Fruit Tree Care Tips

apple fruit tree

Having a fruit tree in your backyard can be one of the most rewarding things. Enjoying freshly picked berries, apples, mangoes, avocados, and others can create delicious delicacies and family memories that last a lifetime. Proper care for your fruit trees is the key to keeping the fun flowing. The Spring-Green team, leaders in lawn care since 1977, wants your enjoyment of your fruit trees to last for years to come, so we put this guide together to help you understand how to care for them. While care will vary based on your fruit tree varietals and the region of the world you reside, these best practices will help you build a strong foundation for success care of your fruit trees.

Everything to Know About Caring for Your Backyard Fruit Trees

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”: This old adage is almost always true; Understanding how to prevent an issue with your fruit tree is the best way to keep the enjoyment lasting for many years to come.

  • Fertilizer – It’s recommended that you fertilize your young fruit tree once each year, typically in the spring before the tree fruit blooms. It’s recommended that fertilizer usage increases over the years as the tree matures. Be sure to water immediately after fertilization to ensure the fertilizer gets into the tree’s roots.
  • Pest Prevention – Watch for signs of damage from pests that can hurt the fruit tree. Be sure to weed regularly and pick up fallen fruit, as well as trim off dead branches.
  • Mulching – A layer of mulch applied to the base of the fruit tree not only protects the soil when temperatures drop, it also boosts the healthiness of the soil. Mulch should consist of compost, wood chips, grass clippings, shredded leaves, pine needles, or wood nuggets.

Get Good at Pruning: Regular pruning is important to keeping your fruit trees healthy long-term. Depending on the climate where you live, the bulk of the fruit pruning will take place in winter. Some pruning should regularly take place all year long as well. The National Gardening Association recommends pruning suckers and waterspouts in early summer months to reduce chances of disease and insect issues.

pruning fruit tree

Young vs. Mature Fruit Trees: Your care regimen for young versus mature fruit trees is slightly different. Let’s check out some of the best practices for your trees, depending on age.

  • Water a young fruit tree once every-other week.
  • Mature fruit trees still need a thorough watering on a regular basis from you or rainfall.
  • Fertilize your young tree gently as it grows and be sure to trim with pruning shears as needed.
  • Use fertilizer intended for mature fruit trees when they have been in the ground for three years or more.
  • For a newly-planted fruit tree, cut the top at around three feet and make sure the branches are uniformly spaced-apart.
  • Mature trees require a yearly pruning in either late winter or early spring, removing dead and broken branches.
  • No more than one third of the total growth on the tree should be removed in one season.

Planting Fruit Trees: Questions swirl for newbie fruit tree planters like “lots of direct sun versus no sun,” or “how do I prepare the ground?” as well as “how often do I water my newly-planted fruit tree?” No worries. Spring-Green has the details you need to get started on a good foot:

  • Water a young fruit tree once every other week. Most fruit trees require that you apply enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of three feet to reach the roots.
  • Find a place in your backyard (or front yard) where your fruit trees can get approximately six hours of sun each day.
  • Be sure your fruit tree is planted a minimum of three to six feet from sidewalks, driveways, and buildings.
  • If you’re planting more than one tree, allow 10 to 15 feet of space between each tree.

What if Your Fruit Tree is Sick?

Ways to treat a diseased fruit tree will vary depending on the type of tree and your location. However, a copper spray, found in most home improvement stores or nurseries, resolves most common fruit tree diseases. You may also explore insecticidal soaps to get rid of common pests like aphids and mites. If the disease is only harming a small portion of the tree, cut away the dead branches damaged by the disease, and with each cut be sure to disinfect your tools with a bleach or alcohol solution. When removing diseased branches, make you’re pruning cut is six inches below the diseased area. You can also learn about how to rejuvenate mature fruit trees that haven’t produced much fruit in their later years here.

Your backyard environment needs some assistance to provide the same benefits to trees and shrubs as a natural forest habitat. Spring-Green offers homeowners expert guidance in caring for fruit trees, along with other types of trees, including shrubs. Our tree and shrub care program is designed to provide quality service at an affordable price. We can provide tips for maintenance and prevention, as well as assistance when your fruit trees encounter a problem. Since 1977, we’ve provided neighborhoods just like yours with the very best in lawn care, which, of course, includes your fruit trees.

Check out Spring-Green’s…

  • 2-Step Tree Program – Nourish and protect your fruit trees with Spring-Green’s tree and shrub care programs and services that keep your landscape looking beautiful and save you tons on replacement costs.
  • Root Feeding Service – Spring-Green offers a deep root service that delivers essential nutrients directly to your fruit tree’s root zone.
  • Specialty Injections – Tree trunk injections can allow your fruit tree to fight certain types of leaf diseases or insects.

Contact A Pro From Spring-Green Today To Get Started.

How Rust Lawn Disease Develops and Ways to Prevent It

rust lawn disease

If you have ever walked across your lawn in the late summer and notice that your shoes have taken on an orange hue, there is a good chance that your lawn is suffering from a common turf disease called Rust. The lawn disease appears as orange or yellowish-orange powder on grass blades, usually in the late summer to early fall, although I have seen in develop in the spring.

