plant health care

plant health

What Does Soil Drainage Have to Do with Plant Health Care?

Many plants suffer or die in soil that is too wet or too dry. Knowing what type of soil you have and how it affects the greenery on your commercial property can dramatically impact your chances of successfully growing healthy, beautiful foliage. Your soil varies depending on your region and even how your property is situated. For example, hillside properties almost always drain well, while bottomland can be extremely poor in drainage. There is also diversity in soil structure that influences soil drainage and plant health care needs.

How Your Soil Type Affects Your Plants and Trees

What do soil type and drainage have to do with plant health care? As with the value of commercial real estate, the key to plant health is often “location, location, location.” Soil drainage affects the availability of water and plant nutrients. Many commercial landscaping sites lack the ideal drainage conditions. Because each plant species has different nutrient and irrigation needs, understanding the soil type on your property can help you manage issues integral to plant health.

Common Soil Types

Do you know which of these common soil types you have on your Seattle or Bay Area commercial property?

  • Sand
    Sand particles are quite large, draining quickly. Because sand does not retain moisture or nutrients well, plants grown in this type of soil require more frequent watering and intensive plant nutrient management to ensure health.
  • Clay
    Clay particles are extremely fine, sticking tightly together when moist. Clay is packed with nutrients and holds water well, but drains poorly, making your plants prone to fungal issues. If water displaces air, your plant’s roots, which thrive on oxygen, can suffocate, and they may die. Because of its dense composition, it can be difficult for the roots of young plants to penetrate clay.
  • Silty soil
    Typically found along riverbeds and lakes, silt particles are between sand and clay particles in size. Silty soil is one of the most fertile soil types, because it retains nutrients and moisture well but drains more quickly than clay. 
  • Loam
    Loam is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. Providing the benefits of all three types of soil, it is the ideal growing medium. Some loams possess a higher proportion of sand or clay by volume.

What Type of Soil Do You Have on Your Commercial Property?

Arborwell plant and tree health care services experts have identified these types of soil in our commercial landscape management service areas:

  • The Bay Area is fortunate to have soil made of clay with loam, including rocky clay loam in the hills and gravelly loam in the valley.
  • Seattle Area soil is primarily Tokul soil, which is quite rare. Tokul soil began as volcanic ash. It is one of the most productive soils in the world. Tokul features a surface layer of gravelly loam, rich with plant matter, a reddish middle layer infused with iron oxides, and a cemented, root limiting layer of glacial till 20-40 inches below the soil surface. Though its top layers drain well, the cemented glacial till layer has high water and precipitation storage capabilities.

Finding the Right Balance

At Arborwell, we can help you analyze your soil on your commercial property, identifying issues, and taking corrective action when necessary. Depending on the unique composition of your soil, we may need to employ solutions such as soil amendments, to correct drainage and nutrient issues impacting plant health. Because each plant species has different requirements, this can complicate the plant health care landscape. Fortunately, Arborwell experts are well-versed on the soil types in your region, expertly assessing the irrigation and nutrient needs of your plants to help you achieve the right balance.

Are drainage issues destroying the landscaping on your Seattle or Bay Area commercial property? Schedule a plant health care consultation with an arborist in your area. Contact Arborwell Professional Tree Management at 888-969-8733 today.

plant health care, soil drainage, soil types

Arbor-wellness: Brown Rot Blossom Blight

Flowering cherries are one of the favorite sights in spring. the light pink or white flowers fill the spring landscape and say goodbye to Winter and welcome to Spring. for most in the Northwest west, it’s our favorite spring blooming tree.

One of the most serious problems that can affect flowering cherries and other flower fruit trees is a disease called Brown Rot Blossom Blight. This disease affects both the flower and the twig ends, leaving them brown and curled. These dead ends of the branches tend to hang on a long time so a severely affected tree looks quite distressed in the landscape. Unfortunately, this disease needs to be treated before flowers emerge in the spring, so being proactive is very important. We also know that soil conditions can play a big role in reducing Brown rot problems.

My flowering cherries don’t look good, they have lots of dead tips and brown flowers, is it dying?

