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Evergreens and Winter Injury

winter injury

Signs of winter burn on evergreens.

Winds are fierce. Storms can break branches. But winter weather may bring other tree and shrub issues. Cold weather and fluctuating temperatures often result in damage called winter injury or winter burn.

Winter burn results from loss of water through leaf transpiration. It occurs when winter sun and winds dry out foliage. As foliage dries out it turns brown or red. Winter burn is mostly evident on evergreens. Rapid drops in temperature after a warm sunny day can worsen the issue.

Winter injury is particularly harsh for broadleaf evergreens, those with leaves not needles. Watch these plants, like boxwood and rhododendron, closely for issues.

Foliage will bronze or brown when winter sun and wind conditions are drying. Fortunately, this damage often appears worse than it actually is for the plant. Prune and care for your evergreens and they will generally rebound.

It is important to remember that stressed plants are more susceptible to winter injury. Reducing stress factors will help plants be more resilient. Basic care like winter pruning, wrapping small trees and shrubs and attention to desiccation conditions and salt damage help maintain plants through the winter months and into spring.

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Quick Tips for Checking the Health of Your Trees

It’s always good to take a walk around your property and notice what’s happening with your trees and shrubs. You may spot something not quite right that could signify an underlying issue with the health of your landscape plants. If you do, it’s important to contact a Certified Arborist to determine what’s causing the problem.

tree inspection with certified arborist

Early color – If you saw early or uneven leaf color during autumn this may indicate problems.

Early defoliation – Loss of leaves too early is another red flag indicating a potential tree health issue.

Insects and disease damage – Feeding activity on the foliage, loss of leaves or withered foliage, exit holes in the trunk or branches and sawdust like debris are some signs of infestation.

Mushroom growth – Mushrooms on the tree or growing near the base may mean root or stem decay.

Soil Deficiencies – Visual symptoms combined with a soil analysis can identify if critical macronutrients or micronutrients are missing from the soil beneath your trees and shrubs. Contact a Certified Arborist for a soil test.

Proper Mulching – Mulch should not be piled against the trunk. A thin layer from just off the trunk to the outer dripline will best improve the root environment.

Dead or Broken Branches – Prune hanging, broken or dead branches for safety and tree health.

Proper Irrigation – Water trees deeply, particularly during drought conditions and especially with new transplants. This is even true during winter months.

Protection – For salt spray on shrubs or small trees protect foliage with burlap or similar material. Use deer repellant to discourage browsing deer.

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4 Things Your Landscaping Company Should Be Able to Tell You

landscaping plants

The landscaping industry has increased steadily over the years with an average annual growth of 3.3% since 2015. Currently, the industry’s market size has reached $98.7 billion, with it increasing faster than the Administration, Business Support, and Waste Management Services sectors combined.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) estimates that there will be over 100,000 people starting new landscaping businesses by 2025, so you are quite literally spoiled for choice. But how do you choose the right landscaping company for your particular needs? Well, the right landscaping company should be able to tell you the following:

1. Where do you get your plants?

While it would be beautiful to have the Japanese red maple and British ivy, these are risky to have in your yard. Using native plants in your garden would be more budget-friendly and have more longevity. Native plants will most likely cost less because they don’t have to be shipped from another country. They also have the highest chance of surviving. Foreign plants might struggle to acclimatize to their new surroundings, making them susceptible to pests and disease. Therefore, native plants don’t generally need as much maintenance as foreign plants.

2. What do you do with dead plants?

A good landscaper will know whether or not it’s time to remove dead plants, trees, and shrubbery, but a great landscape company can also tell you exactly what they do with these dead plants. Remember that dead trees can be made into organic mulch, firewood, or even sanctuaries for local wildlife, and dead plants can also be used for compost. If a landscaping company tells you that they just toss these in the bin or can’t tell you what they do with them at all, then you know they’re not as sustainable or eco-friendly as they may claim.

3. How long have you been in business and how big is your firm?

The longer a company has been in business, the more experience, manpower, and skill they should have to handle projects, so take into account the projects they’ve completed in the past. Check their portfolio. The size of the company also matters because the bigger it is, the wider their reach is as well. But this is good only to an extent. Ask about how many crews are under a single manager and how many communities they are in charge of, as it might so happen that one manager is overlooking five to eight crews that are servicing maybe 10 communities. This isn’t a very good ratio as the amount of work they have to do might make them impact their attention to detail when taking on your project.

