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!

Spring-Green Lawn Care Plants 100,000 Trees With Arbor Day Foundation

arbor day

Over the past ten years, Spring-Green has worked with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant over 100,000 trees across the country. This year, the donation of trees will go to Georgia’s upper Altamaha watershed.

Spring-Green Lawn Care has been donating to Arbor Day Foundation for the planting of trees, totaling over 100,000 trees to date being planted. Since 2010, the donations were allocated by Arbor Day Foundation towards the planting of trees in forests across the country such as Florence County State Forest, Pere Marquette State Forest, Shawnee National Forest, Michigan State Forest, and Douglas County Forest. This year, the donation to plant trees will be allotted to Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery Program.

The Community Tree Recovery Program plants trees in areas that have been affected by natural disasters in areas all over the country. Currently, there are several campaigns in the works and each tree is planted with the goal of bringing beauty, healing, and hope to communities that have been affected by natural disasters. Trees are planted along streets, parks, and yards.

Spring-Green Lawn Care chose to begin working with Arbor Day Foundation in 2010 because of their love for the outdoors and for greener, healthier lawns – which cannot be accomplished without trees. This year, Spring-Green Lawn Care wanted their donation to be applied specifically for communities in need and Arbor Day Foundation was happy to help. Spring-Green Lawn Care’s donation will go to Georgia’s upper Altamaha watershed.

The Altamaha River watershed supports the largest concentration of rare species of any river in the state. Over 10 rare endangered plant and animal species are found in or along the river. This project will help restore habitats for these species, including the gopher tortoise, a keystone species for many other animals in the watershed. Additionally, long leaf pine will be replanted in the uplands of the watershed to restore native habitat and to provide clean water for the smaller streams and rivers in the area.

“With the support of Spring-Green Lawn Care, Arbor Day Foundation is helping communities affected by a natural disaster to replant trees and in turn bring hope and healing back to the people of these communities” said Dan Lambe, President of Arbor Day Foundation.

Bumps On Leaves? Learn About Leaf Bladder Galls

leaf bladder galls

While doing some yard work last weekend, I saw the first leaf that had dropped due to an excess of Maple Bladder Galls growing on it. The leaf dropped not because of any direct injury to the leaf by these wart-like structures, but because there were so many of them that formed on the leaf that it could no longer stay attached to the branch.

Every year I receive numerous pictures from our Field Service Professionals asking about these weirdly shaped growths or galls form on the leaves of Maples, Ash, Oaks and Cottonwoods. The growths take on many shapes such as: the wart-like growths on maples, nipple galls on the underside of hackberry leaves, spindle galls on lindens or maples, velvet galls on maples and birches and the list of shapes and trees attacked goes on and on.

Source of the Gall Formations

There are several insects and insect relatives that are the source of the gall formations. These insects often secrete a substance on the leaf, which reacts by increasing its normal plant growth hormones. This results in an increase in the size or number of cells, which is what causes the gall.

Many of the galls are the result of the feeding by a tiny eriophyid mite that has overwintered on the plant and begins feeding in the spring as the leaves begin to develop. These mites are the source of most of the bladder, spindle and velvet galls. Psyllids, or jumping plant lice, are the source of nipple galls that form on the underside of leaves. Adelgids are an aphid-like insect that feeds on many types of conifers which results in the development of Cooley spruce galls.

Sometimes the insects will live inside the gall as it develops around them. One of the more interesting is the Jumping Oak Gall, which forms on White Oaks. A stingless female wasp will lay a single egg on a developing leaf bud. After hatching, the larva feeds on the gall tissue that forms around it.

In the early summer, the galls fall to the ground and the larva will jump in an effort to escape the gall, similar to the jumping of a Mexican Jumping Bean. It is an interesting site to see dozens of tiny little balls jumping on the ground underneath an oak tree.

Preventative Treatment for Leaf Bladder Galls

Trying to treat for these gall-producing insects or insect relatives is very difficult since most of the activity begins very early in the spring as buds are opening and before most people even think about treating for insect problems. The damage that is caused is not detrimental to the tree and is purely cosmetic. It definitely can be disconcerting to see leaves fall in the summertime, covered with bumps or spindles or other oddly shaded growths. A mature, healthy tree can have more than 200,000 leaves, so losing a few is not critical to the tree’s survival.

