5 Evergreen Shrubs for Shade – Zone 8

No landscape, deck, pool, backyard, or outdoor living area in zone 8 is complete until your shrubs provide refreshing year-round shade from the sun.

Zone 8 backyard landscape with shrubs for shade

For those living in USDA plant hardiness zone 8, summers can be hot and stifling, and winters cold but short-lived. Planting evergreen shrubs strategically on your landscape will provide ample shade, cooler temperatures, and privacy.

The team at thetreecareguide.com carefully selected the following five evergreen shrub species ideal for plant hardiness zone 8, and compiled their growth and care information for you to utilize.

Rhododendron Facts and Information

Rhododendrons are very popular medium-sized shrubs that flower abundantly in Springtime. They are slow-growing and must be planted in acidic, organic, and well-drained moist soils. For their establishment and best growth environment, they prefer partial shade.

Zone 8 evergreen shrub rhododendron for shade

Rhododendron Information:

Hardiness Zone – 4 through 8
Height and Width – 4 feet to 10 feet tall and wide
Shape – Rounded and spreads as it matures
Growth Rate – About 1 foot per year in optimum conditions
Time to Maturity – 3 years in optimum conditions
When to Plant – Early fall or spring
Ideal Soil pH – 4.5 to 6
Pest Problems – Scale and aphids are common problems for rhododendrons. Both can be easily treated with neem oil.
Special Care – Mulch rhododendrons each spring with 2 to 5 inches of organic mulch to protect shallow roots and keep the soil damp.

Emerald Arborvitae Facts and Information

Emerald Arborvitae is a popular tall-and-narrow shrub that is commonly seen potted on porches flanking a door. They are the preferred shrub for privacy screens and tight spaces between properties. This species grows well in both alkaline and acidic soil, is very drought tolerant, and prefers full sun.

Zone 8 shrubs for shade evergreen emerald arborvitae

Emerald Arborvitae Information:

Hardiness Zone – 3 through 8
Height and Width – 15 to18 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide
Shape – Tall and narrow
Growth Rate – 6 to 9 inches per year
Time to Maturity – 15 to 20 years
When to Plant – Late fall or early spring
Ideal Soil pH – 6.8 to 7.2
Pest Problems – Bagworms and spider mites are troublesome for this species, treat them as follows:

Bagworms should be treated with either spinosad, permethrin, sevin or malathion in late spring (May).

Spider mites are resistant to commercial insecticides, and they are best treated with a horticultural or neem oil.

Special Care – Make sure this species receives several deep waterings in late fall early winter. Wind, sun, lack of water, and freezing temperatures combined can cause browning of the foliage.

American Holly Facts and Information

American holly is a very popular broad-leafed evergreen which produces clusters of red berries that last through fall and winter. While quick to fill out, American holly is considered a slow grower, preferring moist, acidic well-drained soil, and full sun for optimum growth.

Evergreen shrubs for shade American holly zone 8

American Holly Information:

Hardiness Zone – 5 through 9
Height and Width – 40 to 50 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide at maturity
Shape – Dense pyramidal
Growth Rate – 12 to 24 inches per year
Time to Maturity – Slow grower – up to 10 years
When to Plant – Early spring
Ideal Soil pH – 5.0 to 6.5
Pest Problems – Leaf miner and scale are problems for American holly, treat the shrub with neem oil during the dormant season to control these pests, and prune back areas that become heavily infested.
Special Care – Hollies are dioecious shrubs, they need both male and female plants to produce seeds (berries). Only the female holly bushes will produce the red berries. Therefore, one male American holly should be planted for every three females.

This will ensure the iconic looking brilliant green holly with red berries is on display well into the winter season. An added benefit to the production of these berries is that they will attract a variety of birds and other wildlife to your landscape, increasing its biodiversity.

Hicks Yew Facts and Information

Hicks Yew is a very popular tall and slender shrub that’s easily pruned to form shapes. This species is slow-growing and performs well when planted in acidic, organic, and well-drained moist soils. Yews do best in full sun and can tolerate heat, drought, root pruning, and shearing. However, this shrub does not do well in poorly drained soil, which can lead to root rot, health decline, and death of the shrub.

Hicks yew zone 8 evergreen shrub for shade

Hicks Yew Information:

Hardiness Zone – 4 through 8
Height and Width – 10 to 12 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide
Shape – Tall and slender – May be pruned to form shapes
Growth Rate – 8 to 15 inches per year
Time to Maturity – Slow grower – up to 10 years
When to Plant – Fall or spring
Ideal Soil pH – 4.0 to 5.5
Pest Problems – Scale is a common pest problem for Hicks Yew. Repeated applications of neem oil should resolve this issue. If heavily infested, prune back all troubled areas and treat the remaining foliage with neem oil.
Special Care – Provide regular deep waterings throughout the first growing season to grow a strong and extensive root system. Once established, water weekly, increasing the frequency during severe summers.

Note: Hicks yew can be pruned in the summer months to form geometrical or other shapes. While yew shrubs are resilient, over pruning may weaken or kill this species.

