When the days get longer, the sun shines more brightly, and the temperatures creep back to the scorching heat levels we expect in our area – it means that spring has officially sprung here in North Central Florida. As the growing season begins, it is ideal for assessing your tree health, ensuring they are disease-free, and giving them a little extra attention to ensure their vibrancy continues through these warmer months.

How to Maintain Your Trees in the Spring

Once the cold, harsh weather of winter has passed, take a closer look at your trees to see how they fared. Then, follow the other steps below to help them look and grow their best.

1. Inspect for Diseases

Since “the best defense is a good offense”, we’re starting off our spring tree care checklist by inspecting for diseases. Even with our temperate seasons, your trees may be weaker and more susceptible to developing diseases after winter has passed. With the trees still bare, it will be easier to spot a few of the most common Florida tree diseases.


This collective term describes fungus that causes leaf death and can also affect buds and stems. It favors the cool, wetter weather of March and April and is noticeable due to defoliated, blotchy, or browned leaves, dead branches, buds, and stem cankers. 

Apple Scab

This fungal disease begins with yellow dotted leaves that eventually darken to brown or green. As the name suggests, this disease affects crabapple trees. Fortunately, it is not typically fatal to trees, but it is unsightly. 

Bacterial Leaf Scorch

This bacteria clogs water channels of affected trees and damages the host tree, eventually proving fatal. It is most prevalent right before summer starts, affecting oaks, laurels, maples, sycamores, and mulberries. It causes red or yellow bands, slowed growth, and dying branches.

Dutch Elm Disease

This fungal infection affects elm trees during spring and clogs water-carrying veins, causing the tree’s wilting and eventual death. Signs include yellowed or curling leaves and browning of the tree’s inner bark. 

Oak Wilt

This disease is fatal and affects red oaks most commonly. Diseased trees must be removed, and any nearby trees should be treated with a fungicide to impede the spread. Look for brown, wilted leaves toward the treetop with damage extending down the trunk.

Pro tip: Scrape off a piece of your tree’s bark to check for streaking on the underside.

These are just a few of the many diseases that can ruin trees in our area. It is essential to know the varying signs and take the following actions immediately.

2. Prune

If you notice any decaying limbs and branches, you will need to prune them. If you leave them on your trees, they will rob nutrients from your tree’s healthy growth. Further, they are a hazard, as they can fall dangerously on your family, guests, or your property. If the entire tree needs removal, rely on certified arborists to remove it

3. Plant

After you have pruned away or had dead trees removed, you can focus on planting new trees in your yard. These are just a few of the varieties that do well when planted during the spring near Gainesville, FL.

  • Palms
  • Chestnuts
  • Birch
  • Citrus
  • Dogwood
  • Pines
  • Evergreens
  • Fruit trees
  • Willow 
  • Magnolia trees 

4. Mulch

You can also use this opportunity to refresh your mulch or place new mulch around your trees. Check any existing mulch to make sure it has not become too compacted, and if it has, break it up with a rake or shovel. Similarly, remove mulch that may have accumulated around the base of your trees as this can lead to wood rot and make them more vulnerable to other pests or diseases. 

Pro tip: Mulch should be kept to about 1-4 inches and should start at least an inch away from the tree’s trunk. 

5. Fertilize 

Rather than waiting until summer when your trees may be stressed from the drier conditions, fertilizing them in early spring allows them to absorb the nutrients they need to facilitate active root growth and maintain proper soil moisture levels. Traditional fertilizers can be reapplied annually, while slow-release varieties should only be used every couple of years. 

Pro tip: When applying, fertilizer should be placed on the tree’s root zone area directly atop the mulch surface, starting a few feet from the tree’s trunk to moist soil. 

Gaston’s Keeps Your Trees Green and Disease-Free

Whatever your tree care needs, Gaston’s Tree Service has you covered. We offer free quotes on all services, including tree trimming, tree removal, emergency service, and debris and stump removal. Since 1972, we have been your family-owned and operated full-service company, serving all of your beautiful lawn needs. Contact us today to find out the Gaston’s Tree Service difference for yourself!