The exception to the cosmetic damage is the Cooley Spruce Gall Adelgid. Small infestations are not a major concern, but large outbreaks can disfigure the tree and cause entire branches to die back. There are control options to treat for the adelgids. If you think you may have a problem with this insect pest or have any other concerns on your home landscape, contact your neighborhood lawn and landscape professional at Spring-Green.

Have You Seen Weird Growths On The Leaves Of Your Trees?

house with trees

At this time of year, I receive pictures from Spring-Green employees of weird growths on leaves that are causing concern from their customers. Often times, the leaves have fallen to the ground and covered with weirdly-shaped structures growing out of the leaf surface. These are galls. Galls are abnormal growths caused by various organisms, such as insects, mites, nematodes, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

leaf gulls

Galls can take on an assortment of shapes and colors, which is why customers become concerned. Fortunately, these galls rarely threaten the health of the plant.  The reason why leaves often fall when there are numerous galls present is due to the sheer weight that is added to the leaf. The problem is purely cosmetic and control is normally not required or recommended.

An assortment of insects and insect relatives are the source for many of these galls. These organisms may often secrete a substance in the leaf, which reacts by increasing its normal plant growth hormones. This results in an increase in the size or number of cells, which is what causes the gall.

Most of the gall production occurs in the spring when leaves are first beginning to open. The organisms that form the gall often live within the gall itself as it develops around them.

leaf gulls

One type of organism is called eriophyid mites.  Different species of these mites can form spindle galls, bladder galls or velvet galls. Psyllids will form nipple galls or blister galls. Nipple galls form on the underside of the leaf surface.  Aphids will cause a gall to develop on the stem or petiole of cottonwood or poplar trees. Adelgids are the source of galls on many conifers, including the Cooley Spruce Adelgid gall.

There are even tiny species of wasps that cause galls to develop on the leaves of some trees.  One of the more interesting is the Jumping Oak Gall. These galls are formed by a sting-less wasp and effects White Oaks. The female lays a single egg in the developing leaf bud. When the egg hatches, the larva lives in and feeds on the gall tissue that forms around it. In the early summer, the galls will fall to the ground and the larva will jump in an effort to escape the gall, similar to the jumping of a Mexican Jumping Bean.

Galls are just part of nature and their formation usually does not affect the overall health of the tree or shrub. They may cause some leaves to fall, but they are going to fall anyway, so don’t let them bother you.

Fall Yard Chores: Get a Head Start on the Spring

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In my last blog post, I wrote about pulling up annual plants, judging which ones did well, cutting back perennials and mulching instead of raking your leaves. Here are some other chores to finish before winter sets in:

If you have a sprinkler system and haven’t had it blown out yet, time is rapidly running out.

Apply one more fertilization for the fall. For warm season grasses, you want to use a fertilizer that has very little nitrogen in it. For cool-season grasses, you want to apply a fertilizer that contains a high percentage of nitrogen.

If the temperatures are in the mid 50’s or above, plants will still be photosynthesizing, which means you can still control broadleaf weeds. This is the time of year to spray the difficult to control weeds, like wild violets or ground ivy. As these plants move food into their roots, the weed control will also be moved, working to control these weeds so that they will be less of a problem next year.

Fall is a great time to root feed your trees and shrubs. The best way to do this is to use a root feeder. You can purchase a root feeder at many hardware stores or home improvement centers, although most people hire a professional tree care company like Spring-Green to do the work for them.

Fall is also a great time to clean up your lawn mower. Many hardware stores provide this service, or you can do it yourself. If your mower has a 4-cycle engine, drain and replace the oil. Clean out the underside of the deck and scrape out the built up grass. Remove and sharpen the mower blade. Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank so that it is ready to go next spring.

Finally, be sure to unscrew your garden hose from the spigot. I live in an area where temperatures often dip well below freezing, so I have to make sure I turn off the water inside so that the pipes do not freeze.

Fall always is a sad time in regards to gardening, at least for those of us that live in the northern climates. Spring will return before we know it and the whole process starts again. I can’t wait for the first of the seed catalogs and gardening fliers to start arriving in January.

