Month: October 2020

Why is my Evergreen Turning Brown?

You may think that the name says it all, but evergreen needles don’t actually stay green forever. Each species of evergreen tends to keep its needles for a defined length of time. That means it is normal even for evergreen trees to lose some needles in autumn.  The needles will turn yellow or brown before falling. Older, inner needles discolor and drop off after one or more years, depending on the species.

brown needles on evergreen tree

Seasonal needle loss can look very dramatic on some evergreens like white pine, arborvitae, or Hinoki cypress. The tree may even look like it is dying. To know if your tree is experiencing normal needle drop or if there is another issue, you can check the location of the browning. Normal needle drop causes the tree to have a fairly uniform brown appearance to the inner foliage (oldest needles). These needles will eventually drop out and the tree will look healthy again.

While seasonal needle loss is normal, there are other reasons an evergreen may lose its needles that indicate signs of an issue.  Diseased evergreens often have brown needles. This typically shows up in patches around the tree. Even after the dead needles fall off, the tree will still look unhealthy.  Rhizosphaera needlecast and diploadia tip blight are two common examples. Cytopsora canker of spruce can also cause browning of needles and death of lower branches.

browning and loss of needles on evergreen may be evidence of a tree disease

In some cases, needle browning may by a sign of needlecast disease.

Environmental conditions are another factor to consider when needle browning occurs. Extended dry weather and lack of water may be the culprit. Other weather conditions may have an impact including cold winter temperatures and temperatures that fluctuate above and below freezing.

When an evergreen is browning it’s best to determine the underlying cause. It may simply be normal loss of needles, but it can also be a warning sign that something is amiss.

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Who Is Responsible for a Fallen Tree

Neighbors tree fell on my home who is responsible

Avoid being stuck with the responsibility and expensive repairs when a tree falls on or from your property onto a neighbors’. Knowing how to define responsibility for fallen trees will help you resolve the situation promptly and fairly. gathered information on who is responsible for a tree when it falls, when homeowners insurance should be involved, and proactive measures to prevent your trees from falling.

Fallen Tree Damage Responsibility

A tree does not decide where to fall, but it can cause catastrophic damages when it does fall. Here’s how to determine who is responsible for what:

Neighbor’s Tree Falls on My Property – I am responsible for the portion of the tree that fell on my property, including filing damage claims with my homeowners insurance carrier.

My Tree Fell on My Neighbor’s Property – I am responsible for the portion of the tree remaining on my property and any insurance claims regarding my property.

This assignment of responsibility for a tree and/or branches falling on your property is common throughout the U.S. cities. However, you can dispute this responsibility if before the tree fell:

  • You documented and communicated your concerns about the tree to your neighbor.
  • You or your neighbor contracted a certified arborist to conduct a tree hazard assessment (of the tree in question) and found it to be diseased, dying, or dead and posing a threat to your property.
  • Your city’s arborist or forester notified your neighbor that the tree was diseased, dying, or dead, requiring its removal or pruning.
Dead tree in neighbors yard

You are not responsible for normal or seasonal debris that falls into your neighbor’s yard, like leaves, seeds, and twigs. Your neighbor is responsible for the cleanup of those things.

Note: Neighbors are typically able to work things out without too much debate or trouble. You may need to file a homeowners insurance claim when there are extensive structural damages. Depending on the policy and coverages you have, your homeowners insurance may or may not cover tree cleanup and damage repair expenses.

Tip: For your local ordinance / regulations regarding tree stewardship and legal tree removal, visit, click on “code library” from the menu, click on your state, then find your county or city. Type “trees” in the search engine and select the relevant results. If you happen to reside in Cobb County or Marietta Ga, visit for local regulations regarding trees.

