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Codominant Stems and Reducing Tree Failures

Research shows that trees with multiple (codominant) stems have a higher likelihood of failure than those with a single stem so it is important to address this trait – the earlier, the better. To explain, codominant stems occur when two or more stems grow upward from a single point. This creates a v-shaped crotch that typically indicates a structural issue.

codominant stem
A codominant stem with a “V” crotch.

Tree trunks need wood tissue to hold the tree up, particularly in windy conditions. When codominant stems exist, there is less direct connection of this wood tissue, creating a weak point in the tree that is more likely to fail. In some cases, bark on the side facing the other stem is captured in between the stems (included bark or bark inclusion). Generally, this makes the attachment even weaker.

included bark
Included bark is clearly visible on the right stem.

Preventing Codominant Stems in Young Trees

The best way to prevent codominant stems is to prune the tree while it is young. Start a year or two after planting and continue as the tree grows. Structurally pruning a tree several times while it is growing can nearly eliminate this problem. It is important to realize that it costs far less to prune a small tree than to treat a large tree with codominant stems.

What is Structural Pruning?

In the forest, trees tend to crowd each other. As they race upward for sunlight in the sky, they usually maintain a single main stem. Alternatively, when trees grow uncrowded in a landscape, they often develop structural weaknesses like codominant stems. Structural pruning is the technique used to address these weaknesses and guide trees into a strong architecture/form. The objective is to create a strong, healthy structure so that trees are sturdier under wind and other conditions.

With structural pruning, live leaders and lateral limbs are “subordinated,” or reduced, to slow their growth. Consequently, the main stem can develop dominance again. The sooner in life that structural pruning is started, the easier and less costly it is. Waiting until the tree is mature frequently means bigger pruning cuts, cabling and greater expense.

Solutions for Mature Trees

For mature trees, structural pruning may no longer always be the best option. Some issues that have developed over years simply cannot be addressed through pruning at this point. More likely, when a codominant stem is present on a mature tree, a structural support system will be a better option. Structural support systems are steel cables or steel rods that are installed between the codominant stems. These systems reduce movement and improve wind resistance.

Whatever age your tree, codominant stems are a structural problem that you should address. Early pruning and support systems are two methods of increasing the strength and longevity of your trees.

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Tips For Winterizing Your Trees

The trees in your yard can always benefit from your attention and care. With winter coming, trees can be “winterized” to lessen the chance of cold weather damage.

First, prune (cut off) any dead or broken limbs you see on the tree. Ideally, you should make a 45-degree angle cut in the limb about six inches from the break or dead portion of the limb. If any branches are close to touching the ground, prune them so they won’t touch the ground when rain or snow would weigh them down and/or invite pests onto the tree. If you notice any deadwood or damaged branches, twigs and/or bark, get rid of them.

Next, before the ground freezes, it’s a smart idea to purposely water the tree at least once a week in order to hydrate the roots really well. You can also spread fertilizer around the base if you so choose. If the soil around the tree is compacted or poorly drained, take a rake to it, therefore aerating the soil.

If it’s a small tree, or newly planted tree, consider adding “tree wrapping tape” around the trunk, which will help insulate it against sun scalding.

Spread six inches of wood chip mulch around the base of the tree to help protect the roots from the coming cold weather.

If you have evergreens, you can cover them with burlap, or, better yet, spray them with an “anti-dessicant,” which puts a waxy coat on a tree’s leaves and needles, sealing moisture in.

Should you have any specific questions regarding tree care and maintenance, don’t hesitate to call New Jersey’s Big Foot Tree Service today at 973-885-8000.

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Everything You Need to Know About Tree Trimming

Have you looked out your window and realized that your trees are looking a little… well, shaggy? If so, you’re not alone, as millions of Americans hire professionals every year for tree trimming and pruning. Trees can make the outside of your home beautiful, and having trees in your yard may create opportunities for a shaded lounge area, a place to hang a tire swing and somewhere to build a treehouse, but maintaining them is an important part of protecting and maintaining your property. It may seem easy enough to grab your ladder and some shears and get to work, but there are a lot of concerns to consider before you begin your tree-trimming career! These details will help you make an informed decision about properly trimming your trees, so read on to learn everything you need to know about tree trimming. 

