes of moisture and windstorms. Often, it has also reached large stature and has become a “feature tree” in the landscape.
But, unfortunately, as a tree gets older, it becomes less able to adapt to major changes and can more easily be pushed into a spiral of decline. Therefore, the key to care of mature trees is to maintain stable conditions – avoiding disturbances to the root system and pruning to preserve structural integrity.
Pruning of mature trees should usually be restricted to dead branches, removing foliage only when necessary. Soil management goals are: (1) to simulate ideal conditions found in nature by mulching as far out to the dripline as possible, (2) fertilizing by prescription to correct nutrient deficiencies and (3) irrigating as needed to avoid drought stress.