Prevent your dying pine tree from causing catastrophic damages to your property when it falls. Knowing how to diagnose what is killing your tree will help you act swiftly to solve the problem.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information about dying pine trees, signs of diseases, infestations, parasitic growth that cause their decline, and what you can do to help them.
Dying Pine Trees
Like all other living things, pine trees have a beginning (seed germination), maturity, decline, and eventually, they die. At any stage of life, pines may become susceptible to or attacked by debilitating diseases, boring insect infestations, or life-threatening parasitic plant life. Due to the immense height and width these trees can reach, your immediate attention should be given when the following signs appear:
Dying Pine Tree Branches
When pine branches begin to brown and die, several factors may be at play. Consider the following:
Water Stress – During times of drought, tree stress may cause your pine to divert water and nutrients away from lower branches. This process causes browning and death to lower branches that can become brittle and suddenly drop.
Solutions: If a lack of water is causing your tree’s demise, the following can help:
- Mulch your pine(s) with 3-6 inches of organic mulch
- Install a drip line to provide a constant slow flow of water
- Deepwater your tree(s) every 10 to 15 days during a drought
- Prune out dead branches.
Salt or Deicing Chemicals – If you live in a region frequently impacted by snow, your pines closest to roadways may present dying lower or mid-level branches after repeated applications of salt and/or deicer. The same chemicals that make our roads safer can also adversely affect these branches and your pine’s overall health.
Solutions: While you could try to wash your trees free of these treatments, the following preventative measures can save you time and effort:
- Choose better planting locations (further from the street)
- Have your trees transplanted away from the street
- Use burlap to wrap the tree’s branches
- Erect a burlap barrier (fence-like) between the trees and street
- Raise the crown, so lower branches are out of reach, then lay a 6-inch layer of organic mulch around the tree to keep chemicals from reaching the root system
Note: If you raise the crown and apply mulch to the root plate, be prepared to replace the mulch after salt or deicer are applied to the streets.
Disease – Tree diseases can move from host to host by multiple vectors, including:
- Mechanical or weather-related Injury
- Insect Infestation
- Splashing Water
- Poor Soil Drainage
- Unsterilized Pruning Equipment
Signs that your pine tree is diseased include:
- Browning and loss of inner needles of lower branches (Rhizosphaera needle cast)
- Needle discoloration from green to yellow, then brown through the tree (Pine wilt)
- Brown, gray, yellow needles on new growth, branch dieback, oozing sap, cankers on stems and/or branches (Sphaeropsis tip blight)
- Dark green bands appearing on needles turning into brown or reddish-brown lesions and oozing sap (Dothistroma Needle Blight)
- Wilting, severe chlorosis, stunted foliage, mushroom conks at the base, and/or dead feeder roots (root rot)
Note: A tree with advanced root rot may begin to lean as its roots can no longer support its weight. This condition requires immediate professional attention.
Solutions: When caught and diagnosed in the initial stages, most pine diseases can be successfully treated with minimal to moderate damage to the tree. Some effective treatments include:
- Improving soil conditions for better drainage
- Pruning out affected branches
- Root pruning (for younger pines)
- Neem oil application
- Copper fungicide sprays or powders
Most fungicides require multiple applications between spring and the end of summer. These and other chemical applications should be administered by an ISA certified arborist. An arborist is trained to detect and treat tree issues and knows when to recommend tree removal.
Note: Always sterilize your equipment before working on your trees and between trees. You can accomplish this by dipping or spraying equipment using a 20% bleach to 80% water solution.
Pine Tree Insect Infestation
A wide variety of insects seek refuge, nest, and reproduce in pine trees. Many of these insects inflict minimal harm on their host. However, there are species of insects that bore into the cambium layer (the water and nutrient transportation system containing the xylem and phloem), consuming the tree’s rich nutrients while in its larval stage. Boring insects that affect pine trees include:
Bark Beetle (Ips pini) – Multiple generations of this beetle will infest and re-infest a declining host pine. These beetles also serve as a vector for a blue-stain fungus that aggressively attacks the plant’s vascular system.
Pine Sawyer Beetle (Monochamus scutellatus) – When this beetle successfully attacks a pine tree, it leaves a 3/8” hole in the bark with exceptional amounts of frass (wood shavings and excrement) left behind from boring activity. This borer is a common vector for the “pine wilt nematode.” The nematode is a roundworm that quickly clogs the tree’s circulatory system. This causes hydraulic failure and sudden death.
Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) – This beetle species can produce six or more generations within a single calendar year. Boring activities from the larvae produce tunnels or galleries that disrupt the cambium layer, girdle the tree, result in hydraulic failure, and eventual death.
Signs of a boring insect infestation may include:
- Sightings or captured adult insects
- Entry and/or exit holes
- Excessively oozing sap (the tree’s response to boring activities)
- Frass left on the trunk and/or limbs
- Needle chlorosis (yellow or reddish-brown)
- Severe wilting of needles
- Curling or drooping of limbs (younger trees)
- Sudden overall decline or death
- Increased or unusual woodpecker or squirrel activity
Solutions: Treating trees for boring insect infestations may require multi-faceted approaches to preserve surviving trees. Such approaches may include:
- Trapping adult insects
- Extensive pruning of infested trees
- Chemical deterrents applied to un-infested trees
- Careful removal of dying or dead specimens
- Promote tree health and vigorous growth (watering, fertilizing, pruning, mulching, etc.)
Tip: Don’t try to treat a boring insect infestation alone. Hire an ISA certified arborist to properly identify and treat the pending threat to your pine tree. An arborist’s documentation and reporting of such infestations to the US Forest Service, local, and state forestry departments play a vital role in tracking, early detection, prevention, and treatment.
Parasitic Plants and Climbing Vines
Sometimes, your pine trees become hosts to parasitic plant life that can overgrow, overshadow, and outcompete even the hardiest of trees. Consider the following:
Mistletoe – On pines, mistletoe appears as small yellow or green leafless plants. This parasitic plant absorbs both water and nutrients from its host tree, eventually weakening the tree, causing its deformation, and eventually killing it. A pine weakened by mistletoe can easily be infested by boring insects or infected by destructive diseases.
Solutions: Mistletoe does not have a simple solution. Once it has established itself on a host, there is only so much you can do without inflicting significant harm on the host tree. Such as:
- Pruning out infected branches (considered the best way to control mistletoe)
- Cutting off the mistletoe flush with the bark (it will grow back)
- Chemical control with ethephon (growth regulator) will cause some of this parasite to fall off. However, the mistletoe will eventually regrow at the same location requiring re-treatment.
Note: A severe mistletoe infestation may require the tree’s removal.
Lichens – Lichens are formed when a symbiotic relationship occurs between a fungus and an algal partner. They can spread and grow on nearly any surface and do not have any leaves, stems, or roots. Commonly found on trees, lichens are frequently misinterpreted as being a sign of decay within the tree. However, unlike the fungi that feed off of a tree’s decaying wood, the rhizines (multicellular root-like structures) of lichen only anchor its body to the tree.
Solution: No action required. Lichens do not present any hazards or danger to pine trees. If your pine tree(s) are in decline, look for signs of disease or insect infestation.
Read more about lichens at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/will-this-green-mold-lichens-kill-my-tree
Climbing Vines – Vines like English ivy, wisteria, or yellow jessamine can climb and wrap around your pine tree. Vines grow much faster than trees and can quickly overrun them if not dealt with immediately. This growth can cause your tree’s girdling or cover enough of the canopy to significantly reduce the amount of sunlight needed for photosynthesis. Either way, climbing and circling vines are bad news for the longevity of the host tree.
Solutions: While the vine’s removal from the tree may seem like the logical course of action, it is not. Consider the following:
- Locate the main trunk of the vine and sever it as close to the ground as possible
- Leave the vine attached to the tree, it will die, and the tree will recover
- The only part of the vine that should be carefully cut away is where it completely circles the tree
- To avoid regrowth, apply an herbicide to the vine’s stump or pull up and destroy as much of the root system as possible
Note: As a vine climbs or circles your tree, it literally “glues” itself to the bark. Trying to pull the vine off the tree can cause severe bark damage.
How To Save a Dying Pine Tree
In this article, you discovered essential information about dying pine trees, the signs of invasive diseases, destructive insect infestations, and parasitic plant life.
Knowing how to identify disease, insects, and invasive plant species that can harm your pine tree allows you to eliminate those threats and potentially restore your tree’s health.
Ignoring the signs of disease, infestation, and decline will ultimately result in the tree’s death and/or removal before causing costly property damages when it suddenly destabilizes and falls.
Prevent dying, infested, and diseased branches from killing your trees. Knowing the basics of pruning branches will help you preserve the health and structure of your trees.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information about pruning tree branches, including how, why, and when to prune.
