Tree problems are prevalent in urban and suburban areas. These tree problems and lack of maintenance greatly reduce the lifespan of city trees. On average in the United States trees in cities only live 30 years. It gets even worse in downtown areas where trees average a lifespan of only 10 years. Compare that to rural trees and trees in forests that live 150 years on average.
This difference in lifespans comes from the human and environmental stressors trees encounter in cities. And once trees are stressed they are targeted by secondary invaders. These invaders are insects or diseases that typically only attack weakened, stressed, or old trees.
City trees have to deal with:
- Lack of space for their roots to grow.
- Snow salt damage.
- lack of nutrients (when we rake leaves instead of letting them decompose we interrupt the natural cycle that creates nutrient rich soils for trees to grow in)
- Damage from lawnmowers mowing over exposed roots and hitting their trunk.
- Soil compaction from heavy trucks or lots of foot traffic driving over the soil
But by treating these tree problems and participating in proper maintenance you can extend the lifespan of your tree to the 150 years seen in rural areas and the forest.
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A leaning tree is one of the major tree problems seen in this area. Generally, trees that lean naturally over time are not a cause for concern; however, trees that lean suddenly can be a sign of structural issues. You should worry about a leaning tree when it exhibits the signs below. These signs are indicative of structural issues that may make the tree unsafe for the surrounding homeowners and property.
- The tree suddenly begins to lean
- Change in the lean/lean getting worse
- Starts leaning after a storm
- Soil around the tree is cracked or heaving
- The tree is leaning over a high traffic area/walkway
Tree diseases are illnesses in trees and shrubs caused by fungi, bacteria, and environmental stress such as extreme temperatures, drought/flooding, broken branches, and pollution. Although plants have natural immune systems, there are many times where Mother Nature cannot heal the tree from diseases on your property. In these cases fungicides, antibiotics, or other forms of treatment may be applied through injections, spraying, or soil drenches to control diseases.
Tree Diseases are one of the most deadly tree problems because they can progress rapidly. As soon as you see signs that your tree is diseased call an Arborist to come take a look. If left untreated, over time the damage can become too extensive and the tree or shrub may not be able to be saved through disease treatments.
Common tree diseases include; anthracnose, leaf spot, sooty mold, honeydew, verticillium wilt, oak wilt, fire blight, dutch elm disease, bacterial leaf scorch.
Tree insects can ravage your landscape and leave lasting damage. Different species damage trees in different ways. They can damage plants by feeding on the leaves of the trees, sucking the sap out of the tree’s leaves, or boring into the tree eating the tree’s inner tissue. Although plants have natural immune systems, there are many times where Mother Nature cannot heal the tree from insects on your property. In these cases fungicides, antibiotics, or other forms of treatment may be applied through injections, spraying, or soil drenches to control diseases.
However, not every insect is damaging some are beneficial to the eco-system. Lady bugs, for example, eat aphids which can often destroy trees and plants. Our Certified Arborists will be able to identify and differentiate Beneficial Insects on your property from damaging insects. Once identified, our Arborists will create a customized plan to provide a solution to your tree problems.
Tree Fungus is one of the most common spring tree problems. When fungal spores come in contact with a susceptible host they begin to grow, enter, and feed on the tree or shrub. Tree fungi are separated into four categories, root and butt rot, canker, foliar/shoot, and wilts.
1) Root rot is caused by fungi that are found in the soil and attack the roots of plants.
2) Cankers are caused by fungi that commonly enter the tree through wounds in the bark or branch stubs.
3) Foliar fungi are the most common, caused by fungi that attack the leaves of the tree or shrub interrupting photosynthesis.
4) Wilt diseases are caused by fungi that invade a tree’s vascular system. With the vascular system compromised the tree cannot transport water and nutrients throughout itself.
Not all fungi growing on your tree are harmful; some do not affect the tree at all while others are even beneficial. It’s best to have an arborist diagnose what type of fungus is growing on your tree. The arborist will be able to let you know if the fungus is harmful and be able to recommend appropriate treatments.
Exposed Tree Roots:
One of the most easily spotted tree problems is roots that are above ground. Exposed tree roots may look cool in photos; however, most homeowners know they are trip hazards, make mowing difficult, and an eyesore. What most homeowners don’t know is that exposed tree roots are also bad for the tree. When the roots are exposed to the elements they can be scalded by the sun, trampled by foot traffic, and have trouble retaining moisture, which is why it’s important to fix exposed tree roots. But before you learn how to fix these exposed roots, it’s best to learn how they became exposed in the first place.
Roots are naturally found in the top 6 to 12 inches of the ground; however, they can become exposed if they are forced to by the outside forces like erosion and lack of space.
Erosion: Rain, stormwater runoff, and wind can erode the soil around the tree leaving the roots exposed. This is especially common when trees are planted on hills or slopes.
Lack Of Space: Trees planted in confined spaces may not have enough space for its roots. When the growing roots encounter obstacles such as sidewalks, pavement, or buildings they may start growing closer to the surface and even start to crack pavements and sidewalks.
Maple trees and fast growing shade trees are prone to having exposed roots. If you are planting one of these types of trees take precaution to make sure the tree is planted in soil that won’t erode and that has enough room for roots. Over the years, most old trees will naturally develop some exposed roots as well.
Many homeowners have trouble with sap dripping off of their trees onto their cars and walkways. This sticky substance can be difficult to remove, accumulate dirt, and attract flies and other annoying insects.
What most homeowners will be surprised to learn is that this sticky substance isn’t sap at all. The substance is Honeydew, and despite the name it has no relation to the fruit. Honeydew is the excrement of plant sucking insects such as aphids, lace bugs, and certain types of scale. Trees do not drip sap from their leaves. If you have “sap” dripping from your tree it is honeydew and is a telltale sign of an insect infestation. Honeydew by itself may be annoying and a hassle but will typically not hurt your tree. The real issue comes from the fact that a fungus called Sooty Mold will begin to develop on Honeydew.
Insect infestations that lead to honeydew are frequently found on rose, ash, oak, elm, maple, willow, and fruit trees.
In most urban and suburban areas the soils are very compacted, typically due to construction or high traffic which is why soil management is so important. For example in forests, the top 6 inches of soil is 50% oxygen. However; the average urban soil is only 10% oxygen. This lack of oxygen and pore space doesn’t allow enough water, oxygen, or nutrients to reach the tree’s roots. This can create major tree problems including lack of root growth and decline of overall tree health.
Symptoms of Compaction:
- Overall decline in the tree’s health
- Canopy dieback
- Presence of Secondary invaders(insects & diseases)
- Areas under the canopy where grass doesn’t grow
Compaction can be fixed by a process called aeration. We use high-velocity air tools and techniques to properly aerate the tree’s critical root zone (CRZ) loosening the soil. This creates macro and micropore space, making room for root growth.
If you are having issues with your tree it’s best to have an arborist come out to diagnose and evaluate the situation. Call us at 703.573.3029 or book an appointment online to have an Arborist come out and solve your tree problems.