4. Is your company bonded and fully insured?

A company that is both fully insured and bonded will give you the best service because they financially protect both themselves and the client, so go ahead and ask for documentation to put you at ease. A bonded landscaper takes care of the customer as it gives the client a feeling of security that the job will somehow be completed. An insured landscaper protects the contractor. If ever your property is damaged during the work, the insurance company will pay you. Insurance also covers worker’s compensation, such as medical expenses, if they are injured on the job, and wages.

Landscaping does not have much room for error, as any mistakes could cost you and the contractor both time and money. So don’t be afraid to ask your contractor questions until you are satisfied and confident that they can get the job done in a safe and timely manner.

Image: Unsplash

Preparing Young Trees for the Future

Did you know that many structural defects that occur in older trees are preventable? Pruning trees when they are young helps ensure a strong and more structurally stable form as the tree grows. We call this practice structural pruning. It helps mitigate the need for more expensive tree care practices later in the life of the plant and can extend the lifespan of the tree by decreasing the likelihood of branch failures.

An arborist makes a small pruning cut on a growing tree.

Pruning trees when they are young and growing helps encourage a stable form and minimize structural issues.

Growing Conditions: Forests vs. Landscapes

Structural pruning of young, developing trees provides a desirable and stable form at maturity and is one of the best investments you can make in your landscape.

Forest trees tend to develop a sound structure in response to competition from other trees. Growing in the developing forest canopy suppresses growth of large, lower limbs. Dominant forest trees tend to maintain a single stem and narrow crown as they grow toward light. This produces a reasonably strong structure in mature forest trees.

Conditions are radically different, however, when you plant trees in a landscape. Exposed to full sun, trees will grow with a broader, more complex crown than those in the forest. Lower branches may grow very large, limbs develop in close proximity to one another and multiple stems can develop. Certain species such as maple, elm, ash and dogwood are particularly prone to developing structural defects that increase the likelihood of branch failures. As trees mature and grow large, correcting these issues (if they can even be corrected) becomes more expensive.

Start Structural Pruning Early

When trees are young and small, it is much easier and less expensive to undertake pruning that encourages the development of a strong form. Frequent assessment helps determine when pruning is needed to maintain structure and correct any deficiencies. On some species, you may need to schedule pruning as frequently as every two to three years for the first 10-to-15 years after planting.

During these years, an arborist prunes trees to maintain a single dominant stem unless multiple stems are specifically desired (for species such as birch or crape myrtle). The arborist will prune branches so their size remains proportional to the stem diameter at their point of attachment. He or show will also remove some branches as the tree grows to ensure adequate spacing between permanent scaffold limbs. The shape of the tree is maintained to provide a natural open grown form typical of the species.

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Chlorosis in Trees

Tree foliage becomes chlorotic after disease insect infestations or environmental imbalances

Prevent your chlorotic trees from further decline and death. Knowing how to recognize chlorosis in trees and reverse it will help you keep them growing and thriving. gathered information on what chlorosis is, its causes, its symptoms, and how to treat it.

What is Chlorosis?

Chlorosis is the paling, lightening, or yellowing of foliage tissue. This condition occurs when a tree’s capacity to manufacture chlorophyll (needed for photosynthesis) is reduced or interrupted. A tree’s foliage can no longer produce the food it requires to grow and thrive when in a chlorotic state.

What Causes Chlorosis?

Foliar chlorosis can occur for several or multiple reasons. The following are among the most common:

Poor Soil Drainage – When the soil retains too much water, it can cause tree roots to stop absorbing vital nutrients. This condition may also lead to root rot and the death of the tree.

Compacted Soil – Foot, mechanical, and vehicular traffic around a tree’s root plate can cause soil compaction. This condition leaves the soil void of oxygen and moisture and generally leads to root and tree death.

Root Damage – When roots are damaged by digging activities or surface roots are damaged by mechanical and/or maintenance equipment, those roots may fail or become diseased. This condition can lead to the rapid decline and death of the tree.

Soil Alkalinity – When soil pH rises above 7.0, the soil becomes alkaline. It can no longer facilitate the absorption of iron and other nutrients required for robust photosynthesis. Ideally, a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.5 should be maintained.