If you’ve got better things to do, don’t worry—it’s not too late to start lawn care service. Get more info on our competitive rates, quality guarantee, and variety of services today.

What You Need to Know About Bagworms

how to control bagworms

If you have junipers or arbor vitae in your landscape, you could have bagworms! To determine if you do have these little fellows in your plants, you can check for small, teardrop shaped bags or cases of tied-up plant material. These cases will be anywhere from ¼ to 1 inch in length. The larvae that are within the bags will emerge to feed on evergreens as well as deciduous trees and shrubs.

The overwintering larvae hatch in June and climb to the top of the plant. There, the tiny larvae send out a single strand of silk that is 1 to 3 feet in length. These strands are caught up in the wind and are carried wherever the wind may blow. Once they land on a suitable host plant, they often begin feeding at the top and work their way downward. You can find them commonly on spruces, junipers, arbor vitae, red cedar, cypress, oaks and crabapple trees. These insects have quite the taste for evergreens.

bagworms

The bagworms spin individual silk tents and cover themselves with foliage from the host plant. They crawl out of the tents to feed on surrounding vegetation. They continue feeding through the summer and can cause extensive damage. The leaves on the plants will regrow, but the needles on evergreens don’t come back and the tree may die if the feeding is left unchecked.

If there are just a few bags on a tree or shrub, they can be picked off and thrown away. Do not throw them on the ground as the larva will climb right back into the tree and start feeding again. Insect control sprays work better on the younger larvae.

For more information about bagworms and ways to control them, contact your local Spring-Green professional.

Our Top Trusty Tree Care Tips

trusty tree care tips

Caring for your trees and shrubs may seem like a fairly straightforward task, and one that almost any homeowner can handle. When it comes to trees and shrubs, you can plant them, water them, spray them, feed them, and even prune them—which all sound like simple tasks, but the devil is in the details. To help you, we put together a list of our top trusty tree care tips.

Choosing Your Tree

Most homeowners are fairly good at picking out the correct tree or shrub, but occasionally, they will choose the wrong plant for the location. These are probably the two biggest errors that homeowners make: they don’t think about the amount of sun that the plant will receive or the eventual size that the plant will grow to be. When shopping at the local nursery or garden center, plants usually come with a small tag that provides information on whether or not it needs sun and how big it will become. Shade-loving plants will scorch in the direct sun. Sun-loving plants, especially flowering plants, will not flower as profusely when planted in the shade. Many homeowners are anxious to have their landscape fill in as quickly as possible and have a tendency to over plant their landscape beds. In a few years, plants are crowding each other or are covering doors or windows on the house.

Planting Your Tree

Planting trees seems like a simple process. You dig a hole in the ground, place the plant in the hole, fill it back in with soil, and everything is done. But what else goes into the seemingly simple task of planting a tree or shrub? To start with, how big do you dig the hole? Many landscape professionals state that the hole should be twice as large as the width of container of tree ball. The depth should be at a point where the top of the container of tree ball is at or slightly higher than the ground level. If the plant was grown in a pot and the roots are growing in a circle, they should either be cut or gently coaxed out of their circular growth pattern. If not, the roots will continue to grow in a circular pattern and could eventually girdle or strangle the plant in several years.

Bonus Tree Care Tip: Some people think it is a good practice to replace the existing soil with a nice mix of pulverized top soil, peat moss, and other additives. This can result in the roots growing within the nice fertile soil and never pushing into the native soil. So, it is often best to use the soil that was removed when the hole was first dug.

Pest Control

If you need to apply an insect or disease control to a tree or shrub, after identifying the problem, you need to know where in its life cycle the disease or insect is currently in to be sure that whatever control application you use will work as intended. You also need to make sure the product you are using is labeled to control the correct pest and that you read and follow all label directions. Do not think that “if a little is good, a lot is better.” Following this adage may result in damage to the plant. Depending upon the severity of damage, the size of the plants, and amount of plants that have to be sprayed, it may be a better choice to leave this work to licensed, trained professionals.