Prague Viburnum Facts and Information

Prague Viburnum is a very popular flowering ornamental or hedge shrub. This species is fast-growing and performs well when planted in well-drained moist soil. In late spring, pink buds open up to reveal ivory flowers which eventually yield red berries. These berries eventually turn glossy black and persist through the beginning of winter.

Prague viburnum evergreen in zone 8 for shade

Prague Viburnum Information:

Hardiness Zone – 5 through 8
Height and Width – 8 to 10 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide
Shape – Upright oval to oval-rounded
Growth Rate – 24 or more inches per year
Time to Maturity – 4 to 6 years
When to Plant – Fall or early spring
Ideal Soil pH – 5.5 to 6.5
Pest Problems – Scale is a common pest problem for Prague Viburnum. Repeated applications of neem oil should resolve this issue. If heavily infested or infestation persists, prune back all affected areas.
Special Care – When this species shows signs of trouble, losing its form, shows signs of dieback, or is damaged, it can be pruned to the ground and allowed to regrow.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8 and Evergreen Shrubs for Shade

USDA plant hardiness zone 8 is an excellent area to grow evergreen shrubs. The weather and environment in this zone promote fast and tall growth, eventually providing an abundance of shade and privacy for your landscape or outdoor living space.

The emerald arborvitae, American holly, hicks yew, rhododendron and Prague viburnum are five of the many suitable evergreen shrubs for zone 8. These specific species, give you a unique opportunity to fill the spaces in your yard, while getting the most out of their shape and size.

Zone 8 landscape with hicks yew shrubs for shade

By planting these five evergreen shrubs, you gain the benefit of shade and privacy where you need it in your yard, year-round.

Sources:
https://hvp.osu.edu/pocketgardener/source/description/rhododendron.html
https://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/10/what-is-the-best-evergreen-for-screening/
http://www.uky.edu/hort/American-Holly
https://hvp.osu.edu/pocketgardener/source/description/ta_media.html
https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/viburnum-x-pragense/
https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/viburnum/
https://shop.arborday.org/category.aspx?zcid=132

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/5-evergreen-shrubs-shade-zone-8/

Advertisements

Volcano Mulching – Doing This Can Kill Your Tree

Volcano mulching resembles a little volcano around the base of a tree trunk made from mulch. It may look cool, but it’s a death sentence for the tree.

Mulching is an essential part of tree care. However, volcano mulching is a practice which is a tree killer and is highly discouraged.

Tree volcano mulching in landscape

Read on as the team at thetreecareguide.com defines the importance of mulching, what it means for the health of a tree, the dangers of volcano mulching, and answers some commonly asked questions.

Mulch Volcanoes Are Tree Killers

A mulch volcano occurs when a thick layer of mulch is laid around a tree and piled up against the base of the trunk, covering the bark and root flare, resembling a volcano.

For one reason or another, this way of mulching seems to be fairly common, even prevalent in some regions. Landscapers, lawn services, home/business owners that are doing this may be under the assumption that mulch cannot harm trees. Sadly, they are mistaken.

This practice causes the bark at the base of the tree to be permanently shaded and in constant contact with moisture. The ramifications of volcano mulching for a tree are devastating and may result in the following:

  • Cankers
  • Splitting
  • Disease
  • Decay
  • Insect infestation
  • Root rot
  • The death of the tree
  • The unexpected falling of the tree

The tree in the image below may seem to be properly mulched but it is in fact volcano mulched. The level of mulch around the trunk is above the root flare and in contact with the bark.

volcano mulched tree above root flare

Tree Bark – The dead tree cells that cover and defend a tree’s trunk, branches, and limbs compose what we know as bark. For bark to optimally serve its purpose (keeping insects and disease from making the tree a host) it needs air and light to remain hardened.

Over Mulching – Too much mulch can end up matted over time. Just as detrimental as volcano mulching, matted mulch acts as a barrier and stops water and air from reaching the roots. You can quickly solve this by fluffing it up with a rake and removing any excess, 2 to 4 inches thick is ideal.

For more info on growing healthier trees, read these 3 mulching tips.

Root Flare – Definition and Vulnerability

The root flare or root crown is the point at the base of a tree trunk where the trunk expands and transitions into the root system. Trees that sprout and grow naturally have the flare at ground level.

Maintaining this level is essential to the tree’s health for two particular reasons:

1 – From the root flare down, bark transitions to the outer layers of the roots, specialized in resisting constant exposure to soil moisture.

2 – Above the flare, is bark. Exposing this bark to constant moisture inhibits the transportation of oxygen and nutrients by the phloem, effectively girdling the tree.

When planting saplings, transplanting older trees, or mulching around any tree, the root flare must be kept at ground level, free from obstruction or coverage.

Pictured below, a sapling has been over mulched, covering the root flare.

Landscaping volcano mulching over sapling root flare

Importance of Mulching

A 2 to 4-inch thick layer of organic mulch spread out on the root zone without making contact with the trunk (like a donut with the tree trunk in the center) is essential to your tree’s health for the following reasons:

Water Retention – Mulch helps retain water absorbed by the soil keeping the roots moist and preventing the hardening of the ground, especially during times of drought.

