9 Common Tree Health Problems and Solutions
Trees get sick. Like any other living organism, a tree can fall ill for various reasons. If left to its own devices, it can eventually fall causing catastrophic damages.
When an otherwise healthy tree shows signs of illness or infestation, you must take action by eliminating the cause or calling on a certified arborist to evaluate the tree and offer a course of action.
The team of arborists at 72tree.com prepared a comprehensive list of 9 common tree health problems and their solutions.
Weather and Tree Health
Trees are affected by inconsistent weather patterns. The following demonstrates how weather impacts trees and how you can help them remain healthy.
1 – Drought:
One of the most common ailments of trees, symptoms of drought can be tricky. Sometimes, the signs won’t appear until as much as a year after the damage has been done. Those symptoms include:
•Drooping, wilting, and yellowing of leaves.
•Premature needle or leaf drop.
•Thinning of the canopy.
•Deep cracks in the bark.
•Necrosis of leaves or browning of needles.
•Death of the tree.
Solution 1 – For planting new trees, make sure they are appropriate for the USDA Hardiness Zone in which you are located. If your area experiences occasional or frequent droughts, seek drought-resistant species.
Solution 2 – Water your trees regularly. New trees will require a deep watering once a week for the first two years (to establish its roots). In addition to watering, add a 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the tree to help the soil retain its moisture.
After two years and through its adult life, trees are very capable of finding water sources. However, throughout dry summer months and near the end of fall, weekly deep watering and mulching will help prevent drought problems.
Solution 3 – Prune back all cracked, dead or weakened tissue. Without pruning these troubled areas, the tree will become vulnerable to infection and infestation. Call on an arborist when pruning removes more than 25% of the tree’s canopy or mass. They can assess the tree and offer a course of action.
2 – Winter Burn:
Also known as desiccation, winter burn occurs primarily in evergreens and causes a discoloration of the foliage. Effects of winter burn are more pronounced where the tree is exposed to the sun and wind. This affliction requires the presence of the following three factors:
Solution – Provide your trees with weekly deep waterings through the end of fall and beginning of winter (before the ground freezes) and mulch the area of the root zone for the soil to retain moisture.
For trees that are highly exposed to the wind and sun, wrapping them with burlap will provide an effective barrier which can be removed as temperatures rise.
3 – Improper Pruning, Trimming, and Cutting:
There is a right way, and a right time to perform tree pruning, cutting, or trimming. When performed improperly, the tree may be left exposed to infection and infestation. When done at the wrong time, new growth may not have enough time to adapt before winter, further stressing the tree.
Solution – Know when to prune. Depending on the species of your tree, it may be better to prune in early spring, late fall, or even in the summer months. Use proper pruning or cutting methods when removing limbs, branches, or stems.
Watch this video to learn more about proper pruning techniques.
Tree Insect Infestation
For the most part, healthy trees can stave off insect infestations. However, when a tree’s health is weakened, or there is an increase in the insect population, no tree is off limits.
4 – Insects on Leaves and Bark:
Insects such as aphids, inchworms, bagworms, spider mites, lace bugs, and tree scale are common and relatively easy to manage.
Solution – Apply insecticidal soap, neem oil, or a horticultural oil directly on the area of the infestation.
5 – Boring Insects:
Insects such as the Emerald Ash Borer, Japanese Beetle, Southern Pine Beetle, and Ambrosia Beetle are more complicated to control. You can identify boring insect activity by seeing “sawdust” from their boring activity and the entry hole they create when entering the tree.
Note: Do not inject insecticides, poisons, or other substances into boring insect entry holes. The chemical may end up further damaging the tree leaving it more susceptible to infestation and death.
Solution 1 – Prune back branches and stems that have been infested and destroy them to prevent further spreading. If more than 25% of the tree’s foliage or mass must be removed, seek the assistance of a certified arborist.
Solution 2 – When the infestation is in the trunk of the tree, call an arborist to evaluate the damage and determine a safe approach to halting the infestation.
Solution 3 – Prevent infestations by keeping your trees healthy. When you hear about an outbreak in your area, treat your trees with a bark insecticidal spray to deter the insects from making your tree its host.
