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Bartlett Tree Experts

Frequently Asked Questions

Topic: Tree Issues

1. Question: I have a large Silver Leaf Maple and it has a fungus. It has had it for a year and the bark looks like it has been chewed and is split open and dark inside. This goes up several branches of the tree. The leaves have not come out on those branches and some have dropped off. Some of the tree looks and seems healthy, but a lot is diseased. The tree is 30-35 feet tall. Do you think it can be treated?
Answer: What you describe sounds like one of many different types of wood decay fungi. These attack the heartwood, not the sapwood. This is how a tree with massive decay can still have a dense, healthy foliage. Such trees are usually structurally defective. The fact that they are alive and have healthy foliage actually renders them even more of a risk, since there is plenty of weight and wind resistance aloft, and the casual observer doesn't make a distinction between health and structural stability. There is no chemical control, or treatment for such wood-rotting pathogens (although there are successful treatments for various root rots, vascular diseases, and leaf diseases). In certain situations, however, we can help add some years to the tree by promoting good health. This is done by addressing soil nutrition and suppressing other defoliating/damaging diseases and pests. Of course, the tree would have to pass the structural risk assessment and not be recommended for removal, before embarking on such a regimen.
 
2. Question: I planted a Georgia peach tree about three years ago and the leaves look like they are blistered.
Answer: What you are describing sounds like peach leaf curl, which is a fungal infection that takes place as the first set of leaves emerges in the spring. If the tree is otherwise healthy, it will put on more leaves later in the season that will not be infected. However, repeated infection year after year will put a strain on the tree. This is a very preventable problem. The tree must be sprayed in early spring prior to leafing out when the buds are swelling.
 
3. Question: I have a 15-year-old flowering cherry tree in front of my house whose leaves are curling and turning brown. We have had sufficient rainfall. My next-door neighbor has the exact same tree and it is dark green and healthy. What do you think the problem is and what can I do to save my tree?
Answer: Several issues could be causing this problem. Leaf curling and browning could be fungal related considering the wetness we have experienced. More likely would be the roots are having difficulty getting water to the leaves because they are rotting in the ground. There also could be some girdling root or cord or wire that may be interrupting the vascular system.
 
4. Question: Ants have excavated a huge cavity in my 30-year-old maple tree. What can I do about it?
Answer: Ants only excavate dead wood, so there is little concern the ants will affect the health of the tree. The bigger concern is the structural stability of the tree. If the hollow is large enough, that portion of the stem may be compromised and more susceptible to breaking in a storm. You can get a better idea about the likelihood of the stem breaking by having a risk assessment done on the tree. We do these regularly, so please please make an appointment for us to handle this for you. If you simply don't want the ants around, we can dispose of them as well.
 
5. Question: I have a large plum tree in our garden. A major branch (about a third of the whole tree) loaded with plums has torn two thirds of the way down and is now resting on the ground. What is the best course of action? Is there anything I can do to save the unripe plums as I had planned to make jam with them and have more plums on the tree this year than I have had in the three years since living at the property. I think the tree is fairly old, but I have no idea how old. I am also aware that Silver Leaf disease may get into the wound.
Answer: If the branch is still attached by the cambium, (the "skin" of the trunk), then leave it where it is for the time being, support it if necessary, and the plums should continue to ripen. If you would like one of our arborists to come and take a look at it to give further advice, then please contact us today.
 
6. Question: Can many years of accumulation of black oil sunflower seed hulls under a bird feeder hung on an old maple tree cause the top of the tree and some lower branches to die?
Answer: It is highly unlikely that the accumulated seed hulls would cause the maple tree to die back. There are probably other reasons for the decline of the tree. If you are in one of our service areas, we would be happy to come to your property to take a look and make a determination. Please make an appointment today.
 
7. Question: I have a white pine tree that was leaking and had little holes in it last year. It was treated, but now this is happening again. Might it be infected with bugs?
Answer: This could be woodpecker damage, which is usually not an issue, or it could be borer damage that could be very harmful. It is recommended to have a certified arborist inspect the tree. Make an appointment with Bartlett today.
 
8. Question: We have several blue spruce trees in our yard and one is dying, dropping green needles, and turning brown. I don't want it to spread to the others.
Answer: There are several pests that can cause needle browning and defoliation of blue spruce at this time of year. Spider mites and needlecast, a fungus disease, are two of the most common. Both pests are treatable, but neither are normally associated with death of the plant. Make an appointment today to have a certified arborist inspect the trees.
 
9. Question: I have a weeping cherry tree that is about 13 years old. The leaves are sparse, sap is running from the trunk, and the trunk is split. What can I do to help it recover?
Answer: It's very difficult to provide accurate diagnoses without being in front of the tree to see the entire picture of what might be going on, but given your description, there are likely a number of factors affecting the tree. The entire group of fruit/ornamental trees known as the stone fruits are subject to three very common borer pests that could be causing the sap flow - lesser peach tree borer, peach tree borer, and a small beetle in the Agrilus genus. All of these can be highly destructive. Bark splitting can be caused by many factors: winter injury, sunscald, canker development, physical injury, lightning, etc. There are also quite a few fungal diseases that can cause sparse leaf coverage, as well as root loss from root rot pathogens, drought, and girdling roots or improper planting depth. Depending on the level of damage, there may be ways to correct the problem(s) causing the decline, but we suggest that you contact your local office to make an appointment.
 
10. Question: My snowball tree is being eaten badly by something. The leaves look like spider webs, I am thinking caterpillars but I don't see any. It's looking dreadful and I am wondering if its worth saving?
Answer: It is most likely caterpillars even though you may not see them. Any tree is worth saving and we can certainly do our very best. If anything, we would take either a soil sample or plant sample and send it to our lab to verify the problem. You can always make an appointment for one of our arborists to come down and have a look.
 
