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Local trees in need of some love tonic

14 December, 2019

With the recent dry winter and early start to summer our local trees are showing signs of stress. The sparse foliage and very small leaves displayed by many of the WA peppermint trees in urban areas can be regarded as their last gasp if they don’t receive some simple love soon.

If you think your backyard tree could do with a pick me up, some regular watering and applications of seaweed/fish soil conditioner can make all the difference to its vitality and appearance. Soil conditioners help trees to take up essential nutrients by rejuvenating beneficial soil microbes and the soil structure.

These conditioners should be applied to the entire area of ground beneath and beyond the tree canopy. All your garden plants will benefit from a health tonic.

When trees are stressed, they can succumb to diseases that otherwise would not bother them. A healthy, vigorous tree is much less susceptible and can cope with other stresses like heat and drought.

Older trees can no longer adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Trees in decline often start with the death of small patches of the canopy, called flagging, or with a thinning of the canopy and a protrusion of dead branches above the crown.

“Retaining tree canopy is really important for shade and habitat,” says GeoCatch project officer Lisa Massey.

“Mature trees also create dimension and character in our neighbourhoods, especially in Busselton’s flat landscape.”

Trees provide a number of values in our urban landscape, including:
• Increase property values by as much as 15 per cent
• Decrease temperatures around homes by up to 5.5 degrees Celsius, reducing air conditioning needs by 50 percent
• Reduce the ‘heat island’ effect
• Reduce evaporation from lawns and garden beds, increasing water use efficiency

The appearance of many trees can be improved by under-pruning where lower branches are removed to ‘lift’ the canopy up to improve the form and create space beneath a tree.