Caring for your trees is rewarding for any tree enthusiast. However, keeping them healthy can prove challenging. Like us, if not properly cared for, they become ill. Oregon trees are susceptible to a number of issues that can affect their health and impede growth. Not knowing the signs of an unhealthy tree can ultimately result in your precious tree needing removal. Fortunately, many of these problems are common and easily identifiable. Get to the root of your tree’s problems with these simple solutions.
Tree roots are expansive, often stretching beyond a tree’s canopy. When your sapling was first planted, it had enough room to grow. As it matures, however, the roots stretch out. In search of nutrients, it may instead find obstructions such as other trees, buildings, sidewalks, or roads. Without space to grow, your tree will be stunted, and the surrounding obstacles risk damage as the roots try to grow through them.
There are a few simple steps you can take to manage the root system, preventing it from growing out of control.
Make sure you’re properly feeding and watering your tree. Fertilize your tree when necessary and water it frequently during dry spells. Verify the health of your soil. Contact a local arborist to test the soil and treat it if necessary. Spot problem roots. If individual roots are an issue, they may have to be removed. However, deciding to remove pesky roots may compromise your tree’s health and structure. Contact a local tree service to help you make the best decision for your tree.
Yards are the perfect ground for heavy traffic and overuse. With endless enjoyment—a chance to rest under the tree to read or picnic, an offering of respite from the hot sun, or an invitation to play beneath the canopy—constant use can leave the soil compacted. If soil is too tightly packed, it’s difficult for roots to grow. It can crush the roots and lead to the already-mentioned problems of restricted root growth.
For an easy fix, loosen the soil using a shovel or rototiller. Dig up two or three inches of dirt to loosen the compaction. For small areas, use a garden fork to poke holes in the soil. This aerates the soil, letting in air and water. Finally, replace some of the soil. Once you have dug up some of the compacted soil, remove it and replace it with fresh topsoil.
Yards aren’t an optimal environment for trees to receive vital nutrients. In the forest, leaves naturally decompose, leaving the soil rich in nutrients. The care of a well-landscaped lawn can leave the soil stripped of these nutrients. Every time you rake away pesky leaves, fallen bark, and twigs, you sweep away potential nutrients waiting to be recycled back into the soil. Yards are also filled with competitors. Surrounding trees, shrubs, and grass are all vying for the same limited resources.
The solution is simple: add nutrients back into the soil. With proper fertilizing and mulching, you can restore any depleted nutrients. As mulch breaks down, it replenishes the nutrients and microorganisms in the soil.
Fertilizers mimic the rich soils naturally occurring in forests. Ideally, Oregon trees need a slow-release, nitrogen-based fertilizer. Find a fertilizer that blends nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—making sure it includes PPA, an amino acid that helps reduce nutrient loss from frequent rain.
Take care to not over-fertilize. Too much fertilizer can weaken the root system, preventing your tree from flowering or producing fruit. If your tree’s roots are shriveling and the leaves are yellowing, over-fertilizing may be the culprit.
Depending on the region and variety of tree, each may need a different type of fertilizer. It might be helpful to consult with a local arborist, rather than guess at the appropriate levels.
There are several threats that can damage your trees. Lawn equipment, animal, and pest traffic over the root system can injure your tree, limiting growth. Lawnmowers and weed-eaters may harm the trunks. Cars parked under the tree or heavy foot traffic from walking and playing just above growing roots can damage sensitive roots and leave the compacted soil too dense for water to successfully penetrate.
Damage can occur naturally too. Animals, such as deer and rabbits, like to feast on your plants, leaving them wounded. Look for large parts of the plant that have been noticeably chewed off, cut stems, or damaged and missing fruit. If you notice any holes in the leaves, your tree may have an insect infestation.
Safeguard your tree from damage with these preventive measures: avoid parking under any trees, construct a small fence around the base to protect sensitive roots, treat your plants for pests by spraying with pesticides or natural treatments, and prune carefully to prevent any infection from spreading to nearby plants. Inspect your plants regularly, looking for any signs of damage.
While inspecting your trees, look for signs of disease. Oregon trees are susceptible to many common tree diseases and may require professional services.
Some of the more typical diseases prevalent in Oregon are Dothistroma needle blight, fire blight, Armillaria root rot, powdery mildew, and anthracnose.
Their symptoms may include premature defoliation in mature trees, severe stunting of growth and death in young trees, bacteria oozing from the bark, clusters of mushrooms growing at the base of the tree, discoloration of the trunk and foliage, root rot, fungal growth on foliage, and abnormally shaped leaves.
If you notice any of these irregularities, your tree may be suffering from fungal or bacterial disease. Left untreated, your tree will die and need removal. If you’re dealing with a dead or diseased tree, it’s important to contact a professional tree service. Our knowledgeable team at Mr. Tree can help you find the best solution, ensuring your trees’ continued health.
So don’t give up on your cultivation skills if your trees are experiencing any of these common problems. With proper care, and a few easy fixes, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for many years to come.