11. Question: I have a very large oak tree in my yard that has very few leaves this year with some dead wood. There is also some bark coming off. We are in Brazoria county, Texas. The tree has been fertilized and sprayed for pests. The tree is estimated to be 75 years old. We also have a tree in the back that is much older and also much healthier.
Answer: It sounds like you are describing a tree in decline. Decline could be described as a progression towards mortality, caused by a mounting of various stress factors. The first stressor could be when the roots suffer a disturbance, such as soil compaction, trenching, grade change, or nutrient breakdown due to turf grass competition. Following root disturbance, diseases such as root rot can set in, and pests such as mites, caterpillars, or sucking insects could pile on. Each stressor causes a percentage of the leaf population to fall off unseasonably early, until over time, the tree's leaf population cannot provide adequate photosynthesized food to meet the energy needs of the organism. At this point, the tree tends to have more dead wood than its neighbors, and often we see tip dieback and aggressive sprouting on the trunk and scaffold branches.

The questions to ask are:
  1. How often has it been fertilized, at what time of year, using what application method and what formulation?
  2. When the tree was sprayed, what pests were being targeted? What product was used? Were any beneficial insects harmed at the same time? How often has it been treated, at what times of year?
  3. What is the irrigation schedule? Often we overwater our oak trees in an attempt to reverse the decline spiral. If the organic content of the soil is poor, the soil is compacted, the internal drainage is poor, or the tree shares all or part of its root zone with turf grass, then overwatering can actually speed up the decline spiral, rather than help. Most trees need to dry out thoroughly during waterings, so oxygen can work into the pores of the soil.
  4. How often has the tree been trimmed? What was the technique? Was care taken to minimize the amount of live foliage removed with each pruning session? Was interior foliage left intact, or was the interior stripped out, leaving only foliage in the upper 1/3 of the tree's canopy? Over-zealous trimming can be one of the stress factors mentioned above.
  5. Does the tree still have at least one-third of its ideal leaf population intact (judging against nearby, healthy trees, like the one in back)? If so, then make sure the tree has a large tree ring of mulch, 3-4 inches thick, out at least 8-10 radial feet from the trunk. Take care not to bury the root flare. Put a soaker hose out at least 8 radial feet from the trunk and leave on for 4-6 hours. Depending on the composition of your soil (clay retains water, whereas sand usually drains internally), you probably don't want to water more than once a week, even in the heat of summer.
Lastly, please make sure pesticides are not being used without a clear understanding of what specific pest or disease you are trying to suppress!
 
12. Question: I lost one of my Cleveland Pear trees last year and now this year I seem to be losing another one. The leaves start to turn yellow and they get black on the types. I thought it might be fire blight, but I do not notice any cankers. Any help would be appreciated. I have 13 of these across the front of my property so I would like to contain this issue.
Answer: Fireblight symptoms do not always include cankers at the tips of the tree. The symptoms can appear water-soaked and darkened, then quickly droop, shrivel, and turn black. It is also possible that this is a different disease or problem altogether. Bartlett can inspect the tree if you would like.
 
13. Question: I have an oak tree, presumably Black Oak, that has a lot of dead branches. It also has a hard, woody fungus growing around the base of the tree. Is this fungus symptomatic of a disease, or merely that the tree is dying? Can anything be done for the tree?
Answer: Sounds like you have an oak with a heartrot problem. The fungus you see is the mushroom typically confirming some level of heartrot. You should have an area arborist check this tree if it is close enough to a house that could be damaged if the tree fails.
 
14. Question: I have three Thundercloud Plum trees, approximately five years old. Located in full sun at the top of the lawn and within the lawn sprinkler area. One tree dropped leaves early last fall and was very slow to flower this season and is quite sparse with leaves too. There is a white powder on the leaves and mold-like growth on the trunk. Is this a sign of too much water?
Answer: Purple leaf plums can have several pest problems such as scale, black knot, and peach borers, as well as several foliar diseases. It is best to schedule an appointment to review this in person.
 
15. Question: We planted a dogwood tree in our back yard that is approximately four years old, so it is still pretty small. Last year, we noticed the bark was missing on one side, so we sprayed black protectorant to cover where, we think, deer ate or rubbed off the bark. Now the top is dead, but the bottom, around four feet high is bushy, green, and healthy looking. Should we prune the top off? Is the tree going to survive?
Answer: It sounds like the tree produced epicormic branches, which happens when a tree is stressed. It is hard to say if the tree will make it. You may be left with a shrub-looking dogwood. Since it is young, I would consider replacing it and putting deer guards on the stem to protect it.
 
16. Question: I have a Purple Leaf Plum tree that has great sentimental value to me. Unfortunately, I have noticed a problem in the trunk. It has split and turned black in color. On the positive side, it has started to bloom. I truly hope you can help as this is a very special tree.
Answer: Plums are susceptible to a number of diseases and structural problems based on age, size, cultural characteristics, and overall health. Since this tree has such sentimental importance, it is best to schedule an appointment to ascertain what might be at issue.
 
17. Question: It's mid-April in Garrett Park, MD and all the trees around here, except the 30' tall hickory tree in my front yard, have leaves. Is it safe to assume the hickory tree is dead? We noticed last fall that more nuts than usual fell from the tree. Could that have been a sign?
Answer: It is impossible to determine if your hickory is dead without seeing it. However, hickories leaf out slower than many of our other native trees, so it is possible that its failure to leaf out by mid-April is normal. Heavy fruit set (more nuts than usual) does not necessarily correspond with impending tree death.
 
18. Question: Will pruning my redbud produce more flowers next spring? If not, is there anything I can do to get more flowers? It does flower but not like some I've see that are the same size.
Answer: Pruning the redbud may help improve flowering of a redbud, however, there are several reasons a redbud may not be flowering. Possible causes include shading and over-fertilization. Other causes include poor health caused by buried root collars or other factors. Without evaluating the tree onsite it is difficult to give a full recommendation.
 