Why should I care about trimming my trees?

Whether your home is surrounded by hundred-year-old trees or you have just a few smaller trees that you need to service, you may be wondering about the benefits of regular tree trimming. Trees need to be trimmed or pruned regularly, and sometimes branches must be entirely cut off to help ensure the health of the tree and your family’s safety. 

There are many reasons tree trimming can be a vital part of yard maintenance. According to the US Department of Agriculture, trees should be pruned first for safety, next for health, and finally for aesthetics. Let’s look at each of these benefits:


The safety of your family and the security of your property and that of your neighbors is a key reason why people choose to trim their trees. If you notice that a tree has a decayed or dying limb, there is always a possibility that the limb could fall during a storm and cause damage to your home or property—or that of your neighbors. 

A quick trim may cost a bit, but it will be much less than the liability that you would face if a tree limb fell into your neighbor’s home! 

Tree (and yard) health

Cutting dead or diseased branches may help benefit the overall health of the tree. In addition, pruning may also encourage your trees to develop stronger core structures to help withstand the elements.

Pruning or trimming a tree also allows you to reduce the possibility that dead or decayed material in the branches could be shifted to other trees that are healthy. Another reason many people trim the trees on their property is to allow more sunlight to filter through to the ground. This helps to reduce the overall possibility of mold and mildew by drying up the ground and allowing the plants underneath the tree to receive the sunlight and nutrients that they need to grow successfully.


Trimming a tree may help accentuate its physical appearance and improve flower or fruit production. You may even find that cutting back some extra tree growth will add to your home’s curb appeal and really showcase your home and yard. 

Everything You Need to Know About Tree Trimming

How often should I trim my trees?

Generally, you should prune or trim trees about once a year during their dormant season, which can vary depending on the species of your tree. However, circumstances such as these may prompt an immediate trimming:

  • The tree’s growth obstructs visibility for pedestrians or vehicles, especially at intersections.
  • The tree’s limbs interfere with power lines. Make sure to contact your local utility company to handle the job, as it’s dangerous to even get close to power lines.
  • The tree’s growth may threaten your home or property. If you feel a tree needs to be pruned because it may cause damage to your home, or causes safety concerns, it’s important to contact an arborist to help with the trimming.

How can I safely trim my trees?

Your first priority when trimming, pruning, or cutting a tree should be personal safety. The best way to help ensure safety is to hire a qualified arborist service like Red’s Tree Service to clip back your trees. Trimming may often require a ladder and sometimes puts the trimmer in close proximity to power lines, and the safest course of action is to leave tree-trimming to the professionals.

However, if you do decide to trim your own trees, here are our safety recommendations to help you determine if it’s safe or not to cut the branches:

  • Branches smaller than 2 inches (or 5 centimeters) in diameter: Proceed.
  • Branches between 2 and 4 inches (or 5 and 10 centimeters) in diameter: Think it over.
  • Branches larger than 4 inches (or 10 centimeters): Contact an arborist.

In circumstances of extreme weather, like rain, snow, or even wind, do not trim any tree, as it can place excess stress on the tree and poses an extreme safety hazard to you and your property.

If you do decide to try trimming your trees yourself, here is a 3-step program you can follow:

  1. Make the very first cut about 1-2 feet from the trunk of the tree. This cut starts underneath the limb and goes into it, but only about a third of the way. This is a critical step in the process.
  2. Make the second cut just outside of the first cut, about another foot or two. This cut will be all the way through the branch. The branch is highly likely to break away as you saw through the limb, which is ok. Since you have made the first cut on the underside and closer in from the previous step, the bark will not continue to tear down into the tree trunk.
  1. The final cut is right at the branch collar where the branch meets the tree’s trunk. You will be looking for a flared area here. Make the final cut so that the flair is still noticeable afterward. 

If cut properly, this “flair” will heal over, eventually filling in with new bark and scar tissue. You’ll know the tree is healing correctly when you see a “doughnut” forming where you made the cut. And that is all there is to it!

