The importance of mature plant health care.
Mature trees and shrubs are extremely important investments which boost property values by over ten percentage points. A plant health care regime is necessary due to the many years it takes to establish a beautiful landscape. These plants grow in constantly varying environmental and weather conditions. Routine monitoring is required since arborists can establish a problem early enough when the landscape can still be salvaged. Arborists can recognize abnormal leaf colors, hidden insects and pest invasions and can also give advice on good pruning practices and removal of weak branches that can have devastating effects when they fall.
What are the various practices in plant health care?
There are a number of practices that arborists can do when contacted early enough. It is unfortunate that most of the time arborists are called in a little too late. When contacted in a timely version the problems are easily corrected and good advice given but sometimes the problem can take years to treat. Plant health care starts with visits meant to inspect and monitor the conditions of individual plants and shrubs. Ideally mature tree should be inspected at least once every year. During inspection an experienced arborist seeks out several essential characteristics of tree vitality. These include the formation of new leaves, twig growth, leaf sizes and the absence of crown dieback.
When problems are established the expert remedies the situation through a number of ways which may include application of fertilizers, herbicide and pruning. Pruning requires experienced arborists because of the numerous risk factors that are at play. This is a practice that must be carefully considered especially where large branches are involved. The risk of personal and tree injury, damage of the client’s property must be eliminated by use of good techniques. Pruning offers a number of benefits to the tree which include improving the structure of the tree, removal of excessively insect infested branches and the enhancement of the overall plant vitality.
Another critical remedial practice is the management of the soils. Nutrient deficiency often leads to disease and insect problems. Soil samples can be taken to establish the missing nutrients especially in urban landscapes where soil aeration drainage and pH levels are a common issue.
Watering of mature plants is recommended during times of prolonged drought. The watering regime should be repeated every 2- 3 wees and enough water should be provided until the top 30 or so centimeters are completely soaked. Mulching helps reduce evaporation of the water at the base of the tree among other benefits. Therefore, mulching is also a critical mature plant health care practice. Mulching prevent the growth of weed at the plant base hence alleviating competition for the nutrients in the soil. The mulch when composed of decomposing plant matter adds to the nutritional value of the soil.
Tree removal is often the last resort in the plant health care practices. Experienced arborists are called upon to remove a tree when it is considered beyond remedy to a point where it poses danger to other plants in the landscape. Removal of a tree is also necessary in a location earmarked for construction works.
Costs and benefits of plant health care.
There are numerous benefits that come with a healthy landscape. A healthy landscape translates the benefits to the human beings that live within the surroundings. These benefits include good health from stress relieving insect free shades that the healthy trees provide. Plant health care keeps the plants or the trees in their naturally intended states which maintains their natural beauty and colors which in turn radiate on the environment. There are a number of ways a property owner can protect the plants through arborists. It is necessary to note that poorly maintained trees are a liability to a property owner.
Plant health care practices vary from one landscape to the other. Costs are often tailored according to the needs of the landscape and the arrangement a client gets into with his/her arborist. Customized packages are often available where a client can put a number of trees or the entire landscape under a program. A comprehensive plan is beneficial since the client does not have to worry anymore about all the practices mentioned above.
Tree Planting Tips
Tree planting is a lifelong investment. It is the easiest way to improve your landscape. Planting of trees also comes with other multiple advantages.
Why plant trees?
Trees increase property values by between 15 and 20 percent. This is one of the most decent return on investment. Every dollar and time spent on planting trees come with interest in the future. Buyers are willing to spend more of their money on homes with trees as opposed to open properties.
Strategically planted trees in a home can serve as air conditioners. During summer trees cool their surrounding and save on heating costs during winter.
Among other benefits, trees purify the air we breathe, provide beauty, slow down run off water reduce noise pollution and improve people’s health. It is also worthwhile to note that mature trees have a value of between 1000 and 10000 USD.
Choosing the right tree for tree planting.
Specific trees do well in specific areas. The species of the tree to be planted must be supported by the existing sol conditions (Nutritional value and pH). Testing the sol is a recommended step before considering the type of trees to plant. It is also possible to establish the tree likely to flourish in the area by visiting arboretums and local parks. These areas mostly contain native trees or trees that have adapted to the area.
