Preventing Common Tree Problems

From Pests to Stress

Whether you have one tree in your yard or your property backs up to woods, you’ve probably experienced the beauty of benefits of trees. However, like all living things, trees are not immune to issues. Learn about the common challenges trees face and how preventing tree problems is easier than treatments.

Identifying Tree Problems

Like humans, trees are susceptible to a variety of diseases and other issues that impact their health and longevity. The first step in solving these issues is to identify the problem. This makes it easier to determine the best methods of control. While you don’t have to thoroughly examine your tree on a daily basis, regular inspections—especially during different seasons—can help catch problems early.

Here are some common signs to watch for:

  • Brown, discolored or spotted leaves. If they turn yellow before the fall, there could be a problem.
  • Drooping or wilting leaves. If a significant amount of leaves drop before the fall, there could also be a problem.
  • Cracks, splits, or holes in the bark.
  • Unusual growths, such as excess fungus, mushrooms, or burls.
  • Signs of insects, larvae, or other pests on leaves or bark. Look for punctured or skeletonized leaves. Sometimes you’ll find the culprit on the underside of a leaf.

Any of these symptoms could be cause for concern and a sign it’s time to put control methods in place. A certified arborist can also evaluate your tree to determine the best treatment options.

Common Tree Diseases

If you notice any of the previously mentioned signs of tree issues, disease could be one of the causes. There are several diseases that commonly affect trees. Each has their own specific signs and treatment options.

  • Anthracnose: This fungal disease causes dark, sunken lesions on leaves, stems, and fruits. It can be prevented by ensuring enough air circulation by spacing out trees and other plants. To treat, prune and properly dispose of any affected branches. Apply fungicides in the early spring for further treatment and prevention.
  • Powdery Mildew: Another fungal infection that produces a white, powdery coating on leaves and stems. Prevent by making sure the tree or plant has enough sun and air circulation. Remove and properly dispose of infected leaves and use fungicide spray to treat.
  • Root Rot: Decayed roots are typically caused by overwatering and poor drainage. Prevent by trying not to overwater and improve drainage with aerating techniques. Treat with fungicides if necessary.

If left untreated, tree diseases can quickly spread throughout the entire plant. What could be a small problem may grow into a larger one that requires tree removal. Your best bet is consulting an arborist in the early stages.

Controlling Pest Infestations

Pests love trees—for food and shelter—but sometimes trees are not strong enough to stand up to an infestation of pests. Treatment options depend on targeting the right pest at the right time.

  • Aphids: These small, sap-sucking insects can weaken trees. While ladybugs are natural predators, you may have to use insecticide sprays to eradicate the issue. Professionals can help determine what course of action will kill the pests while doing limited damage to desirable plants and insects.
  • Borers: Like their name suggests, these insects tunnel into wood, weakening the tree structure. Since they target weaker trees, you can help maintain tree health to prevent borer attacks. Any infested limbs should be pruned and properly destroyed. Insecticides can also help when applied around the trunk and branches.
  • Caterpillars: Yes, some may turn into beautiful butterflies, but others are simply out to feed on your leaves. You can handpick any you see or use a specially formulated spray to treat larger infestations.

Being outside, insects are harder to control, especially if they find your yard and plants hospitable. Work to maintain healthy plants and a well-groomed yard to make your place less desirable to pests.

Dealing with Environmental Stressors

It’s not just disease and pests trees have to worry about. Environmental factors such as drought, pollution, and soil compaction can stress them out. Here’s how to help them cope.

  • Drought: A lack of water leads to wilting, leaf drop, and stunted growth. There are some drought-resistant trees you can plant if you live in an area prone to dry conditions. Mulching around the base of the tree also helps retain any moisture the tree does get. It’s better to water trees deeply and infrequently to support root growth and drought resistance.
  • Soil Compaction: Compressed soil limits root growth and water flow. Aerating the soil around the tree helps to break the soil up. Mulching helps improve the soil structure. Limiting foot traffic around the tree helps prevent the soil from compressing in the first place.
  • Nutrient Deficiency: All living things need proper nutrients to thrive, including trees. The alternative is poor growth, yellow leaves, and a weakened state. Conduct a soil test to help identify any deficiencies. Then add fertilizers to help adjust pH levels in the soil.

While we can’t control the environment, we can anticipate some of these issues and work on preventing tree problems.

Preventing Tree Problems

Prevention is usually easier than treating tree problems. Having a maintenance plan offering proper tree care practices can help minimize the risk of problems.

  • Selection: Tree health starts from the moment you choose the right species suitable for your climate and soil conditions.
  • Soil: A tree is only as healthy as the soil it’s planted in. Maintain soil health by adding organic matter and fertilizers.
  • Pruning: Regularly remove dead or diseased branches.
  • Watering: Remember, less frequent, longer drinks of water helps, especially during dry periods.
  • Mulching: A few inches of mulch in your garden and around trees helps to retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and reduce weeds.

Help trees continue to provide a bevy of benefits to nature. By identifying potential problems early and applying appropriate treatments, you can help ensure your trees remain healthy and vibrant. A healthy tree is also more resistant to diseases and pests, making prevention the most effective strategy. Contact Elite Tree Care for more tree care tips and if yours is in need of a health evaluation.