Pruning Tree Branches
Correctly pruning branches allows a tree to compartmentalize (seal and isolate) the wound, reducing the risk of rot, disease, or infestation. The following steps will help you properly prune branches from your tree:
Tree Pruning Step 1
Identify the branches you intend to prune. If you are pruning several branches from a tree or multiple branches from several trees, mark them with a ribbon or fluorescent spray paint before you start.
This is also the time to evaluate the safety of your pruning activities. If a branch is out of your reach, growing over your home, or too large (over six inches in diameter), consider hiring a professional tree service to avoid catastrophic or life-threatening accidents.
Note: When cut, larger branches can fall with thousands of pounds of crushing force. Carefully assess the safety of cutting such branches before pruning them.
Tree Pruning Step 2
Prepare a one-gallon solution of 70% water and 30% isopropyl alcohol or bleach. Use this solution to sanitize all of the equipment, tools, and protective gear you intend to use when pruning your trees.
Sanitize your equipment, tools, and gear before starting work on your first tree. Then, sanitize them again before moving on to the next tree.
Note: If you suspect that one of your trees is diseased, save it for last, and carefully destroy all material removed from it. Do not add any diseased material to a compost or mulch pile.
Tip: Pour your sanitizing solution into a spray bottle and spray your equipment for a more efficient application.
Tree Pruning Step 3
Following the 3-cut method will help you avoid bark damage (bark stripping) when pruning medium and large-sized branches. Here’s how to do it:
Cut #1 – This cut is known as a relief cut or undercut and should be approximately 6 inches away from the trunk on the branch’s underside. This cut should be through 1/4 of the branch and serves as a stopping point if the bark tears or strips as the branch falls.
Cut #2 – This cut should be 6 inches further out from cut #1. This is a top-down cut and severs the branch’s bulk from the tree.
Cut #3 – This final cut occurs flush with the branch collar, removing the branch’s remaining portion. For proper compartmentalization (healing), avoid damaging the root collar.
Tip: After you have pruned a branch, remove or dispose of it before moving on. Leaving such debris on the ground may interfere with your ability to correctly prune the next branch or flee in the event of a branch unexpectedly falling toward you.
Read more about how trees recover from pruning activities at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/how-trees-recover-wounds-pruning
Why Prune Trees
Pruning activities should be done with purpose. If you are pruning just to prune, you may cause more damage to your trees than solutions. The following are several of the reasons that justify pruning your trees:
Shaping – If performed early on in the life of a tree, less pruning will be necessary as the tree matures to keep its shape.
Crown Thinning – This type of pruning removes limbs and foliage from within the crown, permitting better airflow and more light to reach inner branches. It also reduces pressure on the tree during severe weather events.
Crown Raising – Removes lower branches that may be resting on the ground or in the way.
Storm Damage – After severe weather events, you should prune out any damaged branches. Leaving these damaged limbs may result in disease and/or infestation.
Disease – Branches showing signs of disease like wilting foliage, chlorosis, cankers, dieback, or a combination of symptoms.
Infestation – Branches exhibiting signs of infestation will look similar to those of disease but accompanied by D-shaped or round exit holes (for beetles), carpenter ants entering and exiting holes and/or cavities (this is a sign of significant decay), and visual confirmation of adult boring or detrimental insects.
Depending on the severity of infection or type of insect infestation, you may need to remove your tree as a measure of protection for your other trees and property. Read more about when pruning or removal is necessary at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/when-tree-pruning-cutting-emergency-removal-atlanta-ga
When to Prune Trees
Most pruning activities should be restricted to the dormant season, being late fall through early spring (before bud break) for most tree species. Everything slows down during a tree’s dormancy, leaving the tree less susceptible to disease and insect infestation. Consider the following:
Fruit Trees should be pruned in early spring (before bud break) while the tree is still dormant and leafless.
Evergreens (all of them), except pines, should be pruned before new growth emerges in the spring or during the semi-dormant period in mid-summer. When pruning, it is imperative to follow branching patterns to maintain the tree’s natural shape.
Pines should be pruned in the spring as new growth emerges. To produce a compact, uniform plant or to maintain a shape, cut one-third to one-half of each growth area as it expands in the spring. Avoid pruning back to woody stems; new growth cannot develop from these areas.
When mature pines are overgrown or become a nuisance, the better option is usually to remove entire branches at a time.
Spring Flowering Trees respond best to pruning immediately after blooming.
Later Flowering Trees should be pruned in late winter or early spring.
Note: If you are in doubt of your tree’s species and/or pruning requirements, hire a certified arborist to help you give your tree the proper care.
Tree Pruning Tools
The correct tools will facilitate better pruning results. Keeping these tools well-maintained and sharp improves their performance and lessens your burden. The following tools will likely be adequate for most of your pruning activities:
Pruning Shears – Probably one of the most essential tools to own. They cut up to 3/4 inches in diameter.
Lopping Shears – Similar to pruning shears, but have long handles providing better leverage when cutting branches up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Hand Saws – are essential for cutting branches over 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Most hand-held pruning saws can easily cut through branches 4 to 6 inches in diameter.
Chain Saw – Should be used on larger branches. Never use a chain saw to reach branches above your shoulders or when on a ladder.
Pruning Tree Branches
In this article, you discovered essential information on how to prune tree branches, why they should be pruned, when to prune, and some of the equipment you may need.
Correct pruning activities can strengthen a tree’s health, encourage vigorous growth, remove diseased or infested branches, and extend its life expectancy by years or decades.
Ignoring the need to prune your trees can result in overgrown, diseased, and dying trees capable of causing catastrophic damages when they fall on your property.
from Fast Tree Removal Services Atlanta https://www.fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/how-to-prune-tree-branches
Prevent unintended but improper watering, starvation, and hydraulic failure from killing your trees. Knowing how and when to water your trees will help them flourish and maintain steady growth.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information about how much water your trees need, the best water delivery method, and the best time to water them.
How Much Water Does a Tree Need Daily
From the time your trees are planted through their maturity, moist, well-drained soil is needed to encourage vigorous growth. It is your tree’s age and size that help you determine the amount of water it needs. Consider the following:
Newly planted trees – After planting, your trees need consistent watering until their root systems grow and establish themselves. Root systems of newly planted trees, being bare-root, balled, or container-grown, are severely limited when planted and require more frequent waterings. The following watering intervals will help the tree adapt to its new location:
- Daily watering during the first two weeks after planting
- Every three days from three to twelve weeks
- Weekly deep waterings after twelve weeks
Deep waterings soak the ground to a depth of nine to twelve inches or more. Deep watering encourages deep root growth away from the tree, establishing a broad and sturdy root plate.
Note: Superficial or shallow watering, during a tree’s development, encourages roots to surface. Surface roots increase the risk of diseases and infestations successfully attacking the tree.
Tip: When topsoil is saturated, fast-flowing water will begin to “runoff,” taking nutrients with it. Slow down the flow of water to allow for deep soil penetration.
Established Trees – Measure the trunk diameter 4 to 6 inches above the ground. For every inch in trunk diameter, your tree requires 1 to 1.5 times that measurement in gallons of water per watering. For example:
- 1-inch diameter requires 1 to 1.5 gallons per watering
- 3-inch diameter requires 3 to 4.5 gallons per watering
- 5-inch diameter requires 5 to 7.5 gallons per watering
Note: The time it takes for a tree’s roots to establish themselves is coincidentally 1.5 times the trunk diameter (at the time of planting), in years.
Tip: Maintain a fresh 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the tree at all times. Mulch regulates soil temperature, helps soil retain moisture, and provides valuable nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
Best Tree Watering Methods
Overhead sprinkler or spray systems help you cover large areas of your landscape. However, these systems are highly inefficient due to evaporation and sharply increase the potential spread of tree diseases. Consider the following watering methods:
Bucket Watering – Using a 5-gallon bucket, follow these steps:
- Use an empty, clean bucket
- Drill multiple 1/4 inch holes (at different heights) around the wall, and in the bottom of the bucket
- Fill the bucket with the amount of water needed for the tree
- Set the bucket near the tree trunk and let it drain
- Repeat the process or use multiple buckets as needed
The height and angle of the holes in the bucket wall will determine where and how quickly the exiting water goes.
Soaker Hoses – These hoses are a highly efficient way to water your trees. Soaker hoses are porous and slowly release water. All you need to do is loosely encircle your tree with the hose and let it run for an hour or as long as necessary for water to penetrate 8 to 12-inches.
Hose/Watering Bubbler – These devices are hose-end attachments that reduce the speed and reach of water, soaking into the soil rather than running off. Since bubblers only water one area at a time, you should move the bubbler around as needed.