Soil Insulation – During times of extreme temperature fluctuations, mulch helps to regulate soil temperature, protecting the root system from both hot and cold temperatures.

Weed Prevention – Mulch prevents weeds from establishing themselves in the root zone of a tree.

People Also Ask

Q: Can Mulch Kill a Tree?
A: Yes. When improperly applied, mulch can lead to a series of vulnerabilities, the decline of the tree’s health, and eventual death.

Q: What is the Purpose of Mulch Around Trees?
A: Mulch insulates the root zone from extreme temperatures and helps retain moisture for optimal root growth conditions.

Q: Why Should I Keep Mulch Away from Tree Trunks?
A: Continued exposure to moisture weakens the bark, leaving it vulnerable to insect infestation and disease.

Q: How Deep Should the Mulch Be?
A: Spread organic mulch in the root zone in a 2 to 4-inch layer. Thicker than this is considered over mulching and may result in matting.

Q: Can You Put Fertilizer on Top of Mulch?
A: Yes. Applying a granular fertilizer over mulch is fine. It will slowly make its way to the soil and roots.

Q: What is the Best Mulch to Use?
A: Organic. Mulch is meant to decompose slowly and as it does, nutrients are infused into the soil. Mulches containing cypress and cedar are highly sought after, as are those which include pine needles or straw. Be aware that each type of mulch has both advantages and disadvantages.

Q: Is Compost Good for Mulch?
A: Not exactly. Compost comes packed with nutrients that you want to get to the roots; it is better when mixed with the soil.

Watch the following video to see how to correct a volcano mulched tree.

Proper Mulching for Healthy Trees

By avoiding volcano mulching, you are promoting the health of that tree and the safety of everything around it. Likewise, the proper mulching of a tree’s root zone helps the tree avoid the stressors of extreme temperatures and drought.

Volcano mulching invites a series of potential health problems for a tree, including severe implications around the area of the root flare. Knowing the importance and method of proper mulching is a fundamental part of keeping trees healthy.

Allowing trees to continue improperly mulched can quickly lead to disease or infestation, subsequently leading to health problems, their death, and potential falling.

Sources:
https://extension.illinois.edu/gardenerscorner/issue_07/spring_05_11.cfm
http://richmondtreestewards.org/education/threats-to-trees/volcano-mulching/
https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/documents2/master%20gardeners/mulch_volcano.pdf

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/volcano-mulching-can-kill-your-tree/

Tree Pest – How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs are nuisance pests, which can be found congregating in large numbers wherever boxelder trees are located. They are fast to reproduce and can reach infestation proportions quickly.

Boisea trivittata boxelder bug tree pest

Control measures for boxelders should take place in the summertime before they find their way into your home during the fall months.

The team at thetreecareguide.com has researched ways for you to not only control these pests outside, but to prepare your home and stop them from getting in.

Boxelder Bug Appearance and Habitat

The adult boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata) is about ½ inch long and dark brown or black in color with an elongated oval shape. These insects can be identified by their bright red markings along the edges of their wings and on their abdomen. Nymphs are shorter and bright red in color before developing their wings. Their name is derived from the boxelder tree which they feed on and lay their eggs on.

Boxelder bugs can be found nearly everywhere across the US and parts of Canada in spring, summer and fall. During the warmer months, they will congregate (sometimes in large numbers) on South and West facing walls, stones, and decks to bask in the sun. They become a nuisance in the fall when they seek refuge in structures (often homes) to overwinter.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?

Boxelder bugs will live out their lifecycle near female boxelder trees. It is the seeds and new foliage of the female which compose nearly the entire diet of the insect. In the absence of the boxelder, they will feed on the seeds and newly developing leaves from ash and maple trees.

Acer negundo boxelder tree blooming

Foliage on trees occupied by boxelders will be discolored, and in severe infestations will end up deformed. Occasionally, they will also invade plum and apple trees feeding on the fruit, and in doing so, will leave dark spots on the fruit from puncturing its skin.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Outside

The absolute solution to a boxelder bug recurring nuisance is to remove the trees they feed on. Otherwise, continuous treatment will be necessary to curb their population.

When planning your landscape design, avoid planting trees that attract the insect.

Conventional pesticides generally have little effect on these insects. However, a simple solution of laundry detergent and water is extremely effective when sprayed directly on them.

Watch this video to see how the water and detergent mixture is used.

A two-step approach should be used when the bugs start to collect on walls, stones, decks, and other surfaces:

Step 1 – Spray the area where they are congregating with a residual insecticide.
Step 2 – Directly spray the bugs with a water and laundry detergent solution.

As boxelder bugs will overwinter relatively close to the trees that they occupy and feed on, it is essential to prepare the outside of your home, shed, or other structure by doing the following.

  • Repair or replace torn screens.
  • Seal cracks around window frames and doors.
  • Make sure doors and windows close flush, creating a seal.
  • Add door sweeps to create a barrier at the bottom of all exterior doors.
  • Patch any holes, cracks, or fissures on the structure’s exterior.