Iron, Manganese, or Zinc Deficiencies – Of these deficiencies, iron is the most common cause of chlorosis. You can determine which of these deficiencies is causing chlorosis by observing which foliage became chlorotic first:

  • Iron deficiencies cause younger or terminal leaves to become chlorotic first, then work inward to older or more mature foliage.
  • Manganese and zinc deficiencies begin on the older leaves and then move outward.

Insufficient iron availability in the soil is the likely culprit in the absence of other chlorosis causes.

Disease – When a vascular tree disease invades the cambium (xylem and phloem layers beneath the bark), it can rapidly multiply, causing blockages of nutrient flows between the roots and canopy. This reduced transmission of water and nutrients can cause chlorosis, tree decline, and death. Some of those diseases include:

  • Dutch Elm Disease
  • Verticillium Wilt
  • Oak Wilt
  • Bacterial Leaf Scorch

These “wilt” diseases cause a tree’s canopy to become chlorotic, then wilted, then necrotic (dead). In many instances, such disease can kill a healthy tree within a single growing season.

Insect Infestation – Boring insects burrow beneath tree bark, creating galleries in the cambium layer or the tree’s heartwood. This activity results in the partial or complete girdling of the tree and/or the introduction of fungi leading to disease. Some of the boring insects responsible for this are:

  • Clearwing Borers (day-flying, wasp-like moths)
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Bronze Birch Borer
  • Bark Beetle
  • Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Ambrosia Beetle (named after the fungi it introduces to its host)
  • Ips
  • Twig Girdlers

Boring insects generally attack trees already in distress or decline. However, when beetle populations are in great numbers, they will attack healthy specimens. When these insects, or the disease they bring, cause enough damage, the tree canopy will first appear chlorotic, then wilted, and finally necrotic.

Boring insect infestations can cause chlorosis decline and tree death

Note: In many cases, disease and insect infestations move quickly enough to wilt green foliage and kill the tree without showing signs of chlorosis.

Chlorosis Symptoms

Symptoms of chlorosis are generally the same among all tree species. Chlorosis is another way of expressing the yellowing of tree foliage, referring to light green or yellow leaves or needles rather than a healthy dark green. Frequently, leaf veins remain dark green while the rest of the leaf turns a contrasting lighter green or yellow.

Chlorosis Treatments

Many of the following treatments or solutions take time to correct the problem you are experiencing. In some cases, you may have to strongly consider removing the tree to protect the surrounding landscape. When your tree(s) become chlorotic, the following will help you develop a treatment strategy beyond foliar nutrient sprays and other temporary solutions:

Poor Soil Drainage – Most soil drainage issues occur when your soil is disproportionately composed of clay. You can improve soil drainage by:

  • Slightly reducing your watering schedule
  • Carefully tilling organic material (compost or wood chips) into your soil
  • Maintaining fresh mulch around the root plate
  • Increasing soil biodiversity by adding earthworms
Earthworms help break down soil and create biodiversity for tree health

Note: Tilling sandy soil with your organic material may speed up the betterment of your soil.

Compacted Soil – Even though they occur under different circumstances, compacted soil can be improved using the same treatment used to improve poor soil drainage.

Root Damage – Damaged roots should be cleaned and observed over time. In many cases, roots will compartmentalize damages and recover well. Consider the following:

  • If damaged roots soften or become mushy, contact an arborist to evaluate your tree’s health.
  • Consider raising the soil level to cover and protect any surface roots.
  • If multiple roots have been damaged or severed from digging activities, call a professional to help you take corrective measures (if such measures are possible).

Root damage may require multiple growing seasons for the tree to fully recover. Be vigilant and patient.

Soil Alkalinity – Soil tests can be performed to determine soil pH and nutrient composition. Based on your soil test, you can adjust soil pH by amending agricultural sulfur (powdered sulfur, aluminum sulfate, or iron sulfate) to lower the soil pH, making it more acidic.

Soil tests can help diagnose soil imbalances and lacking nutrients

Iron, Manganese, or Zinc Deficiencies – Nutrient deficiencies may occur naturally and over time. Such deficiencies can be corrected as follows:

  • Fix an iron deficiency by applying a chelated iron fertilizer, in which iron is combined with a chemical called a chelate that helps the iron remain in a plant-deliverable form.
  • Fix a Manganese deficiency by liming your soil to the proper pH level for the tree. This is the most practical way to correct and prevent problems with Manganese. Using acid-forming fertilizers in the soil can increase the uptake of this and other essential micronutrients.
  • Fix a zinc deficiency by adding zinc to the soil along with compost and/or other organic matter to sandy soil.

