Fruit Tree Care Tips

apple fruit tree

Having a fruit tree in your backyard can be one of the most rewarding things. Enjoying freshly picked berries, apples, mangoes, avocados, and others can create delicious delicacies and family memories that last a lifetime. Proper care for your fruit trees is the key to keeping the fun flowing. The Spring-Green team, leaders in lawn care since 1977, wants your enjoyment of your fruit trees to last for years to come, so we put this guide together to help you understand how to care for them. While care will vary based on your fruit tree varietals and the region of the world you reside, these best practices will help you build a strong foundation for success care of your fruit trees.

Everything to Know About Caring for Your Backyard Fruit Trees

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”: This old adage is almost always true; Understanding how to prevent an issue with your fruit tree is the best way to keep the enjoyment lasting for many years to come.

  • Fertilizer – It’s recommended that you fertilize your young fruit tree once each year, typically in the spring before the tree fruit blooms. It’s recommended that fertilizer usage increases over the years as the tree matures. Be sure to water immediately after fertilization to ensure the fertilizer gets into the tree’s roots.
  • Pest Prevention – Watch for signs of damage from pests that can hurt the fruit tree. Be sure to weed regularly and pick up fallen fruit, as well as trim off dead branches.
  • Mulching – A layer of mulch applied to the base of the fruit tree not only protects the soil when temperatures drop, it also boosts the healthiness of the soil. Mulch should consist of compost, wood chips, grass clippings, shredded leaves, pine needles, or wood nuggets.

Get Good at Pruning: Regular pruning is important to keeping your fruit trees healthy long-term. Depending on the climate where you live, the bulk of the fruit pruning will take place in winter. Some pruning should regularly take place all year long as well. The National Gardening Association recommends pruning suckers and waterspouts in early summer months to reduce chances of disease and insect issues.

pruning fruit tree

Young vs. Mature Fruit Trees: Your care regimen for young versus mature fruit trees is slightly different. Let’s check out some of the best practices for your trees, depending on age.

  • Water a young fruit tree once every-other week.
  • Mature fruit trees still need a thorough watering on a regular basis from you or rainfall.
  • Fertilize your young tree gently as it grows and be sure to trim with pruning shears as needed.
  • Use fertilizer intended for mature fruit trees when they have been in the ground for three years or more.
  • For a newly-planted fruit tree, cut the top at around three feet and make sure the branches are uniformly spaced-apart.
  • Mature trees require a yearly pruning in either late winter or early spring, removing dead and broken branches.
  • No more than one third of the total growth on the tree should be removed in one season.

Planting Fruit Trees: Questions swirl for newbie fruit tree planters like “lots of direct sun versus no sun,” or “how do I prepare the ground?” as well as “how often do I water my newly-planted fruit tree?” No worries. Spring-Green has the details you need to get started on a good foot:

  • Water a young fruit tree once every other week. Most fruit trees require that you apply enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of three feet to reach the roots.
  • Find a place in your backyard (or front yard) where your fruit trees can get approximately six hours of sun each day.
  • Be sure your fruit tree is planted a minimum of three to six feet from sidewalks, driveways, and buildings.
  • If you’re planting more than one tree, allow 10 to 15 feet of space between each tree.

What if Your Fruit Tree is Sick?

Ways to treat a diseased fruit tree will vary depending on the type of tree and your location. However, a copper spray, found in most home improvement stores or nurseries, resolves most common fruit tree diseases. You may also explore insecticidal soaps to get rid of common pests like aphids and mites. If the disease is only harming a small portion of the tree, cut away the dead branches damaged by the disease, and with each cut be sure to disinfect your tools with a bleach or alcohol solution. When removing diseased branches, make you’re pruning cut is six inches below the diseased area. You can also learn about how to rejuvenate mature fruit trees that haven’t produced much fruit in their later years here.

Your backyard environment needs some assistance to provide the same benefits to trees and shrubs as a natural forest habitat. Spring-Green offers homeowners expert guidance in caring for fruit trees, along with other types of trees, including shrubs. Our tree and shrub care program is designed to provide quality service at an affordable price. We can provide tips for maintenance and prevention, as well as assistance when your fruit trees encounter a problem. Since 1977, we’ve provided neighborhoods just like yours with the very best in lawn care, which, of course, includes your fruit trees.

