Courtesy photo

Wood chips, straw and manure make an excellent mulch mix around trees. Then water deeply at least twice a week.

Tree care in Taos changes with each unique weather pattern. This year's weather caused extended heat and dryness, which may continue into mid-November. Hopefully, Mother Nature will provide much-needed moisture this winter.

Here are some tree care guidelines we can do before the coldness sets in.

1Water your trees extra -Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Color from a once-a-week schedule, now water two or three times a week. Slowly extended watering increases the soil moisture, helping the tree roots which are actively growing this time of the year. Using a soaker hose during warm days for six to eight hours will provide 1 to 2 inches of moisture. Make sure the watering system is in the appropriate area, out by the drip line (end of the branches), where the active absorption roots are located. Remember a wet freeze is better than a dry freeze.

Evergreen trees that stay active throughout the winter should be watered once a month when possible. This is challenging and a little bit labor-intensive because of the freezing temperatures. This is a chore to disconnect and drain your hoses every time you water but beneficial for the trees.

If the ground is frozen, watering can wait until warmer temperatures. A good wet snow event can help. Some of our drier snows provide little moisture; 12 inches of powdery snow may provide only 1 inch of moisture.

2Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText ColorMulch the soils. Mulching with wood chips, straw and old manure is the ideal mixture. Wood chips from a tree service are one of the better products. You should cover the wood chips for a minimum of three to four weeks when possible. This helps reduce some of the pest population. You should mulch the trees 6 to 12 inches from the trunk, 2 to 4 inches deep and 1 to 3 feet past the drip line where possible. Adding a soil amendment, not a fertilizer, will benefit the soil organisms which in turn benefits the trees.

3Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText ColorPruning evergreen trees during the early and late winter is the best time that helps the trees. Evergreen pruning can be challenging because of their growth patterns. Evergreen trees keep their needles for three to five years. Natural needle casting happens when the individual conifer tree needles turn brown. Some excessive needle casting can be caused by a fungus if the trees have not had adequate watering.

Fall pruning of deciduous trees can be tricky because trees are trying to go dormant and the sealing process of pruning takes time and energy, which may hinder the tree and cause winter damage to those pruning cuts.

Remember, "healthy trees are happy resilient trees," which provide universal benefits for all and for the generations to come. Think about the life of your trees.

Paul Bryan Jones is a certified and consulting arborist in the Taos area.

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