Drip Irrigation – This method uses a perforated hose and is a low-pressure, low-volume watering system, delivering water to landscapes, gardens, and tree root plates through a drip, spray, or stream. Drip irrigation systems keep roots moist, but not soaked, using much less water than traditional hose watering.
Watch this video to see different tree watering methods.
Best Time to Water Trees
You can determine when to water your trees based on when they were planted. However, once they are established and reach maturity, they still need watering, as follows:
- During drought conditions, provide enough deep waterings to keep the soil moist, in a wide band within and outside of the tree’s dripline
- When the soil is dry (test soil by driving an 8-inch screwdriver into the ground, it will pass easily through moist soil)
- When your tree droops or appears wilted (this may indicate an infection or infestation)
- During winter months (when temperatures are above 40°F without snow coverage)
- During summer months, avoid watering from 10am to 5pm. Water your trees, with better results, early in the morning or in the evening
Tip: Trees use much more water in the summer months than at other times of the year. During these months, your attention and watering frequencies should be increased.
If water restrictions are imposed on your region, water your trees before your lawn and garden (you can replace grass and plants much easier than trees).
Note: The water absorbed by tree roots is stored in the soil. Soil type, depth, composition, and condition greatly influence the amount of water the soil can store, and consequently, how often you may need to water your trees. Soils with heavier clay composition retain more water and need less frequent irrigation. Sandy soils retain little water in comparison and require more frequent irrigation.
Read more about soil considerations for trees at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/tree-planting-soil-considerations-care-tips
In this article, you discovered how much water trees need for vigorous growth, watering methods, and when they should be watered.
Knowing when to water your trees from planting throughout their maturity, helps them grow healthy and resistant to drought conditions.
When you rely on nature to provide water for your trees, you risk compromising your tree’s health and pave the way for disease and infestation to kill it.
Prevent a split trunk from killing your tree. Knowing how to help your tree recover when its trunk splits can add decades to its lifespan.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information on methods to secure a tree when its trunk splits, what damages can lead to splitting, and how to help a tree overcome such damages.
How to Fix a Splitting Tree
When your tree starts to split, the faster you act to fix it, the more chance it will recover from this life-threatening event. The following are methods used to provide a tree with structural support:
Cabling – Cabling a tree is when you tie off and extend a steel cable from one tree limb to another across from it(within the crown). The objective is to reduce the expansive forces placed on the area where the trunk branches off, becoming the crown.
This is an effective corrective method when the trunk is in the very beginning phase of splitting. However, depending on where the trunk is splitting, it may be necessary to provide further stability (using a brace) for the tree to seal its wounds.
Bracing – Bracing a tree is when you drill a hole or holes through the trunk (where the split is occurring) and run threaded steel rods through the hole(s). Observe the following:
- Drill a smaller “starter” hole to avoid larger bits getting stuck in the trunk
- Drill your holes slowly, allowing the bit to draw out the sawdust (drilling too fast can seize the bit in the hole)
- Unless perfectly aligned, you may have to pound (force) the rod through the hole(s)
- Use double washers on each end to avoid further bark damage as the nuts are tightened
Once the rods are inserted, large washers and nuts are placed at each end and tightened until ideally closing the gap where the trunk split.
Bracing alone can be used when the split occurs on the lower portion of the tree’s trunk. When the split is near the top of the trunk or in a crotch, both bracing and cabling are advised to prevent windsnap from occurring.
Tip: One brace should be used for every 4 to 6-inches the trunk has split.
Cabling and bracing are not temporary solutions. If successful, after several growing seasons, the tree will compartmentalize and seal the crack along with the cables and braces where they are in contact with the tree.
Note: This work should be done while a tree is dormant or fully leafed out. Try to avoid doing this in spring or fall when the tree is most vulnerable to damages and/or diseases.
Cabling and/or bracing should not be attempted on diseased trees splitting from structural decomposition. Such trees should be carefully removed and destroyed.
Tree Wound Repair
Severe storms, drought, disease, and infestations can take a toll on a tree’s health and structure. Here’s how to address different types of damage to avoid future trunk splitting:
Young Tree Damage – Young trees quickly recover from damages if caught early enough. As long as the leader and branching structure is intact, prune broken or affected branches back to the trunk.
Mature Tree Damage – A mature tree can lose a major limb and recover. The broken or damaged branch should be pruned back to the trunk. After losing a major limb, your tree’s balance may be thrown off enough to initiate a split in a crotch or in the trunk.
Bracing and/or cabling may be required to support the tree’s structure after losing a major limb.
Sometimes, when a branch is diseased or is no longer photosynthesizing enough nutrients, the tree may shed the branch through a process called cladoptosis (self-pruning).
Tree Bark Damage – When bark damage occurs in more than 25% of the trunk’s circumference, your tree is likely girdled, and a portion of the tree may die. Depending on your tree’s structure and the extent of the damages, the affected part of the tree may split away from the healthy part.
When you detect extensive bark damage on your tree, hire an arborist to evaluate the tree and determine a course of action.
Read more about tree bark damage at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/handling-tree-bark-damage
Lightning Strike – A lightning strike has the potential to not only split a tree but superheat it, evaporating all of the moisture within.
Sometimes, a tree can survive a lightning strike but will need extensive pruning, care, and support to overcome such a devastating event.
In other cases, the tree may suffer a severed crown, a full splitting of the trunk, or even explode. Such events will ultimately kill the tree.
In the event of a lightning strike to your tree, hire a professional tree service to evaluate your tree’s structure and stability. Sometimes, bracing and cabling can hold the tree together long enough for it to recover.
Irreparable Damage – Some damages are simply too much for a tree to overcome. The following are examples of when your tree should be removed:
- Crown Loss (more than 25%)
- Windsnap (tree breaks in half)
- Windthrow (tree uproots)
- Heart Rot
- Root Rot
- Full Trunk Split
Diseases and insect infestations can take a toll on a tree’s health and act as a gateway for multiple stressors to ultimately kill the tree. Read more about what can kill a tree at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/why-are-my-trees-dying
In this article, you discovered how to prevent a split from worsening in a tree, some factors that lead to splits in trees, and how to help a tree repair its wounds.
You can significantly extend the life of your tree by stopping it from splitting and preventing conditions that encourage splits to occur.
Ignoring the signs of a splitting tree can result in catastrophic damages when your tree loses its stability and falls on your property.
Prevent tree boring insects from crippling and quickly killing your trees. By knowing how to identify when your trees have been attacked, you can take steps to halt the advancement of these killer bugs.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information on tree boring insects, infestation signs, and how to treat infested trees.
Round-Headed Borers (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)
Referred to as long-horned beetles in their adult stage, the larvae of these beetles tunnel beneath the bark and into their host tree’s heartwood. Some of the round-headed borer species include:
Locust Borer (Megacyllene robiniae) – This long-horned beetle can be found feeding on goldenrod and other flowers in the fall. Larvae hatch from eggs laid in tree bark crevices then tunnel into the inner bark, constructing cells in which they spend the winter months. It takes about a year before the larvae are fully grown and about an inch in length.
Watch this video for more information about locust borers.
Visible infestation symptoms include wet spots, oozing sap, and frass on the bark of black locusts.
Cottonwood Borer (Plectrodera scalator) – This beetle is frequently found on or attacking cottonwood, poplar, or willow trees. Adult beetles are active from May through August, and the larvae tunnel at the base of the trunk or below ground level. It takes about 2 years for this species to develop and emerge as adult beetles.
Multiple cottonwood borer attacks can result in defoliation, crown wilt, stem or branch dieback, and eventual death.
Red-Headed Ash Borer (Neoclytus acuminatus) – This is one of the more common wood-boring beetles. Red-headed ash borers feed on many wood species, including ash, oak, elm, and grapes. Adults can be found on log piles and frequently emerge from firewood.
Red Oak Borer (Enaphalodes rufulus) – This beetle attacks oak and maple trees and can be a serious threat in nurseries. Adults lay eggs individually in bark crevices during mid to late summer. Larvae then tunnel under the bark and into the tree’s heartwood.
Larvae usually tunnel completely around the trunk or branches they infest, resulting in girdling. Red oak borers feed on their host for more than one year before pupating in the chambers tunneled into the heartwood. Red oak borer damage kills limbs, terminals, or the entire tree and greatly increases the risk of secondary infestations and diseases.
Like other boring insect symptoms, red oak borer infestations can be detected by frass around buckled bark near the gallery entrance.
Twig Girdler (Oncideres species) – Damage from this borer occurs primarily from egg-laying. This insect affects pecan, mimosa, chinaberry, and huisache (sweet acacia). During the fall, adults girdle limbs by chewing a V-shaped groove entirely around twigs, branches, or terminals. Eggs are then deposited into the bark on the girdled branch away from the tree.