Tree Fungal Diseases
Most fungal diseases make their way into a tree through the roots and open wounds. Once a tree is widely infected, it becomes challenging to control the fungi and will often result in the removal of the tree.
6 – Fungal Infection (internal)
The most alarming sign of fungal trouble is when mushrooms grow on the trunk or branches. Since they require decaying matter to develop, there is a serious issue at play.
Note: The introduction of herbicides to a wounded tree or beneath the bark will only serve to accelerate the death of the tree.
Solution 1 – Prune back and destroy affected foliage, limbs, and branches. Again, when more than 25% of the tree’s foliage or mass must be removed, seek the assistance of a certified arborist. The removal of the tree may be the only way to keep your other trees from being infected.
Solution 2 – Properly prune your healthy trees (or have them pruned) to keep them healthy. A poorly pruned tree is more susceptible to both insect infestation and fungal disease.
7 – Fungal Infection (external)
The wind, birds or insects often carry spores of fungi and pathogens from tree to tree. Cankers, fire blight, rust disease, powdery mildew, and many others are common in the spring and summertime.
Solution – Carefully prune back and destroy affected foliage and apply a fungicidal spray to the affected and surrounding areas. Surrounding trees and shrubs should all undergo treatment as well.
Watch this video to learn about pathogens such as fire blight and cankers which affect tree bark and foliage.
Tree Problems Caused by People and Machinery
All of the threats mentioned above aside, people pose the most significant threat to a tree’s livelihood either by lack of knowledge or accident.
8 – Soil Compaction:
The land that surrounds a tree (especially under its canopy) contains the majority of the roots that draw water for the tree. These roots grow within the top 12 to 18 inches of soil. When this area is compacted, these roots suffocate and die, severely weakening the tree.
Trees compromised by soil compaction are at a heightened risk of toppling in a storm or severe weather event, as their roots are no longer effectively able to anchor them to the ground. Many times, no storm is required, the tree will eventually succumb to its own weight and fall on its own.
Solution – Never drive or park any vehicles underneath a tree’s canopy. Likewise, never store heavy equipment, or erect tool sheds under a tree.
In most municipalities nationwide, tree protection ordinances mandate that protective barriers be placed around trees on construction sites to deter such activities.
The majority of those same ordinances impose heavy fines and replanting requirements known as a recompense for damaged or removed trees.
9 – Lawn Mowers, Motorized Equipment, and Bark Damage:
Below the bark of a tree and outer layer of roots, there is a thin layer of cells called the “phloem” which is the conduit for nutrients traveling up and down the tree.
When a tree’s bark is damaged, not only is the tree susceptible to infection and infestation, that flow of nutrients is interrupted and if the damage is around the majority or entirety of the trunk, the tree will be girdled and die.
Solution 1 – Do not allow lawn mowers and other equipment to damage protruding roots or the bark of the tree.
Solution 2 – For protruding roots, either raise the ground level to bury them, or carefully prune them. If you choose to prune the roots, call on a tree professional for detailed instruction or to do the job. Just cutting them out may result in the decline of the tree’s health and its death.
Solution 3 – If the bark of a tree is dried, cracked, or knocked loose, DO NOT remove it. Call an arborist to evaluate the tree’s situation.
Healthy Trees and Arborists
All arborists would agree that healthy, well cared for trees are capable of resisting most infestations and illnesses on their own. However, when a tree does present signs of trouble, knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death for the tree.
Whether the troubles come from weather, insect, fungi, or people, the solutions are usually simple when detected and treated early. In many cases, to prevent the spreading of a pathogen or the demise of the tree, a certified arborist should be called in to assess the situation and determine a safe course of action.
When your trees show signs of trouble, doing nothing or hesitating to correct the problem may result in the decline of the tree’s health or even its abrupt death.
Crape Myrtle – A Southern Tree for Your Alpharetta and Roswell Yard
Lagerstroemia, known as crepe myrtle or crape myrtle is a tree that thrives in US Hardiness zones 7 through 10, making it a perfect choice for your Alpharetta or Roswell yard. The genus came to the US over 200 years ago and got its name from the Swedish merchant Magnus von Lagerstrom.
The most popular species is L. indica. It is a native of southern China and Thailand. For centuries, crepe myrtles have been grown in Asia as ornamentals.