Boxelder bug infestation crack in wall

Boxelder Bug Control Inside Your Home

Controlling boxelder bugs becomes much more difficult once large numbers of them find a way into your home. While the bugs – within the walls, crevices, and attic – are cold, they will remain inactive. However, if they are warmed by the home’s heating system or furnace, they will become active and begin to move around the house.

These bugs don’t feed or reproduce within the home. However, their fecal matter will leave reddish-orange stains on furniture, curtains, and walls. When removing them from your home, take note of the following:

  1. When boxelder bugs are disturbed or handled, they will emit a strong unpleasant smell. This instinctive reaction is one of the reasons they are able to congregate in open sunny spaces, as the usual insect predators tend to avoid them. This is also why they are sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as “stink bugs.”
  2. Do not attempt to kill this or other insects deep within crevices or spaces in which you cannot remove them. Decomposing insect bodies can attract dermestid (skin) beetles.
  3. Household bug sprays and some spray cleaners can be very effective when applied directly to boxelder bugs.
  4. Using a vacuum cleaner is an advantageous “hands-free” solution. However, this is a temporary fix if the insect’s point(s) of entry have not been sealed or fixed. Make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag or canister contents. Otherwise, the bugs may simply crawl back out.
  5. Unless corrective measures are taken, boxelder bugs will continue to invade your home and remain a nuisance throughout mid to late spring. By May, the infestation should come to an end, as the insects will have either moved back to their host tree or died.
  6. Boxelder bugs are not known to go around biting people. However, when they are handled, their mouthparts could pierce the skin resulting in what appears to be a mosquito bite.

Watch this video to learn how to deal with boxelder bugs.

Tree Insects, Your Landscape, and Your Home

Getting rid of boxelder bugs begins with controlling them outside, carefully planning your landscape design, and preparing your home to keep them out.

Avoid planting boxelder, maple, apple, plum, and ash trees. When you see them, spray the area (outside) with a residual pesticide, followed up by spraying them directly with a water and soap solution. Finally, patch up any holes or potential entry points around your home to keep them outside.

Boxelder bugs invading your home in the fall is one of the potential consequences of not taking action against them. Remove their food source, control them outside, and take steps to keep them out of your home.

Sources:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxelder_bug
pestworld.org/news-hub/pest-articles/boxelder-bugs-101/
fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev2_026586.pdf
wimastergardener.org/article/boxelder-bug-boisea-trivittatus/

For the original version of this article visit:http://www.thetreecareguide.com/pest-how-to-get-rid-boxelder-bugs/

How to Save a Dying Evergreen Tree

Evergreen pine tree with browning needles

Trees like all living things have a lifecycle. During that lifecycle, they may experience periods of growth, illness, infestation, severe weather, and a myriad of other factors that may influence their livelihood, including their age.

The team at thetreecareguide.com has researched some of the leading evergreen ailments and their solutions for you to save your tree.

What Causes an Evergreen Tree to Die or Turn Brown

In order to properly treat your tree, you must first identify what is stressing it. When evergreen trees are stressed, they are not shy about showing symptoms.

The most common sign that your evergreen tree is stressed and potentially dying is the browning of a section or the entirety of the tree.

Pine tree dying with chlorosis and browning

The following will help you identify and name the cause of your tree’s decline:

Evergreen Tree Diseases

NEEDLECAST – This disease is extremely common in conifers and causes very obvious symptoms. If not dealt with, needlecast can quickly propagate and spread to other trees on your property.

SYMPTOMS – The following are the three principle signs that your evergreen is infected with needlecast:

  • Browning or chlorosis (loss or abnormal reduction of the green color of needles).
  • Severe needle drop.
  • Dieback.

Pine tree needles from conifer with needlecast

TREATMENT – Keep in mind that most available fungicides are most effective when applied to new foliage or before symptoms appear. The following will help you manage needlecast:

  • Prune away dead branches, twigs, and infected areas of the tree.
  • Remove fallen foliage and destroy it (burn it). Do not add to compost piles.
  • Apply a fungicide to the tree after removing signs of the infection.
  • Deep water the tree once per week to help it recover from the stress.

RUSTS – When the “raised blisters” of this family of fungi break open, the brightly colored orange to rusty brown spores are revealed (the disease is named after this coloration).

SYMPTOMS – Once the following symptoms are detected, immediate action should be taken to control and prevent the spreading of this disease:

  • Rust colored “powder” spread on the foliage.
  • Often brightly colored swellings or galls on twigs and branches.

TREATMENT – As previously mentioned, most available fungicides are most effective when applied to new foliage or before symptoms appear. The following will help you manage rust disease:

  • Prune away dead branches, twigs, and infected areas of the tree.
  • Remove fallen foliage and destroy it (burn it). Do not add to compost piles.
  • Apply a fungicide to the tree after removing signs of the infection.
  • Deep water the tree once per week to help it recover from the stress.

Environmental Factors

DROUGHT – Causes damage and death of the roots. When feeder roots and root hairs die, a water deficit occurs in the tree because these roots can no longer supply sufficient water to the top of the tree.

Drought also creates an environment for secondary infestations or disease.