Tree Damage and Homeowners Insurance Claims

When a tree falls on your house, whether or not you own the tree, there are some things you should do. The following will help you prevent further damages and seamlessly file your insurance claim:

  • Call 9-1-1 in the event anyone suffered injuries when the tree fell.
  • If it is safe to approach the tree and damages, take pictures of the damages (a narrated video will allow you to explain what you are filming and capture hundreds of images from the video).
  • Call your insurance agent. They can explain your options and guide you through the process of filing a claim.
  • After filing a claim, an adjuster will pay a visit to the property, assess the damages, and explain how your homeowners insurance coverages come into play.
  • If you have documented proof that the fallen tree (from your neighbor’s property) was diseased, dying, or dead and that you previously notified your neighbor about the tree’s condition, present this to the adjuster. You may have a case to hold your neighbor responsible for all costs and repairs.
  • Make sure to notify the claims adjuster or insurance agent before contracting a tree removal service. Some well-established tree services may communicate directly with your insurance company, helping you through the claims process.

Tip: If you were injured when a tree fell, and you can prove that someone else’s negligence is the cause of that injury, you may have a legal case. Discuss your fallen tree situation with a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights.

Note: If the fallen tree is yours, and it was diseased or dying before it fell, your insurance claim may be denied due to neglect.

The following measures should also be taken after a tree falls on your home:

  • Once the tree has been removed, hire a roofing company to repair the damaged portion of the roof and inspect the rest of the roof for any hidden damages from the tree’s impact.
  • Hire a contractor to evaluate the structural integrity of your home.
  • Hire a plumber to inspect and evaluate the home’s plumbing.
  • Hire an ISA certified arborist to perform a tree hazard assessment on the rest of your trees.
Neighbors diseased tree fell on my home

The impact of a falling tree can reverberate throughout your home, causing hidden minor damages that can quickly develop into expensive problems.

Read more about the necessity of tree hazard assessments at

How to Prevent Tree Damage

While mother nature can present forces beyond our control, there is much you can do to help your trees withstand severe weather. The following will help you boost the longevity of your trees and avoid catastrophic damages from their structural failure:

  • Water, mulch, fertilize, and prune your trees as needed for their species and age.
  • Hire a professional tree service to thin the crown, reducing wind resistance.
  • Have your trees inspected annually by an ISA certified arborist.
  • When you detect dieback, chlorosis, and/or fungal growth (mushrooms), take immediate action by hiring a tree service to evaluate the problem’s depth.
  • If your tree is leaning, stake it, or have it removed.
  • If you cannot save your tree or it has become a nuisance, have it removed.

Tip: When your tree presents signs of declining health, have it inspected and treated immediately. The longer a problem persists, the more dangerous your tree becomes to surrounding structures and neighboring trees (diseases and infestations spread quickly)

Mushrooms on a trunk indicate serious tree illness

Read more about tree emergencies at

Fallen Tree Responsibility

In this article, you discovered valuable insight into who is responsible when a tree falls, defining who a tree belongs to, when a homeowners insurance policy should be activated, and what you can do to prevent a tree from falling.

Recognizing tree problems and having them addressed will help you avoid the uncomfortable situation of being held responsible for structural damages and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Ignoring tree problems leaves you vulnerable to your insurance carrier denying your claim and potentially being sued for all damages and repairs caused by your tree when it falls.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Autumn Tree Care To-Do List

Fall is a great time to prepare your trees for winter and the following spring. Preventative and remedial treatments in the fall can help boost trees’ stamina in winter and create a positive growing environment for spring. Here’s a helpful checklist for healthy trees and shrubs.

  • Identify and manage over-wintering pest populations. Detecting pests and diseases to target them early with treatment reduces environmental stresses on your plants and protects your landscape investment.
  • Fertilization encourages root development. Tree and shrub roots usually grow during the fall. Root systems store reserves of starch that will become active energy in the spring when shoot growth, leafing and flowering occur. Fertilization during this time will maintain soil nutrient levels and increase root production, promoting new growth in the spring.
  • Prune dead, broken and interfering branches. It’s good to schedule pruning tasks after leaves have fallen so that the silhouettes of trees and deciduous shrubs can be seen.  Any dead, broken and interfering branches can be removed. A skilled arborist should make the pruning decisions and cuts.
  • Check for structural weaknesses in branch junctions and install cables or braces if necessary. Like pruning, the advantage of cabling and bracing trees in fall and winter is that structural defects are easier to see without foliage blocking the view and it’s easier for the arborist to judge distances, cable tension and angles.
  • Perform cultural practices. Give root systems an extra layer of warmth by replenishing mulch. Wrap evergreens to prevent animal damage and keep deicing salts away from plantings.
  • Assess your landscape needs and establish next season’s landscape goals. Proactive care not only protects your trees, it also saves you inconvenience and the potential of expensive replacement costs later on.

