The trees on your property are not only beautiful but can be functional as well. If you have a gorgeous specimen next to your driveway, you might park your car underneath it, using its foliage to shade your vehicle to keep it cool. Chances are that any visitors to your home are doing the same. This is not a great idea. But why?
Compacted Soil, Compressed Roots
The average weight of a small car is around 1354 kilos. Larger cars, trucks and SUVs are closer to 2000 kilos. Having this weight regularly applied to the ground directly above the tree's root system can cause problems. The cumulative effect is that the soil becomes compacted, meaning that water and other nutrients cannot be adequately absorbed by the tree's roots. The roots themselves can also become compressed, meaning that their ability to draw in nutrients is severely hampered.
A tree in peril due to this malnourishment and damaged root system might begin to lose its colour, with its foliage discolouring. It can also begin to shed leaves and small branches at an accelerated pace. The tree is weakening, and this is bad news when it's in such close proximity to your vehicle and, of course, your home.
Aeration and Repair
The first step is to stop parking vehicles directly beneath the tree, but this probably won't be enough to reverse the damage. You will need to manually aerate the soil, but given the extent of the aeration needed, you might encounter difficulty with the tools you have on hand. A shovel or pitchfork can easily damage or even sever roots, making the problem infinitely worse. A professional arborist could do the job for you, using an array of tools that essentially inject air right into the soil without coming into contact with the roots.
Watering and Fertilising
Once the soil is aerated, the tree will begin to recover, although dedicated watering will be beneficial. An appropriate fertiliser will also be helpful, and your arborist can suggest the best variety and dosage. You could also take a photo of the tree in question and take it into your local garden centre, where the staff can give similar advice. You're essentially feeding up the tree with nutrients to make up for its prolonged inability to feed itself.
Please don't wait for excessive weight to ultimately destroy your tree. With just a bit of TLC (and by changing your parking habits), your tree will recover. Reach out to an arborist to learn more.
If you live in an old house, you might find that some of the trees in your yard are as old, or older, than your house. Trees are a great link to the past of the house, but as they get older, like any living thing, they need a little more tender loving care! I help homeowners restore and maintain the trees at their house so that they look beautiful and healthy again. If you are the proud owner of an older tree and want to make sure it retains its natural glory, keep reading for my hints and tips.