How Does Rust Develops On Lawns?

The disease can develop on turf that is not growing normally due to several stress factors including drought stress or low fertility. It can also develop during periods of heavy rain fall. Cool nights with heavy dew is another environmental condition that can favor its development. On the other hand, warm, cloudy and humid weather followed by hot, sunny weather can also lead to its development. In other words, just about any type of weather we can get in August can benefit the development of Rust.

The grass species that are most prone to develop Rust include Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Zoysia Grass and St. Augustine Grass. Not all cultivars of these grasses are prone to Rust, which is a good idea to check for the cultivars that are less susceptible by searching the NTEP or National Turfgrass Evaluation Program by going to www.ntep.org. Some of the data may seem too technical, but if you scroll through the various reports, you will find a list of the species and cultivars that were tested, where they were tested and the quality ratings of each cultivar.

Rust starts off as small. Yellow flecks on the grass blades and stems. Over time, these flecks grow and expand into raised pustules that are also orange or yellow in color. Once the pustules reach maturity, they will rupture and spread a powdery mass of spores across the turf along with your shoes, pants, lawn mower, dog, etc. In heavily infected areas, the turf can thin out and clouds of rust spores will rise as the turf is disturbed. Once all the spores are released, the pustules will turn black. The spores that are left behind are present to re-infect the turf once the optimal environmental conditions return.

Preventing Rust On Your Lawn

You can reduce the likelihood of the disease developing again by following good cultural practices for proper mowing, watering and fertilizing for the type of turf that is in your lawn.

Proper watering is one of the more critical cultural practices to help prevent outbreaks of Rust. Water deeply, but infrequently to encourage roots to grow deep. Allow the turf to dry out between watering and avoid watering in the evening hours.

There are disease control materials that can be applied as a preventative, but once the pustules form, it is too late to control the disease as it is at the end of its life cycle. Often, an application of fertilizer with nitrogen will stimulate new growth and help the lawn recover from the effects of the disease.

If you see that your shoes are turning orange after walking on your lawn, contact your local lawn care professional at Spring-Green to have your lawn checked for Rust. Spring-Green will develop a program that combat the effects of Rust.

The Basics of Lawn Care: Aerating, Overseeding, and Fertilizing

On Page Seeding

Like many people across the country, Mr. Roy wondered how to reclaim his thin, bare lawn after an especially harsh winter, so he sought the advice of Spring-Green’s authority on lawn care, Harold Enger. Read below to see how you, too, can thicken up your grass and get your lawn back.

Question:

“My lawn is very thin and has some bare spots after this hard winter. What do I do to thicken up my lawn and fill in the bare spots?”

Mr. Roy, thank you for sending in your question. I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that you should contact Spring-Green and request a lawn evaluation. You can visit our website at www.spring-green.com or call (815) 436-8350. If you prefer to attempt to do the work yourself, here’s what I suggest:

Step 1: Core Aerate

Rent a core aeration machine from your local hardware store or rental center. This machine travels across the lawn, removing plugs of soil and thatch and leaving them on the lawn. This opens up the lawn to allow more air, water and nutrients to penetrate the soil, and it also helps to build the root system. The cores or plugs that are left will dissolve back into the lawn with rain or normal irrigation.

Step 2: Plant Grass Seed

Following core aeration, you’ll have a good site for seed germination. I usually recommend seeding cool season grasses in late August to early September, but if your lawn is thin, then you may want to consider seeding this spring. There are a few considerations that you have to keep in mind. First, you cannot apply a crabgrass preventer as this product will keep your grass seed from germinating as well. Second, you cannot apply a broadleaf weed control for dandelions, clover or other broadleaf weeds until the new seed has germinated and has been mowed three or four times. Light, frequent watering is the best for new seed. If you plan to seed your entire lawn, you may be disappointed with the results if it cannot be watered. I recommend a blend of 70% Perennial Ryegrass to 30% Bluegrass. Most hardware stores carry seed, and this is one area where you don’t want to look for the cheapest price. Buy good, quality seed.

Step 3: Fertilize Your Lawn

Applying fertilizer will help thicken up the lawn by stimulating new growth. As with grass seed, get a good quality fertilizer. Although there are regulations in Illinois that prohibit the use of fertilizer that contains phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer analysis) you are allowed to use it after seeding. If possible, use a fertilizer with an analysis of 14-14-14. Read the label that comes with the bag to ensure you are not over-applying the product.

Conclusion

In addition to following the above order, you want to follow good cultural practices, too. Mow at 2.5 – 3 inches in length, leave the clippings on the lawn after mowing and do your best to supply 1 inch of water to your lawn at least once every other week. In my experience, I usually try to talk customers out of seeding in the spring so that the weeds can be kept in check throughout the spring and summer, then, it makes sense to aerate and overseed in the fall. The fertilizer you apply now and throughout the summer will help to thicken the lawn and get it in better shape for the fall. Or, as I said earlier, contact Spring-Green and let us do the work for you!