19. Question: My mulberry tree has what looks like a split/opening in the bark that runs almost down to the ground. At the top on the trunk, there is a rotten stump from a branch that was pruned in the past. There appears to be bore holes in it. Is it possible these are termites? Also, do you do treatments for affected trees?
Answer: Have you "Pollarded" your Mulberry annually to maintain the size? Do you know approximately how old your tree is? Pollarding, although an acceptable practice, can lead to decay from excessive wounding. Wood boring insects (including termites) are often secondary problems. We can apply preventative treatments for the pests however we are not licensed termite company. The amount of decay could have a bearing on the structural stability of the stem or branches. If there is a valuable target under or near the tree, removal may be recommended.
 
20. Question: Our oak trees have green mold spots about six inches across. Is it detrimental to the tree?
Answer: The green spotting on the bark is likely a family of plants called lichens or could be mold developing from irrigation heads hitting the trunks with water on a regular basis and the trees not drying adequately before mold develops. Schedule an appointment so we can make sure the oaks are safe and healthy.
 
21. Question: I have a mature Norway maple of about 25 years with an old split and scarring along vertically along the length of the trunk. There are two limbs emanating from each split side and I would like to know whether this will result in an eventual severing of the two limbs along the scarring line and whether something can be done- like the placement of a collar or brace to prevent future severing. What can you do for me?
Answer: We provide top-notch tree structure evaluations, pruning, and/or cabling may be an option to mitigate the defect you have described. The only way to know for sure, and to assign a price to any recommended work, is to visit your property and provide a quotation.
 
22. Question: I have a Hard Maple that is three years old. It has done very well up until this weekend. It looked fine on Friday when I went out of town for the weekend. Today, all of the leaves are drying up badly and are showing some kind of discoloration. I am very concerned about it and would like for someone to come out and make a recommendation. Let me know if the tree can be saved and what needs to be done.
Answer: It sounds like drought stress or a foliar disease. Have a certified arborist stop by your property to investigate it further.
 
23. Question: A spruce tree is planted close to the corner of our house and a power line runs through it. We have been told it will double its height, which is now nearly 20 feet, and will create problems with our perimeter drains and perhaps our sanitary sewer. The suggestion was to have the tree removed. I have great resistance to removing a tree and am wondering if the tree could be pruned in a way that would mediate the potential problems with the power line and drains. Or, in your view, would it be best to remove it and plant something more suitable to the site?
Answer: As the tree grows, you might be able to prune the limbs near the wires to prevent contact. If the trunk of the tree grows in such a way that the wires are rubbing against it, you could put a protective guard on the wires. With the root issue, I'm afraid you won't be able to stop root growth. The tree will continue to develop and become larger so you might have to look at removing the tree and replant with another in a different location.
 
24. Question: Can you tell my why squirrels are pulling bark from the trunks of white oak trees? Is this of permanent damage and danger to the health of the trees?
Answer: We have been seeing a lot of the same situation in Charlotte and surrounding areas but have not found any situations where this activity has damaged the trees. All of the "damage" has been to the outer bark, amplifying the naturally exfoliating bark on white oak trees. What I have found is removal of loose bark with no damage to the cambium, the live fluid conducting tissue beneath the inner bark. There has been a handful of reports from the Clemson area of what appears to be squirrel damage to some young trees and limbs of mature trees, enough to cause plant and branch death. It is, however, the exception rather than the rule in these cases. Unfortunately, no data has been collected to suggest why the squirrels are vandalizing the trees; there appears to be no collection of material for either food or building supplies. If you continue to have concerns about your trees, the Bartlett arborist representative for your area would be happy to come out for a free inspection.
 
25. Question: I have a 50+ year old maple tree that I thought was healthy up until this spring. The tree produced a couple million helicopters and only a handful of leaves. I read online that it might be Verticillium albo-atrum or Verticillium dahliae, which basically says my tree is done for. What are your thoughts?
Answer: It's difficult for us to formally know the demise of the tree without a Certified Arborist inspecting the tree. Make an appointment to have someone inspect the tree for it's overall health.
 
26. Question: I've lived in my house for 17 years and we have a beautiful Japanese maple that seems to be dying. Leaves are small and there are many dead branches, though no visible bugs and no known trauma to the tree. Is there something to look for or remedy?
Answer: Japanese maples are susceptible to a vascular disease called verticillium wilt or girdling roots. I strongly recommend you have a certified arborist come look at the tree to see if it can be salvaged.
 
27. Question: I have an autumn blaze maple that, over the past few weeks, shows small "bumps" of various colors on the leaves. Also, I have seen some cotton-like substance on the tree. What should be done?
Answer: What you are describing on the autumn blaze maple are likely two different pests. The bumps on the leaves are galls (swelling of the leaf tissue) most likely formed by mites. The galls typically do not adversely affect the health of the plant and the damage is cosmetic only.

The cotton-like substance is from the aptly named cottony maple scale. You might have some lecanium scale as well. Scale insects feed on the sap of stems. In small quantities, they are not much of an immediate threat. However, if their populations are not kept in check, they will lead to decline of the tree. There are several different methods for treatment. If you are in one of our service areas, make an appointment today for a recommended course of action.

 
28. Question: Our Chanticleer pear tree has what appears to be a large amount of suckers. We cut it back weekly, but this year it doesn't look healthy and has small, undeveloped leaves on some branches. What would you recommend?
Answer: Suckering on trees in general is usually a sign of stress, which also sounds like what you are describing with the overall health of the tree. There are a number of issues that could be causing this to happen. To make an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment recommendations, a site visit would be necessary. If you are in one of our service areas, make an appointment for a consultation at your property.
 
29. Question: We have a Dogwood tree approximately seven years old. The bark is cracking in several spots the leaves are discoloring and wilting. What is this disease and can it be eliminated?
Answer: The answer to question would depend if the Dogwood is native or a Kousa Dogwood. Therefore, we will give you two sets of answers:
  1. Japanese Dogwood (Kousa Dogwood)
    The leaves may wilt if there is an excess or lack of water. The bark is very thin and could be damaged by the sun (check to see if the damage is on the south side of the tree). It may also be the damage from borers (they can be sprayed).
  2. Native Dogwood
    The wilting of the foliage would probably be from the Dogwood anthracnose. This is a leaf disease that would need treated in the spring. The bark on a native Dogwood will start to become "scaly" as the tree becomes older. This may give the appearance of some kind of disorder with the trunk.
Without seeing the tree, it is difficult to give a detailed diagnosis, but this should lead you in the proper direction.
 