Watch this video for more about twig girdlers.
Girdled limbs eventually die and break, falling to the ground during high winds and storms. Damage can significantly disfigure a young tree and lead to secondary branching. Larvae are unable to develop in healthy sapwood. Removing and destroying girdled twigs and branches from the ground in winter and spring can significantly reduce this insect population.
Twig and Branch Pruners (Elaphidionoides and Agrilus species) – This insect species inflicts damage similar to that of twig girdlers on several tree species, including:
- Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
- Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)
- Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
- Elm (Ulmus)
- Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
- Hickory (Carya)
- Maple (Acer)
- Oak (Quercus)
- Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
With twig girdlers, it’s the adults that inflict damage. With twig and branch pruners, it is the larvae that feed beneath the bark, girdling twigs and branches. Resulting damages accompanied by repeated attacks can jeopardize a tree’s health, leaving it susceptible to other harmful insect infestations and diseases.
Flat-Headed Borers (Coleoptera: Buprestidae)
These metallic tree-boring beetles have flattened, hard-bodied, and with short antennae. These beetles are beautiful insects with distinctive metallic colors (blue, green, copper, bronze, etc.). When flat-head borer larvae tunnel beneath the bark and/or into the sapwood, they leave oval or flattened, winding tunnels filled with frass. This tunneling can girdle trunks and branches, killing its host expeditiously.
Emerald ash borer (Agrillus planipennis) (EAB) – Adults are distinctive metallic green beetles that have killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America. The larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees from early summer to mid-fall, causing hydraulic failure and death. Infested native ash trees are all susceptible to attack. The insect has also been found attacking white fringe trees (Chionanthus virginicus).
Watch this video for more information about the Emerald Ash Borer.
Flatheaded Apple Tree Borer (Chrysobothris femorata) – This species is a severe threat to small, stressed landscape trees, primarily flowering crab apples, hawthorns, and maples when stressed.
This aggressive borer may attack almost any hardwood tree that is stressed by:
- Sun Scald
- Soil Compaction
- Mechanical Injury
Similar to an EAB infestation, it makes broad winding tunnels under the bark, destroying the phloem, cambium, and outer xylem. A single borer can girdle and kill a small tree.
Bronze Birch Borer (Agrilus anxius) – This borer is a severe threat to white or paper birch. Symptoms of an infestation include twig and branch dieback. With successive years of attack, the tree becomes progressively weaker until it is killed.
D-shaped adult exit holes are a clear indication of an infestation. Adult bronze birch borers are slender, olive-bronze beetles begin emerging, and laying eggs in mid to late spring.
Note: With the exception of species like the emerald ash borer, most of these borers are secondary invaders, occurring when a tree’s defenses are weakened by previous infestations and/or diseases.
Watch this video for more about birch tree issues.
Bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)
Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) – This species is a primary threat to southern pine forests. Adult beetles are active during warmer months and disperse widely to healthy, injured, weakened, or stressed trees in the spring.
Six or more generations of beetles may occur within one calendar year. This beetle’s larvae tunnel beneath the bark, producing tunnels or galleries in patterns resembling the letter “S.” This tunneling disrupts the cambium layer, girdling the tree, and causing hydraulic failure.
Infested tree needles turn reddish-brown shortly after infestation during the summer months, and up to 3 months afterward in the winter.
Removal and careful destruction of infested trees can help prevent healthy trees in the vicinity from being attacked.
Watch this informative video about pine beetles.
Granulate Ambrosia Beetle (Xylosandrus crassiusculus) – This destructive beetle attacks healthy, stressed, or freshly cut:
- Elm (Ulmus)
- Oak (Quercus)
- Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
- Peach (Prunus persica)
- Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Dark reddish-brown adult female beetles tunnel into twigs, branches, or trunks, excavating a system of tunnels in the wood or pith in which eggs are deposited. Along with eggs, they introduce a fungus on which the larvae will feed after hatching.
Visible damage includes wilted leaves and protrusions of compressed wood dust from numerous small holes. Cankers can form at the damage site, eventually girdling the tree and killing it.
Chemical control of this beetle species is generally unsuccessful. Promoting the health and vigorous growth of your trees provides a more successful means of control, as ambrosia beetles tend to avoid attacking healthy, thriving trees.
Note: The European elm bark beetle (Scolytus multistriatus) is the carrier of Dutch elm disease. Dutch elm disease (DED) has decimated the US elm tree population over the past century.
For more information about ambrosia beetles, read fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/ambrosia-beetle-damage-treatment
Weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)
Weevils are beetles and are almost entirely plant feeders. The majority of species are associated with a specific range of hosts, in some cases only thriving on a single species. Some of the species present in the US include:
Asiatic Oak Weevil (Cyrtepistomus castaneus) – This weevil is present throughout much of the East. Small, legless grubs find refuge in hardwood tree roots, surviving the fall, winter, and early spring. During this time, the grubs pupate and adults emerge during the spring to feed on oak and chestnut foliage. They feed on the margins of leaves, sometimes consuming all but the main veins.
Although Asiatic oak weevils feed primarily on oaks and chestnut, they have been known to attack other woody plants.
The Asiatic oak weevil has not developed resistance to insecticides as of yet. Just about any insecticide labeled for landscape use should give adequate control.
Chichí Weevil or Citrus Root Weevil (Diaprepes abbreviatus) – This species was discovered in southern California in 2005, where it affects citrus, avocado, and nursery stock. It is also known to infest sugarcane, tuber crops like potatoes, and many species of ornamental plants.
Female citrus root weevils can lay up to 5,000 eggs, depositing them in clusters on plant foliage. The weevil then folds and glues the leaves together. Larvae emerge from the eggs after one week, drop to the ground, and begin to burrow down to the host plant’s roots. Larvae cause significant damage as they feed on the roots for several months.
While the adult weevil feeds on the plant’s foliage, the larvae do the most damage. They often partially or entirely consume the taproot of the plant, which can kill it. Phytophthora is a common disease in plants attacked by this weevil.
The weevil spreads by cross-contamination when infested equipment plants, soil, and containers are moved or used from site to site.
Watch this video for more on Diaprepes root weevils.
Palmetto Weevil (Rhynchophorus cruentatus) – Most active in late spring and early summer, this weevil is native to Florida and is found as far west as southern Texas and South Carolina to the north. The palmetto weevil is the largest and only species of palm weevil in North America.
This weevil’s preferred plant species include:
- Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis)
- Sabal palms (Sabal palmetto)
- Coconut palms (Cocos nucifera)
- Toddy palm (Caryota urens)
- Bismarck palm (Bismarckia nobilis)
- Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
- Washington fan palm (Washingtonia robusta)
- Tropical fan palms (Pritchardia beccariana)
- Royal palms (Roystonea regia)
- Blue latan palm (Latania loddigesii)
Palm trees are usually attacked when distressed, making transplanted trees a frequent target. Palmetto Weevils mate at the base of the branches where the females then deposit their eggs.
The grubs then bore into the palm tree, killing it. Damage is only visible after the larvae have turned into adult weevils, and by then, it is too late to save the tree. The life cycle of this weevil, from egg to adult, is about 80 to 85 days.
Note: While most weevil larvae do not bore into the cambium layer or heartwood of trees, they do cause enough damage to allow multiple successful attacks from other, more invasive, insect species.
Clearwing Borers (Podosesia syringae)
As adults, clearwing borers are delicate, wasp-like moths, active in the daytime. In this form, little to no damage is inflicted, as they only feed on nectar or not at all. The damaging larvae are whitish, hairless brown-headed caterpillars. Types of clearwing borers include:
Banded Ash Clearwing Borer (Podosesia aureocincta) – Attacks only ash, principally green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). Most active in August and September.
Carpenterworms (Prionoxystus robinae) – These large larvae tunnel through the trunks of oak, elm, willow, ash, boxelder, poplar, cottonwood, black locust, and fruit trees. These larvae spend 2 to 3 years developing, feeding underneath the bark in the cambium, and later tunneling into the heartwood. Carpenterworms, unlike other larvae, enter and exit the trunk of the tree multiple times during their development.
Watch this video for more on carpenterworms.
Dogwood Borer (Synanthedon scitula) – Attacks flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). Infestations in young trees occur in the main trunk where mechanical injuries are present. Infestations in older trees typically occur near pruning scars, cankers, or cracked bark. Small wet areas on the bark indicate young borer activity in early summer.
Lilac Borer (Podosesia syringae) – This species attacks lilac, ash, and privet anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. The majority of infestations occur from the root flare up to about 3 feet. Most active in April or May.