Disease – Disease management often requires multi-faceted approaches to help your tree overcome a vascular disease. Since extensive pruning and chemical treatments may be necessary, it is recommended to hire an ISA certified arborist to help you apply specific treatments safely.

Even with the most aggressive treatments, a diseased tree may need to be removed before the responsible pathogen spreads to neighboring trees.

Insect Infestation – Much like disease management, managing insect infestations requires multiple approaches to prevent tree decline and death. Consider the following:

  • Set traps to capture adult insects
  • Apply insecticides to infested trees coinciding with the pest’s emergence
  • Apply chemical deterrents to unaffected trees
  • Work to increase the health and vigor of your trees

Note: Treating an insect infestation must include discovering what left the tree weakened, allowing the infestation to occur.

Tip: Boring insect infestations should be communicated to a tree professional immediately. Like the emerald ash borer, many of these insects are closely watched due to their destructive nature and management difficulty.

A tree may need removal after severe infection or infestation

Tree Foliage Chlorosis

In this article, you discovered information about chlorosis, what causes it in trees, the symptoms to watch for, and how to treat the condition.

By knowing how to identify chlorotic tree foliage, you can take swift action to discover and correct its cause.

You may be allowing disease or infestation to spread unchecked by ignoring chlorosis, resulting in catastrophic widespread tree damage and death.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

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

The Trees of Christmas

How much do you actually know about the tree you bring into your home at Christmas? Whatever your favorite type of Christmas tree is, each has its own unique characteristics and fascinating history. Read on to learn more about some of the trees most commonly selected and decorated for a festive holiday!

Blue Spruce

blue spruce

Blue spruce  is a popular tree choice for the season. A waxy coating on the needles creates the characteristic ‘blue’ coloration. This tree is native to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States and was first discovered in Colorado on top of Pikes Peak in 1862. Botanist C.C. Parry named the tree for its unique color. Blue spruce is widely planted as an ornamental well outside the native range. The nursery trade has developed many varieties with various sizes and growth habits.

White Pine

white pine

Eastern white pine is a beautiful native pine that was historically an important resource for Native Americans. For instance, they would use the resin, mixed with beeswax, to seal canoes. Some Native Americans would even eat the inner bark of the white pine as a food source when all other food was scarce. European settlers continued to value the species as a natural resource, using it extensively for shipbuilding. Today, many homeowners and commercial properties select this species as a specimen tree for large spaces. This species withstands yearly spring shearing or “candling,” making it suitable for hedges.

Fraser Fir

fraser fir

Fraser Fir derives its common name from John Fraser (1750-1811), a Scottish botanist and plant collector, who discovered this plant and introduced it to Britain. It is native to a very small area of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee extending into the southwestern corners of Virginia and West Virginia. It is the only fir that is indigenous to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although rare in nature, Fraser fir is one of the most popular Christmas trees sold in commerce today.

Douglas Fir

douglas fir

Douglas fir is one of the most predominant trees found in forests of the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. Native from British Columbia south to northern Mexico, it is a valuable timber species. Douglas fir is not actually a “true” fir, meaning it is not a member of the Abies genus. You can distinguish this tree from “true” fir or spruce by the tassels, ‘beards’, or ‘mousetails’ on each cone scale, which give the cones a fancy and festive holiday look. One legend related to these ‘mousetails’ tells the story of some mice that ran through the forest during a raging wildfire and asked the trees for shelter. A Douglas fir tree took pity and invited the mice to shelter in the pinecones to avoid the fire. If you look at the tree today, you can see the ‘tails’ of the mice peeking out from each cone.

Norway Spruce

norway spruce

Norway spruce originated in Europe, despite its name. It is the most widespread, fastest growing, largest and most disease resistant species in the northern hemisphere. Christmas trees farms widely grow and harvest young trees of this species. At full height, Norway spruce are often harvested for lumber with end products range from paper pulp to crates to musical instruments. This is not only a traditional tree for many families during the holidays, but also a tradition for two capital cities. Oslo, Norway traditionally gifts London, England a Norway spruce each year as a thank you for support during World War II. This tree proudly resides in London’s famous Trafalgar Square.

Scots Pine

scots pine

Scots pine, also called Scotch pine, is a native pine to the UK originating from the Highlands of Scotland. This tree is a great choice for Christmas as it retains its needles even if the tree becomes dry. The species is valued as an ornamental tree and is also one of the strongest softwoods, making it a good resource for construction. In Celtic mythology, Scots pine symbolized new life and rebirth and Celts associated the tree with the return of the sun after a dark winter.