A trained professional can help accurately assess the condition of your landscape and take steps to help you protect your plantings. It’s the most cost-effective way to keep trees and shrubs healthy, especially when you consider how hard winter can be on plants. Outside in the extremes, trees and shrubs sustain storm damage, freezing and thawing temperatures, animal browsing and may have over-wintering pests and diseases that will appear in the spring.  That means now is the time to reach out to a Certified Arborist to tackle your tree care to-do list and get the best preventative care.

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Why Do Trees Die

Trees dying from hydraulic failure

Prevent the environment, disease, and insect activity from killing your trees. Knowing why trees die will help you take notice and intervene on threats to your tree’s life. assembled the following information about the many factors that lead to the death of trees, the signs and symptoms of a dying tree, and what to do about it.

1. Tree Diseases

Tree diseases can wreak havoc on your trees, and in some instances, kill them in a single growing season. The following are some of the more common diseases that infect trees:

• Anthracnose (Glomerella cingulata)
• Fire Blight (Erwinia amylovora)
• Diplodia Tip Blight (Sphaeropsis sapinea)
• Oak Wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum)
• Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma ulmi)
• Canker Diseases (caused by multiple fungal pathogens)

Signs and Symptoms – Trees infected with different diseases will display different symptoms. However, all should be treated with haste to prevent the decline and death of the infected tree. The following symptoms can help you diagnose the disease you are dealing with

Anthracnose – Sunken spots or lesions of various colors in foliage, stems, fruit, and/or flowers. Some infections lead to cankers on twigs, branches, and trunk.

Treatment – If this disease is caught early enough, extensive pruning may halt its progression, allowing the tree to compartmentalize affected areas.

Read more about anthracnose at

Fire Blight – Sudden brownish-black withering and death of blossoms, leaves, twigs, fruit spurs, and branches are signs of this disease. Heavily affected trees will appear scorched by fire and may die altogether.

Leaves infected and blackened by fire blight

Treatment – Extensive pruning of affected areas and copper fungicides. However, there is no cure for fire blight. Removal of the tree should be considered before the pathogen spreads to neighboring trees and shrubs.

Further reading on fire blight can be found at

Diplodia Tip Blight – This disease infects conifers, first killing needles at the tips of branches. Symptoms typically appear on the lower half of the tree, progressing upwards. When new needles begin expanding, they end up stunted, turn yellow, then tan or brown.

Treatment – This pathogen responds to fungicide treatments. Treatment should start at bud break in the spring for effective control. Pruning out damaged areas, and cones should also be removed, as they hold fungal spores.

This blight can be controlled, but not cured. As with any needle blight disease, the objective of spraying the tree is to break the cycle of infection in emerging needles. Many seasons of treatments are needed before noticeable results are achieved.

Oak Wilt – This disease infects oak trees. It can be identified as mature foliage develops a dark green water-soaked appearance, or may turn pale green or bronze, starting at the leaf margins and progressing toward the center of the leaf. This usually begins on a single branch and quickly spreads throughout the entire crown. Red oaks can die within 4 to 6 weeks after symptoms appear.

Dead leaves on tree with Bretziella fagacearum oak wilt disease

Treatment – Once an oak tree is infected with oak wilt, there is no known treatment capable of ridding the tree of the disease. Infected trees should be professionally removed.

Note: Healthy oaks can be injected with a fungicide known as Propiconazole to suppress oak wilt disease. Since Oak Wilt is spread by root grafts and insect carriers, treat those trees close to infected ones to slow the disease’s spread.

