Mature Trees Add Value and Beauty To Your Landscape
Homeowners often report being won over by a specific property because it featured large and established trees. Mature shade trees keep the home cool during the summer, while old apple can provide dozens of sweet fruits in the fall. If you love the oaks, evergreens and other living limbed wonders around your house, take extra care to avoid damage to the anchoring & feeding systems of these majestic landscape features.
Don’t Cover It Up
Many trees that thrive in Central Texas grow extensive surface roots. These often break through the soil, creating a bump in the yard that snags the lawn mower or trips people as they stroll. The Morton Arboretum warns against covering them with a thick layer of soil. (http://www.mortonarb.org/tree-plant-advice/article/698/tree-root-problems.html) Surface roots need oxygen to thrive and can die when smothered with just an inch or two of heavy cover. Mulches generally aren’t a problem because the wood chips or pebbles allow enough air contact. Avoid mulching with materials that hold too much moisture, which could rot and seriously damage them. Plastic is not a good choice because it can smother those closest to the surface and cause a baking effect in the sun.
Root System Size
Droughts cause soil to dry out to a surprising depth. This compacts the soil and kills small feeders, causing strain to the whole living unit. Maintaining steady moisture levels in the soil requires both mulching and irrigation. Mulch traps moisture and prevents evaporation from the summer heat and sun, according to the International Society of Arboriculture. (http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/mature_care.aspx) Water with soaker hoses arranged in the mulch to prevent wasted water. You should arrange the mulch and hoses around the drip line of the branches. The trunk can be damaged by overly wet conditions and the drip line feeding system may run out two to three times the size of the canopy. Watering at the drip line distributes the water evenly.
Keep It Light
The roots act as anchors in addition to gathering water and nutrients from the soil. When large anchors are cut or severed by digging, giant oak can become unseated and tip over. The Morton Arboretum says that cutting through just one big root for a construction project can cut off 25 percent of the tree’s support system. (http://www.mortonarb.org/tree-plant-advice/article/698/tree-root-problems.html) It’s possible to drill under or around them if you are having a new utility line installed at home. Cables and pipes can accommodate the twists of established systems without damaging them permanently. It may be wise to choose flexible or permeable pavement when driveways must be installed where large surface roots are lifting up. Driving your car over them will compact the soil, trapping moisture and keeping out air where it’s needed.
Protect Your Pipes
Mature trees with systems reaching out over 100 feet can sometimes find your septic lines or plumbing connections. The septic drain field features waste filled perforated pipes. The canopies will grow towards this source of moisture and minerals until they climb into the pipes and close up the holes. This interrupts the septic system cycle and causes the storage tank to fill, preventing any more water from going down your home drains. Professional help is usually required once it starts choking out these lines. The roots can be trimmed away from the pipes without killing them or causing too much stress on its system.
photo credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin via photopin cc