Check out Spring-Green’s…

  • 2-Step Tree Program – Nourish and protect your fruit trees with Spring-Green’s tree and shrub care programs and services that keep your landscape looking beautiful and save you tons on replacement costs.
  • Root Feeding Service – Spring-Green offers a deep root service that delivers essential nutrients directly to your fruit tree’s root zone.
  • Specialty Injections – Tree trunk injections can allow your fruit tree to fight certain types of leaf diseases or insects.

Contact A Pro From Spring-Green Today To Get Started.

Top Tips for Spring Tree Care

flowering tree

As we enter into spring and embark on the warm summer months, many homeowners are left grappling with caring for their trees as the seasons change. Questions swirl around the tree-loving homeowner’s mind like: How do I care for my trees as they come out of dormancy? How do I help my trees stay healthy in the spring? These questions and so many others are about to be demystified, so you can feel confident that your trees are going to thrive as they move into spring as well as the rest of the year.

The 1,2,3’s of Caring for Trees This Spring & Year-Round

  • Understand Dormancy and How It Works – Trees have an extremely resilient nature and an inner intelligence that allows them to go dormant during bitter cold periods of winter and, like clockwork, wake up when spring finally brings warmer temps. Scientists determined that trees actually block communication between the cells inside the bud during winter, preventing growth cells from developing.
Sycamore Tree Winter
  • Inspect Your Trees and Shrubs – Once the snow begins to melt, and the temperatures slowly begin to climb, it’s a good time to take a venture outdoors and examine the state of your trees and shrubs. During a harsh winter, the conditions can have an impact on the well being of your trees and shrubbery. Look for injuries from freezing temperatures that may have caused bark to split or browning on evergreens from winter burn. As we enter spring, it’s the essential time to treat any of these issues and prevent them from causing further damage.
  • Prune Away Dead Branches – As we enter spring, it’s time to grab the pruning shears and clear away the dead branches. The general rule of thumb is to prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after they flower in the spring. The flower buds from those plants were set in fall, so shearing or shaping of these plants in the spring will result in fewer flowers. Individual limbs can be removed if they are crossing another limb, are damaged, or if you want to improve the shape of the plant. It’s also highly recommended to prune at this time to improve airflow and light penetration.
prune trees
  • Break Out the Mulch – Your mulching efforts at the start of spring will help retain moisture, even if the temperatures drop to extreme levels as they can do during the unpredictable spring. Mulching has many other benefits, including weed prevention and lessening the likelihood of attacks from borers, ants, and beetles. Three inches of mulch is all you need and be sure to avoid piling mulch up on the trunks of trees to form “mulch volcanoes.”
  • The Time to Water Is Now – Step up your tree watering game as you enter spring and gear up for summer with these best practices – water deeply but infrequently, don’t over water, and water during periods of drought. Also monitor moisture levels, making sure your trees don’t dry out your trees. This is an excellent time to check on the sprinkler system too, ensuring they are working properly, and that the coverage is accurate.
watering tree

Caring for trees and shrubs requires a year-round effort. As we exit the cold months and step into spring, we can set our trees up to thrive by following a few easy instructions. And, if you need some more help with any aspect of your arbor or lawn care, Spring-Green has a team of professionals ready to mobilize and assist you with all your needs.

Contact Your Spring-Green Specialist Today!

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!

How To Pick The Perfect Christmas Tree For The Holiday Season

Picking The Perfect Christmas Tree

It’s December which means it’s time to decorate (among other things). While shopping, visits to Santa and cookie baking top our to-do lists, so does picking the perfect Christmas tree. It may seem fun and festive to head out to the local nursery or corner stall to buy a tree, but picking the right Christmas tree for your unique needs can make all the difference in your holiday decorating efforts.

Don’t sweat it though, your neighborhood lawn care professionals at Spring-Green is here to guide you through the process of choosing the perfect tree – for you!

The Essential Christmas Tree Buying Guide

What the perfect tree looks like – Selecting the tree to make your holiday decor shine is subjective, but be sure your favorite tree is fresh by looking for shiny and green needles – not brown or dry-looking. If you pull on a branch, the fresh tree’s needles won’t fall off. Evergreen trees like Fraser and Noble Fir are the most popular Christmas trees and for good reason.

They have shorter needles which makes them easy to decorate. Another key attribute of the perfect Christmas tree is some space between the branches to give room for your ornaments, garland and lights to shine through. You’ll also want the tree to have stronger branches that can hold your ornaments. Insider’s tip: bring an ornament with you to test it in key places before you buy!