Once again, if you have any doubt in your ability to properly assess the situation and conduct the pruning, call Red’s Tree Service. Our team has experience and expertise, and can complete the job in a safe and fast manner.

Everything You Need to Know About Tree Trimming

Keep your trees trim and happy with Red’s Tree Service!

The friendly, expert team at Red’s Tree Service understands exactly what techniques to employ and what branches to remove so that you are left with the healthiest, best-looking tree possible.

We also understand tree trimming can be a nerve-racking and intimidating experience, especially if you have a tall tree that needs trimming. Don’t risk getting hurt. Reach out to us today to request an estimate or schedule service.

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Choosing a Tree for Your Landscape

Mistakes are easy to make when choosing a tree. Most of these are related to misinformation regarding a tree’s size when full grown. It’s also common to see mishaps like full-sun plants tucked into shady corners.

Planting a tree should be fun and exciting. Unfortunately, mistakes ultimately often lead to disappointment. Planning and careful consideration are not only necessary at the time of planting, but before as well. A successful tree planting starts with the right tree.

choosing the right tree

Advance planning, before you even visit the nursery, will help ensure you choose the right tree.

Planting Goal

With so many choices about species, size, cost and other factors, it’s easy to get bogged down before you even get to the most important question. Prior to making any decisions, the first thing to ask is, “what is my goal in planting a tree?” Some typical tree planting goals are improving privacy, beautifying the landscape (flowers, etc), increasing shade, or establishing a family heirloom. Establish a goal and you will have an easier time making a choice about the best tree.

Location, Location, Location

Similar to success in real estate, success with tree planting a tree is all about the right location. The tree needs to have enough physical room to develop. Additionally, the spot chosen should have the right amount of sunlight or shade as well as proper soil conditions. Understanding the size and requirements of the tree as well as the conditions it will grow in will further narrow your selection.

Additional Considerations

If you live in a rural area with a lot of deer, you’ll need to consider a tree that is resistant to deer browsing. Further, seasonality could be important to you. Maybe you’re looking for an evergreen so that you have year-round color or want a tree that has brilliant red leaves in autumn. Perhaps you’d like a tree that flowers during late summer, or one that provides food for birds, squirrels, pollinators and other wildlife. Accordingly, these secondary benefits can inform your choice of tree depending on your priorities.

After Planting

When planting, remember that regular watering is vital for new trees. Removing wire baskets and any cording around the trunk (if balled and burlapped) will help deter long-term health issues related to poor root structure and girdling. Be sure to review our tree planting tips.

Lastly, the job of tree care doesn’t end with the planting. Many newly planted trees die within the first few years after planting. As such, caring for your young tree in those early years is critical to survival. Controlling pests and ensuring adequate soil nutrition are particularly important as your new tree attempts to become established.

The post Choosing a Tree for Your Landscape first appeared on Tree Topics.

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What Should Be Pruned in the Fall?

Fall pruning to remove storm damage and dangerous growth

Prevent your shrubs and trees from becoming diseased and dying due to untimely fall pruning. Knowing when to prune your plants, shrubs, and trees in the fall will help you keep them thriving. gathered the following information about the heightened risks of pruning activities performed during fall months.

The Risk of Early Fall Pruning

It is not advised to conduct ANY pruning activities in early fall. All pruning activities encourage new plant growth. When these activities occur in early fall (when the tree or plant is starting to go dormant), any new growth won’t have enough time to harden before the first frost and freezing temperatures set in. This tender new growth, damaged by freezing weather, can become a vector for infestations and disease.

Why Fall Pruning Is Discouraged

The dangers of early fall pruning include:

Disease – As the seasons change from summer to fall, rainfall is typically increased, creating a moist or wet environment that promotes the growth and spreading of disease-causing bacteria and fungi.

Infestation – Like disease infections, insect infestations are supported by a moist or wet environment. These conditions delay a tree or plant’s ability to heal pruning wounds.

Off-Season Growth – As mentioned, pruning encourages growth. Pruning a tree or plant before dormancy can result in tender growth that becomes a vector for disease and infestation (when damaged by freezing weather).