Balsam Fir

balsam fir

Balsam fir is known for its strong balsam scent. Consider this species if you’re looking for fragrance! This species has a narrow, pyramidal shape with cones that stand upright and have a green or purple tinge. The tree grows by adding whorls of branches around the main trunk. As the tree ages some of the lower whorls are shed, leaving characteristic scars around the trunk. You can get an approximate age on this tree by counting the number of whorls and whorl scars from top to bottom.

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Tree Root Rot Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Root rot disease causes and identification

Don’t let root rot cause your trees to suddenly decline, die, and fall. Knowing how to identify root rot symptoms will help you save your tree or take action before it causes catastrophic property damages. gathered information on the causes of root rot in trees, how to recognize its symptoms, and what treatments you can use to stop or prevent it.

Tree Root Rot Causes

When root rot attacks a tree, the flow of water and nutrients from the roots to the crown is either impeded, or the invading pathogen is carried throughout the tree, killing its host. The following are several of those pathogens:

Rhizoctonia (this fungal pathogen adversely affects younger hosts, older trees are found to be more resistant)

Pythium (this fungus of the Pythiaceae family has 140 known species, most of which are now classified as parasites)

Rhododendron Root Rot (Phytophthora cactorum and Phytophthora cinnamomi were first thought to only survive in subtropical countries but is now known to thrive in cooler countries)

Fusarium (found worldwide, some of this pathogen’s species can adversely affect humans when infected crops are consumed)

Rosellinia necatrix (Dematophora necatrix, Hypoxylon necatrix, and Pleurographium necator, known as one of the most devastating plant fungal diseases, affecting several fruit tree and crop species)

Honey Fungi, Shoestring Root Rot, or Openky (Armillaria frequently occurs in hardwoods and pines)

Texas Root Rot (Phymatotrichopsis, Phymatotrichum, Cotton, or Ozonium root rot occurs more frequently in Mexico and the southwestern United States, causing sudden wilt and death)

Note: Fungal spores naturally occur and lie dormant in soil. These spores only begin reproducing when conditions support it. Such conditions include compacted soil, poorly-drained soil, and overwatering. As the fungi reproduce, tree roots provide a prime source of nutrients, allowing them to spread quickly.

Symptoms of Tree Root Rot

Root rot disease symptoms and treatment

Most visible symptoms of root rot strikingly resemble the signs of an advanced pest infestation, making an accurate diagnosis more difficult. The most common, above ground, symptoms of root rot include:

• Gradual or sudden decline without a detectible reason
• Severely stunted or poor growth patterns
• Smaller, chlorotic leaves or needles (new growth)
• Wilted, yellowed, or browned leaves or needles
• Dieback
• Severe canopy thinning
• Stress crops (abnormally large amount of fruit/seeds)
• Fungal fruiting structures (mushrooms) found on the root flare or growing from surface roots
• Once in the xylem and phloem (cambium), cankers or sunken dead areas may appear on branches or the trunk of the host

A more accurate way to diagnose root rot is to dig to the roots to see if decay is present. Care should be taken when exposing roots to avoid inflicting further harm to the tree.

Note: Anthracnose is another group of fungal pathogens that cause similar above-ground tree damage but are not typically associated with root rot. You can find further information about anthracnose at

Tip: Hire an ISA certified arborist to inspect and accurately diagnose the cause(s) of the symptoms you have identified.

Tree Root Rot Treatment

Trees can sometimes be saved early on by pruning out infected roots. If a tree is in an advanced state of decline, the recommended way to control root rot diseases from spreading is to entirely remove it.

Chemical treatments that include propiconazole, chloropicrin, fosetyl-aluminum, or methyl bromide, among others, won’t completely cure or remove the disease but can reduce the infection level. These treatments are applied in and around the root plate of infected trees and especially in holes left after infected trees, and their stumps have been removed.

Note: The application of chemical treatments on your trees (for any reason) should be performed as directed on the product labeling and closely monitored by a certified arborist.

