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4 DIY tips to keep trees healthy and strong

Tree services charge an arm and a leg to cut down dead or dying trees. Instead, take the time to care for them properly so you can save your trees and your money.

Take a look at these DIY tree care tips to keep your trees in tip-top shape:

1. Water during dry spells

All trees can benefit from water, especially during dry spells. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if it doesn't rain more than one and a half inches in a given week, you should give your trees a drink. Focus watering on the tree's drip line, which is the area on the ground directly under the canopy. Water at night or in the early morning to prevent evaporation.

2. Avoid the mulch volcano

Mulch conserves moisture in the soil, creates healthy organic matter that seeps into the ground, and helps protect the tree's bark from damage. Mulch two to three inches deep around the tree, but keep the mulch away from the trunk. Mulching right up to the trunk can cause rot to form, which can damage or kill the tree.

3. Keep ivy away

Keep ivy away from the base of your trees, and especially from growing up tree trunks. Despite what you may have heard, ivy is not good for trees. It leeches water from the tree and can prevent it from getting essential nutrients. If you already have ivy growing up your tree, carefully cut it down. Regularly cut the ivy back so it doesn't climb the tree again.

4. Hire a professional to assess your trees

When problems with your trees arise, bring in a professional tree service. An arborist can check for tree problems and take appropriate action to remedy the situation.

Talk with a few different companies to get a feel for their particular services. Many tree companies are too quick to cut down diseased trees, so getting a second or third opinion may produce other options. If possible, hire a company that has been certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or the American Society of Consulting Arborists. Certification won't guarantee quality, but it should imply a good degree of professionalism. Also make sure your professional provides proof of insurance and a written contract.

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