Healthy Soils

Below the surface of the soil lies a complex soil food web we will likely never see. Without it, much of the plant life we enjoy would not be able to exist. The soil food web consists of many organisms that are beneficial to the health of the soil. This beneficial web is plentiful in an undisturbed forest setting, but can be diminished or lacking in some of the soils we have around our homes where our trees are trying to exist.

Many practices done to soils can disturb this fragile soil food web. Things like compacting the soil, over watering, lawn treatments, removal of leaves and small branches, etc… can have major impacts on this fragile web. A healthy soil will need organisms like nematodes, beneficial fungi, bacteria, protozoa, arthropods, and certain other animals in order to maintain a favorable growing environment. These organisms play a critical role in nutrient cycling. Nutrient cycling is the process whereby plant materials are broken down into usable nutrients for plants to carry on life.

The soil food web also creates beneficial soil structures for trees. Soils are much more 
complex than just a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. It is also made up of soil spaces and many other physical structures that allow root growth and expansion.

Girdling Root Syndrome

Fall 2012





Many times there can be problems below the soil where we can’t see.  Certainly this is usually the case with most root problems of the trees.  Girdling roots can be devastating to the tree if left untouched.  So what should you look for?

•    Reduced of slowed growth
•    Thinning or lack of leaves at the top of the tree
•    Deformation of the natural shape of the crown
•    Trunk splitting or cracking at ground level
•    Lack of or no visible root flare present where the trunk enters the ground (like a telephone pole)

Most of the time these issues start to appear just as the tree starts to become an important part of the landscape.  The reason for the delay is because it takes the roots some time to grow and cause these issues.  Any type of tree can be susceptible to girdling root syndrome.  The ones that we see most are Maples and Lindens.  Early detection is very important in helping the tree survive.  We have a tool that we use to do a root collar exam.  This tool is called an airspade.  An airspade is based on a compressed air system.  It is used to move the soil away from the tree without damaging the roots of the tree.  Once the soil is removed we are then able to selectively remove any roots that are girdling the tree.

Prevention is important.  Avoid the “volcano mulching.”  If the base of the tree has soil or mulch piled high around it, the roots will grow in that soil thus causing it to grow in a circling pattern.  Another good preventative measure is performing a root collar exam on any tree that has been in the landscape for 5-10 years.  This will check for soil buildup and will allow us to remove any circling roots before they become a problem.  So the next time you are looking over your landscaping, please ask yourself, “Do I see a good root flare?”  Or, does it look more like a telephone pole stuck in the ground?  If you think that you have a problem please call us right away.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) was first discovered in the United States in Brooklyn, New York, in Aug 1996.
ALB was later detected in Chicago, Illinois, in Jul 1998. In Oct 2002, the beetle was found in Hudson County, New Jersey, and then in Middlesex and Union Counties, New Jersey, in Aug 2004. In Aug 2008, ALB was discovered in Worcester County, Massachusetts, and in Jul 2010, ALB was found in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. In Jun 2011, ALB was detected in Clermont County, Ohio. However, in 2008, after the completion of control and regulatory activities, and following confirmation surveys, ALB was declared eradicated in Chicago, Illinois, and Hudson County, New Jersey.

Similarly, in 2011, ALB was declared eradicated from Islip, New York. So why should we be concerned?? Because of this pests diet. The Asian Longhorned Beetle has a long and growing list of hardwood host species in North America. While it seems to prefer maples and horse chestnut, it will readily attack yellow-poplar, willow, elm, mulberry, black locust, and several commercial fruit trees including pear and plum. ALB’s species preference leaves a majority of northern hardwood forests, western hardwood forests and most North American urban forests at risk.

Rampant Fungal Disease






Paying attention to our weather will give you advanced warning on what will be happening with your plants. Last spring I warned of all the fungal diseases that would be present from all the rainy weather we had in the spring season. What a year it was! We had problems with fungal diseases showing up on plants that are normally resistant. Last season, it was the most common issue to deal with in the landscape.

Well…here we are again. Only this time, it is one of the wettest seasons on record. Brace yourself and keep an eye out for strange disease situations this summer because this is when damage from spring infections begin to show most. So what do you do? First, understand that for most trees and shrubs, infection happens in the spring. Therefore it has already happened. Second, most copper-sulfate fungicides will help suppress many of the fungal diseases therefore applying treatment as soon as you notice the damage may help a little. The real help will come in making sure the tree is on a deep root fertilization program (or similar) by setting up protection treatments to break the cycle for next spring since this is when the majority of infection occurs.

When plants are stressed, they need help so they are not overcome by other diseases while they are in a weakened state. Deep root fertilization gives them all the nutrients they need to get their vigor up while spring treatments will break the cycle from weakening your plants further.

As you start seeing unusual symptoms on your plant, quickly call Pat Morren, Tree & Shrub Care Manager, and he will have someone stop out to evaluate your situation before it is too late to control. Too often we are called out to help when it is far too late to help the plant in question. The pictures below show fungal diseases on various leaves and a tree.

Emerald Ash Borer Infestation

We have been warning our customers that the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is coming and to start protecting their trees before it’s too late. This is the last call for preventative 
treatments! If you have an Ash tree as a primary landscape tree, it is imperative you begin our annual protection program or you will lose your Ash tree over the next few years.

Many of you are already seeing the dead and/or dying trees lining many of the 
highways, city streets, and homes in all surrounding areas. Those trees are too far gone for us to be able to help them. If your tree is healthy and it is one that is a primary 
landscape tree then it is worth setting up an annual treatment plan to keep it protected since all the surrounding Ash trees are eliminated by the Emerald Ash Borer.

A good thing to note is, if you start to see the crown of your tree thinning, the borers 
have been working on the tree for some time. Given this scenario, when we start 
treatment (if it is not too far along) more damage will become evident before the tree gets 
better. This is due to all the vascular damage under the bark. Success of treatment is greatly reduced once a tree is showing signs of decline.

Is the EAB here to stay? For now yes, however there is a glimmer of hope as USDA officials are working hard breeding and releasing three types of wasps that will attack the EAB at different stages of its life cycle. The good news is all three species of wasps do not have stingers and will not harm humans. They are brought over from Asia as natural 
predators to EAB. In Asia, these wasps control an estimated 74% of native EAB populations. 
We will see how it all plays out over the coming years until established. Until the EAB 
populations are controlled, the recommendation for treatment remains the same. Contact our Tree & Shrub Care division today to schedule your consultation appointment.