shade treeYou may know a little. You may know a lot. You may be clueless. Any of these is acceptable. We understand that everyone out there hasn’t become the “Tree Nerds” we joke about ourselves being at times. The problem with learning more, is that you realize there is even more to learn! You also realize that many people you deal with have a lot of misconceptions about trees and their care.

scale on branch with ants1.  “My tree doesn’t look right, or there is some funny substance or bug on it. I have stuff in the garage that I can spray on it which should help.” If only it were this easy. There are about a hundred things wrong with this statement, yet we see people naively take this attitude to dealing with their trees. There is a very specific process to improve the health of a plant. A lot of issues relating to Mites, Insects, and Diseases can be treated with materials that will improve their health. This becomes very complicated though. There are even cases where treating one pest with the wrong material, can actually raise the population of another pest, or kill off beneficial predator insects. Each specific pest/disease has a very specific timing to treat. If you miss it, it could be completely useless. If you only apply it once, and it calls for it on multiple intervals, that too could be useless. Identify the host plant, identify the target pest, and research what is the current and proven control method. Some times it’s not even a pest-related issue you may be looking at!

tree planting2.  “What’s the big deal with planting trees? Anyone can do it. You just dig a big hole, and put it in there.” If only it were this simple. In our business, we get to meet plenty of people that have trees in bad shape. The sad thing is a lot of times, this happened because of the way the tree was installed. Planting at the proper depth, examining the root ball for girdling roots, and selecting a good specimen in the nursery are key measures that are often neglected. This often leads to shortened life of trees, and poor appearance. Equally important is properly spacing plants. Most untrained contractors, and unknowing homeowners find a cute, little plant in a nursery and imagine how nice it will look in their garden. Unfortunately, little consideration is given to the eventual mature size of these plants, their light and soil requirements for good health, or what plants they will perform best when planted nearby.

ugly tree3.  “I can prune my trees. I have a pole saw and a chainsaw.” Tree pruning is very comparable to surgery. Do it wrong, and it may mean big problems later. Of course, you may get away with removing some small branches and never see any negative effects. However, improper pruning is a huge cause of shortened lifespan of trees, and also can create disease problems for trees. A Certified Arborist gives careful consideration to which branches they will select for pruning. They will also know how to cut the branch at the proper angle and location so the pruning wound will compartmentalize and “heal” to the best of its ability. Improper cuts can lead to decay in parts of the tree that will cause considerable hazards in the future, and can even cause the tree to decline in health.

This is just the tip of the Naive Iceberg. If you want to take care of your trees we salute you as you search for more knowledge. Find worthy resources like your local Penn State Extension Office, or from organizations such as TCIA or International Society of Arborists. If it’s not a new hobby you’re looking for, and you’d rather just leave the research to the professionals, find a knowledgeable, trusted, and local professional tree care company. They’ll be able to set you straight!

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