Tree Care: Benefits Of Trees In Our Environment

tree care

Trees are a quintessential part of our global ecosystem and our own community environments for so many reasons! On Arbor Day each year, we celebrate and promote the importance of trees in our lives, but here at Spring-Green, we think about and celebrate trees all year round. In fact, we’ve made it our business, literally, to help home and business owners create the perfect landscapes full of trees to enhance all of our lives. And, we don’t stop there, tree care is important to protect that environment and your investment in it. We’re here with all the tree and shrub services and tree care tips you need to support your trees’ health and beauty. Let’s have some fun today learning more about Arbor Day and all things tree-related.

The History + Significance of Arbor Day – Arbor Day was the brainchild of Great Plains resident, J. Sterling Morton back in the late 1800s.

He and his wife moved from Michigan to the Nebraska Territory, a land absent of trees. His goal was to encourage tree-planting to beautify the environment and attract new residents to the area. 1872 marked the first Arbor Day, and it was said that one million trees were planted in Nebraska that year. Later in life, J. Sterling Morton took on the role of U. S. Secretary of Agriculture and brought Arbor Day to the federal level. Today, every state and many countries, recognize Arbor Day as a day of dedicated to encouraging tree planting.

Why Trees Are Important To Our Environment

Arbor Day has been celebrated for over 100 years, but its importance is even more poignant than when it was first introduced by J. Sterling Morton way back when. Deforestation has an enormously detrimental impact on our global environment, and the effects are widespread.

Here are some of the benefits trees offer to the world around us:

Trees fight climate change. Trees battle climate change by helping to remove carbon dioxide from the air as well as releasing more oxygen into the atmosphere. For this reason, deforestation has contributed to climate change in recent years.

Trees tame stormwater. Rain is needed in our environment, but without trees, stormwater runoff can wreak havoc. Trees provide a needed benefit to our community infrastructure by shielding us from water generated during rainy periods.

Trees help with conservation. In the agricultural industry, trees can have many benefits such as improving crop yields and preserving topsoil. In addition, trees planted strategically in wetland areas can prevent erosion and even contribute to cleaner water and flood control.

Trees save on energy consumption (and costs). Summer shade, winter warmth, wind shield are all ways that can help reduce our energy consumption. Your local landscape professional can help create a strategic tree planting plan to place the right trees in the right places to save on energy costs and benefit the overall climate around you.

Like all living organisms, trees and shrubs need proper nutrients to live long, healthy lives. The proper maintenance methods can prevent against tree diseases and insect invasion, and with these tree maintenance tips you can help improve the health and beauty of your trees.

Spring-Green Tree Care Services

Arbor Day is the perfect time of the year to give some attention to trees – or, really, any day of the year is perfect for arbor care! Trees do so much to enhance our lives and protect our environment, they deserve year round attention, don’t you agree?

From cooling shade to winter wind shield to attracting birds and wildlife, they bring so much to us in the way of individual comfort. Add in how tree contribute to the holistic environment around us by purifying the air, reducing the occurrence of soil erosion, helping to clean the water and giving kids a fun place to play, and surely you understand why trees matter so much.

The Spring-Green team is working on tree care services all year long. We work with our customers to help them create beauty, improve their own personal enjoyment of their landscapes and gardens and, whenever possible save money on energy costs – all while contributing positively to the environment around them.

Contact your Spring-Green lawn professional today!

Don’t Forget About Your Trees and Shrubs This Fall

trees and shrubs

Many landscape plants that are growing in your gardens and flower beds are plants that were brought in from other countries over the last 150 years or so. Being that many of these plants are not native to the US, they may require extra care to maintain them in a healthy and vibrant condition.

As we slowly move towards the cooler weather of the fall, most insect and disease activity starts to slow down except for the warmer parts of the country. In those areas, insect and disease activity can occur all year long. Here are the maintenance tasks and fall tree and shrub care that should take place during this time of year.