SYMPTOMS – Drought symptoms may not manifest in a tree for as much as 2 years after it has occurred. But they include:

  • Heavy leaf or needle drop.
  • Drooping, wilting, yellowing.
  • Needles will show browning at the tips.
  • Cracks in the bark.
  • Dieback.
  • Thinning Canopy.

Evergreen conifer with chlorosis and browning

TREATMENT – There is no cure for drought, but it can be managed. By following these preventative steps, you can reduce the effects:

  • Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease.
  • Provide the tree with one deep watering per week, allowing water to reach down 12 to 15 inches. Several light waterings will encourage roots to grow near the surface (augmenting the problem), stick to deep watering.
  • In late fall (before the ground freezes) give the tree a final deep watering to help it avoid winter drought.
  • Mulch the area of the root spread to help the soil retain water.

Watch this video for more evergreen watering tips.

WINTER INJURY – Evergreens are particularly susceptible to winter injury. This type of injury occurs when temperatures fluctuate abnormally during the fall, winter, and spring. A warmup in the fall, a freeze in late spring, or abnormally cold winters can all have damaging effects.

SYMPTOMS – In many cases, winter injury will not be evident until mid to late spring. They include:

  • Dieback.
  • Off coloring.
  • Browning.
  • Bark splitting.
  • Heavy loss of foliage/needles.
  • Needle browning at the tip and mid section.

TREATMENT – There is no “cure” once winter injury occurs. The following will help you manage the damage:

  • Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease.
  • Make sure that the tree receives one deep watering per week.
  • In late fall before the ground freezes, give the tree a last deep watering to help it through the winter.
  • Provide physical protection from wind and severe winter weather. Burlap wraps function well.

Tips to Save Browning Evergreens

Saving a browning evergreen depends on how quickly the tree was diagnosed and what has caused the browning to occur. As mentioned in the treatments above, the following will help your evergreen recover if it is not already dead:

  1. Prune back all dead or affected areas of the tree to avoid secondary infestations and disease. Some cases may require extensive pruning or the removal of a portion of the tree. In this scenario, a tree professional should be called to evaluate the extent of the damage and offer direction as to which measures to take.
  2. Provide the tree with one deep watering per week in well drained soil, allowing water to reach down 12 to 15 inches. In soil with a high clay content, this interval may be every two weeks.
  3. Avoid multiple light waterings, as this will encourage roots to grow near the surface.
  4. In late fall, provide the tree with a final deep watering before the ground hardens or freezes.
  5. Mulch the area of the root spread to help the soil retain moisture. This will also help the soil retain warmth in the winter months.
  6. Verify the pH of the soil and its content. Make necessary adjustments to suit the needs of the tree species. Raise the pH using compounds with lime or limestone. Lower the pH using organic material, aluminum sulfate or sulfur will do the job as well.
  7. Fertilize only in spring and very early summer. Fertilizing in late summer or in the fall will encourage growth that will not have time to harden before winter. New growth in this manner puts unnecessary stress on the tree.
  8. Use fungicides to prevent reoccurrences of diseases. Apply only after having pruned away affected areas of the tree.
  9. Provide physical protection (especially for younger and recovering trees) during the winter season. Burlap or tree wraps work well.

If you detect that multiple evergreens are stressed and exhibiting similar symptoms, there may be a larger influence at work (including the age of your trees). If this is the case, call on a certified arborist to evaluate your entire yard or landscape.

The following video shows how fall needle drop is often confused with evergreen illness and disease. Fall needle drop is a normal process of evergreens which they will recover from.

Keeping Your Evergreen Trees Healthy

The best measure of treatment for all trees and plant life is to keep them healthy, planted in the right location, and properly watered.

For the trees you are able to recover, keep a close eye on them for secondary infections and infestations. Trees take time to heal and strengthen their defenses.

Once your trees have had problems with disease or drought, schedule an annual inspection by a certified arborist to ensure that any residual or new problems are properly addressed.

Sources:

http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/fact_sheets/plant_pathology_and_ecology/common_tree_health_problems.pdf
maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/diseases/factsheets/natural-needle-drop-ill.pdf
dummies.com/home-garden/gardening/how-to-adjust-soil-ph-for-your-garden/

For the original version of this article visit:http://www.thetreecareguide.com/how-to-save-dying-evergreen/

Tree Health – How Roots Grow

Tree roots growing exposed on eroded hill

With the exception of the first formed roots (which respond to gravity) tree roots can grow in the ground, on the surface of the ground, in water, and in the air. Roots grow when the environment supplies nutrients, oxygen, warmth, and water. Tree roots do not have a predetermined growth pattern, they grow in an opportunistic manner when the environment is right.

A big part of caring for your tree is understanding root growth and providing the means for them to do so. Our team of arborist compiled the following information to help you keep your trees growing strong and healthy.

How Deep Are the Roots of A Tree?

The answer to this question is directly linked to the type of soil the tree is planted in and availability of water (among other factors). However, in most cases, the majority of a tree’s root system can be found within the top 18 inches of soil. When soil conditions are dry, many of those roots will grow along the surface.

