Fall……a time when trees appropriately get a lot of attention. Dressed to attract attention, trees take center stage in October. A great time to take a walk, get some fresh air and enjoy the colorful environment……may the forest be with you. As you admire the scenery reflect on these few thoughts……
A mature healthy tree can have around 200,000 leaves. During 60 years of life the tree would shed 3,600 lbs of leaves returning about 70% of their nutrients to the soil. No wonder you get so tired raking leaves!
Abscission cells form between the leaf stem (petiole) and twig in fall causing the leaves to fall. Some trees like Oak tend to hold their leaves well into winter. Abscission layers form but don’t finish the job with some species until late in the season or in some cases spring when new growth finishes them off.
Shedding leaves return nutrients to the soil, but in our home landscapes we rake them up. That’s why October into early November is a great time to feed trees with soil still 40 degrees or warmer. Roots will absorb the nutrients because up to 80% or more of a tree roots are in the top 12 inches of the soil profile and can grow sideways to and beyond the dripline of the tree. Set a wine glass on a dinner plate and you have a great picture of a mature tree. The glass representing the canopy of the tree, the stem representing the trunk and the plate represents the root system. So feed your deciduous trees as they are shutting down for winter and they will “root” for you!