Most homeowners welcome spring with open arms but for trees and shrubs, spring brings the return of insects, fungi, and diseases. Here at RTEC, we’re gearing up and preparing for a spring of higher than normal pest populations. Read on to learn why this spring will have a high pest population and the steps you can take to keep your trees and shrubs safe.
Why Will Pest Populations Be Higher This Spring?
In a typical year, the DC Metro area will see harmful spring tree insects, diseases, and fungi populations greatly lowered because of cold winter temperatures. Deep freezes naturally suppress the pest populations, which in turn leads to a smaller and less lethal population of tree pests in the spring.
Unfortunately for us, our area experienced a mild winter; with only a few days reaching below freezing. This means that the populations of insects, diseases, and fungi that have been lying low all winter are now easily mobilized armies ready to wreak havoc on your trees and shrubs this spring. But don’t despair, as long as you stay proactive and follow our spring tree care steps below you can keep your trees safe this spring.
Fertilizing is one of the best ways to keep your trees healthy. Applying your fertilizer in the spring provides extra nutrients that helps your tree push out new growth and fight spring pests/diseases.
Our Arborists suggest skipping the traditional fertilizer you’ll find in home improvement stores. These fertilizers are harsh and typically contain too many of the wrong nutrients which can alter the natural environment of your soil and kill off good bacteria. Opt for fertilizers, such as bio-stimulants, that are gentler and promote long-lasting soil health. Bio-stimulants will provide you with the results you want without negatively altering the balance of your soil or stressing out the tree.
2. PREVENT FUNGAL DISEASES
The cool moist weather of spring creates a perfect breeding ground for fungal diseases. Invest in preventive fungicide sprays to keep your trees from being infected. Once trees are infected with a tree fungus the infection cannot be cured, only suppressed which is why prevention is key when it comes to fungi.
Other tips to prevent infection include:
- Don’t overwater
- Make sure your soil drains properly
- Boost overall health with proper maintenance
- Sanitize gardening tools between plants
- Rake and remove falling leaves from your yard
Common Tree Fungal diseases include; armillaria root rot, phytophthora root rot, thousands canker disease, phytophthora bleeding cankers, Cytospora canker, Hypoxylon canker, Cercospora leaf spot, anthracnose, sooty mold, powdery mildew, shot hole fungus, verticillium wilt, oak wilt, and dutch elm disease.
3. MULCH AROUND YOUR TREES
Applying mulch around trees is one of the best things you can do for the health of your trees. Especially for young trees, mulching is a quick and cost-effective technique that provides numerous benefits. Mulching helps retain soil moisture and promotes the development of organic matter which in turn helps prevent soil compaction. It also increases the growth rate of newly planted trees, provides a buffer from heat and cold temperatures, keeps out weeds, and helps the soil accumulate and keep more nutrients.
4. Water Your Trees & Shrubs Regularly
In spring, trees and shrubs are pushing out new growth. To be successful they need to stay properly hydrated. Watering will also flush out their system if they’ve been exposed to ice melts/rock salt.
Watering Tips For Spring Tree Care:
- Focus on the critical root zone when watering. Wetting foliage is pointless and can promote the spread of diseases.
- DON’T use a sprinkler. This only wets the top layer of soil and doesn’t properly water the tree.
- Water in the morning to avoid evaporation and to help trees deal with the heat throughout the day.
- Water deeply and thoroughly 1 to 2 times a week.
- Put your normal hose somewhere in the critical root zone.
- Turn hose on to a dribble
- Leave for 2-3 hours
- Move the hose to a different spot in the critical root zone and leave for 2-3 hours. Repeat this step 1-3 times.
- You want the soil to be moist but not soaking. You should NOT be able to make a mud ball out of the soil.
- It’s okay for some portions of the soil to be wet and some to be dry.
5. Watch For Tree & Shrub Insects
The warm weather of spring activates lots of insects that can damage your trees & shrubs. Bagworms, Eastern Tent Caterpillars, and Aphids, just to name a few, all start attacking trees and shrubs in the spring. Keep an eye out for damage from these insects and diseases so you can catch them early and stop their spread/limit their damage.
Common Signs Of Spring Pests/Diseases To Look Out For:
- Spots on leaves
- Wilting of leaves
- Discoloration of foliage
- Cocoons hanging from your trees
- Honeydew (clear, sticky substance) on tree leaves/dripping from tree.
- Caterpillars on the trees/shrubs
- Leaves that look chewed/eaten
- Skeletonization of leaves
6. Invest In A Canopy Protection Program
Instead of spending all your free time keeping a close eye on the health of your trees and shrubs just invest in RTEC’s Canopy Protection Program. This program is customized to your property and is a proactive approach to maintain tree and shrub health through the process of scheduled monitoring and preventative maintenance. With customization, digital reporting (including photos), and notification of arising health issues, you can rest assured your trees and shrubs will be take care and you’ll get your free time back.
7. PROTECT YOU & YOUR FAMILY FROM MOSQUITOES
Mild winters don’t just affect the tree insect population, it’s predicted that this year’s mosquito population will be higher than normal as well. With even more mosquitos ruining your outdoor time and brining deadly diseases to your yard, it’s important to invest in a mosquito program. Protect your family with our Organic Mosquito& Tick Control Program and these DIY tips.
- Keep doors & windows closed so that mosquitoes can’t enter your home.
- If you utilize screen doors/window screens, periodically check them for small rips and tears which mosquitoes could enter through.
- Do not allow any water to stand near your house. Mosquitoes bred and multiply in stagnant water. Make sure to pour out kiddie pools, buckets, or children’s toys that collect rainwater.
- Change water in birdbaths and scrub them twice a week.
- If you have outside pets, empty their water bowls daily.
- Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters create a perfect environment for mosquito breeding.
- Mosquitoes are most active at dusk & dawn. If possible remain indoors during these times.
Learn More About RTEC’S Organic Mosquito Program
Now that you know what steps to takes to keep your trees and shrubs healthy and thriving this spring, let RTEC help. Give us a call 703-573-3029 or book an appointment online to see how we can help you take care of your trees and shrubs this spring.