volunteers learning about tree care

Caring for Mature Trees

Mature trees provide shade and beauty and other benefits to the urban environment. They require different treatment than young trees, but still need regular watering, pruning, disease prevention and protection. 

Mature trees grow more slowly than new trees and are very sensitive to their surrounding environment. If older trees are damaged or left with large pruning wounds, they regrow wood slowly and are more susceptible to disease.

If watered improperly or growing in poor soil conditions, the tree’s health will start to decline. The tree may be stressed for a long period of time before it shows significant symptoms such as leaf or branch drop. Watch trees carefully for foliage changes to catch problems early, and begin care and treatment.

3 steps to help your mature tree thrive:

1. Water the right amount

The number one thing you can do for mature tree health is to make sure that the amount of water supplied is appropriate for your tree. For most mature trees, regular monthly deep watering is recommended in the absence of soaking rain. Consult Canopy’s Trees and Water Section to learn how much and when to water your tree.

2. Prune wisely

Mature trees need to be pruned regularly to remove dead or diseased wood and to remove excessive weight from the ends of branches. The process called “end-weight reduction” will reduce the likelihood of branch breakage and hazards. Make sure a trained professional, ideally a Certified Arborist, prunes your tree. Inadequate pruning compromises the health of trees. Whatever you do, avoid “topping” your tree—this harmful practice ruins the tree’s natural structure, starves the tree by removing a high percentage of food-producing leaves, creates openings for disease, and initiates the tree’s eventual demise.

3. Watch for pests or diseases

Learn about tree pests and diseases that may affect your tree. If you suspect disease, consult a Certified Arborist. The arborist can also inspect the tree for weak branch attachments and periodically check your tree for safety. Watch trees carefully for foliage changes to catch problems early and begin care and treatment.

Also read about tree care mistakes to avoid.