30. Question: I have two Red Oak trees in my front yard. Both are about 20 feet tall with 6 or 8 inch trunks. One of the oaks has dark green leaves and very full. The other is pale greenish/yellow with brown spots. Can you help me with this?
Answer: We would have to see and possibly test the tree. It sounds like you may have a fungal problem, possibly below and above. I would first check to see if buttress roots are visible at the base of the tree. Then, check for girdling roots. If the tree has no visible root flare, then it may be decaying from beneath. It may also have phytopthora, a decay organism that root prunes the tree destroying root hairs and making absorption of nutrients difficult.
 
31. Question: My maples, viburnam, hydrangea, and others are getting rectangular, white raised spots on the back of the leaves. What is this and how do I treat it?
Answer: Those raised spots are likely to be scale. Scale populations are high all along the east coast. Scale is a deadly pest that is difficult to control. It would be prudent to meet with a certified arborist so that I might look at them.
 
32. Question: Is my white pine tree infected with bugs? It is leaking and seems to have numerous little holes in it. Last year, we treated it but, it seems as if it is leaking again?
Answer: This could be woodpecker damage, which is usually not an issue, or it could be borer damage, which could be very harmful. I strongly recommend having a certified arborist inspect the tree. Feel free to make an appointment today for a recommended course of action.
 
33. Question: My redbud tree's bark is falling off the tree in big slabs. Should I be concerned?
Answer: Mature redbuds do develop somewhat scaly bark that will exfoliate, but this sounds a bit extreme. Make an appointment so that we may verify the cause and recommend any necessary treatment.
 
34. Question: I gave my neighbor permission to have their "tree guy" trim a large branch from my 100 year old oak tree because it partially hung over their house. I came home to see that they climbed my tree using shoe spikes and that the tree had chunks removed from where they climbed up.I have often heard that this is not a good thing to do to a tree. Do I have a reason to be concerned and if so is there anything that can be done to reverse or prevent any further damage to the tree?
Answer: "Spiking" trees is an unacceptable practice. Unfortunately, it is too common in the tree care industry. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) disapprove of this practice. Regarding your tree, I would have a certified arborist evaluate the tree to assess the damage to the tree. To maintain the health of the tree during this stress and periods of drought, I would consider fertilization, mulch, and keep well watered during dry periods. A tree of this age is most likely a large tree and could take up as much as 500 gallons of water per day. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us for a consultation. Steve Skyer ISA Certified Arborist Bartlett Tree Experts
 
35. Question: Our neighbor has two camphor trees - one large and one smaller. The roots from these trees are causing our concrete driveway to rise. We are very concerned about the structural damage underground caused by these trees. How do we obtain a professional evaluation of the damage caused by these trees?
Answer: It may be possible to prune the offending roots and install root barriers to reduce the potential for a re-occurrence of this problem. It will depend on the proximity of the trees to the pavement and condition of the trees whether root pruning and barriers are possible. I suggest contacting a consulting arborist to evaluate the trees and site.
 
36. Question: I have a 10 year old Southern Magnolia which is failing to thrive. Despite fertilization, it continues to have open habit with poor leaf growth and fewer blossoms. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: Southern Magnolias are a fantastic tree, but need to be grown in certain culturally correct conditions. There could be a couple issues that need to be addressed: Prescription Soil Sample, Structural Pruning, Root Collar Excavation, etc. Make an appointment to have an arborist conduct a free property inspection for you and give you a better idea of whats going on with your Southern Magnolia.
 
37. Question: I have some neighbors who think they may have tree blight. How common is it in North Carolina? What kind of trees does it effect? How can you diagnose it? What is the best way to prevent spread?
Answer: 'Tree Blight' could describe numerous pathogens which impact diverse tree species in North Carolina. Diagnosis can be accomplished by sampling the tree and observing site conditions. Based on the analysis, recommendations will be made to help mitigate the spread of infection.
 
38. Question: I have a 25 to 30 foot red oak that appears to have iron chlorosis. It has deteriorated over the last two years, and about a 1/4 of it has not leafed out this year. I'm very concerned about losing it, but am having difficulty finding someone knowledgeable to look at it.
Answer: If you are seeing iron chlorosis that severe, you have to treat it by injecting ferric ammonium citrate directly into the trunk. This is not a viable long-term solution, since the treatment only lasts about a year and therefore the tree gets wounded annually. We are currently performing some experiments to find longer lasting treatments, but we're only about six months into the study. I recommend injecting the tree as a stop-gap measure and sampling the soil to develop a long-term plan. Lowering the pH is a long and difficult process, but is the best long-term solution. All of that can be determined through soil analysis. Please contact us to schedule an appointment. For an accurate assessment, a certified arborist needs to inspect the chlorotic tree.
 
39. Question: I have a Dogwood Tree that I planted about 15 years ago. It has always flowered beautifully for me, but this year it did not flower - not even a leaf came out. It looks like there is new green growth on the tree, so I don't think that it is dead. I do fertilize the tree every year and put down mulch. Any ideas for me?
Answer: t would be hard to provide a diagnosis for this tree without actually seeing it. Please make an appointment for us to come and take a look. I would be curious as to how deep the tree was originally planted and also if there was any significant events that happened around the tree like construction.
 
40. Question: During several recent storms, we lost the top half of three large trees in our front yard. Two were poplars and one was a sweet gum. They ranged in height from 50 feet to 80. So now the remaining trunks are 25 to 40 feet. Can we leave these and expect branches and leaves back or do the trees need to be cut down?
Answer: Since this issue is related to tree stability and possibly failure in the near or long term future, it cannot be answered without an onsite assessment of the trees’ current condition. Please contact us to set up an appointment or contact a certified arborist of your choosing to make a proper qualified assessment of your trees.
 