Root Rot Prevention for Trees

Root rot disease protection for surface roots soil and overwatering

Trees have adapted over millennia to protect themselves against infection and illness. They are efficient at protecting themselves when healthy, and you can further assist them in resisting root rot by:

• Avoiding overwatering
• Ensuring proper water drainage by amending/enriching soil structure
• Preventing soil compaction on or around the root plate
• Protecting surface roots and trunks from mechanical and/or equipment damage
• Immediately addressing storm damage and/or soil erosion
• Removing unsalvageable trees from your property
• Planting disease-resistant species

Tip: You can also help trees fight fungal attacks by promoting their health. These are some of the things you can do to improve their health:

• Seasonal pruning
• Seasonally applying and refreshing organic mulch
• Deep watering (especially during drought conditions)
• Pre-growing season fertilization
• Annual tree inspections by a certified arborist

Note: The importance of annual tree inspections cannot be overstated. The ability to detect problems in their beginning stages offers more options to eliminate existing problems and take measures to prevent issues throughout the tree’s growing season.

Tree Root Rot

In this article, you discovered valuable information about the causes of tree root rot, recognizing its symptoms, and how to treat it or prevent it.

Taking swift action when root rot is suspected in your trees will increase your chances of saving them and preventing further infection.

Ignoring the signs of root rot will render your tree unsalvageable, invite other disease and infestation, and potentially cause catastrophic property damage when your tree destabilizes and falls.


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Spotted Lanternfly: Insect Invader

Sometimes when a non-native species is introduced to a new environment there is a devastating result. Whether the invasive species is a plant, animal, or pathogen, the presence of these invaders causes ecological or economic harm. Emerald Ash Borer, for example, has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees and now become well-established in North America. More recently, the invasive Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) has made its presence known, steadily increasing its range and causing feeding damage on a wide range of plants and trees since first being discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014.

adult spotted lanternfly

The adult spotted lanternfly is easily identified by the spots on its wings and its crimson hindwings.

Contrary to its name, this insect isn’t a fly, but a planthopper. They can hop powerfully over short distances, but are also able to fly relatively far and high. Since its debut in Pennsylvania, SLF is now being seen in Delaware as well as in New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Washington state has also reported a sighting.

A beautiful but deadly insect, it feeds on trees using its needle-like mouthparts, called a stylet. The mouthparts insert into plant tissue and suck up sap like a straw. As they feed, the insects excrete a sticky substance called honeydew that facilitates the growth of sooty mold (a fungal disease) and attracts other insects. SLF breeds in large numbers and often feeds in large groups so they are easily seen, frequently congregating at the base of a host tree.

spotted lanternfly egg mass

Spotted lanternfly egg masses should be scraped off of trees.

Interestingly, the preferred host of SLP is another invasive species, Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). However, the insect is not particularly selective and many known species are attacked, including hickory, maple, pine, poplar, red oak, walnut, willow, Prunus spp. (plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds), and apples.

If you are in an area where this pest is prevalent, be on the lookout for egg masses, which are easily seen clinging on to bark. They can be scraped off and should be double-bagged and thrown away. Insecticides can be applied to control SLF effectively as well. If you find SLF in an area where it has not yet been reported, please report it immediately to aid in the control of this invasive pest.

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10 Leaf-Raking Tips No One Ever Taught You

There’s a reason we all love the striking colors of fall foliage. The mosaic of reds, gold, and yellows is one of nature’s most remarkable displays, but even the most beautiful leaves will eventually fall. When too many accumulate in your yard, they can smother the lawn and keep it from growing. They can also attract pests. To avoid these problems, you may end up having to spend hours raking and bagging fallen leaves. While you can’t altogether avoid this chore, these leaf-raking tips from the tree pros at Red’s Tree Service can make the process faster and more efficient so you can enjoy those perfect Mid-South fall days.

Use the Right Rake 

There are a couple of things to consider when picking out a rake. You want a rake that is both comfortable to use and effective. Narrow rakes don’t gather as many leaves at a time, and the chore will take you much longer than necessary. Also, look for rakes labeled “no-clog.” These have angled tines that won’t pierce the leaves and create blockages.

If you can’t keep a good posture while you’re raking, you’ll become tired and sore. You could even injure your back. Plus, you’ll have to rake more often since you can’t do it as long. To avoid this, choose the right rake for your body. Before you buy your rake, make sure it feels good to use.

Wait for Leaves to Falling

Don’t bother raking every time a new batch of leaves falls. Wait until your trees are practically bare before taking on the job. 