For more oak wilt information, visit

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) – DED is a vascular wilt disease in trees. External symptoms of infection are yellowing and wilting of leaves on individual branches. These leaves then turn brown and curl up as the branch dies, foliage eventually may drop off.

Treatment – Much like oak wilt, Dutch Elm Disease must be treated proactively before the disease is present in the tree. This disease spreads so quickly that diseased trees may not respond to any form of treatment.

Note: Healthy elms can be professionally treated in the same manner as healthy oaks with the Propiconazole fungicide.

Canker Diseases – Symptoms may include round-to-irregular sunken, swollen, flattened, cracked, discolored, or dead areas (appearing as bruises or open wounds) on tree stems, twigs, limbs, or trunk.

Canker from tree fungi on tree trunks and branches

Treatment – There is no cure for canker diseases on fruit and shade trees, but the disease’s spread can be controlled by pruning out infected areas. In late winter or early spring, carefully remove and destroy infected branches 4 inches below the canker where the tree is releasing amber color sap. If the canker is located on the trunk, request professional help to treat the infected area or remove the tree.

When treating, pruning, or interacting with diseased trees, you can reduce the chances of spreading the disease by:

• Sanitizing all equipment, including gloves, rakes, saws, etc. before and after use
• Destroying (burning) dropped or pruned foliage, twigs, and limbs (never add infected material to compost piles)
• Never spraying infected trees with overhead watering or irrigation

When in doubt, don’t take the chance of making a bad tree situation worse. Reach out to an ISA certified arborist for professional help. Read more about tree fungi control and prevention at

2. Weather-Related Tree Damage

Trees have spent millennia adapting to their climate and region. That said, severe weather can still inflict significant and sometimes lethal damages to a tree. For example:

Bark Stripping – During catastrophic weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, bark can be stripped from a side of or from the entire tree, effectively killing it.

Impact Damage – Also, during severe weather events, yard ornaments, statues, bicycles, and even vehicles can be carried by wind or floodwater, impacting and severely damaging the tree’s bark. If enough bark is damaged or stripped from the tree, it will be girdled and quickly die.

Drought – When the weather is dry, trees still need water. Most tree roots live within the first 30-inches of soil, and without water for prolonged periods, a tree can suffer hydraulic failure and die. Proper mulching and increased watering patterns can prevent this peril.

Severe or Repeated Flooding – In contrast to drought, this can lead to the destabilization of a tree’s root plate. When this condition occurs, the tree may develop a lean or suffer windthrow from the slightest wind.

Windthrow – This condition occurs when trees are toppled by wind. When windthrow occurs, a tree is uprooted as it is blown over.

Severe weather can uproot and knock trees over this is known as windthrow one of many ways blowdown occurs

Windsnap – This condition also occurs when trees are toppled by wind. When windsnap occurs, a tree is broken off at the trunk as it is blown down. Proper seasonal pruning activities and crown thinning can significantly reduce the potential for windthrow or windsnap.

For further reading and preventative measures on windthrow and windsnap, read

3. Boring Insect Infestations

When it comes to tree killers, boring insects are perhaps the most prolific and persistent. Larvae feed in galleries beneath the bark, consuming the tree’s cambium layer, while adults consume the host’s foliage. Aerial views of forested land demonstrate (in large swaths) the devastation these insects are capable of. A boring insect infestation can be identified as follows:

• Adults found in traps (visual confirmation)
• Partially consumed foliage (Leaf notches)
• Chlorosis of foliage in sections of the crown
• Extreme dieback of foliage and stems
• Frass (sawdust) found on the bark from burrowing activities
• Exit holes in tree bark
• Bulging or vertical splits in the bark (over larval galleries)
• Suckers and water sprouts growing in the crown, on the trunk, and/or from the roots
• Woodpecker damage (woodpeckers hunt beetle larvae)
• Squirrel activity (some squirrel species feed on beetle larvae)

Agrilus planipennis emerald ash borer eab boring insect

As larvae feed season after season, they channel through their host’s cambium layer in a zigzag or ribbon pattern (interrupting the flow of water and nutrients. This feeding ultimately leads to a partial or total girdling of the host, resulting in hydraulic failure and death.