Feeding Your Trees

Feeding your plants is another task that seems fairly easy to handle, but again, there are aspects of tree feeding that require some expertise as well as specialized equipment to supply the nutrients to the area that produces the best results—the roots. Foliar feeding is okay, but if the roots cannot handle the increased leaf growth, the plant can suffer. This is another practice that is best left to the professionals.

Pruning Your Trees

Finally, pruning a tree or shrub may seem like an easy task to handle and, in many cases, it is fairly easy (if you can keep both feet on the ground). Generally, you should prune flowering shrubs after they have flowered. Don’t wait until fall, as the blooms for next year are often set by the fall. The same is true with evergreens, such as yews or junipers.

Prune after they have produced their spring flush of growth.

Whenever you are pruning a limb on a tree, make the cut right after a shoot or other branch. Never make a cut in the middle of the branch. Most homeowners can handle the shearing of shrubs or minor pruning of trees. The hardest task is not the pruning work itself, but the clean-up. If you need to do drastic pruning, especially of large trees, hire a certified tree care company to do the work. It can be dangerous work if you don’t know what you are doing, and improper pruning can affect the overall health of the plant.

Of course, there are other considerations that may be required to keep your landscape healthy and attractive other than these basic tree maintenance tips. Hiring a professional to do the work for you may be your best – and safest – option.

What Do Trees Do? A Lot More Than You Think.

arbor day and planting a tree

Trees are an important element in our lives as human beings. If you go to Arbor Day Foundation’s website, you can find all sorts of information on the environmental and economic benefits that trees provide. Spring-Green has worked with with Arbor Day Foundation since 2010, donating to the effort of planting over 50,000 trees across the country. It is part of our commitment to improve the environment in which we work.

benefits of trees

The Many Benefits of Trees

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the benefits that trees provide us besides helping us to keep a little cooler in the hot summer months, but according to Arbor Day Foundation’s website, trees provide much more than just shade. A mature shade tree can increase the value of a home by as much as $10,000, and many relators have stated that mature trees can have a major impact on the their ability to sell a home.

“One acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 4 tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” – U.S. Department of Agriculture

Just like lawns, trees absorb carbon dioxide and give out an abundance of oxygen. According to Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 4 tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” It goes without saying that without trees and lawns, we would not have much oxygen to breathe.

how to better the environment with trees

What else do trees do?

Having a tree to shade your house can reduce your cooling costs every summer, especially when planted on the south or west side of your home – and each year the tree grows, your savings will increase. Trees will also reduce air pollution and serve as a wind breaker to help protect your home.

Trees in an urban environment do require more care than they do in their natural environment, but caring for trees creates jobs for many people. Tree trimming companies, arborists, tree care companies, landscapers, tree nurseries, and garden centers all employ people to work for them. Many major universities offer degrees in Ornamental Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, Forestry and Arboriculture. These same universities engage in research on tree care as well as pest control programs to protect trees from major pest infestations. Caring for trees is a big business!

Trees are not only pleasing to look at, they are a major influence on our health as well as our economy. Caring for trees can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor. To commemorate this year’s Arbor Day, do your part and plant a tree today.

Lawn Diseases: Caring for Warm Season Grasses Like Centipede Grass

Lawn disease solutions for warm season grasses

I recently attended the South Carolina Landscape and Turfgrass Association annual conference and tradeshow in Columbia, SC for the second year now. Since I’ve lived most of my life in northern Illinois, I always welcome the chance to learn more about warm-season grasses, and this show provides some appreciated insight.

Warm Season Lawn Disease: Centipede Decline

One of the presentations I attended was about warm-season grass disease. Centipede grass is grown in many home lawns throughout the South and requires less fertilizer than many other warm-season grasses—it’s also prone to two diseases: Large Patch and Centipede Decline. The speaker, Dr. Bruce Martin from Clemson University, explained that Centipede Decline is considered a man-made disease, often brought on by homeowners who seem to follow the “if a little is good, a lot is better” school of thought on centipede grass care. Too much water, improper mowing and too much fertilizer will often lead to this lawn disease. It is more of a condition brought on by too much outside stimulus.

When speaking with our franchise owners in the southern states, they’ve told us that several homeowners have contacted them for help after they have tried and failed at caring for their own Centipede grass lawn. At that point, it is an uphill battle to get the lawn back into shape. Fortunately, our owners have the experience and knowledge to help improve these warm season grass lawns.