Save Time With Tarps 

If the thought of filling small bags from a large pile of leaves over and over again sounds agonizing, consider raking your leaves on to a lightweight tarp. You can then tie the ends of the tarp together to take the leaves to a community collection center. Or, you can roll the tarp into a cylinder and funnel the leaves into your bags much more efficiently. 

Rake Before it Rains 

If rain is in the forecast, don’t put off raking that carpet of leaves you’ve meant to get around do. After a rainstorm, fallen leaves become soggy and dense, clumping together and clogging rakes, vacuums, and leaf blowers. All of this will make the task much more of a headache. 

Make Sure You’re Comfortable 

Comfort may not be the first thing on your mind when it comes to household chores, but it’s not something you should overlook for labor-intensive projects. Fallen leaves are dry and dusty, and the particles that raking, mowing, and leaf blowing stir up can irritate your eyes, sinuses, and irritate exposed skin. The dust is especially significant if you have allergies or asthma. Wearing a dust mask will keep you comfortable and safe, and a long-sleeved shirt and long pants can protect your skin. 

It’s also smart to wear durable work gloves, especially if you don’t do this repetitive motion often. Raking can cause painful blisters on unprotected hands. Remember to stand up straight and switch your leading hand to prevent fatigue and injury. 

And, of course, know your personal limits. There’s no need to rush through the job and wear yourself out. You’ll have several weeks to rake, so stop when you feel tired. 

10 Leaf-raking tips no one ever told you

Mulch While You Mow

If you only have a few fallen leaves in your yard, you can get rid of them while mulching your lawn at the same time. Just mow over the leaves. If your lawnmower has a mulch setting, even better. The blades will chop the dry leaves into small flakes that will quickly decompose and add nutrients to your lawn. 

Rake Small Piles to Bag 

If a kid or kid at heart has been looking forward to playing in a big pile of leaves, it’s best to bag or remove the leaves right away. Otherwise, a gust of wind can undo all your hard work. If you’re planning on bagging the leaves, rake into piles about the size of the bag. This will also make it easier to take breaks when you’re tired because you aren’t leaving anything undone. 

Use Leaf Blowers and Vacuums 

Leaf blowers and vacuums can do a lot of your work for you. As the name suggests, a leaf blower can significantly reduce the time you spend raking if you use it correctly. Start by sectioning out the yard and establishing a grid pattern, then work the leaf blower back and forth in rows. Make sure you aren’t too close or too far from the leaves. It can take a little time to get your technique just right, but it can be worth it in the long run. 

You may also consider investing in a yard vacuum with a built-in shredder. The vacuum sucks up the leaves and then chops them up into small pieces, so you don’t need to use as many bags. Yard vacuums also make it easier to pick up leaves under shrubs, between bushes, on top of stone or mulch, and in other places where raking can be tricky.

Some leaf blowers include a vacuum or mulch setting, so you get the best of both tools. You can use the chewed-up leaves from using the mulch setting to make leaf mold, an all-natural, nutrient-rich mulch-type dressing to replace store-bought mulch.

Plan Your Grid 

If you put all of your leaves in a central location, you’ll waste a lot of time and energy running back and forth. Instead, plan a raking grid by separating your lawn into sections and raking each section row by row. Using a grid pattern makes it easier to have a perfectly clean lawn. 

Let The Wind Work for You

Breezy fall weather may seem like a hindrance to your leaf raking, but you can actually use it to your advantage. Rake in the same direction the wind is blowing, and the gusts will help move the dry leaves along. If you rake against the wind, you’ll have to work twice as hard as the leaves blow back the way you came. 

If you found these leaf-raking tips helpful, contact Red’s Tree Service for more tree care tips or services that require the experience of a professional.

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Christmas Tree Care

Trimming the bottom branches of a live Christmas tree

Prevent your live Christmas tree from becoming hazardous or catching fire as it dries out. Knowing how to keep your cut Christmas tree fresh through the holidays will keep your home cheery and holiday spirit safe. gathered information on how to select, care for, set up, and eventually dispose of your live Christmas tree.