Root Compaction – As the majority of roots are growing near the surface, it is vital to a tree’s health that this soil remain aerated and fertile. A common mistake on construction sites or even in landscaping projects is to run or park heavy equipment too close to trees.

This “innocent” act compacts the soil and smothers the roots. If enough roots are damaged, the tree’s health can be compromised, eventually leading to disease and death.

Tree root soil compaction equipment parked under tree

In many municipalities across the nation, tree ordinances and land disturbance ordinances are now in effect to protect the land surrounding trees during construction and landscaping projects.

Root Spread – A common misconception is that “Tree roots only grow to the tree’s drip line.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. In their never ending quest for moisture and nutrients, tree roots can grow well beyond the drip line.

An uninhibited healthy root system is able to grow into an area 5 to 7 times the surface area of the crown. Look at it this way: If the crown of a mature and healthy tree has a surface area of 100 square feet, it is quite possible that the root system is occupying a 500 square foot area. That is well beyond the drip line!

Tree Roots Above Ground – As mentioned above, when soil conditions are dry or compacted (seen often when soil has high clay content), roots will grow along the surface. Note that some trees naturally grow this way regardless of the soil quality.

These roots should be protected. Mowing over them, injuring them, shaving them down, or cutting them out puts the tree at serious risk of fungal infections, pest infestations, disease, compromised health, and potential death.

Tree Root Removal – Don’t do it. Without a deep understanding of how root removal impacts the health and stability of a tree, you are likely to severely harm or kill the tree. Any root pruning or removal should be performed by a certified arborist.

Root Associations – The Underground Neighborhood

When creating a landscape, urban forest, or yard upgrade, it is necessary for the health and longevity of your plants, trees and shrubs that varied species of each are planted into the ecosystem. Just as important is fertilization, watering, and mulching of the soil.

The proper preparation of the soil will allow the tree and plant roots to thrive and (very importantly) permits the growth of mycelia which spread and colonize those roots, eventually creating a mycorrhizal network (read more about this network here – www.thetreecareguide.com/trees-silently-communicate-below-the-surface/.

Mycorrhizae Network Associations – We are indeed talking about fungi. There are thousands of different fungi able to create a symbiotic relationship with the root systems of plant life. By doing so, the “infected” plant, shrub, or tree activates its chemical defense system. This alone strengthens the host’s immune system.

While the fungi receive nutrition from the host, they in turn increase the efficiency of the root system by providing a conduit between them. This conduit can transfer signals from one tree to another and assists those trees in transferring water, chemicals, and nutrients between them.

Watch this video for a further understanding of how tree roots are colonized and communicate with each other.

Shared Root Systems – Trees can naturally share root systems. As a tree’s roots grow and spread, they may come in contact with other tree roots. As they grow alongside each other and increase in size, they can grow or graft together. This act connects the two root systems becoming one larger root system.

Benefits of Grafted Root Systems – When root systems combine forces in this manner, the trees are now working in tandem to collect water and nutrients. The leaves of each tree are also photosynthesizing and sending sugars to the roots in benefit of each other. Thus, the health of the two trees is now supported as one.

Downfall of Grafted Root Systems – While there are tremendous benefits to this association, its largest deficit occurs when one of the trees becomes diseased. If the tree is unable to contain the disease, it is likely that it will spread to its roots and on to the grafted tree roots. Thus compromising the health of the other tree.

Tree Planting and Soil – For Optimized Root Growth

In order for a tree’s roots to grow strong and deep, they need soil that caters to their species. Some prefer more acidic soil while others prefer more sandy soil, and so on. Before planting a tree, find out the optimal soil composition for that species and match your soil to it.

How Much Soil Should Be Prepared – That depends on the amount of initial root growth you want. Instead of digging 1½ feet deep and treating the soil for a 3 foot wide hole (for a sapling overstory), treat the soil within a 6 foot radius of where the tree will be planted. As the tree grows, continue adjusting the soil’s pH levels to optimize root growth.

Types of Soil – Your tree’s roots will be directly impacted by the type of soil they encounter as they grow. When preparing soil for a new tree, try to match the soil to the species’ preference. This will promote healthy (and faster) root growth.

Sandy Soil – Contains loose particles which allow air to penetrate and water to run off. It does not hold moisture very well and is typically poor in nutrients.

Clay Soil – Contains compact particles which do not allow much air retention. This soil holds water very well and is generally high in nutrients.

Sandy, Clay Soil – This soil is a combination of the first two. It is able to retain air, and is dense enough to keep moisture while being nutrient rich.

Watering Your Tree – A fundamental resource for all plant life is water. In the absence of rain, your newly planted tree should receive deep watering twice a week for the first 2 to 3 months. This will naturally help the roots grow deep and strong. As the tree grows, the watering should spread wide, as the roots are extending beyond the trees canopy.

The following video addresses tree watering in dryer climates.

Trees and Their Roots

Often times, we revel at the incredible trunk, branches, and canopies of the trees around us. We forget that under our feet, the roots of those trees are constantly seeking moisture, nutrients, associations, and staving off infection and disease.

Growing healthy trees is more than pruning a branch or two every year. Your attention needs to be given as much to the soil and roots as to the trunk, branches, and leaves.

