Assessing the Situation

Assessing the Situation

This is that time of year when the first hints of sunlight and slightly warmer weather make me want to get outside and get busy in my garden. In other words, I get the gardening bug. And as the days get longer I watch the plants emerge from the sleeping soil and am dying to get my hands dirty.

So this morning before heading to work, I took a walk around my yard to assess what affect winter had on my landscape. My arborvitaes were nice and green - ready to offer me privacy once more on my backyard patio. My blue spruces were also standing strong - seemingly unaffected from all the heavy snow their branches supported this winter. (What a beautiful scene they created out of my dining room bay window covered in the cold white stuff around the holidays!) My two English oaks, which are in my front tree lawn and are known for being relatively tolerant of the salt spray from cars and trucks, seem strong and sturdy, ready to flower and bud. And my Crimson King maples also look eager for spring - I'm looking forward to seeing their burgundy leaves emerge once again, creating a nice contrast to the lime and jade tones of the rest of my trees.

Then, I turned toward the front of my house. I have two juniper skyrockets flanking my front door. And the first thing I noticed was that the normally parallel frosty blue spikes weren't in order. The right tree stood tall, but the left was bent slightly inward toward my front door - usually not a good sign for a tree.

Healthy trees are very resilient, especially in winter when they are dormant and further injury by insects and diseases is less likely than during the growing season. But there can be incidents like severe ice and snow storms and excess salt exposure that can put pressure and weight on branches and cause some problems for your trees. While Mother Nature can't be controlled, keeping an eye out for early symptoms of ill health can help ensure trees make it through winter unscathed.

I inspect my trees once each season and especially after severe storms. While most healthy trees have full crowns (which is the area of branches and leaves that extend from the main trunk), don't let this alone fool you. Trees can be unwell and still have a lush crown. Here are some key symptoms that indicate a tree is unhealthy:

  • Dead wood appears as dry and lifeless branches that break very easily. They need to be removed quickly and properly for safety reasons.
  • Cracks are deep splits through the bark where the bark is missing.
  • Weak branch unions are areas where branches are not securely attached to a tree.
  • Trees show decay from the inside out, so this is difficult to notice initially. Soft, crumbly wood is a good indicator of decay.
  • An uneven growth pattern, where the tree is lopsided or leaning in one direction, is usually a result of years of damage from improper pruning or storms.

If you think your tree is in trouble, call an arborist for a consultation. They can help you diagnose your trees and offer next steps for treatment. I'm going to talk to my pals at Davey today about my skyrocket and see if my assessment is correct. Those few nasty ice storms we had this winter were probably a bit much for this juniper. But I think I'll be able to get him back in shape this spring with a little TLC.

In the meantime, do like I do and conduct regular evaluations and spring cleanups to keep your gardening bug under control until the real planting season kicks into full gear.

"Think you're a big fan of trees? We'd love to hear about it. Send your thoughts to Dave or Daphne at blog@davey.com ."

  • kevin kennedy March 29, 2013 >Thanks for the great article. Time to take a walk around my trees.
  • Paige Hall April 5, 2010 >I do love trees, Daphne, and I loved learning about all of yours. On the property I have a number of pines, and for me, these are one of my least favorite trees, obviously because of the needles and their height. Also, I'm not sure it I'd know what to look for on my property, so I would need some professional help. Glad I found this because I don't think I would have thought to have someone come out. Thanks.
  • Sandra April 5, 2010 >Great article!
Add a comment:
Featured or Related Blog Posts
  • Root in Moisture

    Planting trees is just half the battle.

    The diseases, pests and power equipment that emerge outdoors in spring, accompanying frequent sunlight, longer days and warmer temperatures, can wreak havoc on your trees if you don't put forth the effort to protect them.

    To keep your trees healthy throughout the growing season and beyond, you must practice routine maintenance and proper tree care. One way to help trees retain moisture, reduce weeds and keep power equipment at a safe distance is through mulch. In the coming weeks, you'll see piles of fresh mulch lined along neighborhood driveways. Soon, the coarse, fragrant matter will settle among flower and tree beds, enhancing the quality of landscapes' appearances.

    Read More
  • Just a Trim, Please

    Put a pair of scissors in your hands, and whether you're cutting coupons or bangs, there's always the potential to oversnip. It's almost too easy to make a mistake as you clip, clip, clip away - removing a little more on this side and a bit more on that side.

    Just like with a bad haircut, there is nothing more noticeable than a poorly pruned plant - pieces sticking out in all directions, a butchered shrub, a tree that looks like the top has been sliced off. The good news is that just as the perfect haircut can frame the face and improve a person's appearance, the same can be said for a professional tree pruning job.

    Pruning is not only a science, but an art form. The science aspect of pruning involves understanding tree biology, recognizing plant flaws and skillfully eliminating or minimizing defects. The artistic aspect of pruning consists of removing dead wood while aesthetically shaping the tree.

    Read More
  • Heat Wave

    Heat wave.

    The term usually makes many people think of the tropics or the desert.

    But extreme heat has hit many areas hard so far this summer. Record highs have been broken in some cities, while others have seen their hottest temperatures since the 1980s.

    Read More
  • Forecast: Hot & Humid

    The air-conditioning is set on high. The fan is blowing in my face. And it feels so good, particularly since my dog and I were just panting within seconds of stepping out to a heavy wall of heat and humidity. His face tilts up to mine, happy for the nice, cool breeze. We face the facts together as I sip from a tall, cool glass of water and he laps up the same out of his bowl: Despite our yearning to enjoy the outdoors, it's hot. And it's hot in nearly every region of the country.

    There's simply no denying it: This summer's a scorcher. While it's difficult to find the motivation to open the door to the heat lingering in the air outside - let alone step out onto a dry, parched lawn - I brave the elements because I notice my trees need some TLC, too.

    It's difficult to imagine another day of 90-plus degree temperatures. So I can hardly imagine how my trees must feel as their roots cling to nothing but the dry soil, day after day.

    Read More
  • Try a Little Tenderness

    When someone moves into a new home, they tend to have a smoother, more successful transition when they plan ahead and carefully move through each step. This includes thoughtfully packing boxes beforehand in an organized fashion, clearly labeling the boxes so movers put them in their proper rooms and then unpacking them so everything that is removed is unwrapped and put into its place to avoid rework.

    If this works for your most delicate China place settings and Lenox crystal, you can see why it would make all the difference when moving something as large, yet just as delicate, as a tree.

    When it's a big, valuable tree that provides numerous benefits to your landscape and your family, a "move" is much more than just picking it up and placing it in its new location. To preserve the numerous benefits trees provide to a community and its residents, which The National Tree Benefits Calculator can help determine, one must plan carefully - before, during and after the big move - to ensure survival.

    Read More

Request a consultation

What do you need services for?
Sorry, we can’t seem to find the zip code you specified. Our residential tree care offices may not service your area. If you believe this is an error, please try again. Need help? Email us at info@davey.com.
  • Email newsletter
  • Woodchips
*Please fill out all required fields.