Fresh Christmas Trees

The first measure of care for your live Christmas tree is selecting a fresh, vibrant tree. Consider the following when looking for the perfect tree:

Christmas tree selection and transportation
  • The tree’s needles must be fresh and resilient. Gently hold one of the branches about six inches in from the tip. Then, between your forefinger and thumb, pull your hand in so the branch slides between your fingers. Needles shouldn’t snap or fall off the tree. If they do, move on to the next one.
  • Lift the tree and lightly bounce it on the ground to ensure needles are firmly attached all around the tree. Check for any needles falling off. A tree is considered fresh if only a couple of needles come off after being bounced.
  • The tree should have a vibrant green color and a pleasant fragrance to it.
  • Fresh trees have more moisture and are therefore more fragrant with firmer needles, provided they are kept cool, out of the sun, and in stands with fresh water.
  • Limbs of the tree should be sturdy enough to hold your decorations and lights.

Note: Even if you cut down your own tree, you should take the time to verify its freshness and resilience before making the cut. Drought, disease, and infestation can cause a pine tree to dry out or become brittle.

Tip: When you search for the perfect tree, take along one or two of your heaviest ornaments. Hang them on a limb to “measure” the limbs’ sturdiness.

Ornaments to test a Christmas tree strength

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive

Before taking your tree indoors, you can give it the best possible chance of surviving the holiday season by addressing the following:

Tree Location – Go to the intended location of the tree and make sure that:

  • The tree will not be near any heat sources (fireplace, televisions, radiator, etc.)
  • There are no heating/AC vents directed at the location
  • There is enough space so the tree can stand without touching any surrounding walls
  • The location has “low to no” traffic
  • The tree will be in a cool and shaded location
  • Outlets can be easily reached

Note: In smaller homes with limited space, select a smaller live tree or use an artificial tree.

Tree Preparation – Before taking your tree indoors, there are three things to do:

  1. Vigorously shake or bounce the tree to remove any loose needles
  2. Cut a 1/2” disc from the bottom of the tree trunk
  3. Attach the tree stand with a water reservoir (minimum 1-quart capacity)

Tip: The tree trunk base should be submerged in water as quickly as possible after being cut. Waiting too long may result in the tree naturally “sealing” the wound, preventing it from taking up water.

Tree Watering – There are multiple myths and numerous concoctions regarding what a tree needs to stay fresh. However, if you have prepared the tree’s location and freshly cut the trunk base, plain tap water will help the tree stay fresh and vibrant. Consider the following:

  1. The reservoir of your tree stand should hold at least a gallon of water
  2. The tree must “drink.” If it is not taking up water, cut another 1/2” disk from the trunk and immediately return it to the water
  3. On the first day, the tree will likely consume one gallon or more of water
  4. Your tree will then consume around a pint of water per day (check it daily)
  5. Avoid using any additives to the water (plain water is adequate)
  6. Do not let the tree run out of water
Watering a Christmas tree to keep it fresh and vibrant

Water is essential, as it prevents the tree from drying out, needles from dropping off, and the boughs from drooping. Water is also the key to keeping your tree fragrant through the season.

Tip: Before leaving the tree lot or nursery where you bought the tree, make sure they will replace the tree if it does not take up water.

Lighting a Christmas Tree

How you decide to light your tree may have a tremendous influence on its ability to retain moisture and stay fresh.

Over the past few decades, tree lights have gotten smaller, more numerous, and safer. It is highly discouraged to use traditional incandescent bulbs (with a wire filament) on live trees as they heat up, accelerating the drying process.

LED (Light Emitting Diodes) Christmas tree lighting has surged in popularity for their durability and energy efficiency. These lights don’t have filaments, so they produce considerably less heat than traditional incandescent lights.

Christmas tree led lights to prevent fast drying

Read More about lighting your Christmas tree at

Christmas Tree Disposal

When you’re finished with your tree or it has dried out, you have multiple options. Consider the following ways of disposal:

  • Start a new compost pile
  • Take it to a recycling center
  • Chip and use it as mulch
  • Submerse the tree in a pond
  • Ask your municipality if they offer pickup and disposal options
Dried out Christmas tree ready for disposal

Tip: Once you’ve removed the tree from your home, getting up all of those fallen needles may pose a challenge. Avoid frustration by using your vacuum’s hose (no attachment needed) to quickly draw up the needles.

Note: When pine trees are chipped and used as mulch, they lower the soil’s pH, making it more acidic.

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive

In this article, you discovered valuable information about selecting, caring for, setting up, and disposing of your live, fresh-cut tree.

When you invest the time to properly care for your live Christmas tree, you give it the means to stay fresh and vibrant throughout the holidays.

Not caring for your Christmas tree can result in the tree’s accelerated dying and drying, creating an extreme fire hazard potentially ending in catastrophic fire damage to your home.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

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

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