The urban environment can be extremely stressful on trees and in a lot of cases does not reflect the natural growing conditions of our trees. Trees will adapt to stresses in their natural conditions, but many times the stresses they experience in the urban environment are much more severe. As with any living organism, stressed trees are more susceptible to the impacts of insects and diseases. This is where a proactive and planned plant health care (PHC) program comes into play. We utilize what is referred to as an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. A proactive IPM program can help mitigate the damage caused by insects and diseases and in many cases prevent them. Effective IPM programs incorporate a combination of routine site monitoring / inspections, proactive and reactive treatments. Our ISA-certified arborists are trained and qualified to identify symptoms and indicators of specific pests and diseases to determine the most appropriate PHC program for your trees.
A great way to keep the trees in our urban environment healthy is with an annual deep root fertilization. This helps replenish the nutrients that are often depleted from our urban soils. Think of this as taking you’re your own daily vitamins and nutrition. When humans have a healthy immune system, they can naturally fend off the common viruses and bacteria that they encounter. The same goes for trees. When we promote a healthy tree with deep root fertilization, it can also naturally fend off insects and disease. Unfortunately, there are some cases where trees are too stressed out for just fertilization and they become highly susceptible to devastating insect and disease issues. This is where other applications of PHC are necessary.
When it comes to insects, we must remember that not all insects are harmful and some levels of infestations are okay without treatment. Many insects are beneficial to our trees and the surrounding environment. They can help as pollinators and in some cases, they are predators to more destructive insects. Obviously, this is a good thing, so we do not want to eradicate all insects when it comes to treatments. An effective IPM program will target the insect that is causing the damage and not harm the beneficial insects. Some examples of insect damage would be feeding on the leaves, boring into the trunk/branches, and sucking the juices out of the leaves. These stresses can be minimal or severe depending on the overall vitality of the tree.
For disease management the best plan is prevention. Curing diseases can be very difficult and in some cases impossible. In our area, there are certain tree species that are susceptible to diseases simply because of our environmental conditions. Knowing this we can put together a PHC program that focuses on these species and proactively controlling them. A couple of examples of this would-be Apple Scab on Crabapples and Diplodia Tip Blight on Austrian and Scotch Pine. We know that our Crabapples and Pines are highly susceptible to these diseases. A PHC program applied at the appropriate time can easily prevent these diseases and keep our trees healthy and vigorous.
Each insect and disease problem are controlled in different ways. There are several types of application techniques that can be used. Once our arborist has identified the problem, they can recommend which application type is the most appropriate for your particular situation. Our arborist will factor in things like tree species, the size of the tree, the pest/disease to be controlled, the surroundings, the time of year, and weather conditions to appropriately recommend what service is needed. Some examples of application methods are trunk injections, soil drenches, trunk and foliar treatments, and macro and microinjections. One of these application types (or more than one in some cases) will be chosen that will be best for the tree considering the extent of the problem.
A proper PHC program is vital when it comes to managing our trees in the urban setting. Incorporating a routine inspection of your trees through monitoring services combined with appropriate treatment plans will help maximize the longevity and benefits of your trees. We need to remember that urban trees are not growing in their natural environment and sometimes suffer from unnecessary stress. Minimizing and preventing these stresses goes a long way in promoting proper growth and healthy trees.