You must completely understand a particular variety before planting. The trees mature Size should dictate where it will be planted and its effect on the landscape. Larger mature trees are fit in spacious properties. Smaller trees are suited for walkways and driveways or forming beautiful understories for bigger trees.
Preparation of site for planting
First you must ensure the absence of underground utilities in the area. This is followed by clearing of the field of any weeds or grass. Shallow broad holes are recommended for planting. The hole should only be as deep as the root ball and two or three times the width of the root ball. This width provides ample room for emerging roots to expand. The walls of the holes should be made rough by scraping to make it easier for roots to grow into the soil.
Planting the tree.
Before putting the tree in the hole ensure you remove the container and remove any encircling roots. It is advisable to remove any excess soil to expose the flare. The flare is the point where the trunk spreads out at the soil line.
While descending the tree into the hole you should be careful to hold t by the root ball as opposed to the trunk. The depth of planting is an extremely important factor to consider. Planting too deep deprives the root of oxygen which is necessary for root development. While planting in heavy clayed soils which are poorly drained, the base of the trunk flare should be left 2 to 3 inches above the ground.
By long at the tree from various angles ensure the tree is straight since this is the only chance to position the tree. Using the soil that was dug fill the hole. To stabilize the tree pack soil around the base of the root ball. At this point the root ball should not be wrapped and any fabric, plastic or wire should be rid. The remainder of the sol should be placed firmly to get rid of any air pockets that can cause drying of roots. Fertilization should be avoided at this point. The tree should be staked if the area has frequent strong winds otherwise it should stand on its own.
Follow up care.
The tree should be pruned to remove only broken, dead or diseased twigs. Immediately after planting, water the tree each day for several wees afterwards. The frequency of watering should be reduced when the roots have established into the surrounding soil. Moisture should be maintained but waterlogging should be avoided.
Organic mulch should be applied at this point to moderate the soil temperature and maintain moisture. Common mulches include composted wood chip, leaf litter and pine straw. The mulch should be applied not more than 4 inches deep to avoid oxygen moisture level problems. A mulch free area should be maintained round the base of the tree.
Storm Proofing is Important For Your Trees
The aesthetic financial and social value of trees can all be lost in the event of a storm. So it’s important to have storm-proofing for trees. Snow, ice, high-velocity winds, tornadoes, and hail are some of the natural perils. Some trees can be damaged partially while some sustain injuries that cannot be treated to regain their health and value to a property. Depending on the strength and intensity of a storm damage can range from minimal to intensive. Damaged trees are a source of concern to the people in the surrounding.
Making the right decisions after a storm is a critical process. The assistance of experienced arborists can help determine whether a tree requires removal or treatment. Under normal weather patterns, trees condition themselves to withstand winds and lightening storms. They adjust their growth to cope with external loading. However, hurricane-force winds can destroy entire forests. These damaged trees pose risks to personal safety as well as the safety of adjacent properties. Despite the impact that these storms have it is important to still consider the numerous advantages that trees have. Trees in a compound add beauty, moderate the elements of weather and increase property values.
Research has been conducted after previous storms on ways to storm-proof your trees. They have provided valuable knowledge on why and how trees fall when hit by a storm. This article targets individuals who wish to develop knowledge to grow more storm-resistant urban forests to minimize the impact of future storms.
Common injuries sustained after a storm.
Failing of the stem: External forces such as strong turbulent winds take advantage of the weak points in a tree. Trees are likely to crack or snap at these points of weakness. Weak points can be caused by previous injury points or areas where the tree was exposed to a disease or insect infestation. The damage from stem failure is mostly beyond repair. It is, therefore, necessary for an arborist to assess a tree and give recommendations to avert disasters.
Branch failure: Poorly attached branches are often the prime target of strong winds or storms. Accumulation of ice or snow on branches also cause loading on branches which often leads to breakage. Damage to branches is usually not lethal to trees unless damage of the crown is above 50 percent. However, these branches pose serious safety issues. It is imperative for a landowner or manager to learn to recognize signs of damage like death breakage or hanging limbs to reduce risks. The assistance of a certified arborist is often needed as damage branches can be hard to identify and require close inspection.
