Old, stately trees provide plenty of shade and beauty to your yard, so keeping them in top health for as long as possible is often a priority. Although they don't require as much pruning or care as younger trees that haven't yet developed strong root systems, older trees mustn't be ignored if you want them to remain healthy.
1. Keep Up With Annual Pruning
Although mature trees may no longer need to be shaped, as they should already be trained to a healthy form, they do require regular pruning. Much like young trees, this is best done in late winter. Maintenance pruning simply removes damaged and dead branches, as well as any new branches that grow in with a weak form. The branch tips may also be trimmed back a bit to prevent the crown from spreading out too far.
2. Monitor for Rot Problems
Once mature, trees aren't as susceptible to many of the common pests and diseases, like aphids and leaf mildews, that can weaken down young trees. Root and heart rot fungal diseases become more of a concern, as these are often the first diseases that move in as a tree reaches the end of its lifespan. Watch for fungal growth, like mushrooms sprouting from low on the trunk, as this indicates rot issues. The tree may need to be removed if the fungal growth has progressed too far.
3. Guard Against Soil Troubles
Compaction over the roots is a major cause of concern with mature trees, since it has likely been decades since the soil was disturbed or aerated. Having the soil around the roots carefully aerated by professionals can reduce compaction. Mulching is another way to guard against soil troubles, as the mulch protects the soil from above while also adding nutrients as it decomposes. Annual application of a tree fertilizer will supply nutrients that the tree may find lacking in the soil otherwise.
4. Brace the Weaker Wood
As a tree ages, it is more likely to develop weak wood. Overly large branches and forked trunks are the most common concerns on older trees. Removal of the large branches may mess up the balance and symmetry of the tree, but the branch or fork may pose a danger of breaking off or splitting the trunk. Your tree company can install cable braces into the wood that literally bolt the weak portion to the strong section of the trunk so that breakage doesn't occur.
Contact a tree company for more help when it comes to maintaining older mature trees.