41. Question: We have several blue spruce trees in our yard and one is dying, dropping green needles, and turning brown. I don't want it to spread to the others. The trees are about 20 to 25 years old and have always been beautiful. If there is a known problem this year, perhaps you could recommend a spray.
Answer: There are several pests that can cause needle browning and defoliation of blue spruce at this time of year. Spider mites and needlecast, a fungus disease, are two of the most common. Both pests are treatable, but neither are normally associated with death of the plant. I recommend contacting a certified arborist to evaluate the trees to determine the cause of the problem.
 
42. Question: We have a very large old piney oak that is in our backyard and is about 50 feet tall. We moved in about 2 years ago and it was beautiful. Now, there is green fungus growing up the bark. Also, some smaller branches have died. We love this tree and don't want to lose it. I was hoping you could give me some idea of how to treat the green fungus.
Answer: The fungus you are referring to may actually be Lichens that are growing on the tree. This will not harm the tree if that is the case. Lichens are actually a sign of good air quality. The smaller branches that are dying back may be smaller limbs that are being shaded out by the canopy on the interior. The dying back of small branches is somewhat expected. Needless to say, the best way to answer this question is to look at the tree or see pictures.
 
43. Question: I planted an ornamental cherry tree in my front lawn and have noticed bleeding around the bottom part of the trunk. This season it bloomed and I noticed a considerable reduction in the amount of leaves. Is there a problem?
Answer: The decline in leaves that you are experiencing is likely related to an organism that is inhibiting the flow of nutrient and water through the vascular system of the tree. Based on the observation of bleeding sap, it sounds like you have either a bacterial/fungal canker, such as Phytophthora or a boring insect, such as peach tree borer. Cherry trees are very susceptible to these types of pests. I would recommend having someone inspect the tree to determine what treatment course would best address you problems. Decline in leaves is typically a result of numerous stress factors which would be best identified in person.
 
44. Question: I have two mature Chinese Elms in my front yard. Suddenly during the last two weeks, large amounts of leaves are turning yellow and falling. Never had this problem before in May. (All leaves drop annually over three months from late October to early January.) I think watering is adequate. (Following similar schedule to previous years.) When leaves started dropping, I applied a long, slow soak and have done the same more frequently than usual.

Is there anything else I can do? Can it be determined if some branches are dead and if so, should they be removed to save the trees?

Answer: There are two main reasons the leaves on trees turn yellow and drop. First one is the tree could be lacking of nutrients needed. Have you fed the trees every year, every 6 months, or not at all? Second one is that the trees are getting too much water and not drying out in between watering. This could be because the soil is not draining properly or they are getting water too often. You can check this yourself by sticking a pencil down about 6 inches in the ground and seeing if the dirt is still wet.
 
45. Question: I have a young Japanese Red Maple I purchased about 24 months ago at Lowes. It appears to have what looks like small white/tan spots scattered on the leaves. Otherwise, it looks healthy. I have not been able to discover just what this is and if it needs treatment.
Answer: These spots that are on the leaves are more than likely a type of leafspot fungus. This year, we have had quite a bit of cool rainy weather, which leafspot disease thrives in. Depending on the severity of the disease, it may or may not need treatment. Set up an appointment to have it evaluated by an arborist.
 
46. Question: We moved to Hellam, PA a year ago and had a peach tree that was diseased. We cut it back and it is growing rapidly and has a lot of peaches. We never sprayed it and it has green flies all over the fruit. How do we get rid of these and how do we spray so we can still eat the fruit? I am afraid to eat the fruit since these flies are all over the peaches.
Answer: Without knowing exactly what insect is causing the problem, I cannot provide specific information for chemical treatment. Most insects can be controlled by spraying horticultural oil at the listed rate on the product label. Peach trees are also susceptible to a variety of fungal diseases. There are chemicals specifically designed for fruit trees that allow the grower to eat the fruit. In addition, peach trees require periodic pruning to encourage quality fruit production. Bartlett Tree Experts offers each of these services. If you like we can schedule an appointment and I would be glad to provide you with further advice to help your peach production.
 
47. Question: My magnolia tree has a secretion. The secretion attracts mostly black wasps, but other insects are also attracted to it. The tree appears to be dying a slow death. The secretion catches fire when exposed to a lit match. The secretion stains anything it falls on. The secretion is sticky to the touch. Can you diagnose the problem and recommend a remedy?
Answer: What you're describing is Magnolia Scale, a very common problem for this species. Unfortunately, there is no way to control this pest until late this summer or into fall, when the current generation dies and the larvae emerge (if the tree is small enough, you can manually remove the feeding scales by gently scraping them off, or 'smushing' them). For severe infestations, we recommend a spring oil treatment, and a second year of fall treatments.
 
48. Question: I have a tree in my yard that has a dead branch, which I believe has termites. If it does have termites, does the whole tree need to be removed or just the dead section?
Answer: In order to answer your question, we would first need to have a Bartlett Tree Experts trained arborist evaluate the integrity of the tree in question. Contact us for an evaluation at your convenience.
 
49. Question: Last fall, one of my white pine trees turned a yellowish color and lost a lot more needles than usual. The other white pines nearby did a similar thing without the needle loss. The other white pines have recovered and are lush and green, but the original one appears to be dying, drying out, and showing more yellow. They are all approximately 10 years old. What can I do to save it?
Answer: It could be a root problem causing the decline of the one tree. White Pine are susceptible to root rot disease and/or the root collar could be buried causing vitality problems with this one individual plant. Treatment for root disease and fertilization may help if the tree is not too far gone.
 
50. Question: I have a Heritage river birch that loses 75% of its leaves every year early in July and creates quit a mess. It also looks terrible once the leaves fall. Otherwise, it seems to be in good health. I planted it as an eight-foot sapling nine years ago. It is now twenty-five feet tall. Unless I can find a solution, I plan to cut it down and replace it with something else. I hesitate only because it is a beautiful specimen with its leaves on.
Answer: An arborist should visit your property to inspect the river birch to determine the options.
 