Tip: Put your pruning shears away for another couple of months and allow your trees and plants to go completely dormant. Once dormancy has settled in (after all the leaves have dropped), you can safely prune trees and shrubs.

Note: If you must perform fall pruning, wait for your tree, shrub, or plant to go completely dormant. This “fall” window of opportunity is generally between the Thanksgiving and New Year holidays. However, if you can wait, late winter (late February) pruning is far less risky.

Fall Pruning Exceptions

There are exceptions when pruning should occur in the fall like storm damage and dangerous growth

Some situations arise, demanding immediate pruning activities. While most of these apply to trees, large or overgrown shrubs may require similar attention. Be on the lookout for the following:

Overhanging or Dangerous Growth – When trees or large shrubs grow over a structure or lean in that direction, they can cause great concern. This is true, especially in regions prone to severe weather.

The solution to this predicament is to prune back the limbs or branches causing the concern or to remove the tree or shrub, eliminating the threat altogether.

Dead Limbs or Branches – For all plant life, dead wood represents an easy entryway for disease and insect infestation. In fact, dead limbs or branches may result from a disease or infestation and should be investigated.

This dead wood should be removed upon discovery, regardless of the season or circumstance.

Storm Damage – Severe weather events seemingly occurring more frequently and consequently causing sometimes catastrophic damages to trees, shrubs, and plants.

When you detect storm damage in your trees, shrubs, and plants, you should take immediate action to remove the damaged wood and prune back limbs that have snapped or broken off (eliminating rough or uneven surfaces). Handling storm-damaged trees is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Minor damages can be resolved, but for more extensive damages, hire a professional tree service to help you sort out what can be salvaged and what is a threat and needs removing.

Plants and Shrubs That Should Be Pruned in the Fall

While the overall intent of this publication is to discourage fall/autumn pruning, the following species of plants and shrubs benefit from fall pruning:

  • Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Bellflowers (Campanula)
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Coneflowers (Rudbeckia)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)
  • Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
  • Salvia (Salvia spp.)
Fall pruning should be done to specific plant species including daylilies

Counter to the standard, these above plant species do require fall pruning. However, to be more informed, read when should I prune trees and discover best practices of tree pruning?

Generally speaking, plants hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9 will need fall pruning.

No shrub species require fall pruning:

Shrub pruning should be treated the same as tree pruning. Early fall pruning can severely damage your shrubs and should be avoided until the shrub has gone dormant for the season.

Tip: You can and should prune shrubs any time it becomes necessary (broken branches, dead or diseased wood, or removing growth that is obstructing a sidewalk or road).

Alternatives to Fall Pruning

Fortunately, there is no shortage of activities you can perform in place of pruning. Your landscape will benefit from the following:

Rake Leaves and Debris – Most fungi and bacteria overwinter (lie in wait) in fallen leaves and debris. Rake this material up regularly and dispose of it from your property. Avoid composting these leaves and material as you may be cultivating harmful plant/tree pathogens.

Mulch – Offer a protective layer of mulch to trees, shrubs, and gardens for the winter months. A new or refreshed three to four-inch layer of organic mulch will help regulate soil moisture and temperature.

Fall activities can include mulching

Amend Your Soil – The fall season is also a good time to amend your landscape and garden soil with compost or fertilizer. A simple soil test can reveal which nutrients your soil is lacking.

Mark Your Trees – Instead of pruning, take a can of red or pink spray paint and mark the branches you’d like to remove at a more appropriate time. Branches to be marked may include:

Fall pruning can be avoided by marking the trees to be removed in winter or early spring
  • Branches obstructing free-flowing light and air through the canopy
  • Crossover branches that rub and cause open wounds to form in the canopy (remove the smaller of the two)
  • Low hanging branches that may interfere with foot traffic
  • Branches or limbs growing vertically (water sprouts)

Tip: The more prep work you can get accomplished in the fall, the less work you’ll need to do, and the better your landscape’s conditions will be in the spring.

Pruning in the Fall

In this article, you discovered what to prune in the fall and when your trees, shrubs, and plants respond best to pruning activities.

Knowing when and what to prune in the fall season will help you maintain the health and vigor of your plants, shrubs, and trees.