It’s not dying, but it probably has a serious disease that is important to treat before it spreads too much. It is called Brown rot blossom blight and is common in the Pacific Northwest and places that have moist spring times. Unfortunately, we can’t cure the dead tips, but we can take steps to prevent the problem if we treat early enough.

Does it spread to other trees, too?

Besides cherries, it is common on flowering and fruiting peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots. In the worst springs, quince and a few other trees can get it too.

What can it do about it now?

The best thing is to prune back the dead twigs in the summer and remove any dead fruit that is on the ground. Throw these pruning’s away, because they hold spores that can re-infect next year.

How do I prevent it next year?

We can treat your trees before bloom season to reduce the number of infections and help the tree combat the problem internally, without putting products in the air. But this needs to happen before bloom season starts.

Are there organic or other solutions.

There are, but these involve treatments on the tree itself. Timing is important though and it usually takes several treatments to be successful. Also, we can look at the soil conditions. When certain minerals are in short supply in the soil, they can make your tree more susceptible to the disease. Proper pruning and the right time and keeping your trees healthy can make a real difference too.

If you are concerned about Brown rot blossom blight on your trees, fill out the form below to contact your Arborwell arborist and schedule an inspection.

blight, blossom blight, brown rot, browning, plant health care

Arbor-wellness: Spruce Spider Mite

Spruce trees are one of the most popular trees in the Pacific Northwest. Seeing conifer trees with shades of green, gray and blue-green in the winter is refreshing and brightens the otherwise dull winter.  Spruce trees are common to this area and very hardy trees. The blue spruce – native to Colorado – is a favorite on public and private landscapes.

We do see a particular problem on these trees that can cause the tree to decline fairly rapidly. The spruce spider mite is a very fast reproducing insect that will quickly harm spruce trees and most other conifers if not treated. They feed on the needles and create a stippling effect, eventually turning the leave brown as they die off. We are seeing more of this pest the last few seasons, so it is important to pay closer attention to spruces, arborvitae and firs in particular.

Treatments done early can prevent damage most of the season, but if damage is noticed in the fall, it is important to treat quickly as that is when they do the most damage.

The needles on my spruce tree are turning bronze colored and falling, what is wrong?

This is most likely being caused by spruce spider mite, a fast reproducing insect that feeds on the needles of spruce trees and other conifers. They feed by “rasping” the needle with specialized mouth parts and the needle starts to turn yellowish, the bronzy as it dies. When they turn bronze like that, it is a sign that you have a fairly bad infestation. With spruce spider mite, you might also notice some light webbing too.

Can my spruce be saved?

At this point, it is imperative to treat quickly to with a fast-acting treatment to get the problem under control. But yes, in most cases we can save the tree.

What other trees do they affect?

They will feed on most conifer trees, but mostly on spruce trees, fir trees, and arborvitae. They are most active in the cool season, so damage is done in the spring and again the fall. (Often the summer is when you notice the damage though because the weakened tree has a harder time with the stress of summer heat.

 When do I treat them?

When you see damage in the summer or fall, it is important to treat them right away with a fast-acting product. You should also avoid spraying products on the tree during this time, because you will harm the predatory insects that feed on spider mites. Those are the good guys we want to keep. In the fall or early spring, we can do a proactive treatment that prevents the population from building up too high. This allows the tree to recover more quickly. Without any treatments, populations can build so high they may eventually kill the tree.

What else should I know?

Spruce spider mites are a cool season spider mite, but there are warm season mites that feed on other tree types and do most of their damage in the summer. Your Arborwell arborist knows what to look for and can help spot problems before they get too bad. Remember too that keeping trees healthy helps prevent trees from becoming stressed, which allows insects to attack trees more easily. Proper feeding and proper watering will go a long way to reducing spider mite problems.

