Landscaping trees add beauty and value to your property – as long as they’re healthy.
Like all plants, trees are susceptible to different types of pests, damage and disease. Unhealthy trees need a little extra care and attention to keep existing problems from escalating, or from killing the tree.
Keep your trees in good shape by giving them a periodic checkup. Follow these four steps for giving yours a periodic checkup.
Start at the ground level and examine the base of your trees. Healthy trees have a natural root flare – the base of the trunk widens as it enters the ground. If no root flare is present, the tree could be sick.
Look around the roots as well. If you notice fungus or mushrooms growing in the soil, the tree may be decaying.
Finally, look for humps in the soil around the base – especially ones that were not previously there. This can indicate that the soil below the root system is heaving, and that roots are attempting to pull up from the ground.
Next, check out your tree trunks. Small cracks and cavities may not be an immediately serious issue, but larger holes and deep cracks can indicate structural problems.
Take a look at the bark, too. Healthy landscaping trees have soft, pliable bark covering the entire trunk. Flaking, brittle bark and bald spots are signs of sickness.
Lastly, look for pests. Ant trails aren’t necessarily indicative of a problem but they can be, depending on what theses pests are after. Look beneath any raised areas of bark too, to see if any borers are holed up there.
Next, move up to the branches. If the branch growth looks lopsided, part of the tree could be stressed or diseased.
Dying or falling branches are another red flag. While wind or ice storms sometimes snap branches off healthy trees, sickness is the more common cause of dropping limbs. Look for any branches that are bare of leaves or appear to be dying. This is a strong indication of potential problems.
Healthy trees have full, lush leaf crowns. If one of yours suddenly starts shedding leaves during the spring or summer, it’s probably sick. Check for discolored or shriveled up leaves as well. An abundance of dead or dying leaves long before fall is another symptom of disease.
Look closely at leaves from different parts of the plant – top and bottom. Look for brown or black spots, irregular left edges, curling or visible pests. This can often help you identify a problem before it progresses too far.
If your checkup reveals any problems, your local garden center or tree service company can offer advice on nursing them back to health. Don’t delay, or you might find yourself having to replace your trees.
For your healthy trees, you can take steps to keep them strong and beautiful. For starters, mulch regularly and go easy on the water and fertilizer – most mature trees don’t need much help in that regard, and too much can be damaging.
In addition, be careful around the root zone. Watch where you (and your kids and pets) dig. Digging anywhere under the leaf canopy can damage roots and cause the tree to die. Keep the lawn mower away from the roots and go slow with the weed whacker to avoid nicking the trunk.
Unfortunately, not every sick tree can be saved. If yours are too far gone, replace them with healthy trees from your local garden center. The staff can offer advice on hardy varieties that are ideal for your property.
Homeowners throughout Utah trust Millcreek Gardens for gardening advice. For help selecting and caring for your landscaping trees, visit our Salt Lake City garden center today.