Haphazardly pruning in fall months can lead to diseased or infested plants, shrubs, and trees, sometimes resulting in catastrophic damages when they die or are destroyed in severe weather events.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

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

Black Walnut Tree Toxicity

Nearly every part of the black walnut tree contains juglone

Prevent the frustration and embarrassment of planting a beautiful garden, only to have it wilt and die within weeks. Knowing how black walnut trees are toxic will help you plant vulnerable species out of their reach. gathered the following information about black walnut tree toxicity, how to prevent it from killing your yard and garden, what plant species are tolerant to them, and how removing the tree may not eliminate its toxicity.

What Is Black Walnut Tree Toxicity?

Black walnut (Juglans nigra L.) is a highly sought-after US native hardwood lumber tree. Black walnut is typically grown as a landscape shade tree and, often, for its edible nuts. While some plants and trees grow well near black walnut, there are many plant and tree species whose growth is adversely affected by this tree.

Black walnut fruit looks similar to the more common walnut but with some toxicity

Black walnut trees produce a chemical called juglone (5 hydroxy-1,4- napthoquinone), which naturally occurs in all parts of the tree. Higher concentrations of this chemical are found in the tree’s buds, nut hulls, and roots. Leaves and stems contain smaller amounts of juglone, which is leached into the soil after they fall. High concentrations of juglone occur in the soil under the tree’s canopy. However, highly sensitive plants can exhibit toxicity symptoms far beyond the canopy drip line. This occurs because decaying roots tend to release juglone.

Other closely related trees also produce juglone but at considerably lower concentrations than black walnut. Rarely will these trees produce or concentrate enough juglone to adversely affect sensitive plants. These trees include:

• English Walnut
• Pecan
• Butternut
• Shagbark Hickory

Juglone is produced by several other tree species including pecan

Note: The relationship between plants in which one produces a substance adversely affecting the growth or health of another is known as “allelopathy.”

Tip: If you consider removing your black walnut to curb the toxic effects of juglone, consider that soil toxicity may persist for several years after removal (while the tree’s roots decay). Complete tree removal (tree, stump, and roots) is recommended for faster soil recovery.

Juglone Toxicity Symptoms

Juglone toxicity symptoms begin to appear either when a black walnut is maturing and its root zone increases in size, encroaching on other sensitive plant or tree roots, or juglone-sensitive plants are placed within the black walnut’s root zone (60 feet or more from a mature black walnut’s trunk). These symptoms manifest as:

• Wilting
• Yellow Leaves (chlorosis)
• Stunted or Slow Growth
• Rapid Decline and Death

As of the publication of this article, there is no known remedy, treatment, or cure for juglone toxicity once a sensitive plant or tree has been affected.

Many plant species are sensitive to juglone

Note: Some highly sensitive plant species that cannot tolerate even the slightest concentrations of juglone can die in a matter of months or even weeks.

Tip: Because juglone toxicity symptoms may be easily confused with other diseases, infestation, or nutrient deficiency problems, it is recommended to hire an arborist to evaluate the landscape and recommend a course of action.

Plant Species Sensitive to Juglone

The following plant species should not be planted in a garden situated within 60 feet of a mature black walnut tree:


• Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
• Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
• Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
• pepper (Capsicum)
• potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)
• Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
• Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)

Tomatoes are a juglone sensitive crop


• Apple (Malus domestica)
• Blackberry (Rubus)
• Blueberry (Cyanococcus)
• Pear (Pyrus)

Popular Landscape Plants

• Azalea (Rhododendron)
• White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
• Ornamental Cherries (Prunus avium)
• Crabapple (Malus)
• Honeysuckle (Lonicera)(some species)
• Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
• Lilac (Syringa)
• Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
• Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
• Yew (Taxus baccata)

Popular Garden Flowers

• Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum)(some species)
• Columbine (Aquilegia)
• Lily (Lilium)
• Peony (Paeonia)(some species)
• Petunia (Petunia)

Petunias are sensitive to juglone

Note: If proximity to a black walnut tree is unavoidable, raised garden beds offer a creative solution. However, the bed must be constructed in a way that minimizes or eliminates tree root penetration. These beds must also be kept free of black walnut leaf litter or nuts.