Artificial versus real Christmas trees – Just like picking the perfect Christmas real tree can be subjective, so is the decision to choose a real Christmas tree or an artificial one. While there is a convenience factor to choosing an artificial tree, some holiday lovers can’t resist the smell of the real Christmas tree in their home.

While artificial trees may be easier and cheaper, the real alternative brings some noteworthy benefits. According to the USDA, most of the real Christmas trees are grown by U.S. farmers. On average, 30 million real trees are sold each year, helping to employ over 100,000 American workers!

Choosing the right size – So, once you’ve decided on the type of tree, it’s time to talk about size and location.

  • Location, location, location – Where in your house are you planning to display your beautiful Christmas tree? Both real and artificial trees can be fire hazards, so be sure to choose a place away from your home’s heat sources like fireplaces, heaters and even sunny windows. Also, keep your tree protected by keeping it out of high traffic areas. Finally, consider where lights will be plugged in and how cords might get in the way before choosing the perfect spot.
  • Size matters – How much space (height and width) will have to comfortable place your tree within? Make a note and, if you’re going with a real tree, it is a good idea to bring a tape measure with you to take measurements of the tree you choose. Be sure to take note of the size of your tree’s trunk so you can find the appropriate stand.

Christmas tree maintenance – Water is the key to keeping your Christmas tree looking great through the entirety of the holiday season. Keep your fresh tree in a stand that holds a lot of water and check the levels every day. In the beginning, your tree may need to be watered more than once a day. Plain water will suffice, but some swear by the additives that can help your tree flourish even longer.

After the festivities – When the holidays end and you’re ready to get rid of your tree, it’s best to look into recycling. Most cities partner with their waste management companies to offer a recycling option, and if not, you could use it for your own garden by converting it to mulch. Please note that you should never burn your Christmas tree as it can create a serious fire hazard.

Picking the best Christmas tree is not rocket science and should not be a stressful part of your holiday season, but it is important. The Christmas tree buying tips from Spring Green, however, take the guesswork out of your tree buying endeavors! If only finding the perfect gifts for everyone on your list was this easy.

We may not be able to help you with the gift shopping, gift wrapping or cookie baking, but if you are in the need of quality, reliable lawn care, our team of dedicated experts are here to help this holiday season and all year long!

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.

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.

Sapsuckers: Don’t Let Them Destroy Your Trees!

sapsucker damage

I have written about birds called Sapsuckers, primarily Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. I have received several questions this year regarding the damage that these members of the wood pecker family inflicts upon trees (There are over 250 species of trees that they will feed on during the year)  and what can be done to stop the attacks.

They can cause serious damage to trees as they make holes in the trees in search of food. If the number of holes created by this feeding ends up girdling the tree, the tree can no longer move fluid up and down through the phloem and xylem. This is especially true if the holes completely encircle the tree.

Insects make up the larger part of the Sapsuckers diet, but it is better known for the prolific number of holes they will make on the trunk or major limbs of a tree. They do so in order to obtain sap from the tree and will also feed on the cambium layer. They use their brush-like tongue to sweep the sap out of the holes. Sapsuckers are the only member of the woodpecker family that causes this type of extensive damage.

You can determine if the damage was caused by Sapsuckers as the bored holes will be in neat rows, either arranged vertically or horizontally, and holes are ¼ inch in diameter. Many times, the Sapsuckers will return to the same tree and enlarge previous holes to obtain additional sap. This activity can result in girdling the tree, which will lead to its death.

sapsucker damage

Besides girdling the tree, the holes will allow sap from the tree to ooze out, which can attract bees, hornets or other insects that will feed on the sap. The holes can also be an open invitation to wood decaying fungi that will begin feeding on the heart wood of the tree, causing further stress.

Sapsuckers will test different trees in the early spring to locate ones that have a high sugar content. If they find a preferred tree, they will return to it throughout the year and can continue feeding on it for several years.

To discourage Sapsuckers from feeding on your trees, wrap them in burlap or hardware cloth. Remember that your tree will continue to grow, so don’t attach either of these two wraps with nylon cord or other material that does not stretch. Keep in mind you may need to redo the wrapping to allow for growth.

Another product you can use is called bird tanglefoot, a sticky product that is spread over the trunk to discourage the Sapsuckers from landing on your tree. From my experience with this product, it can get messy in a couple of years as it becomes coated in dust, dirt and even insects. It does also become unsightly after a couple of years.

please note, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Federal regulations prohibit the shooting of sapsuckers. Shooting them would be ineffective anyway as they are migratory and other sapsuckers will take the place of the ones that are shot.