51. Question: A couple of limbs turned brown on the tree that I thought was due to the drought. I watered the tree and removed the dead limbs and noticed that the brown limbs were covered in sap. Now it looks like more limbs are covered and turning brown and the trunk is oozing sap. Can anything be done?
Answer: Sounds like your cherry tree has stress cankers or borers. The stress can be caused by drought, other root problems, or disease. The best way to proceed at this point would be for you to water the root zone. Watering should be done during dry periods to make sure the tree does not need to rely on stored energy to survive. This irrigation should be provided within the drip-line of the tree at a rate of one inch per week when the upper 4 to 6 inches of the soil is dry. Use a sprinkler for approximately 2 to 6 hours once or twice a week. You want the soil to be moist to a depth of 6 inches or more. Have a certified arborist examine the tree to determine the cause of stress and appropriate treatments if needed. Please contact us to make an appointment for a consultation at your property.
 
52. Question: When is the best time to have my peach tree and cherry tree pruned?
Answer: The best time to prune is when all the fruit is finished and the leaves are starting to fall. At the same time as pruning, it is a good idea to have us carry out a winter wash. If you would like us to have a look, please contact us for an inspection.
 
53. Question: I believe two of my large vine maples (planted two years ago) are dying of root rot. They both have collar lesions. There are three others in the vicinity. I have read up on Phytophthora and know the basics. Is it likely to spread to the other three? Is it important to remove the dying ones immediately? Is there an effective treatment for the remaining three?
Answer: Collar lesions on maples are often the result of Phytophthora infections, particularly those with soil or heavy mulch above the root collar. However, lesions alone are not diagnostic for this disease and may be caused by other factors. If a Phytophthora spp. is the cause, it may have directly infected the symptomatic area, or it could be the progression of a longer term root infection. The likelihood of infection in the healthy maples depends on several factors. The pathogen is soil borne and will move with water (downhill). If the healthy trees are uphill and planted in well drained soil, there is less chance of spread. Removal of infected trees may nominally reduce the presence of inoculum, but the soil is infested and the pathogen can survive in soil without a host for extended periods. In the Phytophthora species that are commonly found infecting maple, the infection usually takes place after rain or irrigation splashes spores from the soil on to the trunk. A proper layer of organic mulch will help to prevent this spore dispersal and has been shown to suppress the pathogen in the soil. There are materials registered for use in the landscape that can be used to treat and/or prevent Phytophthora lesions, but long term management should be based on managing drainage and soil moisture, and properly mulching the critical root zone. Vine maple is also a very common host for Verticilliium wilt and may produce similar symptoms. Phytophthora infection should be confirmed by a plant diagnostic laboratory.
 
54. Question: I have a large maple tree dropping clumps of leaves with seeds (helicopters). These clumps seem to be from the ends of branches. I don't recall the tree doing this before. I don't know if it is just squirrels, or if someting else can cause this. The edges of the stems seem to be rather clean, more like a cut than a chew or a break. I also have noticed this happening to my neighbors maple. My oak tree next to the maple is not affected. Can you please advise? Thank you.
Answer: What you are describing is most likely squirrels. Their teeth make very clean angular cuts and spring is the time of year they make new nests for their young. The new growth on maples is very delicate and easy to chew through and the leaves make for very comfortable bedding.
 
55. Question: I have two poplar trees in my backyard. They are about 35 years old. Many green leaves have been falling the past couple of years. What is causing this and how can I fix this?
Answer: If the falling leaves are completely green, it could be a couple of things: Wind damage - During periods of high wind, it is not unusual to have some new growth break off the tender young stems of certain trees. Petiole Borers - These small insects feed on the petiole (stem of the leaf) and cause the leaves to fall when they are still green. It is typically not a serious pest. Antrhacnose - Another symptom associated with early leaf drop is Antrhacnose, which causes young leaves to drop, but they are usually discolored from the fungal infection and typically show up in mid-summer. Contact us to come by and take a look for additional information and provide a better diagnosis as to what's causing the leaves to drop.
 
56. Question: In our neighbors yard, there are bamboo trees growing. Now they have started showing up in our yard. How do we get rid of them so they do not come back?
Answer: Bamboo will be tough to control. They spread underground, popping up wherever they can. Repeat applications of registered herbicides will help; digging and removing them also helps. I'm told that covering the area with black plastic will starve them of sunlight, slowing the spread. When you are dealing with something like this, the best advice we can give is to rely on a number of methods, not just one. Please contact Bartlett if we can help with the herbicide application.
 
57. Question: I have an elm tree (50 years old/approximately 30-40 feet tall) that has leaves that are wilting, partially turning brown, and falling off. What is it and what can be done to save it?
Answer: There are several thing that could be wrong here. It is very difficult to tell without seeing the tree, though. The two most likely causes are Dutch Elm Disease or a fungal leaf spot. The second cause requires applications of the proper fungicide, fertilization, and treatments to prevent boring insects from damaging the tree. Dutch Elm Disease is very severe and will require specialized applications to attempt to save the tree.
 
58. Question: I have about 30 Blue Spruce trees planted in two rows alongside my property. They are spaced 10 feet apart, and set back 20 feet from the street. I planted them about 18 years ago. The last couple of years, I've noticed many of the lower branches have lost their needles and died. I'm wondering if they are lacking some nutrient? I have 10 additional Spruces in my front yard that do not have this problem and are beautiful. Please help. These trees provide a lot of privacy for my corner-lot backyard but I'm beginning to be able to see through them.
Answer: Your problem sounds more like fungal disease than a nutrient problem. Last fall was very wet and we are having a lot of problems with fungal issues this spring. Please set up an appointment so an arborist can take a look and give you recommendations on what we can do.
 
59. Question: The beautiful cherry tree in my yard appears to be quite sick this year. Although it bloomed splendidly, many of the leaves now appear to have been eaten, lacy, and with holes. I cannot see any insects. What do you think? Can it be treated?
Answer: This was more than likely done by Winter Moth caterpillars very early in the Spring. They leave by summer, but will be back next year. A program should be set up for next year and the tree should be fertilized soon. Please set up an appointment so we can take a look at this.
 