Juglone Tolerant Plant Species

The following plant species have exhibited tolerance to juglone:


• Lima Bean (Phaseolus lunatus)
• Beets (Beta vulgaris)
• Carrots (Daucus carota)
• Melon (Cucumis melo)
• Onion (Allium cepa)
• Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
• Squash (Cucurbita)


• Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
• Cherry (Prunus avium)

Popular Landscape Plants

• Arborvitae (Thuja)
• Daphne (Daphne)
• Forsythia (Forsythia)
• Hemlock (Tsuga)
• Junipers (Juniperus)
• Persimmons (Diospyros virginiana)
• Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
• Wild Rose (Rosa)
• Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Persimmon species are tolerant to juglone

Popular Garden Flowers

• Begonia (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum)
• Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
• Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum)(some species)
• Cranesbill (Geranium)
• Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum)
• Daylily (Hemerocallis)
• Ferns (Tracheophyta)
• Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa siehei)
• Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)
• Lamb’s-ear (Stachys byzantina)
• Morning Glory (Ipomoea)
• Tulip (Tulipa)
• Violet (Viola)

Tip: When in doubt about a plant’s tolerance to juglone, ask the garden center or nursery attendant for help.

Violet flower species are tolerant to juglone

Are Black Walnut Trees Toxic to Dogs?

Yes. They can be, when moldy (Penicillium spp.), fallen walnuts containing the mycotoxin (Penitrem A) that is poisonous to dogs and other animals that eat the moldy walnuts. Dogs, in particular, can develop convulsions a few hours after eating these moldy walnuts. Hyperthermia, rapid breathing, urination, and dilated pupils may also be seen in affected animals.

Tip: If you suspect that your dog has consumed these nuts, seek immediate veterinary assistance (take a sample of what was consumed with you to the vet’s office).

Killer Black Walnut Trees

In this article, you discovered essential information on black walnut toxicity, protecting your yard and garden space, and how removing the tree may not eliminate the problem.

Planting juglone tolerant plant species and keeping more vulnerable species far from the black walnut tree, you can still create a harmonious ecosystem for your landscape.

Ignoring the juglone toxicity symptoms of your plants, shrubs, and trees can leave you running in circles looking for reasons why your landscape is dying, and nothing you plant will grow.


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Buttonbush: A Plant that Thrives in Wet Soils

It’s tough to find garden plants that thrive in wet soils or areas where there is standing water. You want a plant that can live in less than hospitable conditions while also looking great. In these instances, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) may be your plant.


Buttonbush prefers wet conditions and can even grow in standing water.


Buttonbush is a small to medium sized shrub that can reach a height of 10 to 15 feet tall with a medium spread of 8 to 10 feet. It is sometimes called button willow, honey bells or honey balls. This multi-stemmed plant has leaves that come in pairs or in threes. The leaves are a glossy dark green with a narrow, oval shape. Further, they have smooth margins and a pointed tip that rounds to a tapered base.

When it is happy, buttonbush produces long-lasting white or pale pink flowers. The flowers are unique. They have a round shape and a pincushion-like appearance, like a spiky ball. As the flowers fade, they mature into reddish-brown fruits that persist into winter.

buttonbush flower

The unique buttonbush flower attracts many pollinators.

Buttonbush is a wildlife lover’s dream. The fragrant flowers attract hummingbirds and pollinators. Moths and butterflies frequent the plant for its sweet nectar. In addition, the fruit is a good food source for birds. Species including robins, towhees and kingbirds find the plants just as pleasing as the ducks and water birds that live in the wet areas where buttonbush often grows.

Growing Conditions

Buttonbush is native to much of the United States. As it prefers moist conditions, you may spot it growing on stream banks, shorelines and in swamps. In fact, it can tolerate growing in water up to depths of three feet. While it can grow in drier soil, buttonbush prefers soil with regular moisture to the aforementioned wet extremes. Some insect pests may cause minor damage, but drought conditions pose a greater threats to its growth and health.

With its unique attributes and adaptability, buttonbush is a worthy addition to diverse landscapes. It is a great option for wet areas of a property or even regular garden locations that get lots of moisture.

