Trees, like all living organisms, are subject to a host of health concerns.
Here, we explain the common causes and treatment of tree injury due to damage or disease.
As a conscientious homeowner, you provide your trees and shrubs with all the necessities. However, insects and diseases may still cause issues. Fortunately, most healthy, mature trees and branchy bushes can defend themselves against minor threats from insects and other hostile forces.
In most cases, leaf-producing trees and shrubs can tolerate substantial foliar loss. Feeding insects or fungal diseases can cause this. Interestingly, a healthy and well-rooted plant can suffer a total leaf loss one season and return with a renewed vigor the next.
Most trees have latent buds that only sprout when necessary, meaning a few missing leaves here and there will soon be replaced. Chances are, you’ll never know the difference. Leaves that sustain massive damage still conduct photosynthesis, meaning they always do their job, even if hungry inhabitants have snacked on them.
However, vegetation can only handle so much abuse.
If a tree or shrub is subjected continuously to defoliation, it may become susceptible to disease or infestation. Severe fungal infection or insect invasion may require treatment.
Fortunately, disease and insects usually steer clear of healthy trees and shrubs. But, even a hardy plant under stress can still have problems. Factors that can stress an otherwise healthy plant include poor pruning, drought, nutritionally deficient soil, and flood conditions.
Young trees are at the highest risk of damage from insects or disease. They are buying trees from a reputable online nursery to help to ensure the healthiest stock.
Many types of diseases present with similar symptoms. It is imperative to accurately assess a plant’s situation to identify the cause of concern efficiently. Often, a tree exhibiting outward issues is suffering from more than one affliction, as secondary invaders are attracted to already-stressed leaves and emerging greenery. Problems to look for when diagnosing a tree’s condition include:
Incorrect soil conditions: This may consist of inappropriate moisture content or nutrient deficiencies.
Climate extremes: Most climates tend to change from season to season gradually, but they can wreak havoc on young plants when there is a sudden and significant shift. Climate issues are most common around late spring, when winter may arrive unexpectedly for a brief visit.
Environmental concerns: The air, water, and soil surrounding a tree or group of trees can change at any given time. Underground water sources are subject to pollution from run-off chemicals, especially in spring and summer when pesticide usage on crops is at its peak.
Physical injuries: Trees subject to the municipal topping (to prevent downed wires) sustain significant visible damage. Other damage can occur in less obvious ways, including placing large trenches within the range of the tree’s root system.
CODIT: Compartmentalization of Decay in Trees is a situation that occurs when a tree has been wounded, usually by limbs being improperly removed. A tree releases sap and resins to “seal” the wound. The living tissue on the outside heals while the inside may continue to decay.
Cavities and drainage tubes: Despite outdated beliefs, tree cavities do not require drainage tubes. Instead, allow the hole to remain open and control insect populations as necessary.
Wound dressing – Trees, including fruit-bearing varieties, can naturally treat most minor – and even significant wounds. Never attempt to dress a wound, as exposure to open air is the best way to encourage new growth and wound closure.
Injections/implants: Many insects, nutrient deficiencies, and diseases can be controlled via tree-safe chemical agents. Injections of these chemicals should only be considered a last resort as they require careful drilling. Drill holes are open wounds for trees that, if improperly inflicted, can further damage the plant’s delicate base. It would be best if you kept injection holes to a minimum; annual re-treatment is only recommended in extreme cases and only for large, well-established trees.
Cabling/bracing – Severely damaged trees may be saved by the wiring or bracing of structural defects. That is not something that an untrained group of people should perform. You should consult a professional arborist familiar with the technique. Improper bracing will create an unsafe environment, primarily if the tree is located near a home or other area prone to human or animal occupation.
Damaged trees are considered a liability by most insurance companies. Accidents that result from improper care or neglect may not be covered under your homeowner policy, leaving you to foot the bill for any property loss or human injury.
The best way to ensure lasting tree health is to buy from an online nursery that takes pride in preventing damage from seed to sapling.