Watering Trees and Shrubs

Rainfall usually increases during the fall, but there are areas where drought conditions persist. Smaller trees and shrubs still need to be watered to survive the winter months. This is especially true for evergreen plants, like yews, junipers and pine trees. Broadleaf evergreen plants like azaleas, boxwoods and rhododendrons also need water in the fall. These plants will still lose moisture through transpiration, even when the ground freezes. The best way to water individual plants is to place a hose without a nozzle at the base of the plants and turn the water on at a slow trickle, leaving it in one location for 20 to 30 minutes. For plants growing in a cluster, use a sprinkler, but be sure it is elevated to provide water to all the plants.

After the plants have been watered, add 3 inches of mulch to the planting bed to keep the soil from drying out. Do not pile the mulch up around the base of the tree or shrub, forming what are called “mulch volcanoes.” This practice can lead to an increase in insect and disease development.

Inspecting, Shaping and Pruning Shrubs

Inspect your plants for damage from summer storms and prune out any broken or cracked branches. If you plan to shape any shrubs, remember this simple rule – if the plant flowers before June 15, prune it shortly after it flowers. If you shape spring flowering shrubs using a hedge pruner now, you run the risk of removing the flower buds that are already formed at the end of the branches. Cutting off individual limbs with a hand pruner to improve its shape will reduce the number of flowers for next year, but not to the same extent as using a hedge pruner.

Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs as it allows the root system of the plant to grow in the cooler, moist soil. It’s also an excellent time to root feed trees and shrubs, but be sure to wait until the plant begins to harden off in the fall. In other words, when the leaves start to turn color and drop is a good time to root feed landscape plants. Landscapes plants will look better next spring if time is taken now to make sure they are ready for their “winter nap”.

Contact your neighborhood lawn and tree care professional at Spring-Green to have your landscape checked for problems and schedule the important fall root feed service.

101 On Eastern Tent Caterpillars

caterpillars

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar will soon be active in many flowering trees and shrubs. These caterpillars are a native insect and their feeding habits are an aesthetic problem, due to the large silken tents that they create in the crotch of a tree or shrub.

larva

Their larva have the capability to defoliate a tree in the spring and have the ability to move to other trees once they have finished defoliating the old one. If you are careful and very observant, you may even be able to see the egg masses laid on a branch last fall by the female. Each egg mass is about the size of a pencil, has a varnish-like color and contains 150 to 300 eggs.

caterpillar

Once the eggs hatch, the larva stays together to build their silken tent, usually in a major branch crotch. They stay inside the tent during inclement weather, but when they venture out, they leave behind a silken thread for other caterpillars to follow. The larva feed and grow over a six week period. If populations are large, they will move to nearby trees to continue their feeding. Once they are done feeding, they move off by themselves to look for an appropriate spot to pupate. This can be the underside of a leaf , fence board or other inconspicuous site. Their cocoons are about 1 inch long and spindle shaped. The pupation period lasts about 2 to 4 weeks.

eastern tent caterpillar

 The adults lead a much less notable life. This could be due to the fact that, like many other adult insects, their sole purpose in life is to mate, lay eggs and die. They are essentially a red hued moth with a wingspan of 2 to 2 ½ inches. They do not feed during their short lifecycle and the female lays her eggs on branches in July or August.

As previously mentioned, these larva have the capacity to defoliate a tree. However, the tree often recovers with a new set of leaves once the feeding is over. There can be some lasting effects on the tree if the feeding occurs every year, which may result in some die back at the top of the tree.

According to Cornell University in New York, major outbreaks of Eastern tent Caterpillars occur on a 10-year cycle, with minor outbreaks in other years.

One of the easiest ways to control Eastern tent Caterpillars is to remove the egg mass through pruning in the fall or early spring. If it is a minor outbreak and there is only one or two small tents in the tree, cut out the tent and dispose of it.

You can also use the broom handle of a small rake to destroy the tent so that predators, such as birds and wasps won’t lay their eggs on the larva. If left, predator’s eggs hatch and feed on the caterpillar’s larva.

Other control options include Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, a bacteria that will kill the larva. Commercially available insect control products will also take care of the larva. Always read and follow label directions when using any control products.

Eastern Tent Caterpillars are a fairly easy insect pest to control. Many tree and shrub insect pests require specialized equipment and products to achieve proper control.

Contact your local Spring-Green office to learn more about the ways that they can help improve your landscape and keep it from being damaged by numerous disease and insect pests.

