Essential Steps For Spring Tree Care

Spring is finally out in force in the DC Metro area. With blossoms emerging and buds everywhere it’s time to start thinking about the health of your trees and shrubs. Spring is an important time for tree health because what you do now prepares your tree for summer and a long, productive growing season. For the health of your trees and shrubs, our Arborists suggest following our essential steps for spring tree care below!


Fertilizing is one of the best ways to keep your trees healthy. Applying your fertilizer in the spring provides extra nutrients that helps your tree push out new growth and fight spring pests/diseases.

Our Arborists suggest skipping the traditional fertilizer you’ll find in home improvement stores. These fertilizers are harsh and typically contain too many of the wrong nutrients which can alter the natural environment of your soil and kill off good bacteria. Opt for fertilizers, such as bio-stimulants, that are gentler and promote long lasting soil health. Bio-stimulants will provide you with the results you want without negatively altering the balance of your soil or stressing out the tree.

Learn More About Fertilizing


The cool moist weather of spring creates a perfect breeding ground for fungal diseases. Invest in preventive fungicide sprays to keep your trees from being infected. Once trees are infected with a tree fungus the infection cannot be cured, only suppressed which is why prevention is key when it comes to fungi.

Other tips to prevent infection include:

  • Don’t over water
  • Make sure your soil drains properly
  • Boost overall health with proper maintenance
  • Sanitize gardening tools between plants
  • Rake and remove falling leaves from your yard

Common Tree Fungal diseases include; armillaria root rot, phytophthora root rot, thousands canker disease, phytophtoria bleeding cankers, cytospora canker, hypoxylon canker, cercospora leaf spot, anthracnose, sooty mold, powdery mildew, shot hole fungus, verticillium wilt, oak wilt, and dutch elm disease.

Learn More About Spring Fungal Diseases


Spring is when all the tree diseases and pests begin to emerge. Prevent these pests & keep your property healthy from Spring- Fall by investing in a year-long plant health care plan like our canopy protection program. This program is customized to your property and is a proactive approach to maintain tree and shrub health through the process of scheduled monitoring and preventative maintenance. With customization, digital reporting (including photos), and notification of arising health issues, you can rest assured your trees and shrubs will be take care with our canopy protection program!

Learn More About RTEC’s Canopy Protection Program


Applying mulch around trees is one of the best things you can do for the health of your trees. Especially for young trees, mulching is a quick and cost-effective technique that provides numerous benefits. Mulching helps retain soil moisture and promotes the development of organic matter which in turn helps prevent soil compaction. It also increases the growth rate of newly planted trees, provides a buffer from heat and cold temperatures, keeps out weeds, and helps the soil accumulate and keep more nutrients.

Check out our articles on proper mulching and common mulching mistakes to make sure you mulch your trees and shrubs properly!


In spring, trees and shrubs are pushing out new growth. To be successful they need to stay properly hydrated. Watering will also flush out their system if they’ve been exposed to ice melts/rock salt.

Watering Tips For Spring Tree Care:

  • Focus on the critical root zone when watering. Wetting foliage is pointless and can promote the spread of diseases.
    • DON’T use a sprinkler. This only wets the top layer of soil and doesn’t properly water the tree.
    • Water in the morning to avoid evaporation and to help trees deal with the heat throughout the day.
    • Water deeply and thoroughly 1 to 2 times a week.
      • Put your normal hose somewhere in the critical root zone.
      • Turn hose on to a dribble
      • Leave for 2-3 hours
      • Move the hose to a different spot in the critical root zone and leave for 2-3 hours. Repeat this step 1-3 times.
    • You want the soil to be moist but not soaking. You should NOT be able to make a mud ball out of the soil.
    • It’s okay for some portions of the soil to be wet and some to be dry.


The warm weather of spring activates lots of insects and diseases that can damage your trees & shrubs. Anthracnose, Root Rot, Leaf Spot, Bagworms, Eastern Tent Caterpillars, and Aphids, just to name a few, all start attacking trees and shrubs in the spring. Keep an eye out for damage from these insects and diseases so you can catch them early and stop their spread/limit their damage.

Common Signs Of Spring Pests/Diseases To Look Out For:

  • Spots on leaves
  • Wilting of leaves
  • Discoloration of foliage
  • Cocoons hanging from your trees
  • Honeydew (clear, sticky substance) on tree leaves/dripping from tree.
  • Caterpillars on the trees/shrubs
  • Leaves that look chewed/eaten
  • Skeletonization of leaves

Learn More About Spring Insects & Diseases

Now that you know the essential steps for spring tree care, get to work this weekend caring for your trees. Or better yet, just hire our experts to do it for you! Schedule a consultation with one of our Certified Arborists to discuss your spring tree care needs and to get started on caring for your trees this year. Schedule an appointment online or give us a call at 703-573-3029.

One thought on “Essential Steps For Spring Tree Care”

  1. Christopher Davis says:

    I appreciate these informative posts. Thank you.

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