The post Buttonbush: A Plant that Thrives in Wet Soils first appeared on Tree Topics.

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How to Determine If a Tree Can Be Saved After a Storm

TreesPeople often love and appreciate trees in their yard the way they love their pets. If and when something goes wrong, like a storm comes through and tries to knock a beloved tree down, the property owner feels bad. After all, we get used to the trees in our yard and ideally we don’t want to see them injured. We certainly don’t want to see them die.

After a storm, what should you do to determine if a tree (or trees) on your property can be saved?

First, look around to assess the damage. Do not touch any downed wires on or near the tree(s). If there’s a large branch that has cracked and looks like it could fall at any minute, that’s when you need to call a professional from Big Foot Tree Service to come over and deal with it.

After you’ve dealt with downed wires and large cracked branches, you’ll have to ask some questions to determine if it’s healthy enough to recover just fine, or if it needs to come down. For instance, did the storm take away a majority of the tree’s branches? If so, it might not be easy to save. Trees that lose more than half their branches probably won’t be able to make enough food to last another season. Also, look for “the leader,” which is the main upward-facing branch of the tree. Has it been lost? If so, the tree might still survive, but it’ll look awkward. Therefore, it might be a candidate for coming down. Finally, ask yourself, “How big are the tree wounds?” Larger wounds don’t heal as easily (or as fast) as smaller wounds. When you have big wounds in a tree, they’re likely to fall prey to disease.

Storms may try to damage trees. If you can safely prune broken branches and the tree doesn’t pose a threat to people or property, give it some time to heal and recover. However, if the trunk is split, more than half the branches are missing, and/or you feel like parts of it could fall on your car, house or people at anytime, it might be best to have Big Foot Tree Service come and chop it down.

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Fusiform Rust Identification, Information, and Control

Fusiform rust disease forms galls on pine trees

Prevent your pines from becoming gall-ridden, sick, and dying trees. Knowing how fusiform rust develops and spreads will help you take the necessary steps to keep your trees safe. gathered the following information, ways to identify, and control measures for fusiform rust.

What Is Fusiform Rust

Fusiform rust is a rampant and damaging disease of multiple pine species in the south and southeast. This lethal rust disease is caused by the fungus Cronartium quercuum f. sp. fusiforme. For this disease to complete its lifecycle and colonize a pine (Pinus) specimen, it must first find a host in the oak (Quercus) genus. The disease leads to rust galls and/or crippling cankers on pine tree trunks and/or branches.

Some of the more susceptible oak species include:

  • Water (Quercus nigra)
  • Willow (Quercus phellos)
  • Laurel (Quercus laurifolia)
  • Bluejack (Quercus incana)
  • Blackjack (Quercus marilandica)
  • Southern red (Quercus falcata)
Fusiform rust disease requires a tree from the quercus species to continue its lifecycle

While more than 30 pine species are affected by fusiform rust, the two most impacted species include:

Fusiform rust disease easily infects loblolly pines
  • Loblolly (Pinus taeda)
  • Slash (Pinus elliottii)
Fusiform rust disease easily colonizes slash pines

Fusiform rust is indigenous to the Southern States stretching from Maryland south to Florida and west to Arkansas and Texas.

Fusiform Rust Identification

The colloquial name of this fungus comes from the spindle-shaped (fusi-form) or tapered galls produced on pines at the infection site. In early spring, powdery, orange spores are produced by the fungus coinciding with the emergence of oak foliage.

In the tree’s weakened state, the following secondary pests may also appear:

  • Black turpentine beetles (Dendroctonus terebrans)
  • Coneworms (Dioryctria spp.)
  • Pitch canker fungus (Fusarium moniliforme var. subglutinans)

Note: The most common way to identify fusiform rust is in early spring, when its galls on pines produce the signature orange, powdery spores.

