The hungry, hungry trees

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  #1  
Old 07-11-11, 11:02 AM
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The hungry, hungry trees

We have five mature oak trees on our 1/2-acre property. Last week I paid to have them trimmed, taking out any dead limbs, thinning the inner leaves, etc. They look great!

We want to keep them that way. What else can we do to encourage them? I'm thinking primarily of feeding them. The only method that occurs to me are those spikes (about the size of a railroad spike) that you drive into the ground. Alas, at 12/box at the home center and not particularly cheap, it will take $$$$ to do all five trees. If that's the best choice, so be it.

Are they available bulk-packed somewhere? Or are there other technologies (liquids, granules, whatever) that are better? I once saw a tree with a container leading to a hole bored in the base of the tree; feeding?

Two are willow oaks, I think the other three are red oaks, if that helps.
 
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Old 07-11-11, 11:11 AM
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If the trees are healthy and strong....theres no real reason to feed. It would probably encourage surface roots over a period of time, which you DON'T want.

Normal lawn fertilizer, good soil and rain should do all thats necessary.

The first house we lived in OH in 1962 (house built in 1895) had probably 20 huge old black walnuts...and back then, we did absolutely nothing like fertilizing or watering....most were still there 20 yrs later.
 
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Old 07-11-11, 11:39 AM
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I've never fertilized a tree beyond throwing some starter fertilizer in the hole when planting a new one
 
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Old 07-11-11, 12:07 PM
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I have two large oaks in my front yard. I've never considered feeding them. If the soil is such that the trees are healthy there is no reason to feed they are already getting all the nutrients they need.

Gunguy - I knew a guy that retired out of the Navy to a family farm in Kansas. He lives quite well on his retirement and acres of black walnut that his grandfather had planted. His biggest problem was tree rustlers.
 
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Old 07-11-11, 12:17 PM
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Wayne...at least once a year when we lived there someone would stop by wanting to buy the trees. They averaged about 2-3' in diameter as I remember. My parents never considered it as the monarchs would fill some of the branches every year during migration. When a storm finally took one down it was cut up and hauled away for free by a local guy who took it to a mill.
 
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Old 07-11-11, 12:49 PM
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I knew a guy who chopped up a pretty big one with a trunk of about 14' before the first split.

That is to say I met him after he chopped it up into firewood and then someone told him what they thought it would have been worth....

At least he was willing to let others laugh at what he had done.
 
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Old 07-11-11, 04:05 PM
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I can recommend that you never give your trees a mulch volcano. Not only do they look stupid, but they will harm the tree. If you ever mulch, keep the mulch away from the trunk.
 
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Old 07-12-11, 03:53 AM
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I had a 20" or so diameter black walnut fall across my garden a couple of years ago. When having another tree taken out, I asked the guy if he wanted it. He slobbered a bit and swallowed his Red Man . Condition was he had to get it all up, limbs and all, to which he eagerly agreed.
Turned out his father had a bowl turning operation, and the black walnut was like the gold standard for him. I could have probably sold it to him, but, being the nice guy that I am ...
Back to the OP.....no fertilizer on mature trees. I think it would do more harm than good.
 
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Old 07-12-11, 01:03 PM
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OK, no food then.

How about disease/insect control? Or other tree care? I cannot imagine calling the local nursery for a quote on, say, a 65' oak with a 45' crown.
 
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Old 07-12-11, 02:25 PM
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The oak was there long before you were born and has survived without added supplements to its diet all these years. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. If you note leaf damage due to insects or something on the bark, you can always take a sample to your local County Extension Service for help, usually free.
 
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Old 07-12-11, 06:59 PM
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My limited experience with oaks tells me they don't suffer much serious insect damage unless they are unhealthy to start with. Pines - especially blue spruce - are another story. The oaks on our property are doing great - fungus is slowly destroying the spruces.......
 
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Old 07-12-11, 08:38 PM
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Yard trees

I have been a state forester for 32 years. You are getting some real good advice from most of these threads. No fertilizer or watering is needed on naturally grown trees, that is trees that are native to the area. I even question the need for pruning.
Steve M.
 
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Old 07-13-11, 09:37 AM
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Personally, I'm not a fan of oak trees and would potentially be considering removing it. Were I to leave it, I doubt I would do anything to it (which would then make it like any other tree ).
 
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Old 07-13-11, 04:10 PM
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Pay attention to gypsy moth cycles. Two heavy cycles in a row can kill mature trees. Otherwise oak trees are hardy. Deer like our acorns, and we like deer (as venison).
 
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Old 07-18-11, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by PAbugman View Post
Pay attention to gypsy moth cycles. Two heavy cycles in a row can kill mature trees. Otherwise oak trees are hardy. Deer like our acorns, and we like deer (as venison).
Good advice; a few times we've applied tape-n-goo barriers to prevent the caterpillars, never lost a tree yet.

Sadly (???), too far from continuous dense woods for deer (I have to beg for venison) and we don't see them about, so the acorns just feed the squirrels.

As an aside, I mentioned the tree trimming I had done. The chosen guy was great and got most of the dead -- excepting those little (say, up to 5'-6') dead ones low down and so far out at the tips no climber could get there. No matter, we saved so much money we -- yet again -- bought a telescoping pruner/snipper. This is our third, but MUCH better built. By Fiskars, no model # but barcode # is 16391; fiberglass handle, "chain drive" snipper with a fixed "anvil" that wraps around behind the branch targeted, and all parts of the head assembly securely bolted to the shaft. I think Home Depot had it for around $50. Very pleased with this model and would recommend it -- thanks to the head design, some of the dead branches could easily be pulled down by hooking around it and gently pulling. Worked well on some live-branch terimming we tried it on as well. YMMV, usual disclaimers.
 
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