Of all the southern trees and plants, crepe myrtles are among the most desired for their outstanding summer display of blooms and their brilliant fall colors. 72 Tree, Seed & Land Co. prepared an extensive article covering the characteristics, environment, and care these trees need to flourish and light up your landscape.
Are Crepe Myrtles Trees or Bushes
The Lagerstroemia genus contains approximately 50 species of trees and shrubs both deciduous and evergreen. So, this species can indeed grow as a tree or shrub, making it ideal for hedges, container planting, or even in groupings along your landscape.
Height – The L. indica species possesses cultivars and hybrids that remain under 5ft in height, some that reach 11 to 15ft in height, and those that tower over the others, reaching heights of 20 to 30ft.
Canopy – At maturity, the canopy can reach from 6ft to well beyond 15ft depending on the species.
Trunk – Crape Myrtles are known to have multiple trunks with beautiful bark which exfoliates in the winter months. Be cautious when pruning or working around these trees, their wood is somewhat brittle, and the trunks may easily crack when put under pressure.
Lifespan – When planted in full sun and fertile soil, Crepe Myrtles can live well beyond 50 years. In fact, dotted along the southeastern landscape, it is common to come across specimens over 100 years old.
Uses – Depending on the species, these trees work as shrubs, hedges, container plants, landscape groupings, and in some cities as street trees.
If you decided you prefer to plant an evergreen instead, visit 72tree.com/3-evergreen-species-alpharetta-roswell-yard/ for some great candidates.
Crepe Myrtle Tree Care
About two years after planting, these species become very tolerant to drought, heat, humidity, and will do well in nearly any well-drained soil. They become robust enough to resprout even after being completely frozen.
Crepe myrtles are low maintenance. However, you still need to do some planning before planting and a bit of upkeep as they grow.
Planting – Location is critical when planting crepe myrtles. Select a spot that has well-drained soil and gets full sun. Planting in partial or full shade will significantly reduce its ability to flower and may reduce its lifespan as well.
Crepe myrtles have a shallow and very fibrous root system which can extend 3 to 4 times the diameter of the canopy. As with all trees, the planting location should be at least 5 to 10 feet away from cement pathways, foundations, and sidewalks.
Pruning – Very little pruning is required. Improper pruning disrupts the development of a robust branching system and will leave your specimen deformed and vulnerable to weather, pests, and fungi.
If there is a need to prune, it should occur in late winter or early spring to correct the following:
• Removing crossed or rubbing branches.
• Removing suckers from the base.
• Branches growing inward (toward the center).
• Canopy thinning for better air circulation.
• Gradually remove side branches up to 4 or 5 feet as the tree grows.
• Reducing multi-trunk trees to a single trunk (not recommended).
Summer pruning can include:
• Removing old seed pods and spent flowers (removing them after the first bloom encourages further blooming).
• Removing small twig-like growth.
All crepe myrtle species bloom on new wood. The proper and minimal pruning of your tree will encourage this growth and promote a beautiful summer blooming season.
If you are pruning your tree because it has gotten too large for its location, you’ve planted the wrong species.
Watering – Provide newly planted crepe myrtles with a deep and thorough watering. Then, water your tree up to 4 or 5 times per week during hot weather or when planted in sandy soil. When the tree is dormant or during cold weather, your tree will need watering once per week.
Blooms – As previously mentioned, all crepe myrtles bloom on new wood. After the first bloom, removing the spent flowers will encourage further blooming in the season.
Tree Pests and Disease That Attack Crepe Myrtles
These trees like all others on your landscape are susceptible to infestations, disease, and animal damage. The best defense against these threats is to keep your tree(s) healthy, plant, prune, and water them properly and they will be less likely to suffer damage from the following:
Pests that infest crepe myrtles:
Japanese Beetle – This insect is approximately 1/2 inch in length, its body is oval and metallic green, and its wings are copper in color.
Larvae remain underground where they consume grass and young tree roots. Adult beetles feed on the tissues of the leaves and are most active on trees in full sun during the warmest part of the day.
A Japanese beetle infestation can cause severe damage to all of the trees on your landscape. Traps, pyrethrins, and neem oil can help curtail a beetle outbreak. However, this is an urgent situation which needs to be evaluated by a certified arborist.