Fusiform Rust Lifecycle

What makes this pathogen intriguing is that it requires an alternate host (oak) for the fungus to complete its 5-step lifecycle. Consider the following:

  • In March, galls on pine trees produce aeciospores (the orange, powdery spores)
  • The spores are carried by wind to infect emerging oak foliage
  • In late spring or early summer, the oaks produce basidiospores on the underside of the infected foliage
  • The spores formed on oak foliage are then carried by wind to the growing tips of pine trees
  • The lifecycle of this clever pathogen completes as the pines are infected from late spring through early summer

This fungus may be unsightly during its lifecycle, but it does little to no harm to the oak foliage it colonizes.

Fusiform rust disease uses two hosts one oak and one pine species

Note: The annual timing of this entire lifecycle may vary depending on geographic location and when average temperatures are higher.

How Do You Treat Fusiform Rust

Fusiform rust management in a forest or landscape setting poses interesting challenges but can be accomplished over time with patience. Consider the following three control methods:

Oak Host Management – When seasonally appropriate, susceptible oaks (like those listed above) in and immediately adjacent to pine stands should be chemically treated, pruned, and fallen foliage collected and destroyed. Hire a professional tree service to help you suppress potential infections.

Although spores that infect pine species can be transported extremely long distances by wind, nearby infected oaks tend to account for most of the surrounding pine infections.

Pine Host Management – Avoid planting rust susceptible pine species in locations where fusiform rust is or has been an issue. Pruning branch cankers and removing diseased branches can help lower trunk infection potential. However, once the trunk is infected, branch pruning is not recommended. Diseased pine trees are not a direct risk to surrounding healthy ones since spores that infect pines come only from oak leaves.

If you are working with a dense planting site, hire an ISA-certified arborist to help you with sanitation thinning (of infected trees), creating an age-diversified stand, all while avoiding exceeding planting densities which may result in secondary insect infestations and infections.

Pathogen Management – Consider sanitation thinning where you have multiple pines growing. Remove pines with trunk galls and those riddled with branch galls. Pruning pines with multiple branch galls is not preferred or recommended. These pruning activities, when done from February through June, may result in the colonization of these pruning wounds.

Fusiform rust disease control includes sanitation thinning

Stand or specimen burning is not recommended. However, when burning is prescribed, avoid igniting resinous trunk cankers, which will likely end with charring and potential tree death.

Currently, one of the better fusiform rust management methods is prevention. This is best accomplished by planting (naturally or engineered) resistant pine species and treating oaks growing in the vicinity of your pines.

Fusiform Rust – Cronartium Quercuum f. sp. Fusiforme

In this article, you discovered information about fusiform rust, how it is identified, and several control methods.

Understanding the unique way this disease completes its lifecycle and how it is entirely dependent on a secondary host species will help you control it in forest, landscape, nursery, and planting for future harvest.

Neglecting to address fusiform rust will lead to the formation of galls and cankers that can severely weaken the tree, reduce its value for timber, increase wind susceptibility, and cause its death.


Photo credit: Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service,

Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

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

Installing Lightning Protection at Arlington National Cemetery

Bartlett Tree Experts recently participated in the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) annual service event. As part of the event, Bartlett installed lightning protection in some of the historic oak trees at Arlington National Cemetery.

lightning protection installation at Arlington National Cemetery

Arborist Climber Eli Swadener installed lightning protection on historic oak at Arlington National Cemetery.

Eli Swadener, an Arborist Climber from Manassas, Virginia, was quoted in an article, “Renewal and Rembrance Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Two Service Locations,” published by the NALP.

Swadener was one of 150 landscape industry professionals who volunteered their time and skills at Arlington National Cemetery on July 19 during NALP’s annual Renewal & Remembrance event. The event is held to honor the men and women buried there. Because his father and grandfather served in the military, Swadener said volunteering at Arlington meant a lot to him. “To be able to contribute and give back is so important and I’m so thankful for the opportunity,” he said.

Swadener installed lightning protection on some of the historic oak trees at Arlington National Cemetery during the event. “A lightning strike can be devastating to a tree in terms of opening up the inner tissue, the heartwood,” he said. “Sometimes it chars but that can result in rot and eventually that could result in structural damage that potentially could lead to it falling from some destructive force later on once it’s weakened. It’s very important for historic trees like this that take hundreds of years to grow.”

The post Installing Lightning Protection at Arlington National Cemetery first appeared on Tree Topics.

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