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how to keep a tree healthy?

MULCH is one of the most beneficial things for the health of a tree when done the right way. But done incorrectly it can do great harm. Depth of mulch: 2 - 4” maximum and avoid volcano-shaped mounds around the tree trunk. This is enough mulch to maintain soil moisture, reduce evaporation, serve as nature’s insulating blanket and reduce the germination and growth of weeds. Area of mulch: apply as broadly as practical, but keep mulch from directly touching the tree. Roots extend a lot further than the canopy of the tree with fine absorbing roots only inches from the soil surface. Therefore, mulch is beneficial even beyond the tree’s drip-line. Type of mulch: organic mulch is preferred because it decomposes faster and this decomposition process improves soil quality and fertility.

WATER Water trees when no rain (or very little) occurs in over 1 month. Supplement with a garden hose or soaker hose, when the Lawn irrigation system does not provide adequate water for the trees. Ensure water is applied at the drip-line rather than the trunk. Watering is best done in the evening and throughout the night.

Tree Species by Susceptibility

INSPECT thoroughly at least twice a year. Focus on: Trunk - Cracks, seams, butt bulge, dead branch stubs and large, older wounds suggest internal decay Crown characteristics of a potential hazard tree include dieback, V-shaped forks and lopsidedness. Branches in the upper crown often die from the top down in response to stress. Roots - If 50% of a tree’s root system is damaged, it should probably be removed.


Trees most prone to damage are: Ash – Green, White Basswood Beech Birch - River Cherry – Black Crabapple Elm – American, Siberian, Slippery Hackberry Hemlock Locust – Black, Honey Linden Magnolia Maple – Silver Oak – Pin Pear – Bradford, Callery Pine – Virginia Willow


Trees least prone to damage are: Arborvitae Cedar / Juniper Ginkgo Gum – Black, Sweet Holly Linden – Silver, Littleleaf London Plane Maple – Red Oak – White, Swamp Pine – Eastern, White, Shortleaf


FERTILIZER is important to improve tree growth, especially in urban landscapes where trees don’t receive essential nutrients. Consider the soil condition and age of tree before application.


The following provides a general categorization of how susceptible some tree species are to diseases and storm damage.

Resources Bartlett Tree Experts, Scott Tapp Save-A-Tree, Tom Armstrong Arnold Associates, Stephen Lederach Mercer County Planning Division, Matthew Lawson West Windsor Shade Tree Commission

GUIDE to keeping

your tree safe and protecting yourself, your property and your community from nature’s fury created by Warrior Robots (FLL Team 8106) reviewed by The West Windsor Shade Tree Commission

OBSERVE and contact an arborist when you notice

Tall (est) trees in a neighborhood can be more

Existing Trees – The following are

any of the following hazardous signs.

prone to lightning strikes. An arborist can help protect these trees.

prevention strategies for trees on your property.

Leaning trees aren’t likely to fall if it’s only a little. But if they look like the Tower of Pisa they might be unstable due to poor weight distribution or anchor root damage. Danger signs: Cracked or heaving soil, especially on the side opposite the lean. Exposed roots around the base of the tree.

Multiple trunk or splits in one trunk can be unstable. Danger signs: V-shaped multiple trunks are weak points for mature trees. The connective wood where the trunks come together may lose strength and are prone to splitting. Cracks that extend deeply into or through the trunk

Too close – Trees also need personal space. Small trees need about 10’ of space around them for their roots to grow. Large trees need about 30’.

Construction and excavation for buildings, curbs, or sidewalks, and trenching for water and gas lines might destroy a tree by damaging its roots.

Accidents while pruning or mowing the lawn may create a tree wound. Wounds expose the inside of the tree to organisms. Trees do not heal wounds, they seal it.

Diseases when commonly discussed for trees generally refer to those caused by living agents (pathogens like fungi, viruses, bacteria) or nonliving agents (disorders like pollutants, manmade damage, poor nutrients). Danger signs may include: Mushrooms or conks growing on or at the base of the tree Twisted or curled leaves may indicate viral infection, insect feeding Other signs of disease in leaves: drooping, discolorization, skeletalization, uneven edges, and spots.

Age of a tree is important to determining its risk of damage to extreme weather and how to prune it to minimize damage. Older trees use nutrients more conservatively and are slower to recover from damage and disease. All trees follow a similar life span, but the rate of growth within that span differs with each tree species. The following are the basic stages of the tree life cycle: establishment, juvenile, mature and over-mature. Always remove dead or damaged branches as soon as possible. Different pruning is recommended at different stages. Juvenile trees are pruned to create a good branch structure, mature trees are pruned to remove conflicting branches and over mature trees are pruned to prolong life and maintain safety. Estimate a living tree’s age by asking neighbors when it was planted or by using formulas to estimate the tree’s age based on its diameter (check online sources).

PREVENT further damage to your trees and

property by doing the following. New Trees – If you are adding trees to your landscape, consider the following. Avoid mature trees in pots or balls where the roots could be girdled or bound together. Ensure the tree’s soil requirements match the soil of the planting location. Ensure the tree’s ultimate size will not negatively affect or be affected by structures such as walkways, streets and foundations. Consider the tree’s life span within the overall landscape design. Consider purchasing trees “least prone” to damage. (see list on reverse)

Survey your property to identify what tree species you have usually by leaves and/or needles (see “Resources” or check public information). If you have trees “most prone” to damage, monitor the trees regularly as noted in the “Observe” section and refer to the “What to do” section below. If you have “least prone trees,” be aware that there’s no guarantee that these trees will survive every storm. Many factors affect how trees survive storms such as wind speed, wind direction, amount of precipitation prior and during a storm and even the amount of leaves on the tree during the storm.

What to do – Pruning and supporting branches can help trees survive storms.

Pruning Branches How - Cuts should be made on the branch side of the stem collar. Timing – Usually winter or early spring before tree blooms. What – Dead branches (no leaves or not dropping leaves in fall), thin the tree canopy for mature trees.

Supporting Branches - These strategies are expensive and difficult to install properly, so an arborist is recommended. Cabling – Tying branches together with metal cables. This restricts branch movement and supports it during high winds and heavy snow. Bracing – Using steel rods for support. Like cables, the rods restrict movement to support the tree. Bracing is usually installed at branch unions or crotches low in the tree where the risk of tree splitting is high.

Tree Safety Brochure - Warrior Robots  
Tree Safety Brochure - Warrior Robots  

An innovative solution to help a community prepare and stay safe from a natural disaster. The team focused on the damage from downed trees d...