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Spring Plant Health Care

Have you ever wondered what a typical workday entails for a Certified Arborist? While tree pruning remains a year-round activity, the schedule of our Plant Health Care Department varies with the seasons. As spring approaches, you might notice our trucks traversing the area, administering various preventative treatments to trees and shrubs. Let’s take a look into our spring Plant Health Care services and explore the diverse biotic and abiotic issues affecting trees.

Plant Health Care in the Spring

Spring proves to be a bustling period for our Plant Health Care department, with a surge of preventative treatments and spring fertilization applications aimed at priming trees and shrubs for the upcoming growing season. To gain a deeper appreciation for the significance of the Plant Health Care department within a tree care company, it’s crucial to grasp the array of stressors that trees encounter.

All tree issues can be categorized as either biotic or abiotic. But what does this classification entail? Biotic disorders stem from living organisms, encompassing diseases, insects, and fungi. In contrast, abiotic disorders originate from non-living agents, typically environmental factors. These may involve heat or drought stress, frost damage, nutrient deficiencies, improper planting, sunscald, mechanical damage, excessive or insufficient watering, and a plethora of other factors.

The Goal of Plant Health Care

The objective of Plant Health Care is to assist customers in addressing biotic (living) issues like diseases and insects throughout the season, while also educating them about abiotic (non-living) issues that may have arisen or could potentially arise. Basic practices such as implementing a suitable watering regimen, establishing mulch rings, or administering fertilization can significantly aid trees and shrubs in resisting abiotic stressors.

This is why our Inspection services are such an important part of your Plant Health Care protocol. During an inspection, a Certified Arborist will look at everything on the property, treat any insects or diseases found, and also provide a written report of issues found on your landscape plants, such as drought stress, trunk wounds, nutrient deficiencies, and much more.

In the case we need further testing to determine the cause of an issue, our Plant Health Care department has the ability to send plant samples to a lab for further testing. A well-rounded Plant Health Care plan will cover all aspects of stress for your trees and shrubs; biotic and abiotic.

Treatment Timing

It is important to note that timing of treatments is important because insect emergence and disease activity vary, depending on your pest. Your arborist will know which products will be effective for each tree & shrub pest and the timing of effectiveness for each treatment. Here is a list of services we are currently applying with a brief description:

Spring Fertilization. Our spring fertilization service is a liquid injection that goes into the root zone and will release slowly throughout the season. This mixture has your regular Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium which helps with new growth and overall plant processes, but also has an organic product that mixes in beneficial fungi and bacteria that should naturally be in your soil, but often isn’t. We recommend this service for newly planted trees and shrubs (for the first 4-5 years to become established) as well as some stressed trees.

Dormant Oil. Dormant oil is part of a multi-step treatment protocol for difficult-to-control pests called Scale. Scale are insects that attach themselves to trees and feed on the sap of the tree, which eventually weakens the tree and can lead to death if populations are great enough. Dormant oil is a horticultural oil that helps smother and suppress eggs and insects. We apply this in March & November in conjunction with a systemic insecticide.

Systemic Insecticides. Systemic Insecticides are a more environmentally friendly approach to insect prevention and control. These products can go into the root zone or onto the trunk of the tree and go within the tree for control. One treatment lasts for the entire season and will affect the insect as it feeds on the plant. We use these products for prevention of Japanese Beetles, Lacebugs on Azaleas, aphids, and control of scale insects.

Fungicides. Fungicides are preventatives. Many trees are prone to fungal issues in our area. The Blue Spruce is a beautiful tree, however, very prone to a fungal disease called Needlecast. Many Crabapple varieties are susceptible to Apple Scab, some varieties of Flowering Dogwood trees are susceptible to Anthracnose, and fruit trees can be susceptible to a host of different fungal issues. Fungal diseases are the most common form of disease for landscape trees. Our fungicides are applied in a series of usually three sprays, a month apart, starting early spring. The goal is to protect the new growth from becoming infected by the fungal pathogen.

Some of our upcoming Plant Health Care services include:

Inspections. As mentioned above, our inspections are a great way to have a professional on your property, inspecting and treating pest problems through the growing season when pests are active. We know what to look for depending on the types of trees and shrubs on your property, the timing of damage, and best timing for treatment. Many companies will do routine spray programs, spraying everything on the property multiple times a season. This method puts unnecessary chemicals in the environment which can harm beneficial insects. We treat on an as-needed basis only, being mindful of the environment and the care of your landscape.  

Insecticide sprays for insects such as Bagworms, Lacebugs, Japanese Beetles, mites, aphids, and many more. Our Plant Health Care technicians will know which insects your specific tree species are susceptible to, timing of their damage, and when to look for and treat them. Entomology is the study of insects, their lifecycles, and feeding patterns and is an important aspect of our job. Each insect species has their preferred plant host or hosts, a specific feeding pattern, and damage they cause.

Injections. Injections are a systemic method of administering product into a tree. We have a few options for injections that are preventative measures to protect your trees from certain deadly insects or diseases. Emerald Ash Borer is killing Ash trees in our area.  Anyone with an Ash tree that would like to keep it, should protect it from Emerald Ash Borer with our two-year injection. American Elms are prone to a deadly disease called Dutch Elm Disease. We have a fungicide injection that will protect your Elms from this.

We possess numerous tools in our arsenal to safeguard your trees and shrubs. Above, we’ve outlined just a few options tailored for your trees and shrubs this spring and summer season. We understand that your landscape represents an investment, and we take great pride in nurturing it.

Contact us to learn more about our Plant Health Care department and how our services can benefit your trees and shrubs.