Twisting of the crown: Uneven crowns can result due to poor pruning techniques. Uneven wind loading causes a twist on the array of leaves, branches, and twigs that constitute the crown. Twisting leads to cracking around areas of weakness like old wounds. This often leads to failure.
Other effects of storms include uprooting of an entire tree This occurs when the wind loading in the aerial part of the tree weighs heavily on the root system. A number of factors like decays and pest attacks predispose a tree to poor anchorage and health which in turn makes toppling by winds easy. Trees that do not fall over during storms can sustain huge stresses on their root system. Roots that are damaged or diseased can cause a tree to lean and fall.
What are the mitigation methods?
Studies have shown that;
Trees growing individually are hardest hit than trees growing in groups. A group can be defined as five or more trees growing within ten feet of each other but not in neat rows. Planters should ensure good spacing between trees to encourage the growth of a vibrant and strong root system. Planting trees in groups of five or well-spaced clusters is recommended.
Some tree species resist strong winds better than others. wind resistance is the ability of trees to withstand hurricane force winds without easily uprooting or breaking. It is recommendable to plant species that have been shown to more wind resistant. Planting different varieties, ages, and layers to maintain diversity is also recommended.
Old and hazardous tree species that have demonstrated poor survival should be considered for removal. Such trees pose danger to people and property. Certified arborists can be contacted to give advice on the resistance ability of various species.
What’s Tree topping?
Tree topping is the act of cutting off the vertical stems, the large branches or trunks leaving stubs and the lateral branches. This leaves the tree without a terminal leader. This practice is also known as heading, tipping or rounding over. Topping can severely damage a tree beyond recovery. This is perhaps the most harmful pruning practice.
Why are trees topped?
Homeowners top trees when they feel that they have overgrown to unacceptable height. In some cases, trees are topped when they interfere with utility lines, buildings or when they shade gardens. Obstruction of views also lead some homeowners to hire pruners to top trees.
Trees are also topped to stimulate growth. When the head is removed the tree responds to the sudden loss of leaves by producing adventitious shoots. These shoots are however susceptible to many problems. The succulent nature of these shoots makes then ready targets of pest and insects like caterpillars and aphids.
Topping is a hurtful practice that has more disadvantages than the benefits. Topped trees have a shorter lifespan and end up with a weak top that can easily drop branches. While selecting a tree service research on the companies that advocate for this vice. Arborists consider topping unacceptable and advice against it.
Topping eliminates large portions of leaves hence interfering the trees ability to process foods. The stored reserves are also depleted. The topping and the subsequent growth that results has numerous disadvantages that are outlined below:
Undesirable effects of tree topping?
Creation of large slow to heal wounds: The wounds left behind by topping heal very slowly and as a result are vulnerable to disease and insect infestation. An insect or fungal infection can easily spread through the trunk causing death of the tree.
Growth of undesirable water sprout: Topping stimulates the growth of straight unattractive suckers. This is a reaction to the loss of leaves. The sprouts grow vigorously to a point where the tree can regain its original height but with a different appearance.
Topped trees are ugly: Once topped trees lose their aesthetic value. The natural majestic appeal can no longer be regained. The huge scars left behind and the broom like growth that results are an eyesore. Trees take multiple years to grow and all that gain can be destroyed by a single move by an ill-informed pruner. Property values plunge by over 20 percent where trees are topped.
It is expensive: Once topped a tree must be topped regularly every few years and eventually eliminated when it dies or when the owner gives up. This process requires a lot more money than maintaining a tree through proper pruning. Properly pruned trees are healthy and beautiful, need less maintenance and cost less in the long term. To avoid topping the mature height of the tree should be considered before planting and the right tree planted at the right place.
Topping is dangerous: Topping s the most hurtful thing you can do to a tree and can lead to internal columns of rotten weakened wood. A topped tree is exposed to insect infestation and fungal decay. When cuts are made properly in relation to branch collars a tree cannot protect itself from rot. Such trees are very unsafe and can easily fall or drop branches on passersby, cars or buildings. The thick broom like growth that results from topping makes the top of the tree heavy and more likely to resist wind. In a storm such a tree is likely to be blown over.