Our People Make Spring-Green The Best Lawn Care Company

group pic

One of the highlights of my year is when I take to the road and conduct 16 Professional Development Seminars in 16 regional locations across the US. I will visit South and North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Washington, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The best part of traveling is having the opportunity to train so many great people that work at Spring-Green. I try to vary the topics every year and start off with presentations on sales and customer service. These presentations include a great deal of group discussions on the attendees part. Often times there will be three or four different Franchise locations attending the same meeting. When I divide the groups, I try to mix them up so that there is a good exchange of ideas from one location to another.

More and more of our courses have been accredited by many states. As a result attendees will receive continuing education units that are needed to keep their pesticide applicator license current.

Part of my responsibility is to include information on the safe handling and application of the products that are used every day. Some attendees have heard the same thing time and time again, but they know it is a good refresher for them.

I have to include some type of technical training during these sessions. This year I am presenting information on Indicator Trees and the diseases and insects that may feed on or infect these types of trees.

An indicator plant is a tree or shrub commonly found in landscapes in an area that often experiences a specific problem. It will cause serious damage to the plant if left untreated. The Spring-Green Tree and Shrub Care Service is suited to alleviate it.

Most tree and shrub problems are not due to insects or diseases, but are due to cultural practices that can be detrimental to the plant. Improper planting, watering, fertilization, pruning and mulching along with many other mechanical, environmental and miscellaneous stresses can take its toll on trees and shrubs and can lead to its demise.

All of the presentations are focused on helping the Field Service and Customer Service Professionals better serve their customers. I am always impressed with their willingness to learn and engage in discussions we have during the seminar.

I have been conducting these seminars since 1998 and I really enjoy seeing the same people coming back year after year. That is why I know that Spring-Green is the best lawn care company, because we have the best people working for us.

Want to know more about Spring-Green Lawn Care and how it could be a good fit for your lawn? Contact  your local Spring-Green.

Can I Prune Trees in the Winter?

This may be a good winter to do some tree pruning, especially if the weather stays mild. Winter is not the time you want to try to shape hedges, even evergreens, but you can correct a number of problems that may not be as visible during the growing season when deciduous plants are covered with leaves.

Which Branches Should I Remove?

Tree that needs pruning

The first things you want to look to remove are any broken branches. Also look for branches that are growing into the tree instead of growing out of the tree. Often times, these branches will cross another branch or restrict the growth of the limbs that are growing in an outward fashion. Removing branches that are growing too low can also be done at this time of year.

Sometimes trees or shrubs will become infected by cankers or other diseases that may be noticeable at this time of year. The distinct advantage to pruning trees in the winter months is that there aren’t many leaves to rake up.

This is not the time to shape hedges or prune flowering shrubs. These plants flower in the spring or summer and have already set their blossoms for the following year. Removing these flower buds will reduce the flower levels. Confine your winter pruning to removal of broken, crossing or diseased branches.

Where on the Tree Do I Make the Cut?

pruning

When it comes to pruning, don’t just cut a branch where it is convenient. Instead, make a proper cut close to the main branch or trunk. Leaving behind stubs, or cigars as some people call them, may not seriously hurt the tree, but it just doesn’t look good.

Plus, the wound made by the cut will not heal properly. This may result in wood- decaying fungi invading the tree in the future.

Make the cut just beyond the collar of the branch. The collar is the slight swelling that lies next to the main branch. By cutting at that point, the tree will quickly grow callus growth over the wound to protect it from pest infestation, either from diseases or insects.

Pruning trees in the winter is a good activity, as long as you keep in mind these important points.

Spring-Green offers a number of tree and shrub care services to help your lawn and landscape look healthy and beautiful. Contact your local Spring-Green today!

Deep Root Feeding Your Trees and Shrubs in Fall

deep root feeding

We often forget that our landscape plants need to be fed the same as our lawns. In most cases, the plants that we purchase at the local garden center or home improvement center are not native to where we live and where we decide to plant them. To make sure the plants will continue to grow and prosper, they need deep root feeding at least once a year, and fall is a good time to do so.

Why Is Fall a Good Time for Deep Root Feeding?