Crape Myrtle Aphid – These insects are yellowish-green and have black spots on their abdomen. They measure from a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch in length.
Both nymphs and adults feed on the underside of the foliage causing it to droop and yellow leaf spots to appear. Buds, flowers, and branch tips can all be damaged as well from their feeding.
Sooty mold will appear on the leaves when there is an aphid infestation. This mold is a byproduct of the aphid’s excrement and will disappear once the outbreak ends.
Watch this video to learn how to eliminate aphids and “black” sooty mold on your crape myrtle.
When a crape myrtle aphid infestation occurs, apply a 2oz. to 1 gallon solution of molasses and water to the affected areas and release ladybugs around the tree. Neem oil is also very useful in controlling aphids.
Fungi that attack crepe myrtles:
Powdery Mildew – This fungus appears as a white powdery substance and can spread very quickly if not handled properly.
It is worth noting that trees planted in full sun are not typically bothered by this fungus.
To control powdery mildew, spray a fungicide on the affected area and its surroundings.
Sooty Mold – This mold has a tar-like appearance and is a result an aphid infestation (see above).
Bark Shedding – Don’t be alarmed. While it may seem that something has infected your tree, there is nothing wrong with it. Crepe myrtles, once reaching adulthood will naturally exfoliate their bark in winter months, revealing the magnificent color variations of its trunk.
Crepe Myrtles and Summer Blooms
If you are looking for an incredible addition to your Alpharetta yard or landscape, crepe myrtles are a must have. Besides being low maintenance, they will put on a colorful show every summer.
An added plus in the summer is when the blooms attract birds seeking refuge and nesting and offer their nectar and pollen to the bees.
Tree Pruning Techniques
Your trees are constantly responding to environmental changes and throughout the year, they will need some help by way of pruning.
Tree pruning will help to improve the overall health of your trees, their overall appearance, and naturally reduces the possibility of tree failure. The improper pruning of a tree can stress a tree leading to potential decay, infestation, disease, and even death.
Below the arborist at 72 Tree, Seed & Land Co. discuss the different ways trees can be properly pruned.
Tree Height Reduction
When reducing the height of a tree, much care and precision pruning are necessary.
This procedure must be done correctly; “topping” or cutting through the main trunk often leads to several issues for the tree including failure.
Depending on the species and growth pattern of the tree, height reduction may not be possible without irreparably damaging the tree. In these cases, the choice to remove or relocate it may have to be made.
Tree Crown Raising
Crown raising involves the pruning, cutting, or removal of the lowest branches of a tree. This procedure provides more clearance under a tree for people and vehicles.
This procedure, when performed on younger trees, will encourage more growth in the upper branches. When raising the crown on older more developed trees, much caution is needed as the lower branches will be much larger and leave larger wounds.
Tree Crown Thinning
Crown thinning is a wise option for trees that sustain the full force of strong winds or have to bear the weight of accumulated snow or ice.
This is accomplished by the selective and careful removal of branches from within the crown. This process reduces the force of the wind on the canopy, as well as reducing the weight of snow and ice on the tree.
Care must be taken when thinning a crown. The improper procedure or over thinning can lead to disease, decay, infestation, or make the tree more susceptible to being blown over.
Tree Crown Cleaning
As the name suggests, crown cleaning is the removal of dead and dying branches. Crown cleaning is the more common of the pruning options.
This procedure helps to protect your tree by removing unnecessary weight, reduces the risk and hazard of falling branches, helps to halt the progression of decay and disease, thus improving the overall health of the tree.
Small or Ornamental Tree Pruning
Small or ornamental trees should be routinely pruned for many of the same reasons mentioned above. They may also be pruned for simple esthetics or to train them as they grow.
Professional Regular Pruning
Once aware of the signs your tree needs pruning, having your trees regularly pruned by a tree service or certified arborist will keep your trees healthy and beautiful. This will also benefit your landscape by the early detection of problematic infestations, fungi, or irregularities that may otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late to correct.
An added benefit to regular pruning services is curb appeal. The better your landscape appears, the more curb appeal your property will have. This usually translates to a higher property value.
Overall, pruning is beneficial and necessary throughout the year. Follow these tree pruning tips, and visit our tree care blog more articles and information.