If you are concerned about spider mites on your Spruce (or other) trees, fill out the form below to contact your Arborwell arborist to help you solve this problem for you.

insect, plant health care, spider mite, Spruce

Arbor-wellness: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Hemlock trees are very susceptible to a small white woolly looking insect called the Hemlock woolly Adelgid. They can build populations up quickly and when they are very active in a region, cause widespread death of hemlock trees when not treated. On Fir trees, there is a related insect called the Balsam Woolly Adelgid that is found largely on the trunk stems and small twigs, where they feed voraciously, weakening the tree quickly.

Treatments are somewhat problematic because of how waxy and woolly their outer “layer” is. We often use alternate treatments besides spraying for them, which gets better results and we don’t harm the good guys as much. Click here to see how Arborwell can help to protect your Hemlocks and Fir trees from either of these problems.

Adelgids are making a comeback

One insect that is not talked about much but can become very problematic is a tiny, fuzzy white insect called Adelgid. They feed almost exclusively on conifers, but each type is fairly limited in the number of different tree types it feeds on. They feed on the sap and weaken the trees. When populations are high enough, they will eventually kill the tree, especially on hemlocks.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

These feed on the needles and small twigs of hemlock tree, forming masses of white cottony spots on hemlocks. They are most prevalent on Eastern hemlock trees and are less of a problem on the Western varieties of this tree.  

Pine Bark Adelgid

Most common on thin barked pine trees, they tend to cover the bark close to where branches extend from the trunk, but can fill the entire trunk when the population builds up, creating an almost snow-like affect on the trunk. These adelgids weaken the tree when present in large numbers, but are often not fatal, and they tend to favor stressed tress, so maintaining healthy pine trees goes a long way to keeping this insect in check.

Cooley Spruce Gall Adelgid

They are found on Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir, and Englemann and Sitka spruce. They feed at the tips of small twigs and form a unique looking gall. Once they mature and leave, the gall turns brown and dies, leaving tips of the tree looking unsightly. Rarely do they need treatment, but can be warranted when the population is high.

Balsam Woolly Adelgid

This tiny sucking insect was introduced to North America from Europe. It is a serious pest of true firs in forests and landscape, and in Christmas tree production. Balsam woolly adelgid feeds on the stems of true firs. White or grayish cotton like masses of eggs or newly hatched purplish-black insects can be found on the twigs, branches, or trunk. Heavy adelgid infestations may cover the entire trunk. The feeding insects cause the tree to form swollen, knob like areas at nodes and tips of infested branches. Adelgid infestations weaken trees, cause foliage to become sparse, and can kill trees. This is a serious pest in the forest and common on most firs in landscaped areas, Balsam fir and subalpine fir are particularly susceptible. There are two to four generations per year. We can help you determine if adelgids are a problem on your hemlocks, pines, firs or other conifers.

Fill out the form below to Contact your Arborwell arborist and schedule an inspection.

hemlock, insects, plant health care, woolly adelgid

Arbor-wellness: Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt is a common wilt fungal disease that spreads mostly through the soil.  The fungi enter through the roots and interfere with the water uptake of the palm.  It is considered mostly fatal to them and doesn’t show symptoms right away so infected trees can often spread the disease.

Typically considered fatal, there is some promising research that shows some potential treatments that greatly prolong the life of the palm. Proactive treatment is recommended on otherwise non diseased palms.

My lower leaves are dying very quickly on some of my big feather palm trees. What could be wrong?

If these are Canary Island date palms, it is most likely fusarium wilt. This is a destructive fungal disease that is becoming more widespread. You should notice on newly infected fronds that one half of the frond dies first. As the disease progresses, the younger leaves will also be affected and the plant will eventually die.

Can I save these palms?

If the disease has spread throughout much of the palm canopy, then it should be removed and disposed of properly. Proper disposal is important to minimize the risk of spreading.

What about my other Canary Island date palms that appear ok now?

They should be treated on a regular basis to prevent establishment of the disease in them. Since it spreads by water and air, nearby Canary Island date palms will be infected eventually. This disease can survive for years in the soil, and is spread by water, insects, and garden equipment.  The fungus develops during hot weather; dry weather and low soil moisture encourage this plant disease. 

Will it spread to other types of palms?

No just the Canary Island date palm is susceptible, typically.