Rhododendron Borer (Synanthedon rhododendri) – Attacks rhododendrons and, occasionally, mountain laurel and flowering azaleas.
Peachtree borer (Synanthedon exitiosa) and
Lesser Peachtree Borer (Synanthedon pictipes) – These borers attack trees of the Prunus species, including fruit and ornamental varieties. Peachtree borer larvae attack young trees, while the lesser peachtree borer seeks older trees.
The tree species most affected by clearwing borers include:
- Ash (Fraxinus)
- Dogwood (Cornus florida)
- Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
- Oak (Quercus)
- Rhododendron (Rhododendron ferrugineum)
- Flowering Peach (Prunus persica)
- Flowering Plums (Prunus cerasifera)
- Flowering Cherries (Prunus serrulata)
Signs of a Clearwing Borer Infestation – Signs of a clearwing borer infestation can appear similar to those of other boring insects. Use the following to distinguish the difference:
- Terminal shoots, branches, and the crown will show signs of dieback.
- Cracked bark, cankers, and calluses may form around infestation sites.
- Large limbs may die, be weakened to the point of falling in the wind, or be self pruned from the tree.
- These borers leave coarse, dark frass behind in cracks in the bark.
- When a Prunus species is successfully attacked, frass may be mixed with oozing sap or gum.
- When adults emerge from the tree, they leave an empty shell (pupal skin) protruding from the bark.
Tip: As woodpeckers and other birds hunt the larvae, they leave feeding holes behind. This is a significant indication that your tree is infested.
Note: Older, more established trees may be re-infested year after year until they eventually die or fall.
Wood and Tree Boring Insects
When dealing with a tree boring insect infestation (suspected or confirmed), call on an ISA certified arborist’s knowledge and experience. Locate an arborist in your area by visiting treesaregood.org/findanarborist
If you suspect or have a confirmed emerald ash borer infestation, visit emeraldashborer.info/reporting-eab.php to identify the correct agency for reporting the infestation.
Insect webs can lead to tree decay, disease, and death, so be vigilant about spotting pests and insects in your trees. You can also contact your state’s forestry service for information about potential and current threats in your area. Visit fs.usda.gov/about-agency/contact-us/regional-offices to locate a regional office in your area.
Disclaimer: If you choose to use chemical treatments on affected trees, cut wood, and/or ground soaks, locate, read, and follow all manufacturer’s advisories and recommendations.
Tree Killing Boring Insects
In this article, you discovered species information, traits, and treatment for some of the most destructive tree boring insects.
By knowing how to identify trees in decline and the pest causing it, you can take quick measures to save your tree and/or contain an insect’s outbreak.
Ignoring an attacked tree’s signs can result in the spread and perpetuation of a deadly tree boring insect infestation.
Prevent your trees from becoming a hazard to your property and wellbeing. By knowing how to care for your trees, you can add decades to their lifespan while protecting yourself and property.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following tree care tips that promote the health of your tree from the time you plant it through its maturity.
Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place
Tree care begins when you select a species that fits your yard or landscape. Then, planting that tree in the right location will save you from dealing with grave tree health problems down the road. Consider the following:
Species – When selecting a tree species for your yard or landscape, you should answer the following questions:
- Is the species evergreen or deciduous? Deciduous trees lose their foliage in the fall.
- Is the species understory or overstory? Overstory species can reach 80 to 100 feet or more.
- Is the species flowering or fruit-bearing? After several years of growth, you may have an annual harvest to feast on.
- Is the species known to have invasive roots? Invasive roots can cause expensive damage to foundations and underground utilities.
Location – Determine multiple potential locations to plant your tree. Just because you think it would look good in one space doesn’t mean it has sufficient room or optimal conditions to reach maturity.
Look Up – Depending on the species of the tree you want to plant, consider its maximum height at maturity and if it will interfere with anything overhead i.e., power lines, road to house connections, etc.
What’s Below – As your tree grows upward, root growth will occur downward and outward. Verify the location of water mains, sewage lines, septic tanks, underground utilities, etc.
Call 8-1-1 to request a property inspection or visit call811.com to see the requirements and/or regulations in your state.
What Surrounds the Location – Your planting site should be 15 to 20 feet from driveways, sidewalks, fences, your home, and other structures to avoid root damage as the tree matures.
Read more about planting trees at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/tree-planting-location-landscape-species
How To Select a Healthy Tree
Once you’ve chosen the species and future location of your tree, observe the following to select a healthy specimen to plant:
Examine The Tree – It should look healthy with bright bark, and include the following:
- A well-developed leader
- Well-distributed branches
- Branches low on the trunk
- Free from signs of disease and insect infestation
- Free from signs of mechanical injury and breaks
Avoid purchasing trees with signs of drought. Take extra care to examine the foliage, twigs, and limbs. They should be firm but flexible, without signs of drying.
Examine The Roots – Before settling on a specimen, look for the following traits in its roots:
Bare-Root Seedlings and Saplings – When looking at bare-root specimens, the roots should be:
- Free from damage or breaks
- Moist and developed
- Roughly the length of its stems (for deciduous species)
If something looks or feels wrong, chances are, it is wrong. Be very selective when choosing a tree to plant.
Watch this video to see how bare-root trees are properly planted.
Balled and Burlapped Trees – These are trees that have had their root ball preserved and are typically wrapped in burlap. The following should be observed when looking at balled or burlapped trees:
- The root ball should be firm
- It should be moist but not wet
- The root ball should be proportional to the tree’s size
- The root ball should be firm around the trunk (no slack)
Avoid purchasing trees that appear loosely attached to their root ball. Chances are the root system has sustained significant damage or has dried out.
Watch this video to see how balled and burlapped trees are properly planted.
Container-Grown Trees – Container-grown trees can come with severe root growth problems. Inspect tree roots growing in containers as follows:
- If the container contains large, circling roots, these roots will likely continue to circle when planted in the ground. This condition may lead to the girdling and premature death of your tree.
- If roots have been pruned, examine them closely. Pruned roots should have clean cuts, while larger roots should be left intact.
- Like with burlapped root balls, the soil and roots should be firmly joined together.
As with bare-root and burlapped trees, container-grown trees should appear healthy with no signs of disease or insect infestation. Read more about warning signs and tree problems at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/warning-signs-problems-solutions-atlanta-trees
Watch this video to see how container-grown trees are properly planted.
Watering Your Trees
From the time your trees are planted, through maturity, they will need moist, well-drained soil for healthy growth.
Newly planted trees need regular and consistent watering until their root systems establish. Root systems of trees, whether bare-root, balled and burlapped, or container, are severely restricted and require more frequent waterings. Consider the following watering intervals:
- Daily watering for two weeks after planting
- Every three days from three weeks to twelve weeks
- Weekly deep waterings after twelve weeks
Once planted, root systems grow and establish themselves until they expand much wider than the canopy of the tree. This process takes one and a half to two years, and watering intervals should continue through this time.
The amount of water your tree requires can be calculated by the caliper of its trunk at planting. For trees with diameters up to four inches, measure the trunk six inches above the ground. For those greater than four inches, measure the trunk at twelve inches above the ground.
For every inch in diameter, your tree will require 1 to 1.5 times that number in gallons of water per irrigation. Coincidentally, The time it takes for the tree’s roots to establish themselves is also 1.5 times that number in years. For example:
- 1-inch caliper requires 1.5 years and 1 to 1.5 gallons per irrigation
- 3-inch caliper requires 4.5 years and 4 to 4.5 gallons per irrigation
- 5-inch caliper requires 7.5 years and 5 to 7.5 gallons per irrigation
Note: A deep watering soaks the ground around the tree to a depth of nine to twelve inches. This type of watering encourages roots to grow deep and away from the tree, establishing a sturdy root plate.
Tip: Avoid overhead watering to prevent the unintentional spreading of harmful pathogens to your trees.
Mulching Your Trees
Mulching newly planted trees with three inches of organic mulch optimizes root production by:
- Helping the soil retain moisture
- Acts as an absorbent, preventing water runoff
- Insulates the soil from extreme heat and/or cold temperatures
- Helps prevent soil compaction
- Improves soil as it decomposes
- Decreases competition from turf and weed roots
Tip: Keep mulch from contacting the trunk or root flare of the tree. This helps prevent rot.
Note: Using too much mulch can suffocate roots or cause the soil to retain too much water, leading to root rot.
Watch this video to see mulching best practices.
Fertilizing Your Trees
Fertilizer is often misused, it is not plant food. Trees produce their own food by making sugars through a process called photosynthesis. The minerals and/or nutrients released by fertilizer provide needed ingredients for photosynthesis and growth to occur.
