Just as we air out the house and clean areas neglected during the winter, it’s also important to tidy the yard and get it ready for the upcoming growing season. Leaves and plant debris left over from the previous year can harbor diseases that will carry over to the following year. Keep in mind, there are some years that are more conducive for disease development than others. A wet spring is ideal for many fungi and diseases to grow, but symptoms typically don’t appear until later in the year. With many fungi and diseases, if infected leaves are not removed from the landscape the leaves may re-infect trees and shrubs the next year when spring returns. Apple Scab, Anthracnose and Leaf Blister are just a few examples of tree diseases that overwinter in fallen leaves to re-infect the following year. These diseases affect a number of commonly used tree species in Illinois. Already this year, the University of Illinois Extension has noted fungi pathogens that overwintered on dead plant material and reappeared in the landscape this year.

Removing leaf litter is an important part of keeping your landscape healthy and happy, but should be done in addition to other good cultural practices. Protective fungicide applications, watering during dry periods and fertilization are all excellent opportunities to protect the landscape from disease outbreaks.

KTS provides treatment options for many of the common diseases that plague Illinois trees and shrubs. Contact the PHC Department for more information or to have an ISA Certified Arborist visit your property and assess the needs of your landscape.

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