Tree Care Tips

Tree Care

Mulching

Mulching is an essential maintenance practice for trees. Properly applied mulch will increase growth rates, prevent basal damage, and conserve soil moisture. Organic mulch should be applied around the tree to a depth of two to four inches. Monitor mulched areas during the winter to detect any rodent activity. Mulch should be renewed as needed to keep a good depth.

Use wood chips, bark or some other natural material as mulch. Avoid using rocks or plastic sheeting. Rocks cause soil compaction, and plastic sheeting suffocates root systems. Woven weed barrier fabric can effectively reduce weed competition and allow moisture and oxygen to enter the soil. It does not add organic matter to the soil or reduce compaction like a natural mulch. A minimum of a 2-foot mulched radius tree ring or rectangle from the curb to the sidewalk is required at the tree's base and must be consistent with the edging in the yard. See page 11 of the Resident Design Guidelines for more details. 

Benefits:
• Suppresses weeds
• Retains moisture
• Prevents damage from mechanical equipment
• Regulates soil temperature

Specifications:
• 2-3' in diameter
• 2-3" depth of organic bark mulch (no red)
• Do not pile mulch at the trunk to create a "volcano", away from "root flare"

Watering

Moisture is critical to trees, but too much moisture can cause serious damage. Newly planted trees should be watered once per week (1 inch) in the absence of rainfall. Established trees should receive 1 inch of water every 10 to 14 days. These amounts are in addition to the water that a surrounding grass lawn would need. Therefore, a new tree with a grass lawn competing with it may need 2 inches or more of water a week to thrive. Daily watering causes a lack of soil oxygen, smothering roots, and can reduce the number of deep roots. Instead, larger amounts of water should be applied once or twice weekly. Water with a hose or coarse-droplet sprinkler at a low rate to keep water from running off. Do not inject water "deep" into the soil. Most tree roots are not very deep (within the upper 6" to 12" of soil), and deep roots will receive water if enough is applied to the soil surface. Tree roots extend away from the tree at least as far as the tree is tall and, in most cases, much farther. Therefore it is usually beneficial to water the entire yard to water a tree.

Fertilizing
Trees should be fertilized only when necessary. If growth is adequate and steady, foliage appears healthy, and there has been no major disturbance around the tree, no fertilization is needed. Slow-release, balanced, granular fertilizer or soil-applied liquids should be distributed over the tree's entire root zone when fertilizing is necessary.


Pests & Diseases
Read below to learn how to identify and treat some of the common culprits for struggling trees in our community.

Lilac-Ash Borer
Lilac-Ash Borer are clear-winged moths that are common throughout Utah. These insects are similar in appearance to wasps and are known to feed in the trunks and larger branches of ash trees. Once the tree is chosen as a host, the females lay their eggs in the cracks and crevices of the bark. Damage is caused by the larvae that begin to feed and bore tunnels into the bark.

It’s important to keep an eye on your ash trees because large infestations may kill individual branches or even the entire plant. Not sure if your tree is infected? Newly infested trees will have a sawdust-like material near burrows and the base of the tree. Older Infestations will have burrow exit holes accompanied by empty cases. It is also common to see dead branches near the top of affected trees. Check out the images below for examples of what to look out for.

Unfortunately, only preventative treatments exist for Lilac-Ash Borer. This means that once the larvae are inside the plant, there are no insecticides that can remove them. These insects prefer older branches, so renewal pruning can be a helpful technique to reduce their presence. You can also apply preventative insecticide sprays to the bark and limbs of your tree. Please keep in mind that multiple applications may be needed every season to be effective.

To learn more about Lilac-Ash Borer and how to provide preventative treatment to your trees, click here.

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Anthracnose
Anthracnose is a fungal disease that targets maple, sycamore, oak and ash trees. If the disease goes untreated for long periods, it can seriously weaken the tree.

How can you tell if your tree is affected? One of the first symptoms you may see is small water-soaked lesions along the central veins of the leaves. These areas grow larger and turn tan, reddish-brown or black in color. Twigs and branches may show discoloration and splitting bark. Please see the example images below.

There are measures you can take to help prevent the spread of anthracnose. We recommend pruning infected twigs and branches and removing fallen dead leaves. Also, you should apply a fungicide yearly during cool spring weather soon after bud break. 

To learn more about Anthracnose and treatment options, click here.

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Aphids
Aphids are small “sap-sucking” insects that are known to feed on roots, trunks, stems and leaves. A tell-tale sign of an aphid infestation is the presence of twisted and clumped leaves or cottony masses on your tree. If you are unsure if your tree has aphids, check out the example images below.

Remedies include washing aphids off with a strong stream of water and spot treating with insecticidal soap. In the spring, you can apply a systemic insecticide. To learn more about aphids, please click here.

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