When fall arrives, deciduous trees shed their leaves and enter a period of dormancy. As such, some homeowners assume they can take a break from tree care during this season. This is a bit of a misconception. Deciduous trees can really benefit from some care in the fall, but in caring for them, you need to be careful to avoid these common mistakes.
Pruning Too Much

As you’re tidying up your yard for the fall, you may assume your trees could use a trim. You can certainly remove any dead or damaged branches in the fall (doing so will prevent damage to your home and yard if those branches break off in the wind), however, fall is not the best time for a full, extensive tree trim.
During the fall, deciduous trees focus on storing their energy in their roots. As such, any wounds that you create by pruning will take a long time to heal. In a warmer climate, like California, where pests stay active year-round, this can be dangerous for your tree, leaving it prone to infections and blight. Wait until late winter or early spring to trim your tree more thoroughly.
Pushing Mulch Against the Trunk
In an effort to keep your tree warm and cozy in the coming months, you may pile mulch against the trunk. Spreading organic mulch, such as wood shavings, is not a bad idea in and of itself. The mulch will keep the soil moist and slowly break down, providing the tree with much-needed nutrients when it starts growing again in the spring. However, you need to be careful where you put the mulch.
Piling mulch against the trunk could make the trunk too moist and may allow rot to set in, which could kill the tree. Instead, leave a donut-shaped hole in the mulch pile to keep the mulch from touching the tree trunk.
Leaving Leaves on the Ground to Decompose
If you prefer a more natural approach to landscaping and yard care, you may figure you’ll just leave the fallen leaves below the tree and let them decompose to add nutrients to the soil. Unfortunately, this idea is not as good as it seems.
If your tree has the beginnings of any fungal disease, leaving the fallen leaves on the ground gives those fungi the perfect place to breed. Come spring, they may infest your tree, leading to serious disease.
Raking your leaves – preferably several times throughout the autumn – is the healthiest choice for your trees. Fungal diseases like anthracnose and apple scab are harder to treat than they are to prevent.
Neglecting to Water Your Trees
If you have younger trees and you’ve been watering them all summer, do not stop just because temperatures are cooler now. You can take a break from watering in early fall as long as the soil is still moist, but then you should give your trees a nice, deep watering towards the end of autumn. This ensures the trees have the water they need to make it through this dormant period in good health.
Always apply water to the dripline, which is the area on the ground directly beneath the edges of the tree’s canopy. Water until the top foot of the soil is moist. (If you’re able to easily push a metal rod one foot down into the soil, you’ve applied enough water.)
Taking good care of your deciduous trees in the fall will help ensure they re-emerge healthy and lush in the spring. Avoid the mistakes above, and contact us at Community Tree Service Inc. & Dumpster Rentals if you need assistance removing dangerous branches or caring for your trees.