Chlorosis is a common micronutrient deficiency that causes the leaves of trees to become yellow and in severe cases causes the foliage to brown and die. In southern and eastern Wisconsin, it typically affects white oaks, pin oaks, white pine, red maple and birch. Chlorosis is caused by either a lack of nutrients (typically iron and manganese) in the soil or the inability of a tree to absorb the nutrients through its roots. Trunk injections with liquid iron and treatments of Bio Pak plus root stimulant with added iron and manganese helps trees to correct the chlorosis by providing the needed micronutrients and increasing the tree’s ability to absorb them. The key to maintaining the color and health of your trees is treating chlorotic trees as soon as you become aware of the symptoms. Keeping trees on a regular fertilizing schedule can greatly help to reduce the chances of trees becoming chlorotic.
Pruning young trees is often overlooked in favor of addressing larger problems on more mature trees. Though pruning mature trees to remove deadwood and manage risk is important, often these goals could have been accomplished by pruning during infancy.Benefits of Pruning Young Trees:
- Trees that are properly pruned while young will need less corrective pruning as they age.
- Trees are more vigorous, allowing them to “heal” wounds more efficiently.
- Early pruning can develop a strong central trunk with firmly attached, well-spaced branches and can reduce the chance of a tree developing two leading stems of similar diameter, called codominant stems.
- Pruning young trees is an effective way to cultivate desirable form and strong structure as they develop. This is often less costly, and safer than correcting those issues on large, mature trees.
Thank you Mike Wendt, professor of Arborculture at MATC for leading our Pruning Techniques training this summer in Muskego. We are committed to constant improvement of all our employees in all aspects of the tree care profession.
Pruning will help the aesthetic look and health of the plant. Pruning also helps to promote structural integrity to help reduce risk of limbs breaking and storm damage. - learn more about pruning -
Winter burn is a common problem noticed on conifers in Wisconsin that are exposed to extreme winter conditions. It is most commonly seen on plants grown in open, unprotected areas. It can also be seen on deciduous trees if there is a very sudden cold snap when the trees have leaves on them.
Winter burn usually presents as browning areas on the plant that move from the outside areas towards the inward needles/leaves of the plant. It is also most common to see the damage on the south and west sides of the plant.
Causes of Winter Burn:
- Plants with shallow or under developed root systems do not efficiently take up water.
- Warm fall temperatures can delay the onset of dormancy. When there is a rapid cold weather plants are not prepared.
- On sunny winter days plants facing the sun can begin to transpire (naturally move water through the plant and out through the foliage). Because there is no water available in the frozen ground for the plant to uptake and replace the lost water the foliage begins to dry and brown.
- Strong winter winds cause the plant to have more water loss.
- Colder than average winters as well as longer winters can cause winter burn.
- Cold weather after an initial warm-up can also cause winter burn.
- Prune out brown, dead, damaged and dying areas in mid-spring after new growth is produced.
- Some larger pines will need nothing done because they push out new growth from the branch ends and will naturally deal with the problem.
- Removal/replacement is sometimes needed if the plant is too heavily damaged.
- Proper watering can help to keep plants hydrated when going into the winter months.
- Keeping plants on a proper Plant Health Care program (Insect and Disease management, fertilizer/root stimulant treatments) will help trees to stay healthy.
- Winter protection such as wrapping plants with burlap, canvas and other protective materials can help to prevent winter burn.
- Treating trees with Antidessicants can help to lessen water loss and help plants to deal with winter weather.
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has become a very destructive pest to ash trees throughout Wisconsin. It kills all native species of ash trees by feeding on the tissues under the bark, causing disruption to the flow of nutrients and water throughout the tree.
Treating ash trees with a trunk injection of Emamectin Benzoate every 2 years is the only way to protect your trees from infestation. In the Milwaukee area most of the untreated trees have either been killed or are rapidly declining due to EAB. If you have not treated your ash trees and you live in the Milwaukee area removal is most likely the next action that should be taken to avoid the trees becoming hazardous.