Warm Season Lawn Disease: Large Patch

Large Patch disease (formerly known as Brown Patch) occurs in the cooler weather of fall through early spring on warm-season grasses. It can infect Centipede, St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia grasses. (Brown Patch, in contrast, occurs during the heat and humidity of summer and is often found on Tall Fescue lawns.) Large patch appears mostly in circular patches that are yellow to tan in color. They start off small—2 to 3 feet in diameter—but can quickly expand to 10 feet or more in diameter. The patches can grow together to form even larger patches, which is where it gets the name “Large Patch.”

To determine if Large Patch is happening on a lawn, you have to look for spots or lesions on the grass plants. It may be necessary to peel back the dead, older leaves to see the lesions. Disease-control materials are available to treat this lawn disease, but the treatments need to start in the fall when soil temperatures fall to about 70 degrees.

Not only were there sessions on warm-season grasses, but there were also sessions on tree care, such as caring for palm trees. South Carolina is known as the Palmetto State, named for the Sabal Palm that grows along the coast. The botanical name for the Sabal Palm is Sabal Palmetto, which is where it got its name. It is more commonly called the Cabbage Palm and can grow as high as 80 feet. One of the interesting things I learned about these trees is that the wood is soft and spongy, not dense like a regular deciduous tree. These trees were used to construct a fort during the Revolutionary War—the British became frustrated when their cannonballs would not penetrate the walls, but just bounced off… but I digress.

Spring-Green: Staying Up to Date on Lawn Care Research

Even though I have been working in lawn care for over 37 years, I always find that I can learn new information and enjoy attending these regional conferences. In addition to validating what I already know, I always learn new techniques and recommendations. There is a good deal of research on turfgrass being done at universities across the United States, and staying up to date on the latest information is a value to our franchise owners—especially in regards to the customers that they service.

Want to learn more about warm season grasses or other problems affecting your yard? Ask your local Spring-Green professional to come out for a free estimate!

How to Properly Remove Christmas Lights on Trees

how to remove Christmas lights

The day after Thanksgiving is known for two things—Black Friday shopping and putting up Christmas lights on trees and outdoor structures. Since I don’t find getting up at 2 AM to go shopping very appealing, I opt for putting up Christmas lights.

We all hope the weather is good on the day we choose to hang our outdoor lights, but often times the weather takes a turn for the worst and hanging our outdoor lights no longer sounds fun (or maybe I am slow because of all the turkey I ate on Thanksgiving).

Once we decide to face the chilly temperatures and bundle up, we’re ready to decorate. Most people hang lights along the roof lines or around their windows, but there are some people who are a little more ambitious and string holiday lights on their trees and shrubs.

Properly removing the Christmas lights from trees and shrubs when the holiday season is over is important for your plants’ health. If you’re not being careful, it’s possible to damage those plants. I have seen too many people pull on the strings of lights while standing on the ground instead of using a ladder or reversing the process that was followed when the lights were hung.

Unless you live in the warmer parts of the country, the likelihood of the temperatures dropping to below freezing is high. Trying to work outdoors in that type of weather can challenging—fingers and feet get cold, the light strings are stiff and unmanageable, and everything seems to end up in a jumbled mess.

Unless you are careful, the tender branches can easily snap, as they are frozen stiff. On most deciduous plants, the buds for next year’s leaves and flowers are already on the branches. If strings of lights are carelessly pulled off the plants, the buds may be torn off or become damaged. New buds will eventually regrow in the spring, but this will take some time.

Remember: Last Up, First Off

When removing your Christmas lights you decorated your trees with, follow a “last up, first off” rule and take your time to protect your landscape plants. Keep these tips in mind and your outdoor trees and shrubs will be beautiful during and after the holiday season.

Since we’re in the Christmas spirit, give yourself the holiday gift you deserve—lawn care services from Spring-Green.

Get to know the Spring-Green owner in your neighborhood, and get started right this spring. In addition to popular services like lawn fertilization and weed control, we recently added irrigation maintenance in certain areas—imagine what you could do with the gift of more free time . . .

Happy holidays!