Fill out the form below if you would like to get in contact with an Arborwell arborist!

california, fusarium wilt, palm tree, plant health care

Arbor-wellness: Keep Adelgids away from your Hemlocks

What are these cottony looking white things on my Hemlock? 

Most likely they are adelgids. Adelgids are similar to aphids and can be very devastating in large numbers. They prefer Hemlock trees but are also found on other conifers like Douglas fir, larch, pine and spruce. They can produce white, cottony tufts on bark, branches, twigs, or needles. 

Will they harm my trees?

When present in large numbers, adelgids may cause yellowing and early dropping of needles and dieback of terminals. They can retard or kill trees, although healthy plants can usually tolerate small adelgid populations.

Can I get rid of them?

When the population builds high enough, there are ways to treat your conifers to reduce the populations. Treatment now is important if the populations are causing problems. Otherwise preventative treatments in the fall or early spring will help.

What can I do to help my tree look better?

Proper nutritional feeding and avoiding tree stresses – like lack of water or even salt build-up, will help. On conifers it is important not to over feed them and produce excess growth. At Arborwell, we use a very specific program that has the proper balance of nutrients for each type of tree. If you suspect salt may be a problem, we can identify how bad the problem is and provide cost effective solutions for that.

Fill out the form below to contact your Arborwell Arborist today and we will be happy to check out your hemlock – and all your conifers – to keep them healthy, now and for the future.

adelgids, arborist, conifers, hemlock, insects, plant health, plant health care

commercial tree services

Arbor-wellness: Keeping Palm Trees Healthy

Most pictures of California include palms in the skyline. They have become an iconic symbol of the state. There is even one California based fast food company that feature palms in their logo and at all of their sites. The taller palms are easy to see in the skyline and remind us of sunny days and warm breezes.

For the most part palms seem to be easy to grow. They grow quickly, are fairly drought tolerant and handle most of our weather variances well. However, they do need maintenance and – in many cases, protection – from certain diseases and insects.

While we classify palms as a type of tree, they are very different from shade trees or evergreen conifers. They are actually closer related to grasses and as such, have very different needs than most other trees.

With palms it is important to make sure they are planted correctly. They need well drained soil, to be planted at the right depth and with enough space for their roots. Palm roots don’t extent too far though so smaller planters are acceptable for them. However, they will still need some water so the planter needs to allow for them to be watered when needed.

They also need regular fertilizer. Most of our soils in a city environment do not contain the components necessary for a palm to truly thrive. Palms receive a bulk of their nutrients from a very small area, so that area needs to be replenished on a regular basis. For most palms, feeding twice a year with a natural fertilizer blended especially for palms should be adequate. For larger palms like the Canary Island date palm, three times a year is recommended.

Watering is critical, but it also depends on the soil type and the drainage. IF your soil is sandy and drains well, watering every four to six weeks is usually adequate for an established palm. If the soil is heavy or doesn’t drain well, water less often. You should also consider improving drainage and the soil conditions if the soil is compacted and tight.

Protection from diseases. Several of the prevalent diseases on palms – like pink rot and diamond scale – are worse when palms are stressed or not growing vigorously. Proper water, drainage and fertilization that we discussed above will reduce the incidence of these problematic diseases. However, protective treatments should be made until the underlying soil, drainage or watering problems are fixed.

The remaining concern is insects on palms. While generally there are not a lot of pests that can bother palms, on occasion they will become infested. Aphids, scale, mealy bugs and mites are the most common insects we see. These don’t kill a palm, but they can weaken it and allow diseases or other problems to proliferate. If these have been a problem on your palms, proper treatments will reduce the problems and allow your palms to thrive again. In the San Diego area, there is a destructive newer insect that does kill palms. It is called the South American palm weevil. One of the largest insects we deal with, it attacks the upper growing tip of the palm and completely destroys it. Since this is the only growing part of the palm itself, the palm does not survive. Proactive treatments are the only possible solution.