As long as the ground is not frozen, there is still time to root feed your trees and shrubs with fertilizer injections. Tree and shrub roots will continue to grow into winter. The roots will absorb a good deal of the fertilizer that is applied at that time. What fertilizer is left will be available for the plant the following spring. Deep root feeding is best accomplished by injecting a fertilizer solution into the top 3 to 9 inches of soil around the base of the tree. To make sure you apply an adequate amount of fertilizer to each plant, you should make the injections in a grid pattern.

What’s the Best Way to Deep Root Feed My Trees and Shrubs?

Deep root feeding works best if you start your fertilizer injections about 1 foot out from the base of the tree and make an injection about every two feet and six inches deep in a circular pattern. Move out to about half way from the trunk to the outer edge of the tree and make another circle of injections. Finally, make another circle of injections around the outer perimeter, or drip line, of the tree branches. For smaller shrubs, make one injection for every foot of shrub height or width. These fertilizer injections should be made as close to the base of the shrub in equal spacing around the perimeter.

How Much Fertilizer Do I Need?

The basic formula for the amount of fertilizer you should provide to your plants is about .2 pounds of nitrogen per inch of trunk diameter or one foot of shrub height or width. If you are using a commercial root feeder, follow the manufacturer’s directions. The same is true if you plan to use fertilizer tree food stakes.

Of course, the easiest way is to contact your local Spring-Green office and have us do the job for you. Your trees and shrubs will appreciate it. We also offer specialty injections directly into the trunk, which provide crucial nutrients and work to protect against disease, as well as a cost-effective two-step tree program. Learn more about how we make your landscape as healthy as possible!

All About Ash Flower Gall Mites

I received a picture the other day from our lawn care franchise owner in Fulton, IL , Don McLuckie. Don asked if what he was seeing was normal to see on an ash tree. I had seen these on ash trees in my neighborhood. I always thought the fuzzy-looking balls were some type of seed pod. That was the answer that I sent to Don, but I wasn’t 100% sure. After doing some investigating on the Internet, I discovered that my diagnosis was incorrect. What I was seeing on the picture that Don sent in was the result of an Ash Flower Gall Mite.

Ash Flower Galls

How Do Ash Flower Galls Form?

Ash flower galls are abnormal growths that are caused by insects, mites or plant diseases. A tiny eriophyid mite causes the male flowers to develop ½ to 1 inch diameter tumor-like growths, which are the galls. These mites can also cause leaves to distort as well. Ash mites are too small to see without a hand lens or even a microscope. They are worm-shaped and spend the winter under the buds of the new leaves and flowers and begin feeding in the spring.

Are Ash Flower Galls Harmful to the Tree?

Besides being somewhat unsightly, the Gall Mite activity does little to effect the overall health of the tree. The worst thing that can happen to the tree would be if the mite activity was severe and too many galls formed, putting extra stress on the limbs. The galls can remain on the tree for more than one season, which can result in a more unsightly look. Although, it does add a little winter interest to the tree.

Can I Control Ash Flower Gall Mites?

Trying to control the ash flower gall mites requires spraying on the day that the buds first start forming. Trying to control the mite after the galls begin to develop will not be effective. Also, if the trees are large, spraying them will be difficult. The galls really do not hurt the tree. If you live in the eastern half of the US, Ash Flower Galls do far less damage than the Emerald Ash Borer . There is a very good chance that the ash tree in your landscape will probably have to be replaced anyway due to the destructive nature of EAB.

If you have other questions about tree diseases, insect activity, or other things related to tree and shrub care , get in touch with your local Spring-Green today!

All About Maple Tar Spot, the Black Spots on Your Maple Trees

tar spots on maple tree leaves

I recently was conducting some training classes with the Field Service Professionals in Mequon, WI and I saw a tree disease that seems to be increasing in frequency over the last couple of years – Maple Tar Spot. The black spots on Maples are very distinct in their shape and color, but pose no real danger to the trees the disease infects, except for the loss of aesthetic appeal.