Boring Insect Control and Prevention – Due to the larvae’s occult feeding activities, preventing a wood-boring insect infestation is not always possible. However, these practices will help reduce the potential of an infestation:

• Plant well-adapted species of trees not commonly attacked by wood borers in your region.
• Choose and prepare a suitable planting site to avoid tree stress like freeze damage, sunscald, windburn, and other natural stressors.
• Promote your tree’s health with proper watering, mulching, and fertilization methods.
• Use proper seasonal pruning practices (winter/dormant season).
• Avoid mechanical injury to tree trunks from lawnmowers and/or construction.

If you detect a wood-boring insect infestation, contact an ISA certified arborist to not only confirm the infestation but to mobilize local and regional forestry support if needed. Such infestations can cause catastrophic damages in very little time.

Note: In the absence of stressed or ailing trees, boring insects will attack healthy specimens.

Read more exciting literature about boring insects by visiting

4. Lifespan of Trees

While rare, a tree can die of “old age.” However, what is considered old age for one species may be merely infancy for another. Consider the following species and their average lifespan:

• Willow (Salix) 30 years
• Birch (Betula) 40 – 50 years
• Poplar (Populus) 50 years
• Magnolia (Magnolia) 80 – 120 years
• Maple (Acer) 100 – 300 years
• Oak (Quercus) 100 – 300 years
• Ash (Fraxinus) 120 – 300 years
• Aspen (Populus tremuloides) 150 – 200 years
• Walnut (Juglans) 150 to 250 years
• Fig (Ficus carica) 200 years
• Spruce (Picea) 200 years
• Beech (Fagus) 300 – 400 years
• Elm (Ulmus) 300 years
• Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) 300 years
• Pistachio (Pistacia vera) 300 years
• Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) 500 – 2,000 years
• Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) 600 years
• Bristlecone (Balfourianae) 5,000+ years

Signs and Symptoms – Trees in decline due to age may present many symptoms, including the following:

• Chlorosis (loss of color in foliage)
• Extreme dieback (multiple dead branches)
• Cladoptosis (randomly falling branches)
• Sudden Death (the tree just dies)

When a tree reaches or surpasses its lifespan it may die

If you have a tree that is nearing or surpassing its lifespan and is in decline, there is little to nothing you can do to save it. When in these circumstances, call on an ISA certified arborist’s expertise to evaluate the tree and recommend a course of action.

Note: While most tree species can outlive a human being, the vast majority of trees succumb to weather, biological, or human interference factors long before reaching their full lifespan.

Saving Dying Trees

In this article, you discovered information about the lifespan of trees, diseases, weather, and insects that are commonly responsible for why trees die.

By taking preventative measures to halt the spread of disease and insect infestations, you are helping your tree to live up to or surpass its lifespan.

When you ignore the warning signs of a dying or sick tree, you risk suffering grave consequences when that tree dies and falls on your property.


This article was first published on:

We came home with a tree seedling! Now what?

Many organizations choose to give away or sell very young trees to help encourage tree planting. Often, you leave home not knowing that you’ll come back with a new tree and find yourself at a loss as to how to care for this plant. Here is some tree seedlingsguidance on how and where to put this tiny bundle of potential so it has the best chance of becoming a mature tree one day! There is an old proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second best time is now.” Well, we are very late for the best time, but right on time for the second so let’s get to work!

The first thing is to make sure you keep your tree safe on the way home. Carry the seedling with you and avoid leaving it in a hot car or buried with all of the other treasures you collect on your outing. Once you get home, the clock is ticking to get this tree planted so it can become acclimated to its new surroundings. Choosing a spot is probably the most important decision you’ll make. Spend a few minutes thinking about where your seedling should go based on its species. While sun exposure and water usually get the most attention, don’t forget to think about how big this tree will get in the coming years. Try to picture the mature tree in your mind when choosing a spot. I can’t tell you how often I see sycamores planted under power lines or birch trees planted a foot or two from the foundation of a house.  A few seconds of contemplation now will save a lot of time and money in the future as poorly planted trees require more pruning and are more likely to need removal.