Helping Your Trees Survive the Winter
There are a number of things you can do to help your trees survive the winter when they go dormant. Almost everything about winter; the ground freezing, the heat of daytime followed by freezing nights, snow and ice storms can all damage your tree.
Trees are known for their ability to survive through the winter and then spring back to life during the spring. Today we’ll be taking a look at just how trees are able to do this, and we’ll learn something about nature as we go.
Let’s start by looking at dormancy and some of the measures 72 Tree and you can take to help your trees survive the coldest months.
Dormancy in Deciduous Trees
Dormancy is one of the coolest tricks Mother Nature knows. This is when a tree stops producing food during the winter and no longer needs the photosynthesis process or the leaves involved in it. So leaves have to be removed to conserve energy. Deciduous trees produce a chemical called abscisic acid (ABA) in the terminal buds that connect leaves, telling leaves it’s time for them to go.
ABA prevents both deciduous and coniferous trees from growing. This impeded growth is another part of the dormancy process, further reducing how much energy the tree consumes. As the tree enters a conservation state, the metabolism of the tree slows down; using the energy from stored food slowly to maintain vital functions.
Winter Tree Care
Pruning – You should wait until dormancy to prune your tree, when you aren’t likely to damage new growth. Late season growth is particularly at risk from pruning, as it hasn’t had the time to prepare for winter months. Ice crystals may form within new growth and rupture cell walls. If they aren’t pruned properly, they are likely to die off during the spring.
Visit here for more pruning tips and instructions.
Mulching – Winter drought is a problem caused by a tree shrub or plant losing more moisture than can be absorbed. While you aren’t able to control the weather, you have some influence of the effects of it. Putting a thick layer of organic mulch down before winter temperatures set in helps to insulate the roots. The mulch also prevents runoff and moisture loss, benefiting the overall health and hydration of the tree.
Please note that trees don’t freeze entirely, even in a dormant state. Looking at the tree shows you they prepare on the cellular levels. It sounds incredible, but much of the work a tree does to survive winter is happening under the bark inside the tree.
Remove Build-up of Ice and Snow – It’s likely that you might see snow build up on your tree or cling to the branches of it following some bad winter weather. It’s important that you leave the snow be and don’t shake it off. There’s a good chance that the branches have frozen solid and become brittle. Shaking them could damage the tree or even cause these limbs to break off and fall, which is a serious hazard. If you find yourself in this situation then call in a tree professional to evaluate the situation. They will be able to advise the best course of action to take.
Trees Spring Into Life Following Dormancy
Trees will start springing back to life as the days get longer and the temperatures get warmer. If you took care of them properly, then you’re in for another year of beauty and shade provided by a healthy tree. Taking care of them, by the way, means doing absolutely nothing and letting nature take its course. After taking care of the seasonal pruning, you’ll have done enough to protect your tree. Trust the natural survival mechanisms of your tree to handle everything else.
Your trees are often stressed during winter. Knowing ways to lessen the impact is helpful. Learn these preventative tree stress methods to give your trees a greater chance at prolonged health and life. 72tree.com/winter-tree-stress-prevention-and-protection-tips/
3 Tips for a Healthy Summer Lawn and Garden
You don’t need a landscape expert to tell you that your lawn is under intense heat when the summer sun arrives. This is why you must proactively take care of the lawn and prepare so that it will retain its health and appearance.
Summer is when many homeowners choose to list and present their home to buyers. The exterior – lawn, landscaping, and curb appeal – is what will draw and attract buyers to your home.
Keep your garden and lawn fresh this summer by following these simple and easy to implement tips:
1. Keep Chemical Fertilizers Away from Your Plants
Organic and natural solutions are typically best when compared with chemical fertilizers. Though chemical fertilizers can ignite growth and vitality, an unintended counteraction may leave you with an insect infestation problem.
This issue arises as using fertilizers during summer encourages super growth, which would require more pruning, trimming, mowing and watering. This creates a problem because as you overwater the plants, insects will invade the plant. Use natural solutions to treat and care for your plants, and if you have insect problems, see 72tree.com/using-dormant-horticultural-oil-treat-tree-insect-infestations/
2. Always Mow Your Yard and Prune your Trees
Give your lawn, shrubs, and trees that wonderful view when you regularly mow your yard, trim and prune your trees. You will be proud of yourself when you go to relax in the garden and you begin to enjoy the rich view and healthy smell.