Besides showing on several species of Maples, Tar Spot can also develop on Boxelder trees and even Willows. Tar Spot is an accurate name as the disease eventually forms black spots that are roughly ¾ of an inch in diameter. Tar Spot disease on Maples or other species initially starts as small yellowing spots in the early summer and gradually enlarge and turn black. The spots become raised and look exactly like blobs of tar.

tar spot on sycamore tree

How Does Tar Spot Form, and How Can I Reduce It?

There are several fungi that cause Tar Spot. These fungi overwinter in leaf litter and produce spores that will re-infect the tree. There isn’t a need to apply a fungicide as the disease does not affect the health of the tree. Granted, the spots are somewhat disconcerting, but it is only on a cosmetic level. One of the best ways to reduce the amount of Tar Spot, is to pick up the infected leaves that fall around the base of the tree. Those leaves can be burned, buried or even composted. The disease may not be totally eliminated next year, but the amount of activity should be greatly reduced.

For proper diagnosis of any tree disease, always consult a professional tree care specialist. Spring-Green offers a number of tree and shrub care programs, such as root feeding and specialty insect-fighting injections. Find your local Spring-Green today.

Watering Trees and Shrubs: How to Care for Landscape Plants

watering tips for trees and shrubs

For much of the country, it has been very wet as of late. However, as summer begins, the likelihood of a prolonged dry spell seems probable. The recent rain has allowed trees and shrubs to grow well and produce lots of leaves. If the rain stops for an extended period of time, some plants may drop some of the extra leaves as the plants adjust to the drier weather. Depending on the extent of the dry weather, a few leaves dropping should not be too concerning. Keep an eye open for drooping, though, as it could be a sign that you may need to water your trees and shrubs.

Water Your Trees and Shrubs When They Begin to Droop

Many people concentrate their watering efforts on their lawns and forget about the trees and shrubs. If the leaves on your plants are drooping, it usually means that they are in need of water. The best way to water a larger tree or shrub is a slow, steady trickle from a garden hose directed at the base of the plants. Leave it at the base of the plant for 15 to 20 minutes and check the soil to see if it is getting wet more than an inch or so. The goal is to keep the soil wet down to 8 to 12 inches. Move the hose and water different areas under the tree to get the entire area watered. Most sprinklers are designed to water large areas, so they usually don’t work well to water established trees or shrubs.

Possibility of Disease

If, after watering, your plant is still drooping, you may have a bigger problem such as a disease or insect infestation. This may require you to contact a tree care service to have them come out and check your plants. There are numerous other possibilities that could cause a plant to lose its vitality. It is better to have someone who can identify these problems and provide the best recommendations to help your plants grow.

Many Spring-Green offices offer tree and shrub care services. If you have a question about your landscape plants, contact your local office to request a free landscape evaluation.

Pruning Trees & Shrubs in the Fall

pruned shrubs

As a general rule of thumb when it comes to pruning trees and shrubs, if it flowers in the spring, don’t prune it in the fall.

Pruning is a standard component of tree and shrub care, but if the timing is wrong it can damage your trees and shrubs.

We recently had some pruning completed on some of our landscape plants that are around our corporate office. Many of our employees asked why the company doing the work did not prune all of the shrubs.

I took a look and saw that the shrubs that were not pruned were lilacs, specifically, Korean lilacs. Since lilacs flower in the spring, pruning them at this time of year would reduce the number of flowers they produce next spring. This is especially true if the pruning is completed using a hedge shears.

There are two basic types of pruning – shaping and thinning. Many people shape evergreens and small leafy shrubs into either distinct shapes or free flowing groupings. Thinning is when selected branches are removed for various reasons related to general tree maintenance. Examples of this are removing crossing branches or damaged or diseased branches, removing overgrown branches or opening up the plant’s interior to allow for better growth. Thinning can take place at almost any time of year, with the understanding that you may be removing some of the flowering branches, but there should be enough remaining to provide enough flowers to enjoy. Shaping is more time-dependent, based on when the plant flowers.

Spring flowering shrubs should be pruned shortly after they finish flowering in the spring. Shaping a bush in the fall, such as the lilac discussed above, would result in fewer blossoms the following spring. Many spring flowering shrubs set their buds and flowers the previous fall. If these are removed during the shaping process, you are removing the flowers. It will still produce some flowers, but the overall look of your plant will be diminished.