Sources:
https://www.extension.iastate.edu/forestry/tree_biology/roots.html
kuow.org/post/scientists-peek-hidden-world-tree-roots
urbanforestry.frec.vt.edu/documents/articles/Roots1_Arb_News.pdf
arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1989-49-4-tree-roots-facts-and-fallacies.pdf

For the original version of this article visit:http://www.thetreecareguide.com/tree-health-how-roots-grow/

Tree Pruning Purpose, Techniques, and Safety

Tree trimming and tree pruning are relatively easy tasks if you know what to look for, how to make proper cuts, and when you should call a professional tree service.

Tree pruning techniques and safety

The height, shape, and health of your trees can all be determined by the way you trim and prune them. Specifically, your tree’s health is directly affected by this process. A properly trimmed and pruned tree will thrive in its environment, while a poorly trimmed tree becomes more susceptible to disease, infestation, and fungi for the remainder of its life.

We at The Tree Care Guide have compiled a short, easy to understand list of tips to help you get this job done properly and safely.

Have A Good Reason to Prune

When it comes to pruning your trees, you should have a clear and specific objective. Just because it’s pruning season does not mean that you should just go cut your trees.

Watch this video about tree pruning tips:

Most often we prune for these three principle reasons: health, safety, or aesthetics.

Health – When a tree falls victim to an infestation, fungal infection, or dieback, the tree can sometimes be saved by pruning away the infected areas. There is no wrong time for this type of pruning, as the greater stress on the tree would be to ignore and leave it.

Whereas pruning can be a response to danger, when performed proactively it can promote and improve a tree’s health. Tree crown thinning stimulates and benefits a tree’s health by allowing more air and sunlight to reach the inner leaves and branches.

Safety – Crossed branches that rub up against or bump each other in the wind should be trimmed back. This will avoid scaring, or one of them knocking the other to the ground, creating a serious hazard.

Another safety hazard may be caused by dead, brittle, or broken branches haphazardly dropping from the tree.

Another safety concern warranting pruning is when branches obstruct your line of sight of the sidewalk or road ahead. These limbs and branches should be trimmed back, cut off, or have the canopy be raised.

Lastly, trees that have grown too close to power lines are a hazard and major cause of damage in storms or severe weather. These situations should be dealt with only by a professional tree service or the local power company.

Aesthetics – The look of a tree can be greatly enhanced and influenced through regular pruning. Be cautious though, trying to create a topiary could influence you to trim too deep, seriously damaging the tree.

Tree Pruning – Raising the Crown

Crown raising is the pruning and removal of the lowest branches of a tree.

  • Younger trees respond well to this action by developing more growth in the upper branches.
  • For older trees, be cautious. Their crown branches will be much larger, leaving larger wounds and greater potential for infection or infestation.

Raising the crown of a tree is generally performed to provide clearance for pedestrians, vehicles, or improving the line of sight for roadways and sidewalks.

Tree Pruning – Thinning the Crown

Crown thinning is the selective and careful removal of branches within the crown. This option provides great relief to trees that continuously sustain strong wind or have to carry the weight of accumulated snow and ice.

  • Prune away branches that cross or are in contact with other branches.
  • Branches should be evenly spaced, creating both symmetry and balance.
  • Improper or over thinning can leave your tree susceptible to decay and disease.

Note – Extensive crown thinning should be performed over a series of years. Removing more than a quarter of the crown at once may cripple or kill the tree.

Tree Pruning – Cleaning the Crown

Cleaning the crown is the process of removing the dead or dying branches, which is a proactive tree care approach that often produces a healthier and longer lasting tree.

Crown cleaning removes unnecessary weight, stops the spread of decay, and drastically reduces the danger of falling branches.

  • If more than half of the foliage of a branch is to be removed, remove the entire branch.
  • If you are considering removing more than a fourth of the crown due to its damage, contact a tree professional to assess the situation; there may be an underlying issue affecting the tree’s health.

Tree Pruning – Height Reduction

Properly reducing the height of a tree requires precision pruning. Irreparable damage may be done to the tree if performed improperly.

  • Know the species and growth pattern of your tree. Depending on the species, height reduction may lead to serious damage and the death of the tree.
  • Avoid “topping” the tree. Topping or cutting broadly across the top and through the main trunk can lead to the decline of the tree’s health and eventual death. In such a situation, where the height is problematic, consider removing or relocating the tree.
  • When it comes to height reduction, seek the assistance of a trained arborist or tree care professional. More often than not, this procedure (done incorrectly) will cause more problems than solutions.

Tree Pruning – Cutting Techniques

Make sure that your tools are sharp and that you are taking the proper safety precautions when using them.

  • Your cuts should be clean.
  • Avoid using tree wound paint to cover cuts. Typically the tree will react to the cut by closing it’s wound off and healing itself.
  • For larger branches that have formed a “branch bark ridge” and “collar”, cut just outside the bark ridge and collar without leaving a protruding stub.
  • If the limb or branch is smaller and has not formed a collar, cut close to the base.
  • For shortening a small branch, locate a lateral bud or an already developed lateral branch that is growing in an outward direction. Make a clean cut at a slight angle with the base of the cut a quarter of an inch past the bud or branch.