Starvation of the tree: Removal of leaves inhibits the synthesis of food in the tree. Continuous removal of leaves literally starves the tree forcing it to use stored reserves to grow more shoots.
Alternatives to tree topping
There are number of ways a property owner can control the growth of a tree without affecting its structure. Spiral thinning and other methods of canopy thinning can allow light penetration, decrease wind resistance and allow air circulation These methods maintain the health of the tree while also limiting the undesirable features of overgrown trees. However, the best method is planting the right tree at the right place by considering its mature height. The tree can also be removed entirely and replaced with a species appropriate for the particular ste.
Tree Disease and Insect Infestation
The keen eye of an arborist is required to monitor a landscape to prevent it from turning from an asset to a liability. There are numerous insects that affect the health of trees causing adverse effects to a landscape. Tree health is very important and if left unchecked it can cause mortality of forests.
Signs of Insect Infestation.
These signs vary from tree to tree depending on the level of infestation and the Size and age of the tree. A landscape caretaker should also be able to differentiate between the effects of insect infestation disease and drought. Symptoms of infestation first manifest themselves on the leaves and twigs of trees. Signs on leaves can range from discoloration, stunted sizes, borer holes, sudden thinning of foliage to death. In branches and trunks, one should check for reduced growth rate compared to previous years. The holes on stems and lifting roots are other symptoms.
Insects and pests are classified by the damage they cause and the part of the tree they prefer. Some insects suck juices from leaves some bore through tree trunks and others eat the leaves. The insects that feed on the leaves are known as defoliators while those that draw sap from leaves and trunks can be referred to as sapsuckers. Defoliators affect the rate at which trees make sugars they need to grow and survive. Deciduous trees can survive for several seasons without leaves while evergreen trees can be killed by absence of leaves for long durations. One example of defoliator is the gypsy moth. The sapsuckers draw juices from shoots leaves and twigs often causing crinkled appearance and stunting of growth. Sapsuckers can kill a tree in heavy infestations. By boring on the bars back borers disrupt the transportation system of a plant. Water and nutrients do not get to their designated destinations. It is important to note that bar borers can carry diseases which they often transmit.
Aphids- These feed on the leaves of trees and can cause huge damage when large populations invade a landscape. They also exude a sticky substance which causes the growth of sooty mold fungus. Aphids also inject toxins which cause disease and distortion of growth.
Asian longhorn beetle- These are bar borers which cause weakening of trees and can eventually cause the trees to fall apart. They often lay eggs in openings on tree bars.
What to do?
Landscape caretakers should take photos of trees they deem infested and contact arborists for treatment before the spread becomes rampant. Samples of the insects should also be taken and preserved in containers for easy identification in the future.
Common Tree Diseases
Diseases are a common problem in a landscape. Most of the diseases are caused by tiny organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye. However, the diseases become obvious once the symptoms take hold. Diseases can affect localized portion of a tree or the entre tree. Needle cast defoliation, leaf blotch and chlorosis or yellowing of leaves are some of the most prominent symptoms. Tree pathologists are the people involved with the study of forest and landscape diseases. Tree diseases are classified by their cause after studying the signs and symptoms that are manifest. Most of the common tree diseases are caused by fungus and hence are classified as fungal diseases. Fungal diseases are then classified by the type of infection they cause and the part of the tree affected.
Phytophthora Root & Crown Rot: It is characterized by a combination of symptoms which range from general unhealthy appearance, discoloration or loss of foliage and crown dieback. Young trees are especially susceptible due to their underdeveloped root systems. This disease is common in most and warm soils hence maintaining good drainage is essential in the prevention of this disease.
Anthracnose: This is a group of diseases that are mostly identified by their most common symptom. Blotches or irregular dead areas is the most prominent symptom which deprives the tree of its ability to make sugars necessary for growth.
Oak Wilt: This s a disease specific to oak trees and is spread by insects or when roots of infected trees meet and form a connection. This disease can be reliably identified by its ability to cause leaf drops and presence of leaves with partially green and brown patches.
Before a corrective action is taken the cause of the problem must first be established. This ensures the treatment of the disease rather than its symptoms. Diagnosis from an experienced arborist proves critical at this point.