You’ll also want to consider how much water you tree will need. Generally speaking, tree species that need a lot of water tend to do better in low lying areas of the yard while those that want dryer soil do better on hillsides and rises. Just as important as water is light. Many trees, especially those that will be very large, do well with shade when they are young but need full sunlight as they grow taller. If you have an old tree that is starting to decline, you can consider planting under the mature tree so that when it finally goes, you will have new one ready to fill that space.

Protecting your young tree is another important undertaking. Do you have deer, rabbits, moles or voles? These can all be fatal to young trees and, depending on where you live, you may need to protect your seedling from one or more of these critters.

Once the tree is established (after about a year) you can fertilize to help speed growth and compensate for nutrients missing in your specific soil. Keeping a good mulch ring around the tree will serve as a reminder of the location so that your new plant doesn’t get stepped on or mown down. Mulch also helps to keep soil moisture constant and that’s a big help for all trees.

If you just can’t find the right spot, you can also plant it in a container until a good home can be found. There is something really special about finding a forever home for a new tree and creating memories that last a lifetime. Remember when planting to just relax and have fun. Trees grow in the woods by themselves all the time and you’re just trying to help the process happen in a desirable spot so don’t worry too much.

Happy Planting!

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Fall – A Perfect Time for Tree Planting

What makes fall a good time to plant a new tree? During autumn, the soil is still warm enough to support root growth, allowing the root system to become established. The cooler weather also means less watering and less evaporation of moisture from the soil. Since fall and winter months typically experience more precipitation there is less need for manual irrigation of newly planted trees.

New trees are available in one of these three ways: bare-root, container, or balled and burlapped. Each way has pros and cons and your decision will be just one of many things you’ll have to consider when selecting and purchasing a tree. The site and species are both critical decisions that play an important role in the success of any new planting. The size is another major factor. When you are considering a new planting, contact your local nursery for advice and allow time to source the proper stock for your property conditions.

balled and burlapped trees ready for purchase and planting

Trees can be purchased bare root, container, or balled and burlapped as shown here.

Once you have selected the perfect tree, it’s time to plant!  But not so fast! First, study up on these important tips to help your new tree get settled in its new home.

a straight edge across the planting hole serves as a guideline to ensure your tree is not planted too deeply

Use a straight edge as a guideline to ensure your tree is not planted too deeply.

  • Dig a planting hole that is about three times the width of the tree’s root ball.
  • For bare root trees, plant them as soon as possible – maximum a week.
  • For balled and burlapped trees, cut any wire or burlap away from the root ball. Loosen the soil in the ball and try to spread the roots out.
  • For container trees, cut away any circling roots that may have developed in a container. (This is important for health and longevity of the tree.)
  • Make sure that the tree’s root collar (the area where the trunk and roots join) is exposed. Particularly for container trees, you may have to remove any soil that had covered the root collar while it was in the pot.
  • When you place the tree in the planting hole, be sure that the root collar is at the soil surface. A straight edge across the hole is a good guide to ensure that the tree is not sitting too low. You may need to put some dirt back into the hole to position the tree correctly.
  • After planting, put a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch over the soil surface. Don’t mound it up around the base of the trunk.
  • Give your new tree a good watering and enjoy!

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Should You Prune Your Trees in the Winter?

Winter is on its way, which means the weather will bring ice, snow and slush for all of us to enjoy. Though most people tend to spend most of their time indoors each winter, especially in New Jersey when the temperature dips below freezing, some people choose to be outdoors for winter sports and other activities. One thing to consider is to keep up with some specific yardwork tasks that you are able to do throughout the colder season.

Pruning trees

Pruning Trees in the Winter

Winter is actually a good time of the year to prune your trees– the deciduous ones, that is. Since the foliage is gone– the leaves fell off months ago– and the tree is dormant (so there won’t be the bleeding of sap), winter is a good time to be able to see down to the structure of what you’re cutting and take care of business without hurting the tree.

