While trees provide immeasurable benefits to a yard, from adding beauty to providing shade from the sun, they can also become hazards if the plants develop diseases or suffer serious damage. If you have large landscape trees that tower above your home or over driveways and sidewalks, it is important to monitor the health of the plant. The following guide can help you detect, protect and manage fragile trees.
Identify and Monitor Trees
In order to keep tabs on the health of the trees in your yard, you need to know the plant's species and age. If you have no idea what types of trees are in your yard, consult an arborist to identify the tree for you.
In addition, the Arbor Day Foundation provides a free online tree identification guide.
Once you identify the tree, seek out information about what types of pests and diseases are common to the species. Your state's cooperative extension can provide you with detailed information on tree infections and pests common in your area.
General signs of an infected tree include:
- Dead areas and blotchy spots on leaves
- Trunk girdling and root rot
- Leaning due to weakened roots
- Fungal growths on bark and trunk tissue
- Brittle bark that begins to fall off the tree
- Lack of leaves and a bare canopy
Avoid Wounding Trees
As you perform yard maintenance tasks, be careful around trees to prevent wounding them with garden implements. When you mow the lawn, blades from the mower can make deep cuts in exposed roots.
The wound openings are easy entry points for harmful pathogens, airborne spores and tiny pests.
Healthy trees with small wounds will heal quickly. However, for large branch wounds, you may need to remove the branch entirely with a sharp implement to prevent the onset of an infection or infestation.
Check for Damage After Bad Weather
Severe weather can impact the health of your trees. High winds, lightning, ice and snow storms are all major threats to healthy trees.
Once the storm is over, inspect your tree for:
- Broken branches
- Split Forks
- Torn Bark
- Cracked and splintered trunks
Remove fallen debris from the yard as the material can become a breeding ground for soil borne pathogens and harmful pests like beetles.
You should also remove all damaged branches. If they are too high to reach, call a tree specialist to remove the damage tree parts in a safe manner.
If the tree is on public property and hangs over your yard, call your city government. Municipal workers may come to clean up debris and repair the tree for free.
Remove Diseased and Damaged Trees
If a damaged tree is beyond rehabilitation due to damage or a serious infestation, you should remove the plant as soon as possible.
In some cases, a diseased tree might not show obvious signs of being a hazard. However, if it is infected with serious diseases such Dutch elm, oak wilt or emerald ash borer, you need to remove the plant immediately. These diseases spread quickly and can decimate an entire neighborhood of the trees.
Before you remove a tree, you may need to apply for a tree removal permit from your city government, even if the plant is on private property. For example, in Atlanta, you cannot remove any hardwood tree that is six inches or larger in diameter.
Once you obtain a permit, call a licensed and insured tree specialist to remove the plant. Tree removal is dangerous and requires specialized tools, so you should not attempt to cut down a tree on your own.
In addition to cutting down the tree, the tree removal professional will clean up after the tree is removed and dispose of the diseased plant properly. For more information about the process, look at sites like http://www.prtree.com.