How to Take Care of Mature Trees

It is truly beneficial to have some trees in the yard as they provide lots of benefits. They can provide shade and fresh air, and you can also use them to hang a swing for the kids. If you have a large shade tree on your lawn, you need to value and preserve it as much as possible. It is something that will help you cut utility bills as it can substantially shade your house and block the wind. In addition to that, the tree can also increase the value of your home by as much as ten percent. 

As a tree grows bigger, it provides more benefits. However, as it matures, its energy is directed more toward the maintenance of living tissue and less energy to lengthen the limbs and roots or expand girth. This means that older trees are more focused on survival than growth. The age of a tree depends on what kind of tree it is. It’s because there are trees that can live for thousands of years, while others might not live for more than a few decades.

Mature trees still require care, but their treatment is different from young trees. They grow more slowly and are very sensitive to their surroundings. If older trees are damaged or left with lots of pruning wounds, they will regrow slow and will be more susceptible to disease. With this, how can you take good care of older trees in your yard? If you are also curious about this, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you tips on how to take care of mature trees.

an old oak tree

Mature Tree Care Tips

Mature trees require special care to thrive. To make sure that your mature trees continue to bloom, here are some of the best maintenance tips that you can follow:

1. Get rid of the grass.

Keep in mind that your lawn competes with the roots of the tree for nutrients and moisture. Therefore, removing grass beneath the tree canopy leads the much-needed resources toward the tree, which can help it bloom in its old age. When removing grass, you can use a labeled herbicide to kill the grass or do the outdated manual work to remove a layer of the lawn.

2. Add mulch.

Mulch is something that can help retain moisture. It can also suppress weeds that compete with the tree for nutrients. Aside from that, mulch encourages earthworm act

ivity to improve the health of the soil. It can also loosen the soil, giving the roots more room to grow. An example of this is the forest floor which is all mulch. When you put mulch, a layer of it beneath the tree canopy needs to be about two to three inches deep, and it should be as wide as possible. 

3. Test the soil.

It is important to understand the pH and balance of nutrients in the soil, as this will help you make decisions when it comes to fertilizing mature trees. Based on the soil test results, the extension agent can recommend some changes to improve the soil condition. One of the common recommendations is adding organic matter. Liquid fertilizer can also be injected into the tree by a licensed tree surgeon or arborist to address nutrient deficits.

4. Prune the dead or declining limbs.

Mature trees begin to abort their lower limbs and interior limbs. This is because they focus their energy on sustaining higher, outer limbs. With this, it is better to prune the dead and declining limbs of the tree. It also helps with safety and aesthetics in addition to tree health. However, do not remove the healthy limbs as mature trees produce so little new growth. Also, it is ideal to do it during the dormant season and not the growing season. 

5. Water the mature trees regularly.

Mature trees also require a lot of water. During periods of drought, it is essential to turn the hose on the massive roots. It is also best to water in the evening when trees are under less stress from heat. You can either use drip irrigation or a soaker hose to add moisture to the soil gradually. As trees age, watering needs to be done thoughtfully.

How to Determine the Age of a Tree

If you want to learn about how old your tree is, it can be done by

 counting the yearly growth rings in the trunk. This can be accessed by an increment borer, which takes a cross-section plug out from the center of the tree. However, if you do not have a borer, you can still estimate the age of a tree by using a measuring tape.

According to the International Society for Arboriculture, there is a formula for learning about the approximate age for existing trees. It can be used as long as you know the tree species. Below is a chart of different tree species, their growth factor, and their age with a 5-foot circumference from

Tree Species Growth Factor Age of Tree with 5-Foot Circumference
Cottonwood 2 38 years
Quaking Aspen 2 38 years
Box Elder 3 57 years
Linden or Basswood 3 57 years
Pink Oak 3 57 years
Silver Maple 3 57 years
River Birch 3.5 67 years
American Elm 4 76 years
Green Ash 4 76 years
Red Oak 4 76 years
Black Walnut 4.5 86 years
Red Maple 4.5 86 years
Black Cherry 5 96 years
Sugar Maple 5 96 years
White Birch 5 96 years
White Oak 5 96 years
Red Norway Pine 5.5 106 years

Here are the steps to be able to know the age of your tree:

  • Measure the circumference of the tree trunk.

Get a measuring tape and wrap it around the tree. You need to measure it at breast height and not at ground level. This is about 4 ½ feet above ground level. Record the number in inches. That is the diameter at breast height or DBH. 

  • Calculate the diameter.

The next step is by calculating the diameter. Since you have the circumference, you need to get the diameter by dividing it by 3.14. For example, if the oak tree as a 72-foot circumference, its diameter would be about 23 inches feet.

  • Multiply the diameter by the growth factor.

To guesstimate the age of a tree, multiply the diameter in inches by the growth rate. You can refer to the table above for some common trees and their growth rates.


Trees are definitely treasures that you can have in your yard. They can keep your lot cool and your air clean. Therefore, if you have mature trees, you need to make sure that you take good care of them by following the tips that we shared in this post. We hope this article helped you learn more about how to take care of mature trees.