Fertilizer applied in the first years of established, transplanted trees can speed up canopy growth and help young trees fill up space in your landscape. Slow-release fertilizers are recommended for recently planted trees and shrubs.
Nutrients commonly found in fertilizers are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Other nutrients used in fairly large quantities are calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Organic fertilizers, like compost, cow manure, or fertilizer blends, provide nitrogen and other nutrients slowly. An advantage of organic fertilizers is their delivery of minor nutrients (minerals required in small amounts such as iron or zinc) not usually found in commercial fertilizers. Organic fertilizers also improve soil structure.
Soil pH should be tested annually and adjusted as needed. Generally, the best growing conditions for trees occur in soils with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. However, some species may require more acidic or more basic soils.
Tip: If you annually fertilize your turf with a slow-release fertilizer, you will likely not need to fertilize your trees.
Read more about fertilizing trees at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/fertilization-basics-healthier-trees
Pruning Your Trees
Typically, people will prune to improve the aesthetics of a tree by removing unwanted growth. However, trees are often pruned only to maintain a desired shape or size to fit a location. This is usually the result of a poor choice of location or because the wrong tree species was selected for that space.
The best time to prune a tree is when it is in its dormancy period, generally at the very begging of winter or just before spring. During this time, the risk of infection is minimal, and potential damage to the tree is significantly reduced. Consider the following when pruning a tree:
- Always prune with purpose
- Before pruning, make sure your tools are sterile
- Before starting, learn how and where to cut
- A wound is forever contained by compartmentalization within the tree, a lot of care should be applied when deciding what to prune
- Tree growth problems are best corrected when they are young. Smaller cuts do lesser damage than larger cuts.
When trees are damaged by a storm or suffer damages from illnesses and infestations, prune to remove affected limbs.
Watch this video to see pruning best practices.
Note: When in doubt about pruning, hire a professional tree service to evaluate your tree and do the pruning for you.
Read more about pruning and caring for young trees at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/3-tips-young-trees-pruning-tree-care-protection
Caring for Trees
In this article, you discovered tips to help your trees thrive from the time they are planted through their maturity.
By knowing how to provide proper care for your trees, you are giving them the chance to live a long, sturdy life.
When you plant a tree and simply let it be, you create the risk for abnormal growth, diseases, and insect infestations that can weaken and quickly kill your tree.
Prevent your storm-damaged tree from dying or falling and causing catastrophic property damages. By knowing how to help and repair your tree after suffering storm damages, you can potentially avoid the need for its removal.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information on how to assess tree damage, treat a damaged tree, determine when a tree should be removed, and what you can do to prevent tree storm damage.
Assessing Tree Storm Damage
Before determining that your tree is beyond saving, assess the tree by asking the following six questions about the visible state of the tree.
Question #1 – Are the tree’s largest limbs damaged or broken?
Recommendation – If your tree has lost its largest or a majority of its limbs, it will likely not survive. Consider contracting a professional tree service to remove the tree.
Question #2 – Was the leader (the main upward extension of the trunk) lost in the storm?
Recommendation – This is a judgment call on your part. Your tree may survive losing its leader but will likely grow deformed and/or stunted.
Question #3 – Has the tree lost more than 30% of its crown?
Recommendation – When a tree loses more than 30% of its crown, there may not be enough foliage left to provide nourishment to it. Trees in this situation need to be closely monitored and removed if there is no evidence of recovery in the following growing season.
Question #4 – Looking at the damaged crown, can you identify enough healthy branches that can reconstitute both branch structure and crown foliage.
Recommendation – If the answer is yes, allow the tree several growing seasons to “fill out” the crown. If the tree declines and cannot rebound from its damages, you will know that the answer was no.
Question #5 – Is there extensive bark damage?
Recommendation – In cases where there are multiple areas of bark damage on the trunk and/or larger branches, disease and insect infestation are of significant concern. Read more about how you can treat bark damage at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/handling-tree-bark-damage
Question #6 – Is your tree healthy?
Recommendation – If your tree was already in decline (from disease or infestation) before suffering storm damage, you should immediately request a tree hazard assessment. If the tree was healthy, thriving, and did not suffer extreme damages, it should recover if cared for after the storm.
Note: Before determining the fate of your tree, take into consideration that, after sustaining weather-related damages, healthy trees will typically go through a phase of rapid growth over several growing seasons.
Tip: If at any time you experience difficulty in determining whether or not to keep your tree, request a tree hazard assessment by a professional tree service.
How To Treat Tree Storm Damage
After any severe weather event, your tree(s) should be examined for damages. Once you have clearly identified damaged areas of your tree, consider the following:
- Prune damaged limbs back, at least one foot before the damage towards the trunk
- Prune the limb/branch off the tree if the damages are too close to the trunk
If there is significant structural damage to the trunk, including splits and/or cracks, a professional tree service should be hired to remove the tree. This type of damage is dangerous and holds the potential to quickly turn life-threatening.
Continue to promote the health of a damaged tree through:
- Seasonal Pruning
- Annual Inspections
Providing your tree with the means to thrive will help it overcome most weather damage on its own.
Emergency Tree Removal After Storm Damage
When severe weather leaves your tree swaying, leaning, caused windsnap (broken off at the trunk), or windthrow (uprooted and blown over), the tree should be removed from your property immediately. To learn more about or contract an emergency tree removal service, visit fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/emergency-tree-removal-atlanta
Note: For trees planted in rows, the emergency removal of any one of those trees may cause adjacent trees to lose their stability. Trees planted near one another will frequently use each other’s root plate for shared stability. Trees growing under these conditions must be professionally evaluated before their removal.
How To Prevent Tree Storm Damage
Controlling the impact of weather is possible in small scale scenarios. Objects and structures like walls, buildings, fences, hills, and shrubs can shield a tree from being severely damaged. It is when nature unleashes severe weather systems that a tree is truly put to the test.
Instead of relying on reactive treatment for damages, you can dramatically increase your tree’s strengths by being proactive and supporting its health before severe weather strikes. Consider the following measures to improve the vitality of your tree:
- Seasonal Pruning
- Annual Inspections
Note: These are the same measures you would use to promote a tree’s health after suffering significant weather-related damages.
Storm Damaged Tree
In this article, you discovered how to assess tree damages after a severe weather event, treat the damages, keep or remove the tree, and how to prevent weather damage.
By knowing how to identify and treat storm damage to trees, you can significantly extend their lifespan while substantially increasing their resistance.
Ignoring your trees after severe weather events creates the perfect environment for catastrophic property damages and potential fatalities.
Keep your evergreen trees from dying and spreading killer diseases. By knowing what to look for and how to stop evergreen tree diseases, you can save your trees or have them removed.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information, symptoms, and treatment for pathogens that attack, weaken, and kill evergreen trees.
Diplodia (Sphaeropsis) Blight
Diplodia sapinea is the opportunistic fungal pathogen responsible for this disease. It affects various 2 and 3 needle pines and conifers. Especially susceptible are red pine, Mugo pine, Scots pine, Ponderosa pine, and Austrian pine. Diplodia blight infects trees of all ages, but higher infection rates are found among trees weakened by drought, infestation, and nutrient deficiencies.
Symptoms of Diplodia Blight – This disease is common among conifers, pines in particular. Signs that indicate a Diplodia blight infection include:
- Stunted, brown needles and stems
- Dying, tan-colored, young needles remain attached
- Pollen cones and mature needles appear uninfected
- Root collar rot in younger trees
- Root disease
- Small, black fruiting structures
In severe cases, entire branches can become infected. Resinous cankers may also form on the stems and trunk of the tree.
During late summer and fall, this disease produces pycnidia (fruiting bodies). Pycnidia are found near the base of needles, on scales of seed cones, or on tree bark. The presence of these fruiting structures, together with other symptoms, is compelling evidence that Diplodia blight has infected your tree.
Treatment of Diplodia Blight – Once a Diplodia blight infection is confirmed, the following management measures should be taken:
- Remove and destroy debris from the base of the tree
- Maintain grass and weeds below the tree trimmed low to the ground (increases airflow)
- Carefully prune out and destroy infected stems and branches (each fruiting structure may contain thousands of spores)
- Apply chemical controls beginning in the spring and every two weeks until new needle growth reaches full length.
If using chemical control, the following chemicals have shown to be quite effective in controlling this disease:
- Copper hydroxide with mancozeb
Prevention of Diplodia Blight – Ways to prevent your trees from contracting Diplodia blight include:
- Plant disease-free trees and shrubs
- Plant disease-resistant species
- Plant your trees far enough from others to maintain good airflow
- Eliminate overhead watering practices
- Care for your trees and encourage healthy growth (water, soil, fertilizer, etc.)
