fall tree care tips northern virginia

Fall Tree Care Tips for Northern Virginia

Many trees are at their most impressive during the fall; the vibrant colors of the leaves are meant to be noticed and appreciated. You can use this stunning display to remind you that fall tree care is also important. Autumn in Northern Virginia is the time to give your trees and landscape plants a little extra TLC.

If you’re looking for other fall-related articles, check these out:

Fall Tree Care – What To Do

Here are the things we recommend doing each autumn –

Keep Watering Your Trees

Summer may be over but chances are that it was hard on your trees. Excessive heat, dry spells, plentiful pests and diseases, and summer storms have all taken their toll.

Keep giving your trees plenty of water throughout the fall (until the ground freezes) to be sure they enter the drier winter season well hydrated.

For details on how to water your trees (hint: don’t use a sprinkler), check out our article here >>

Apply Mulch (the Right Way)

Applying organic mulch helps to retain moisture and moderate soil temperatures as winter approaches. Mulch also enhances organic matter in the soil around the tree, provides vital nutrients, and prevents weeds from growing.

If you already have mulch spread around your trees, shrubs, and landscape plants, check the depth to see if it needs to be replenished. While you’re there, give it a quick rake to:

  • fluff it up,
  • spread it more evenly (rainfall often compacts and moves mulch around), and
  • renew the color (the parts on top tend to get bleached out during the summer).

If you don’t have any mulch yet, autumn is the perfect time to spread a nice layer around trees. You can buy it in bags (great for smaller yards) or in bulk (you’ll need a wheelbarrow to move it to where it’ll be used). Just be sure that the mulch is only 2-4 inches thick and keep it away from the trunk and root flare of the tree (or you might end up suffocating the tree instead).

Learn more about proper mulching in our article on Why Mulch is Killing Your Trees.

Look For Any Problems (and Fix Them Before Winter Arrives!)

Once the leaves drop from your deciduous trees, any issues such as diseased, dead, or dying limbs can be easier to spot. Take a good look at your trees and if you notice any deadwood or other issues, give us a call. Pruning or removing any of the dangerous-looking limbs or trees now means that they won’t fall in the midst of one of the snowy winter storms we often get here.

Cabling and bracing might be an option for tree limbs that could be susceptible to winter weather as well. For smaller plants (like shrubs or perennials), you can use twine (or something similar) to support ones that you’re worried might not bear up under heavy snow and ice loads.

Fall is a great time to prune, remove, or cable your trees to protect your property from winter weather. Contact us for a complimentary evaluation.

Choose How to Handle Fallen Leaves

While leaves in a natural forest setting help bring nutrients and organic matter to trees when left to disintegrate on the ground, in urban and suburban areas, leaves left on the ground can suffocate plants and spread disease.

If your trees are susceptible to diseases, it’s best to rake and remove fallen leaves (particularly those from disease-prone trees, such as dogwoods).

If the trees are not prone to disease, the leaves can be left in place if they are mulched or shredded. You could also consider turning them into leaf compost for use in a garden bed. And for leaves that fall on your lawn, just run over them with a mulching mower – no need to rake, blow, or bag.

See more options for what to do (and not do) with fallen leaves >>

Fertilize in Early Fall (but Only if Needed)

If your tree is really suffering, fertilization might be necessary to help it survive through the winter. Most established trees won’t need fertilizer, but some newly planted or highly stressed trees might need an extra boost.

Timing is critical for fall fertilization. Perform a soil test (it’ll tell you what nutrients your soil and trees need) and apply fertilizer at the recommended rate in early fall only. If a soil test indicates that your soil is healthy and has all the necessary nutrients, then there’s no need to fertilize.

Fertilizing in later fall only serves to weaken your trees and shrubs. It forces new growth (which requires energy) that will quickly be killed by frost and winter freezes. All of that energy is wasted and leaves the tree to enter winter dormancy with fewer energy reserves than it would otherwise have.

It’s Time to Plant Trees!

Fall is an ideal time to plant trees, so whether you’re replacing one that you’ve lost or just trying to save some money on your utilities, consider doing it this fall.

It’s important to choose a tree that will work well for your property. See our article on how to select the right tree and find the right place to plant it.

We also provide some handy tips to help you plant your new tree and ensure its health.

Below are our recommendations for the best trees and shrubs to plant in Northern Virginia yards, as well as some tree planting tips:

Protect your Plants

Evergreen shrubs, such as holly or boxwood, lose a lot of moisture from their leaves during the winter months. You might want to consider spraying an anti-desiccant or covering them with burlap to protect from the winter elements. Without this extra protection, leaves can dry up and turn brown and parts of the shrub (or even the whole plant) can die.

Fall Tree Care Tips in a Nutshell

  • Check your trees carefully for signs of damage, decay, disease, or any other potentially dangerous conditions. If you see anything, call us at 571-244-3838 to inspect your tree and deal with the problem.
  • Prepare trees for fall by watering, mulching, and fertilizing.
  • Protect evergreen shrubs with anti-desiccant or burlap.
  • Remove fallen leaves from diseased trees, mulch, or compost the rest.
  • Plant new trees.

Need a Hand?

If you have any questions about the health or safety of your trees, fall tree care, or would like a quote for tree service work, just give us a call! We’re always happy to inspect your trees and give you an honest assessment of what needs to be done – in fall or any time of year.

In need of tree care services?

Give us a call at 571-244-3838 or request a quote online!