Pest Control

One of the first management actions facing a homeowner, who has some newly-planted trees, is controlling forces that seem intent on destroying the young tree(s) you’ve so patiently nurtured into the growing season. The forces most often encountered are mechanical damage, insect and disease attacks, and the weather. Dealing with each of these forces can sometimes perplex a tree owner to a point that they just throw up their hands and “let nature take it’s course.” If the right tree is planted in the right place (always recommended), this may be a prudent course, if one can stand to see the tree laboring to overcome the attack(s) that occur. The right tree in the right place usually perseveres, and flourishes, over the long haul. However, what can be done, in the near term to help a tree along, while lessening the anguish of watching your “baby” suffer…………………..needlessly, in your view.

Mechanical Damage – is the easiest factor to deal with: DON’T MOW IT DOWN OR WEED WHIP IT TO DEATH! Mechanical damage is always caused by the acts of people, not machines. Machines are inanimate objects that don’t think, or act, on their own. It is the hand that guides them that’s responsible for any damage they do. Mulch around the stem and don’t cross the mulch ring with the mower or weed whip string. This will solve almost all the problems of mechanical damage to any tree, plus one gets the added benefits of the mulch; which, of course, is one of your tree’s best friends. More stringent measures may be needed if mechanical damage might be expected from sources not underĀ  your direct control; e.g. a vehicle out of control runs into your yard and crushes your tree, or unruly neighborhood kids break the tree playing touch football on your lawn. Individual situations require indidual solutions, and are too numerous to be covered here.

Insect and Disease Attacks – are sometimes easy to deal with and sometimes difficult, or impossible, to foil. If you see “bugs” chomping on leaves, the first impulse is to spray them with an insecticide. However, it is important to spray them with the “right” insecticide. The average homeowner is usually unfamiliar with what insect they are encountering, and even less familiar with what insecticide is “right” for the job. The best course of action is to carefully collect a few of the insects, along with a small sample of the damaged material (leaf, twig, flowers, etc.), and take it to the nearest certified nurseryman or arborist. They can usually identify the pest and prescribe the proper chemical to deal with the organism; thus minimizing “collateral damage” to other insects (such as ladybugs) that may actually be helpful in your landscape.

The same advice goes for treating diseases. One must first make a correct diagnosis of the problem before corrective measures can be taken that target only the offensive pest. Again, contacting a certified murseryman, or arborist, is the best course of action, unless you just want to “let nature take it’s course.” Many of the “right” trees can overcome, or grow well, in spite of insect or disease outbreaks, over the long run…………………………..but not every one can. So……………………………………………..help them out when necessary.

Lastly, until we can control the weather, there is little we can do about the damage caused by wind, ice, etc. except to clean up afterward, and do as much corrective pruning as possible. I’ve previously talked about dealing with storm damage, and homeowners can usually handle many of the problems encountered on their own; particularly if young, or newly-planted trees are affected. Older (larger) trees may need treatment by a certified arborist, if they can be saved at all.

For a tree to become a valuable asset, plant the right tree in the right place, and give it the care it needs along the way (proper pruning, mulching, and protection from damaging forces). You’ll be glad you did.

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