- Prune and cut with sanitized equipment
- Treat your trees preemptively against boring insects
When your tree is more than 25% infected, or the top portion of it has died, call a professional tree service to evaluate the damage and recommend a course of action. If you prune away a quarter of your tree, it will likely die. At this point, removal may be the only option to protect the rest of your landscape.
Cytospora Canker of Spruce
Leucostoma kunzei is the fungal pathogen responsible for this disease. Cytospora canker affects black, Oriental, white, Norway, and, most notably, Colorado blue spruce varieties. Cytospora canker occurs most often on mature landscape trees stressed by drought or poor care conditions.
Symptoms of Cytospora Canker – This disease is common among varieties of spruce trees. Signs that indicate a cytospora canker infection include:
- Lower branch dieback
- Poor growth
- Faded or brown needles
- Large amounts of resin flow on affected/dying branches
- Cut the branch to reveal reddish-brown soaked wood
- Small, black fruiting structures
Cytospora canker diseased trees, in decline, will often present the following additional indicators:
- Bark beetle infestation (confirmed by pitch tubes, boring dust, exit holes, galleries beneath the bark, and fast-paced decline from the top-down)
- Spruce spider mites (can cause severe damage)
- Pine needle scale
- Spruce bud scale
As the health of a diseased tree declines, it can be successfully attacked by multiple insect species, making its decline and death an accelerated process.
Treatment of Cytospora Canker – Once a cytospora canker infection is confirmed, the following management measures should be taken:
- Carefully pruning out diseased limbs is the only effective treatment for cytospora canker
- Prune in late winter or dry weather to prevent spreading the disease
- Destroy pruned, infected branches
Tip: Once a tree is infected with cytospora canker, fungicide sprays will have no effect on the disease and will not cure the affected tree.
Prevention of Cytospora Canker – Ways to prevent your trees from contracting cytospora canker include:
- Plant disease-free trees and shrubs
- Plant disease-resistant species
- Plant your trees far enough from others to maintain good airflow
- Care for your trees and encourage healthy growth (water, soil, fertilizer, etc.)
- Increase watering intervals during times of drought
- Have your trees inspected annually to detect any health or insect problems (spider mites, bagworms, etc.)
- Have severely infected trees (dying or dead) promptly removed and destroyed to slow the disease from spreading and eliminate breeding sites for boring insects
When your tree is infected by a disease and infested by boring insects, call a professional tree service to either treat or remove the tree.
Cercospora Blight of Junipers
Pseudo-Cercospora juniperi is the fungus responsible for this disease. Cercospora blight of junipers affects the Cupressaceae (cypress) family, which includes multiple species of junipers and redwoods. Cercospora blight spreads to young foliage in warm, wet weather and can cause a tree to show signs of infection within two to three weeks.
Symptoms of Cercospora Blight of Junipers – This disease is common among varieties of junipers, redwoods, arborvitae, and Eastern red cedar. Signs that indicate a Cercospora blight infection include:
- Lower branch dieback (foliage turns bronze or light brown then gray)
- Inner foliage death occurs first as the disease works outward then upward
- Small fuzzy fruiting structures appear on the dead foliage
Eventually, the dead foliage falls from the tree leaving the inner branches stripped of any foliage or twigs. In advanced cases, the outer foliage also dies off, leaving only the foliage at the very top of the tree.
It is the green (seemingly unaffected) foliage at the end of affected branches that differentiate this pathogen from other blight causing diseases that kill from the infection or canker site out to the tip.
Treatment of Cercospora Blight of Junipers – Once a Cercospora blight infection is confirmed, the following management measures should be taken:
- Apply a liquid or wettable powder fungicide (copper fungicides are recommended) to the lower branches of trees with minor infection evidence. Spray all of the tree’s foliage for heavily infected specimens. Spray the trees in the beginning, middle, and again at the end of the summer season.
- For trees with advanced symptoms of infection (fifty percent or more of the foliage), consider having the tree removed and destroyed to protect other trees on your landscape.
- Carefully remove and destroy dead foliage and twigs from beneath infected trees.
During periods of drought, eliminate all overhead or spray methods of watering. The spread of Cercospora blight depends partly on splashing water and warmth.
Prevention of Cercospora Blight of Junipers – Once a Cercospora blight infection is confirmed, the following preventative measures should be taken:
- Plant disease-free tree species
- Plant disease-resistant species
- Plant your trees far enough from others to maintain good airflow
- Care for your trees and encourage healthy growth (water, soil, fertilizer, etc.)
- Keep grass and shrubbery (surrounding the tree) cut low enough to permit free airflow
- Have your trees inspected annually for early detection of potential issues
Have heavily infected trees removed and destroyed by a professional tree service. As the tree’s health declines, it becomes a target for insect infestations and other infections.
Evergreen Tree Disease Identification
Part of an evergreen tree’s growth process includes the occasional needle or leaf drop. During times of drought, a tree may lose more of its foliage than normal, appearing to be sick.
Some insect infestations like bagworms, mites, beetles, and scale can cause chlorosis and leaf drop that appears to be an infection versus an infestation.
When you cannot positively identify whether or not your tree has contracted a disease, call a professional tree service to help you figure out what is happening.
How To Identify and Treat Evergreen Diseases
In this article, you discovered evergreen tree disease information, the symptoms to watch for, and how to treat pathogens that weaken and kill evergreens.
By knowing what to look for and how to treat tree diseases, you can take prompt action to either save your tree or have it removed.
When you ignore the signs of evergreen tree infections, you risk not only losing your tree but spreading the disease to other trees on your landscape.
Prevent your trees from becoming severe risks to your property and wellbeing. By knowing how to care for your trees, you can keep them thriving for decades.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information to assist you in caring for your trees from the time you plant them until their maturity and beyond.
Tree Care – Planting
Placing “the right tree in the right place” is your first act of caring for your tree and will determine much of how the tree grows and whether you will have years of joy and shade or multiple problems and expenses. Consider the following information when selecting the species and location of your tree:
Tree Species – When selecting the species of the tree you’d like to plant, the following will help you choose the right species:
- Will the species tolerate your region’s hardiness zone?
- Is the species known for invasive roots?
- Is the tree an overstory or understory?
- Does the tree need full or partial sun?
- Is the tree tolerant to regional pests and diseases?
- Is the tree deciduous or evergreen?
To determine your USDA Hardiness Zone, visit planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/InteractiveMap.aspx
Tree Location – As a tree grows, it can’t get up and move if its location becomes inconvenient. When selecting a location to plant your tree, use the following to guide your decision:
- Are there power lines running over the location?
- Are there utility lines running under the location?
- Are there sidewalks, driveways, or structures nearby that could be damaged by invasive roots?
- Does the location receive full or partial sun?
- Is the location well-drained, or does water pool?
Read more about selecting a tree species and a location to plant it at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/tree-planting-location-landscape-species
Tree Care – Watering
Lack of water can cause your tree to wilt, suffer hydraulic failure, and die. To keep your tree in outstanding health, there must be a regular watering schedule that meets the needs of the tree. The following will help you determine how often to water your tree:
- Water your tree three times per week
- One of the three should be a deep watering (this will encourage the roots to grow deep)
- Water the entire root plate (the root plate grows outward and is typically the same size as the tree’s crown)
- During times of drought or intense heat, give your tree two deep waterings per week
- When rainfall is plentiful, reduce the frequency of waterings
The soil around your tree must be well-drained. If water remains pooled after rainfall or waterings, your soil must be adjusted to allow proper draining. Reduce the frequency of waterings until the soil is improved.
Tip: The continuous application of organic mulch can help your soil structure maintain proper drainage properties.
Tree Care – Mulching
When organic mulch is applied correctly around your tree, it can improve soil quality and regulate both soil moisture and temperature. Consider the following when mulching your tree:
- Apply a layer of organic mulch 3 to 6 inches deep over the entire root plate
- Keep mulch pulled back 2 to 3 inches from the tree trunk and root flare (this will help prevent problems with decay, disease, and nesting wildlife)
- Fluff the mulch when it compresses and add more when necessary
- Remove and replace mulch when it becomes riddled with mold
Organic mulch can be from a compost pile, straw, or wood chips.
Tree Care – Fertilizing
At times, the soil around your tree may need to have its chemical composition and pH level adjusted.
For trees that grow in acidic soil, the pH level should be 6.5 or less, for those preferring a base soil, the level should be 7.5 or above. Soil with a pH of 7.0 (6.5 – 7.5) is considered neutral.
Soil pH levels can be adjusted using phosphoric acid or sulfur to make them more acidic. While limestone, organic mulch, or wood ash will reduce the soil’s acidity. Many brands of fertilizer contain one or a combination of the above to adjust soil pH levels.