60. Question: I have a large spruce tree that is infested with carpenter ants. They have tunneled into the tree at two places. Can the tree be saved and what steps should be taken to save the tree?
Answer: To save the tree, the best options are to have a Plant Health Care program to treat for carpenter ants, to apply prescription soil fertilization according to soil sampling, and to crown clean the tree of any deadwood. Depending on the location, we sometimes recommend Root Invigoration, which greatly improves the health of the tree whether suffering from stress or if it is in need of nutrient stimulation. I would recommend setting an appointment to have a certified arborist inspect the tree.
 
61. Question: Several of my large pine trees have developed blue/green scales on their trunks and branches along with a feathery, silver coating on their boughs. Can you diagnose the disease and identify treatment options? This also have spread to my rose of sharon bushes along their trunks.
Answer: I suspect the feathery silver coating on the branches is pine bark adelgid, which is an insect pest. I am not sure of the blue/green scales: this is likely and harmless lichen or algae growing on the bark. Contact us to make an appointment and we can likely verify the causal agent.
 
62. Question: My Lemon Tree, which has been in the conservatory through last winter and is still there, has developed a sticky substance on the leaves that then drops on to the floor. Is this anything to worry about and how can it be treated?
Answer: It sounds like the tree has either aphids or scale insects feeding on the plant. Look on the under sides of the leaves. The aphids or scale insects will be there. These can be treated with an insecticide.
 
63. Question: Can you treat powdery mildew on two young dogwoods? I have read that they can be sprayed and will need repeated treatments.
Answer: Yes we can treat young dogwoods for powdery mildew. They will need several treatments spread about three to four weeks apart. Make an appointment for a consultation at your property.
 
64. Question: We have three big Blue Spruce trees in our front yard. All of a sudden, the branches have started to turn brown and are very brittle. What is going on?
Answer: Without seeing the trees, it will be difficult to ascertain what the problem(s) are that are causing the issue. The following could be contributing factors: needlecast from previous infection; die back from cytospora canker; die back or thinning from spruce bud scale or gall adeldgids; die back from girdling roots, buried root collar, or other environmental factors. Please contact me if you would like to set up an appointment to more accurately diagnose the problem(s).
 
65. Question: I have a 13-year old River Birch in my front yard. It originally had four trunks. Due to one trunk touching my roof and causing the need to trim often, I had that trunk cut down a couple of years ago. The person who cut it for me painted the wound with something black to seal it. I have noticed recently that that cut area (about 10" in diameter) has rotted. It appears to be filled with dirt. I am afraid of losing the remaining three trunks of the tree, which are beautiful, if this opening continues to trap water every time it rains. What do you recommend to protect my River Birch? I assume I should scoop out the loose material and fill it with something to seal it.
Answer: Unfortunately, filling the cavity is not recommended and will provide no benefit. Depending on the extent of decay present, it may be possible to cable the remaining leaders together to add supplemental support to help compensate for the presence of decay. It is highly recommended you have an arborist evaluate the overall health and safety of the tree and provide you with options for course of action.
 
66. Question: I have a Kousa dogwood and it is not producing flowers like it has in the past.
Answer: When flowering trees stop flowering, the first thing to check is the nutrient and pH levels of the soils. Prescription fertilization will ensure the tree has all the vital nutrients required for a long productive life. Contact an arborist to preform soil test and prescribe the proper nutrients for the trees on your property.
 
67. Question: On my property, I have an over 100-year-old huge Douglas Fir with new growth tips turning brown, a 30-year-old Norwegian Spruce with the same problem, a 10-year-old Leyland Spruce where the tips were brown then the whole tree died, a 10-year-old American Hornbeams with little new growth and many branches without leaves, and a 30-year-old Rhododendron that has many dead branches and no leaves. This is all new within the past year or so. Prior to this, these trees and shrubs were all healthy. Can you tell me what to do about this problem?
Answer: It's very difficult to diagnose a tree problem without a photo or actually seeing the plant in person. Due to the frost we had in mid-Spring last year, many soft branch tips on conifers were affected. Last winter was difficult on some plant species. If you're in a windy environment, broad leaf evergreens can be dessicated and defoliate. Please contact us to make an appointment to inspect the property.
 
68. Question: I have a peach tree with a red-looking blister on the leaf. How should I get rid of it, and will it hurt the fruit?
Answer: It sounds like a bacterial leaf spot disease. Suppression requires fungicide applications (3-4) in the spring. It is more of an aesthetic problem.
 
69. Question: I have an one hundred acre park. A small percentage of the pine cones are extremely sappy. Any suggestions?
Answer: The resin (sap) production generally occurs due to wounds created on the developing cones. The most common wounding agents are seed and cone insects that feed on these structures. Damage from these insects can be prevented with properly timed insecticide applications to the developing cone during the summer months. This is seldom warranted except in seed orchards where genetically improved pines are grown for seed production to produce superior seedlings.
 
70. Question: I discovered the trunk of my weeping Japanese Maple tree is split from the weight of the snow from last winter. The tree is about 4 years old and still fairly small (about 3 1/2 feet tall). Is taping the trunk an option? With a good feeding, is it possible to save the tree, or should this be considered a total loss?
Answer: The taping of the trunk could be a temporary solution until a permanent structural support system could be installed. Your local arborist representative will be glad to come out and give you a free quote.
 