The pest is moving west from the Milwaukee area to Madison at an alarming rate. EAB is established and is building up in population. In the Madison area if you want to preserve your ash trees treating preventatively should be started as soon as possible. Treating ash trees before an infestation can avoid costly removals in the future.
Stem girdling roots (SGR) can be a major issue to trees in the urban setting. SGR can greatly stunt the growth of or even kill a tree by reducing the flow of water and other nutrients to the upper canopy of the tree.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Fewer or smaller leaves
- Thinning canopy
- Leaves have a lighter green color than normal or can have early fall color
- Branches may completely die
- Base of the tree may look flat from the roots “choking” the tree. Part of the base of the tree may bulge out due to the pressure the roots put on the trunk right below the surface
TREES MOST COMMONLY AFFECTED
- Maples (Norway Maple is most common)
- Planting containers that restrict root development
- Planting a tree in a hole that is too small for the tree being planted
- Planting the tree too deep
- Leaving the burlap and wire basket around the root ball after planting
- Creating a “Volcano” by adding too much mulch around the base of the tree
- Removal of girdling roots can help the tree to recover from the damage they caused
- Removal of girdling roots is most commonly recommended for trees that are 2-10 years old because the roots have not become too large or established
- Removal of some girdling roots on older trees can be an effective treatment but if the roots become too established removal of the entire tree is more likely
- Step 1: Excavation of the soil around the trunk to make the root zone visible
- Step 2: Removal of girdling roots we identified (as possible)
- Step 3: Replace the soil with topsoil and mulch
4 Tips to help your trees emerge from dormancy
1. Trim & Prune before Budding
Early spring is the perfect time for tree and shrub pruning in Wisconsin. Trimming dead or unwanted branches now will help you guide and shape the growth of new branches. While a late winter/early spring trim and prune is optimal for most species, some are better served by a trimming later in the summer or autumn. Early pruning of fruit trees can also lead to a healthier, more abundant crop.If you’re not certain which trees and shrubs would most benefit from a spring trim, call us, we can help.
2. Remove Winter Wraps & Supports
While an early April blizzard is never out of the question in Wisconsin, the majority of the most damaging winter weather is behind us. You probably have your young or newly-planted trees wrapped and supported. This is a good time to remove these protective supports to allow your trees unfettered growth as the days grow longer and warmer.
It is especially important to remove tree wraps. Wraps collect condensation and moisture from melting ice and snow. This extra moisture can damage your young trees, causing them to rot or develop arboreal diseases.
3. Plant and Transplant
Early spring is a good time for planting or transplanting of most tree and shrub species, particularly deciduous trees which are still in dormancy. Melting snow means the ground is more or less evenly saturated, allowing new root growth to penetrate and expand as much as it can.
Newly-planted or transplanted trees and shrubs should be fed with compost, fertilizer and loosely compacted soil.
You have more leniency for planting evergreen trees and shrubs, but early spring is still a good time to let young plants settle in before the hot summer.
4. Mulching & Fertilizing
Finally, early spring is a great time to apply a first layer of mulch to your trees and shrubs. Mulching is frequently overlooked, but is one of the most important steps to take in ensuring healthy root structure. Many people use porous landscape fabrics which allow for effective gas and water transfer while providing a barrier for weed growth.
We recommend you do not use plastic sheeting under your mulch layer, as this may cause roots to suffocate.
Young trees and shrubs may also benefit from spring fertilization to encourage rapid growth during these optimal growing conditions. Most trees only require a springtime fertilization once every two to three years while young.
Wisconsin winters are notorious for bitterly cold temperatures, ice, snow build up and wind. These factors combine, making winter a stressful time for your plants. Luckily there are a few steps you can take to prevent lasting damage to your trees from Wisconsin’s winter cold.
3 tips to help protect your trees through the Winter
1. Wrap your tree trunks
Cold stress is a common problem with trees and shrubs during winter. Rapid temperature swings between daylight hours and night can cause disruption between the outer bark and inner wood. Inner wood contains more moisture than bark, so they expand and contract at different rates, leading to frost cracks.
Mature, healthy trees are typically able to repair themselves, but until they do the cracked area remains vulnerable.
