tree nag

I am a tree nag. I will admit it, but today I’m a little salty because I went and looked at one of my trees, the white oak known as the lollipop. It has the beginnings of bacterial leaf scorch. It’s just a little tiny spot, but I have to treat it now and I can’t ignore it.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch starting.

We are still paying off the very last of 2022’s arborist bills. In spite of how proactive we are with our trees, we had to take down two huge trees. Mama Oak, my favorite tree on the property, and on the other side of the house, a giant ash tree. We didn’t want to take either tree down, but they were both dying, and both close to the house. There were years of no tree work before we bought the property. So, although we have been doing tree work and plant and tree health, in the end, it wasn’t enough for these two beautiful trees.

But people all around us are sadly only reactive as far as tree care goes. That means if something is dying, dead, or falls, they deal with it. Maybe. There is no pruning, no tree care, there is no tree health. And the way people react to their trees affects all of the other trees in the area. So basically, I’m saying if people were more proactive with tree care and plant and tree health where I lived , it might be better all the way around. But you can only lead the proverbial horse to water, you cannot make it drink.

There is a book I own called The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.

Trees literally talk to each other. They have their own language and one of the quotes from this book is something along the line of trees are only as strong as the forest and trees which surround them. If you take that quote, and you apply that to the trees in our woods, while we are caring for our trees, those around us are not. That matters, sadly.

So OK I know some of you think The Nightgown Gardener needs less caffeine, more sleep or something. However the raw truth and the thing of it is we have to have more respect for our trees. This isn’t just about planting trees and removing invasive species, this is about caring for the trees and being proactive.

Tree care is something which can be expensive. However, if you do things consistently over time to help preserve your trees and take care of them, in the end, you save money because if you have healthy trees that are properly cared for, you are not paying for emergency work when they come tumbling down or take out a neighbor’s roof, car, and so on. And mind you, no system is perfect, and sometimes accidents happen. But we have to do better.

Of course, this is also why I warn people about using free mulch from various public works departments of various municipalities. If you don’t know where it’s from, you could be doing your whole garden more harm than good and that includes your trees. I had somebody tell me about this yet again recently where they used free mulch from a local township on the Main Line and ended up with all sorts of disease in their garden.

I get my wood chips from our trees provided trees and tree parts aren’t diseased. And I will also get additional chips from my arborist from other properties, depending on the health of the trees they’ve chipped. I don’t take dirty wood chips.

And that is where KYA comes in, or know your arborist. We use Treemendous Tree Care. I have told all of you that time and again, and I do not hesitate when referring them. I will also note I am just a satisfied customer for several years now. I don’t get any special treatment. They treat all of their customers well.

Now is the time of year with them where we work out our game plan for the upcoming growing seasons. I have regular plant and tree health the better I care for my trees the more they reward me and the better I care for my trees, the better chance they have because no one else around me is proactive in this way. I know our neighbors probably think I’m a little nutty about my trees and I am. I love them, but I also know because my father taught me just like my husband’s mother taught him, that most simply put the better care you take of your trees the better off your property is in the area around you.

So, finding another oak tree with bacterial leaf scorch is concerning but it’s just a little spot which means this tree has a huge chance of recovery and happy growing for years to come. If I just ignore the little spot by saying to myself “oh, it’s just a little spot,” then I would be looking at a tree very close to the house declining early. And THAT is dangerous.

Most homeowners and gardeners approach tree care like pennywise and pound foolish. they will spend spend spend on planters and Hardscaping and lawn furniture and fire pits, but they won’t do the basics to protect their trees which increase the value of their property like updated bathrooms and kitchens.

Now for me, so far in 2023, because we have been faithful about the pruning, we are mostly plant and tree health versus actual pruning. The lollipop oak however will get a little more care. Last year she was treated along with a black oak further in the woods with an antibiotic and insecticide via injections. This year she will get growth hormones and insecticide. The thought process is making the tree stronger by improving her health.

The problems this oak tree is having, and the black oak in the back are just examples of what the oak species are facing statewide here in Pennsylvania. A changing climate is really affecting our oak species, and this was discussed as per my arborist Gareth at a recent arborist symposium.

So yes, climate change. And given the weird winter we had and the fact that it wasn’t consistently cold enough to kill off a lot of insects and what not over the winter. A lot of trees won’t be getting a break this year. So it is worth investing in plant and tree health programs. But only do it with certified arborists. I can recommend my arborist because I use them and I can also recommend Bartlett because we used them in the past at a different property. But other than them and Treemendous I can’t recommend anybody else specifically.

I also have to remind you that I am very judicious about using chemicals. I use them when I have no other alternative, and I am confident in my arborist at Treemendous. No matter where you are in the country or wherever you are reading this if you don’t have faith in the arborist you are meeting with they’re not the arborist for you.

I really wish more people would take better care of their trees. There are so many people out there that say how they “love” their trees and they “love” planting trees, yet trees require maintenance and care. It doesn’t just stop after you plant a tree. It’s like the rest of your garden: you need maintenance and a care plan.

I know this post is more than a little salty. I’m just frustrated. climate change is wreaking havoc on our ecosystems I think. I am not a environmentalist or climate scientist, I’m just a home gardener. However, as a home gardener I can see what is happening around me. If we were all a little more proactive, which includes a regular plan for tree & plant health and maintenance we would be better off.

CARE FOR YOUR TREES PEOPLE! (And that doesn’t mean posting photos on social media and asking for crowd sourcing diagnoses when something is wrong, it means having a licensed arborist stop by.)

Nag over and out.

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