Tree pruning cutting and trimming proper cuts

If the job is questionable, extensive, or the tree is large, it should more than likely be performed by a professional tree service.

Pruning Safety and Common Sense

Now that you have a better idea of the work to be accomplished, have at it and keep these safety points in mind:

  • Always use protective eyewear, gloves, and sturdy clothing.
  • Make sure there is nothing below the crown, even the lightest branches can hurt hey person or a pet.
  • Never make a cut that leaves you in the “drop zone”.
  • Don’t make cuts that you are unsure about.
  • If the job is more extensive than originally planned, or risks compromising the stability and health of the tree, call a tree service for help.

Watch this video to see a large tree being properly and safely pruned.

Tree Pruning

Tree pruning is a technical approach to cutting a tree to shape it, provide clearance, or remove dead, disease, and damaged branches.

Always begin your pruning project with a clear vision of the results you desire, make proper cuts, and know when to stop.

When performed properly, pruning can improve the health and appearance of a tree. Conversely, an improper pruning job can damage or kill an otherwise healthy and thriving tree.

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/tree-pruning-purpose-techniques-safety/

Spring Tree Care Begins Before Winter Ends

Winter has arrived and from the looks of it, it is going to be a colder than usual season. While that may seem like bad news, it is a best-case scenario for the spring health of your trees. Longer-harsher winters, with periods of sustained freezes, suppress the tree pest population.

Spring tree care insecticide application

When we experience a mild or a short winter, insect and pest populations explode in numbers. Regardless of the severity of the winter season, it is important to begin tree care efforts before your deciduous trees come out of dormancy.

The end of winter is the best time to begin your pest and disease control efforts. In this article, we will discuss what to watch for, and how to take preventative measures.

Spring Tree Fungal Diseases

Among others, blight and anthracnose are fungi that spread quickly from tree to tree, and to plants if not kept in check. If the trees and plants in your landscape have experienced issues with blight and other invasive fungi, here’s how to detect, treat, and protect them before spring arrives.

Tree leaves infected with fungi

Blight – Also known as fire blight is a fungal infection which blackens the leaves and stems of trees and plants. If left unchecked from season to season, this disease can easily overrun your landscape, killing your trees and plants.

Anthracnose – When the health of deciduous trees weakens, they are susceptible to a group of destructive fungal pathogens more commonly known as anthracnose. These fungi attack the main vein of a leaf causing discoloration, leaf fall, and further decline of the tree’s health.

As winter’s average temperatures begin to rise, you can stop the spread of invasive fungi by spraying the trees and plants in your landscape with fungicides. We cover this more below and provide a link to more in-depth information.

Fungal Treatment Tips – Fungicide & Pruning

Following a thorough treatment with a fungicide, treat the same areas with an insecticide. Insecticides help prevent the spread of fungi by attacking their carriers. Likewise, killing off bugs and their eggs will naturally curb the spread of fungi.

While your trees and plants are in the dormant season, prune any and all affected areas and dispose of everything removed. Do not add them to mulch piles or compost containers, as this will provide a growth environment for the fungi.

Visit this page for more fungus prevention tips and what to lookout for.

Aphid, Scale, Beetle, and Other Insect Infestations

Insect infestations are easily mitigated when trees and plants are cared for, pruned, and inspected on a regular basis. That said, an infestation can still happen, and below are the characteristics of one of the most common culprits:

Aphids – Aphids can appear in different colors ranging from black, green, red, brown or yellow. Their bodies are pear-shaped, and they can easily be identified from other insects by their cornicles (tube-like projections positioned at the rear of the body). Many of the aphid species will secrete a grayish or white substance (known as honeydew), giving them a wooly appearance and or wax-like trait.

Tree infested with aphids colonized by ants

Some species of adult aphids have wings, enabling them to disperse to other locations in search of trees and plants to feed on. This trait, along with their naturally destructive nature makes it even more important to quickly get them under control.

Often found with an aphid infestation will be a colony of ants mingling through the infested areas. It is important to know ants are not competing with the aphids for food or killing them. The ants are in-fact caring for them and cultivating the honeydew that the aphids produce. Due to their symbiotic relationship, part of the process to remove an aphid infestation must include stopping ants from reaching the aphids.

Several aphid species can affect a single region and it is the needs of your specific landscape that will determine the right treatment. Consult an arborist for the best treatment options.

Read this page for more detailed and in-depth information regarding the signs and effects of popular diseases and insect infestations. And this article focuses solely on managing aphid infestations.

Winter Temperatures Benefit Tree Care Efforts

Late fall (as trees enter dormancy) and early winter (before sustained freezing temperatures) are the prime time to get up close with your trees and plants. This is when you should prune your trees and for signs that they were host to fungal or insect invaders.

If indeed your trees fell victim to an infestation or invasion, make sure that you are prepared to either treat your trees, or have them treated in late winter (before your trees exit dormancy).

For the original version of this article visit: http://www.thetreecareguide.com/spring-tree-care-before-winter-ends/