71. Question: I have a very old oak tree with about a 6 foot diameter trunk. It is almost completely covered with a draping moss. The leaves are thinning and only at the tips of the branches. I recently bought the property and the tree has had no care in a long time. Can too much moss hurt an oak tree? What type of feeding can be done and when? Who can look at the tree to diagnose problems? This is a historic oak I do not want to lose.
Answer: It sounds like Spanish moss (ball moss and resurrection fern don't fit the description "draping"). Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is an epiphyte, not a parasite. Epiphytes derive all their nutrient and moisture needs from the air and from rainfall, not from the host tree. Question is, is it harming the tree? While Spanish moss may not directly harm the tree, an unusually high population tends to be an indicator that the tree is under distress or in decline. When a tree is under stress or in decline, every opportunist in town gravitates to that tree, including Spanish moss. Spanish moss is said to like full sun or partial shade, so as a tree's leaf population decreases due to various stress factors, the Spanish moss population tends to increase. There are other stress factors, such as poor soil nutrition, root rot, leaf disease, inappropriate irrigation schedule, decay, etc. that can be investigated as well.
 
72. Question: I have a cherry tree which seemed to drop its leaves a little early last year. I have another one beside it and it seems to be starting to come around for spring, however the other one doesn't seem like it's going to bloom. How do I know if something is wrong and if it's something I can treat so I won't have to cut it down?
Answer: There are a number of factors that could contribute to a cherry losing its leaves early. Last year, we saw the emergence of a new fungal leaf disease in our area: blumeriella, which caused total leaf loss on hundreds of cherry trees. Girdling roots or root rot could also cause the same or similar symptoms. The best way to determine what the problem is (very difficult to do over the internet), is to have an arborist inspect the tree to determine what is the cause of its decline, and to tell you if there is anything that can be done to remedy the situation.
 
73. Question: I planted an ornamental cherry tree in our front lawn and have noticed bleeding around the bottom part of the trunk. This season, it bloomed and I noticed a considerable reduction in the amount of leaves. Is there a problem?
Answer: The decline in leaves that you are experiencing is likely related to an organism that is inhibiting the flow of nutrient and water through the vascular system of the tree. Based on the observation of bleeding sap, it sounds like you have either a bacterial/fungal canker, such as Phytophthora, or a boring insect, such as peach tree borer. Cherry trees are very susceptible to these types of pests. I would recommend having someone inspect the tree to determine what treatment course would best address your problems. Decline in trees is typically a result of numerous stress factors which would be best identified in person. Make an appointment and we could set up a time to look at your tree.
 
74. Question: I lost one of my pear trees last year and now this year I seem to be losing another The leaves start to turn yellow and they get black on the tips. I thought it might be fire blight, but I do not notice any cankers. Any help would be appreciated.
Answer: Fireblight symptoms do not always include cankers at the tips of the tree. The symptoms can appear as water-soaked and darkened, then leaves quickly droop, shrivel and turn black. It is also possible that this is a different disease or problem altogether. It would be best if we could inspect the tree. Make an appointment today.
 
75. Question: I have a weeping cherry tree on which the leaves are sparse, sap is running from the trunk and the trunk is split. What can I do to help it recover?
Answer: It's very difficult to provide accurate diagnoses without seeing the tree, but given your description, there are likely a number of factors at play. The entire group of fruit/ornamental trees known as the stone fruits are subject to three very common borer pests that could be causing the sap flow - lesser peach tree borer, peach tree borer, and a small beetle in the Agrilus genus. All of these can be highly destructive. Bark splitting can be caused by many factors: winter injury, sunscald, canker development, physical injury, lightning, etc. There are also quite a few fungal diseases that can cause sparse leaf coverage, as well as root loss from root rot pathogens, drought, and girdling roots or improper planting depth. Depending on the level of damage, there may be ways to correct the problem(s) causing the decline, but it is hard to say without seeing the tree. Make an appointment with your local arborist today.
 
76. Question: I am having two neighboring maple trees removed to make way for a septic leach field. It is an optional removal. They will not be able to be excised once the delicate piping etc. will be put in. Will I have more standing water on the ground now that the trees, and roots are not there to use excess water? The trees are about 20 feet from the house.
Answer: It is difficult to answer your question without actually seeing the site. Trees do absorb a substantial amount of water from the soil but other factors may play a larger role in your situation. (soil type, water table depth, grade, etc.). Make an appointment today and we will be happy to stop at your property to more carefully assess the situation.
 
77. Question: We have been in our home for 24 years and for the first time we are getting sap all over our back deck, cars, etc. The deck is turning black. We have a maple tree in the front yard and four oak trees in the backyard. Could it be sap, or something like aphids? How do we treat it?
Answer: It is entirely possible that aphids are a concern on your tree. Aphids are a pest of trees that suck plant juices from the tree and foliage. They can be quite damaging to the tree. They secrete a honeydew like substance with a high sugar content that attracts bacteria and creates black sooty mold under the tree on decks, cars, houses, driveways, etc. It is also possible that the trees may have a soft-shelled scale insect that can create a similar sooty mold. There are many natural predators of aphids including lady bird beetles and their larvae, lacewings, and other beneficial insects. If needed, a soil-injected treatment can be applied that is translocated throughout the tree to minimize the damaging level of the insect. Foliar spray applications could also be applied to the crown of the tree to reduce aphid populations. Please don't hesitate to make an appointment with us to have the tree evaluated.
 
78. Question: Ants have excavated a huge cavity in my maple tree. What can I do about it?
Answer: Ants only excavate dead wood, so there is little concern the ants will affect the health of the tree. The bigger concern is the structural stability of the tree. If the hollow is large enough, that portion of the stem may be compromised and more susceptible to breaking in a storm. You can get a better idea about the likelihood of the stem breaking by having a risk assessment done on the tree. We do these regularly so please make an appointment if you want more information about that. If you simply don't want the ants around, we can dispose of them as well.
 
79. Question: I have two peach trees. The fruit has black spots and also the leaves fall off prematurely. I have sprayed them with copper fungicide twice a season. Is there anything I can do while they are dormant to prevent this condition?
Answer: This may be a fungal infection or possibly two different fungal infections that are not affected by copper treatments. The timing of fungicide treatments is also extremely important. Generally, the first application should be at budbreak for fungal diseases affecting the foliage. Fungal diseases affecting fruit require different timing, but still early is better. During dormancy, the best things to do are cleaning up foliage debris from the ground, fertilizing, and pruning.
 

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