Did you know, for instance, that oak trees should only be pruned in the winter? The reason why is an interesting one: there’s a beetle that is attracted to freshly cut oak trees. The beetle can smell the odor and is attracted to it. However, the beetle is bad for the tree, causing “oak wilt.” During the winter, however, the beetles are hibernating, so it’s the best time of the year to prune an oak. Certain trees are best pruned in winter.

Pruning can be done with hand pruners, pruning saws, chain saws, and other tools. If and when you see branches that look like they’re dying, diseased, damaged, deformed or dead, prune them. Ultimately, pruning helps a tree build its strength and form. It’s a good thing for trees.

Hire a Professional Tree Service!

Do you need trees in your New Jersey yard pruned but don’t want to do it yourself? Contact Big Foot Tree Service at 973-885-8000 to have experts come prune your trees for you. Available any time of the year, Big Foot Tree Service even works in the winter. The number to call is 973-885-8000.


The post Should You Prune Your Trees in the Winter? first appeared on Big Foot Tree Service.

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Bagworm Caterpillars Eat Leaves and Needles for Lunch

Be on the lookout for bagworm bags on juniper, arborvitae, spruce, pine, cedar and lots of other conifers and deciduous plants. Bagworm is a moth, which in its larval stage, creates a cocoon from bits of plant material. The cases are difficult to see and may go unnoticed until significant defoliation has occurred. The bags look different depending on their tree hosts, because the insects use the tree’s foliage to construct the cases.

cocoon of a bagworm moth on eastern red cedar

Cocoon of a bagworm moth on eastern red cedar.

Bagworm caterpillars emerge from their eggs in the spring (around late-May through mid-June) and they begin to feed on foliage. In the beginning, feeding damage will look like etching, but as the caterpillars get larger they will consume entire needles and leaves. A heavily infested plant may be completely defoliated. If unmanaged for several consecutive seasons defoliation can ultimately lead to plant death. Damage can be more severe on evergreens as they are often unable to produce new growth after loss of needles.

bagworm caterpillar outside the protective bag

A bagworm caterpillar outside the protective bag.

When caterpillars reach maturity, they produce silken threads attaching the bag to a twig. Then they pupate into their adult form. Sometimes these silken threads girdle plant tissue and injure it.

Emerging adult males fly and search for wingless females that remain inside their bags. If you find an empty bag, it may have belonged to a male who left it after reaching maturity. After mating, the female lays several hundred eggs inside the bag before dying. These eggs overwinter inside the protective case and the life cycle begins again in the spring.

Removing the egg sacs reduces the number of caterpillars that can emerge next spring. Any treatments should target the newly emerged caterpillars in the spring.

Keep on the lookout to help prevent serious infestation.

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What is Soil Compaction?


Soil compaction is a common issue in home landscapes and on commercial properties. When the soil is compacted, porous spaces are reduced. Since tree roots need those porous spaces for growth and absorption of water and nutrients, a tree living in compacted soil will struggle. There will be less root growth and low soil oxygen levels.

Compaction is sometimes caused by vehicles or equipment moving near and under trees. However, even foot traffic can result in compaction over time. When compaction is present, cultivating that soil is critical to improving growing conditions.

One of the most effective ways to treat soil compaction and tree decline is with Root Invigoration™, a treatment that was developed and patented by The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories. The treatment program begins with an evaluation of the tree and its site to determine the size of the treatment area and which soil amendments are needed. Soil samples may also be collected to determine the exact needs of the tree.

Tilling compacted soil with AirSpade™ and Root Invigoration™

Tilling soil using high pressure air with a tool called an AirSpade™.

When the crew arrives, they will remove any turf that remains in the treatment area. Soil will be tilled using high pressure air with a tool called an AirSpade™. The beauty of this tool is that it tills the soil without damaging roots. Once the area is tilled, organic amendments including biochar and fertilizer will be applied and then incorporated into the soil. Next, mulch is applied over the root-invigorated soil. This reduces the soil temperature, reduces water evaporation, and provides a future source of organic matter.

All that is left to do is to water the area each day for the next week or so to activate the full potential of the treatment.

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