Frequently, the missing or deficient element in soil is nitrogen, and as such, the vast majority of fertilizers contain it.
Read more about fertilizing trees at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/fertilization-basics-healthier-trees
Tip: Tree fertilization should be done in fall (after the growing season) or late winter (before the beginning of the next growing season)
Tree Care – Pruning
Small tree branches can be pruned whenever they present problems at any time of the year. Large branches – branches comprising over 5-10% of the tree’s crown volume – should only be pruned in winter when the tree is dormant. Trees should never be pruned in autumn since the air is filled with diseases and decay fungi.
There are many reasons to cut tree limbs; they might be diseased or dead, they could be rubbing against other limbs, or they are competing with other branches and have to be removed.
Raising or thinning the canopy is another reason for limb removal. This is done to open the canopy to more sunlight or provide additional vertical clearance.
Read more about pruning and cutting trees at fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/when-tree-pruning-cutting-emergency-removal-atlanta-ga
Annual Tree Inspections
Your tree(s) should be inspected by a professional tree service annually to detect any problems with abnormal growth, infestations, or disease.
This type of inspection is also known as a tree hazard assessment. It is used by arborists to determine whether or not any actions should be taken to improve the health and safety of the tree.
There are times when the best course of action is to remove your tree. The following may require your tree to be removed to protect your landscape and surrounding trees:
- Boring insect infestations
- Infectious tree diseases
- Severe storm damage
- Severe root damage or rot
- Leaning tree
- Root damage to surrounding structures
If you suspect that your tree should be removed, contact a professional tree service to evaluate the situation and recommend the best course of action. Sometimes, the best way to care for your trees is to eliminate the ones that could compromise the health and vigor of the others.
Caring for Trees
In this article, you discovered many ways to care for your trees from the time you plant them until their maturity.
By promoting the health of your trees, you enable them to grow strong and resist attacks by disease and insects.
Neglecting the care of your trees will lead to abnormal growth and potential death by disease and infestation.
Avoid planting a tree that could damage your home’s foundation or disrupt your region’s ecosystem. By knowing which tree species to avoid planting, you can contribute to a diverse and healthy ecosystem.
fasttreeremovalatlanta.com gathered the following information about the dangers of planting invasive trees and which species to avoid.
What Are Invasive Trees
An invasive tree species is a species that can thrive, reproduce and spread, unaided, and at alarming speeds.
The definition may also apply to the root system of a tree species. Invasive tree roots spread far and are capable of causing structural damages to sidewalks, driveways, and foundations as they grow beneath them. Also considered invasive are those roots that invade and plug up water supply and sewage lines.
List of Invasive Tree Species
When selecting a tree for your yard or landscape, you can help preserve your native ecosystem by avoiding these following tree species (Unless native to or established in your region):
• African tuliptree (Spathodea campanulata)
• Alexandrian laurel (Calophyllum inophyllum)
• Amur chokecherry (Prunus maackii)
• Amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense)
• Amur maple (Acer ginnala)
• Antilles Calophyllum (Calophyllum antillanum)
• Apple (Malus)
• Arabian coffee (Coffea arabica)
• Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica Greene)
• Asian nakedwood (Colubrina Asiatica)
• Athel tamarisk (Tamarix aphylla)
• Australian almond (Terminalia muelleri)
• Australian redcedar (Toona Ciliata Roemer)
• Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum)
• Australian-pine (Casuarina equisetifolia)
• Austrian pine (Pinus nigra Arnold)
• Avocado (Persea Americana)
• Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)
• Bee-bee tree (Tetradium daniellii)
• Bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata)
• Birch-leaf pear (Pyrus betulifolia Bunge)
• Black acacia (Acacia melanoxylon)
• Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
• Black mangrove (Lumnitzera racemosa)
• Black peppermint (Eucalyptus salicifolia)
• Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii)
• Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
• Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis)
• Boxelder (Acer negundo)
• Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana)
• Bristly locust (Robinia hispida)
• Cabbage tree (Cordyline australis)
• California privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium)
• Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)
• Carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardioides)
• Castor aralia (Kalopanax septemlobus)
• Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
• Ceara rubber tree (Manihot glaziovii)
• Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
• Cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera)
• Chilean jessamine (Cestrum parqui)
• Chinaberry (Melia azedarach)
• Chinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa)
• Chinese catalpa (Catalpa ovata)
• Chinese crab apple (Malus hupehensis)
• Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia)
• Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata)
• Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta)
• Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense)
• Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera)
• Common filbert (Corylus avellana)
• Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
• Common pear (Pyrus communis)
• Cooper’s Cyathea (Cyathea cooperi)
• Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri)
• Council tree (Ficus altissima)
• Crabapple (Malus)
• Crack willow (Salix fragilis)
• Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
• Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera)
• Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara)
• Devil tree (Alstonia macrophylla)
• Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
• Earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis)
• Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
• Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)
• Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)
• Fig (Ficus carica)
• English elm (Ulmus procera)
• English holly (Ilex aquifolium)
• English oak (Quercus robur)
• European aspen (Populus tremula)
• European birch (Betula pendula)
• Firetree (Morella faya)
• Flamegold (Koelreuteria elegans)
• Forest redgum (Eucalyptus tereticornis)
• Fountain palm (Livistona Chinensis)
• French tamarisk (Tamarix gallica)
• Glossy buckthorn (Frangula Alnus)
• Glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum)
• Glossy shower (Senna surattensis)
• Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
• Governor’s plum (Flacourtia indica)
• Gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa)
• Gray poplar (Populus x canescens)
• Guava (Psidium guajava)
• Hedge maple (Acer campestre)
• Hedionda macho (Senna septemtrionalis)
• Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
• Incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)
• Indian rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo)
• Indian rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
• Italian stone pine (Pinus pinea)
• Japanese angelica (Aralia elata)
• Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
• Japanese cork tree (Phellodendron japonicum)
• Japanese holly (Ilex crenata)
• Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
• Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum)
• Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata)
• Java plum (Syzygium cumini)
• Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi)
• Karaka nut (Corynocarpus laevigatus)
• Large gray willow (Salix cinerea)
• Laurel willow (Salix pentandra)
• Lavalle cork tree (Phellodendron lavallei)
• Lemon (Citrus x Limon)
• Lime (Citrus x Aurantiifolia)
• Lombardy poplar (Populus nigra)
• Mango (Mangifera indica)
• Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster)
• Mayten (Maytenus boaria)
• Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
• Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
• Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa)
• Monterey pine (Pinus radiata)
• Mountain ebony (Bauhinia variegata)
• Northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)
• Norway maple (Acer platanoides)
• Norway spruce (Picea abies)
• Octopus tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
• Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
• Oleander (Nerium oleander)
• Olive (Olea europaea)
• Orange (Citrus x Sinensis)
• Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera)
• Papaya (Carica papaya)
• Paper-mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)
• Plum (Prunus domestica)
• Plume albizia (Paraserianthes lophantha)
• Plum leaf crabapple (Malus prunifolia)
• Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
• Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
• Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
• Portugal laurel (Prunus lusitanica)
• Prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)
• Princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
• Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
• Queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)
• Red bead tree (Adenanthera pavonina)
• Redbox (Eucalyptus polyanthemos)
• Redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea)
• River redgum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
• Rose glory bower (Clerodendrum bungei)
• Rose myrtle (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa)
• Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
• Saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima)
• Sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima)
• Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
• Sea hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum)
• Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)
• Silk oak (Grevillea robusta)
• Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)
• Sour cherry (Prunus cerasus)
• Sour orange (Citrus x Aurantium)
• Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides)
• Stickbush (Clerodendrum chinense)
• Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum)
• Sugar gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx)
• Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)
• Swamp mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta)
• Sweet cherry (Prunus avium)
• Sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus)
• Tall lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)
• Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
• Tropical almond (Terminalia catappa)
• Trumpet tree (Cecropia palmata)
• Tung oil tree (Vernicia fordii)
• Vinegar tree (Lophostemon confertus)
• Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana)
• Weeping willow (Salix babylonica)
• White lead tree (Leucaena leucocephala)
• White mulberry (Morus alba)
• White poplar (Populus alba)
• White willow (Salix alba)
• Willow (Salix spp.)
• Woman’s tongue (Albizia lebbeck)
Note: Native tree species have not evolved alongside these trees and have difficulty competing with them.
To learn how to select the proper planting location and tree species, visit fasttreeremovalatlanta.com/tree-planting-location-landscape-species
In this article, you discovered information about invasive tree species and the dangers they pose to native ecosystems.
When you avoid planting invasive tree species, you are protecting the native ecosystem of your region.
By planting non-native, invasive tree species, you are recklessly endangering the ecological integrity and biological diversity of your region.