Your soil conditions and type of grass will determine the frequency at which it should be cut. 3 inches is an optimal height for summer, but be aware that cutting your grass too low, will lead to weed invasion and heat damage.
Weeds are another thing to tame because they can rob your soil and grass of valuable nutrients. This may eventually lead to their taking over your yard. Keep your lawn cut, watered, and free of weeds.
Tree trimming is not only done for aesthetics and safety reasons, it also actually improves the overall health of trees shrubs. Structural appeal is important, but pruning boosts the development and growth of your plants when performed properly.
For more on tree pruning visit treecareadvice.blogspot.com/2016/03/tree-pruning-why-how-and-when-to-prune-trees.html
3. Strategically Plant and Water Your Landscape
When planting, take into account the amount of direct sunlight needed for each species. Identify the locations in your yard that have partial shade, and use these as needed. You want to add mulch to your flowerbeds to keep pests off and retain moisture in the roots.
You might want to consider watering your plants adequately and often if you reside in an area that is overly dry. You’ll be surprised at the rate to which plants dry up during the summer months. Create a simple schedule and do your best to prevent that from happening.
When watering, make sure you water deeply so that it will get to the roots of the plant because that’s where the “engine” of the plant is.
Tip – Some decorative plants are drought tolerant and don’t require frequent watering. Lithops, Wallflowers, and Verbenas are beautiful flowering plants that have a great low to moderate watering tolerance.
Maintenance of Your Landscape
There’s a different maintenance routine for all properties and landscape. It is highly advisable that you seek the services of a professional in Landscape on deciding the best method for maintenance of your property. Always remember that your landscape is what will attract visitors and buyers alike to your property, so be sure to dish out a best first impression.
Essential Tools for Tree Care and Gardening
To have a well-maintained lawn or lively garden, you need the right tools. The types of tools you’ll use will be contingent on the size of your garden or yard. The time you spend in your lawn or garden, as well as the amount of money you’re willing to invest in it. These are all factors to consider, and below are the basic tools necessary to upkeep your yard or garden.
Cultivating Tools for Gardening
When it comes to cultivating, gardeners use either power or hand-held tools. The core objective in cultivating is breaking up, aerating, and leveling the soil. Obviously “working the soil” requires effort and is no easy task. The kind of tool you use depends on how much of an effort you’d like to put into your gardening project.
Landscaping Hand Tools
Hand tools consist of spading forks, shovels, trowels, padding forks, diggers and rakes. They can be used to prepare a garden, don’t require excessive strength to operate, and are quite simple to handle. Other hand tools that aren’t critical, but helpful, are pickaxes and mattocks. These hand tools are for harvesting and digging deeper in the soil.
Power tools may cost more than traditional hand tools, but they minimize labor, saving you effort and time. The most important gardening tool is a tiller, which separates and prepares the ground for planting. A tiller will also cut down any lingering debris, as well as help combine compost with fertilizer. If you would rather not buy a tiller, consider renting one, or hiring someone to tile the ground for you.
Tree Cutting and Pruning Tools
If there are small trees, hedges or shrubs on your lawn, you should be using pruning tools. For branches around ¾” in diameter, pruning shears are ideal. Lopping shears are able to handle pruning tree branches as high as 2”. Pole pruners can reach trees as high as 15 feet above ground level. Pruning saws and hedge shears are considered heavy duty equipment and usually purchased by gardening aficionados.
Plants must be watered regularly to maintain their longevity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always rain when we need it to. That’s why watering tools are essential. The one tool you can’t neglect is a water hose. Many gardeners use drip irrigation hoses or sprinklers. You also have the option to buy timers for drip hoses or sprinklers.
Gardening without the proper tools can be frustrating. There’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty in the backyard, but it can’t hurt to own fundamental tools like shovels, rakes and hoes. Some would say these tools are just as substantial as the trees, dirt and seeds surrounding your landscape.
Visit http://www.72tree.com/tree-cutting-services-in-alpharetta-ga/ for pruning services or expertise about tree trimming, shaping or health issues.