With young or severely cracked trees, it is recommended you have the trunk wrapped. Thinly-barked trees such as Maple and Willow need extra attention. Tree wrap can be found at most major hardware stores, or you can save yourself the hassle and call us. The best time to do this is late fall.
2. Don't shake your trees when they are covered in snow
Your tree branches are more vulnerable to breakage during the winter months. Strong winds plus ice and snow buildup put added strain on the branches. This is especially problematic for deciduous trees, since the wood actually hardens and becomes more brittle.
To prevent this problem, proper tree pruning is essential.
Our arborists know the best tree pruning techniques, minimizing the chances of your tree branches snapping off during a winter storm. If you notice a high accumulation of snow on your tree branches, do not shake the tree.
Shaking frozen trees can cause irreparable damage, making branches more likely to snap.
The best way to remove excess snow buildup is to wait for a day where temperatures get above freezing and let it melt naturally. If there is more than 3” of accumulation, spray your branches with cold water to accelerate melting.
3. Guard your trees from animals with simple wire mesh
Trees and shrubs become a go-to shelter for small mammals during winter. Deer, rabbits and mice can cause damage to your trees from chewing on the bark. To guard against mice and rabbits, a simple wire mesh enclosure will typically be enough to keep them away.
However, if mice squeeze their way in and are causing problems, a commercial spray deterrent should do the trick.
Deer are usually indifferent to wire enclosures. Wrapping your tree trunk so they can’t get to the bark is usually effective. Otherwise, spray repellant does a good job of keeping deer from chewing on your trees.
Mulch — Any material used to cover soil for the purpose of enrichment.
So you have been told to put mulch down in your yard. We have put together a little crash course to help you better understand the benefits of mulch.
#1: It Makes Your Yard Look Better
Mulch improves the aesthetic value of any garden, home, or green patch of earth. When the neighbors see the extra attention you’ve put into your yard, they’ll be jealous they didn’t think of it first. They might have to step up their yard game just to match you.
Pro-tip: There are several color options to choose from to make your yard extra attractive. Visit a garden or mulch shop near you to see what options are available.
#2: Weed Protection
Mulch around your trees and shrubs to keep unattractive weeds from leaching nutrients off them. The mulch acts as a protective barrier preventing weeds from getting into the soil by your trees.
Pro-tip: Make sure you’ve eradicated all the weeds near your greenery before you lay down the mulch. Otherwise they’ll grow through, and you’ll have to disturb the mulch to remove the weeds.
#3: Moisture Protection
Trees need as much moisture as they can get to transport nutrients up from their roots into their leaves. Mulch traps moisture, preventing a tree from the harmful effects of drying. It also traps heat, a valuable benefit in Wisconsin where the temperatures and weather change drastically.
Pro-tip: There are several types of mulch available for purchase including rock, straw, and rubber mulch. Buckley Tree Service recommends wood-based mulch (wood chips) for tree and shrub protection.
#4: Added Enrichment for Plants
As wood mulch decomposes, it offers much needed nutrients. The nutrients are transported from the soil to the roots and voila! You have additional tree food.
Pro-tip: For even greater nutrient saturation, add tree fertilizer.* There’s no need to remove the mulch to apply the fertilizer. Just lay it on top.
#5: Soil Erosion Protection
Wind and water has the capability of blowing or washing the organic matter from the top layer of your soil. Losing this topsoil weakens your trees’ and shrubs’ ability to gain nutrients from the ground. Mulch acts as a protecting layer shielding topsoil from eroding.
Pro-tip: When laying down the mulch, keep the wood chips at a depth of 3-4 inches. Any more and oxygen will have trouble getting to the roots (you want oxygen getting to the roots). Also leave 1 – 2 inches of space between the mulch and the base of the tree/bush. Put mulch too close to the base will cause trunk rot.
To a tree, mulch is a protective shield against nutrient-sapping weeds and soil erosion. Mulch improves your tree’s health by trapping moisture, providing extra nutrients when decomposing, and preserving the roots from harsh temperatures (especially in cold Wisconsin winters).