Is Your Tree Sick? Here's How to Tell and What You Can Do to Help

Is Your Tree Sick? Here's How to Tell and What You Can Do to Help

Last Updated On: August 10, 2023

Trees are an essential part of our environment and landscaping. They provide shade, release oxygen, and add beauty to our surroundings and to our gardens. However, just like any living thing, trees also get sick. And, when they do, they can become a hazard to our property, pets, and even ourselves. But how do you know if your tree is sick? In this post, we’ll discuss the signs to look for, the common diseases that affect trees, and the steps you can take to help save your tree.

Signs of a Sick Tree

The most apparent sign that a tree is sick is its appearance. If you notice that your tree has fewer leaves or smaller leaves, or if the leaves are discolored or have spots, it could be an indication that it’s not healthy. Other symptoms include the presence of fungi, dead branches or twigs, and peeling bark. A leaning or crooked tree should also raise concern. If you notice any of these changes in your tree, you should inspect it more closely.

Other signs to look for are weak stems, which could indicate root rot or other underlying issues. You should also keep an eye out for garden pests like caterpillars, aphids, and beetle larvae that might be feeding on the tree’s leaves and branches.

Common Tree Diseases and Pests

There are many diseases and pests that can affect trees, and it’s essential to identify them correctly to determine the best course of action. Some common tree diseases include Dutch elm disease, oak wilt, and pine wilt. Another common tree issue is pest infestation, including aphids and spider mites.

Identifying the cause is essential when it comes to treating a sick tree. If you’re not sure what’s causing your tree to be ill, reach out to a professional tree service company for help.

Some Treatment Options to Try

As always, you should tailor your treatment to the issue. The first step is to find out what’s wrong and apply the correct rememdy after. That said, here are some common treatment options that can help cure a variety of ailments.

Conduct a Soil Test

Healthy trees need the right nutrients in the soil to thrive. A soil test will help determine if your tree is getting the right amount of nutrients. You can purchase a do-it-yourself soil test kit or can have a professional arborist or your local county extension agent test it for you.

For potted trees, you also have the option to repot and replace the soil. If you think the soil may be the problem, usually do to age for potted trees, then this is an easy way to replace nutrients.

Provide Adequate Water

If a tree is not getting enough water, it can become stressed and more susceptible to diseases, pests, and other issues. Depending on where you live, and the tree species, most trees require about 1 inch of water each week. During drought-like conditions, it may take up to two inches of water a week to keep the tree healthy.

Prune Your Tree

Pruning the tree is critical to its overall health and well-being. If you notice any dead, diseased, or damaged branches, be sure to remove them. Doing this will allow the tree to focus more energy on growing new, healthy branches and can help prevent the spread of diseases.

Tree trimming can help a tree maintain its health and beauty, but it should be done with care. To begin, you should ensure that you have the proper tools for the job, including sharp shears or pruners and loppers for larger branches. It’s also important to use a ladder or other stable platform when trimming higher branches.

Make sure to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches first. When trimming live branches, be sure to make clean cuts just above the branch collar and avoid cutting too close to the trunk. Finally, try to maintain the natural shape of the tree while you prune and don’t remove too many leaves at once.

Fertilize Your Tree

Fertilizing your tree is a great way to help it heal from any diseases or pests, as well as promote its growth and development. The amount of fertilizer needed will vary depending on the tree species, so it’s best to consult with an arborist or your local extension office for more information. When fertilizing, be sure to follow the directions on the product label carefully.

Ways to Prevent Tree Sickness

While some tree diseases and pests are beyond our control, there are still things you can do to keep your trees healthy. First, inspect your trees regularly and take note of any changes in their appearance. Proper care practices that promote healthy growth also go a long way in preventing disease. These include watering regularly and adequately, pruning underbrush and dead wood, fertilizing, and making sure the trees get enough sunlight.

Each tree species has different needs for care and maintenance. It is important to research the specific needs of your tree species before making any changes or taking action. Some trees, such as oaks and elms, may need more water than other species like maples or ash.

Additionally, you should identify which type of soil is best suited for your specific tree and which insects and diseases could attack it.

An arborist or extension agent can also guide you in providing the best care for your tree species. By understanding the needs of each tree species, you can help prevent disease and ensure that your trees remain healthy and strong.

When in Doubt, Call a Professional

If you have inspected your tree, conducted a soil test, provided adequate water, and pruned it, and the tree still looks sick, it might be time to call in the professionals. An arborist can diagnose the sickness and recommend appropriate treatment. For example, the tree may need injections or specialized fertilization, which only an expert can provide.

A sick tree in your yard can be a cause for concern, and the first step in resolving the issue is identifying it. Once you have identified a sick tree, there are several ways to help it recover and prevent it from dying. Inspect the tree, conduct a soil test, provide adequate water, prune it, and call a professional arborist if necessary. With proper care, your sick tree will be restored to good health and continue to provide beauty and value to your yard for many years to come.

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