If you are worried about the health of your palm trees, or you would like some advice on a maintenance plan for them, fill out the form below to contact your certified arborist at Arborwell. We will be happy to visits your site and inspect them and develop a wellness program for their long term health and survival.

arborist, palm tree, plant health care, tree care

Arbor-wellness: Bacterial Leaf Scorch

I’ve been told my oak trees have bacterial leaf scorch, what is that?

Bacterial Leaf Scorch is a devastating disease of shade trees caused by a bacteria. The bacteria themselves live inside the tree’s water conducting tissue. They “cluster” inside the water transport tissue and essentially block water transport, which leads to the scorch symptoms.

The disease will slowly progress throughout the tree for up to a decade causing dieback and eventually killing the tree.

What trees are affected by it?

Symptoms and damage are usually most visible on pin and red oaks, but shingle, bur and white oak can be affected as well. It can infect elm, sycamore, mulberry, sweetgum, sugar maple, and red maple.

How does it spread?

Insects like sharpshooters, treehoppers, leafhoppers, and spittlebugs spread the bacterium from one tree to another. These insects feed on the xylem tissue and will inoculate the tree if they carry the bacteria with them.

Can you treat for this?

It is best to treat before the tree has Bacterial Leaf Scorch or in the early stages of it. Your Arborwell Arborist can develop treatment plans after determining the scope of the problem on your site. They can determine if preventative treatments or early curative treatments are required. If certain pests are prevalent, treatment to prevent their establishment may be recommended.

Also remember that a stressed tree will develop symptoms faster, so keeping trees properly watered and mulched are another way to help reduce the spread of this disease.

If you are concerned about bacterial leaf scorch, or other problems on your trees, contact your Arborwell arborist to help you create the most effective management plan for them.

arborist, bacterial leaf scorch, plant health care, tree care

Arbor-wellness: Leaf Spot

I see dark spots on my maple leaves and many of them are falling off. Is this a problem?

Your maple probably has a type of leaf spot disease. Leaf spot is a term used to describe a wide variety of diseases affecting the leaves of ornamental and shade trees. The majority of leaf spots are caused by fungi, but some are caused by bacteria. Leaf spots on trees are very common. They often result in some leaf drop. When the leaf drop is severe, your trees can be at risk of suffering damage until they recover.

How does it spread?

Most spread by rain or water splashing on their leaves. They often overwinter on fallen leaves, so leave removal in the fall we reduce many of these diseases. There are many different leaf diseases and some require fairly specific treatment, so having a professional help identify a management plan is critical.

How do they affect tree health?

If you think of a tree as an energy factory, the amount of leaves and the time they stay on the tree greatly influence the amount of energy they produce and store throughout the year. (Think photosynthesis.) when a tree loses the majority of its leaves from a leaf spot disease, the tree cannot store enough energy over time and becomes more susceptible to other diseases or insects.

Can you treat this disease?

Yes, in cases where significant damage is expected, treating either before or during the infection is appropriate. Preseason protection is always the best, but options exist for treating early before the disease becomes widespread too. Typically, some nutritional feeding is recommended to help the tree recover from the stress of these leaf diseases.

What else can I do?

Some slight changes in how you care for your trees can help reduce the incidence of leaf diseases. Proper pruning to keep the canopy open is the first step.  Avoiding overhead watering on the foliage is another important step. Keeping your trees healthy is also important. Be sure to fertilize correctly, though. At Arborwell, we use a nutritional feeding program that is proper for your trees and your soil conditions.

If you are concerned about leaf spot or other problems on your trees, contact your Arborwell arborist to help you create the most effective management plan for them.

disease, leaf spot, plant health care, spring

Arbor-wellness: Tussock Moth

What is a tussock moth and why are they so damaging?

There are many types of tussock moths that all have distinctive clumps of bristles on their backs of the caterpillar larvae. The adults are usually a smaller dull brown or white moth. The damage is done by the caterpillar – which are voracious eaters of foliage with the capability of defoliating entire groups of trees. On the west coast the most important species are the Western Tussock moth, the Douglas-fir Tussock moth and the Pine Tussock moth.

Why are they so numerous?

Most caterpillar species like the tussock moth go through population swings, building up a population level for several years, then seemingly disappearing for several years before returning in large numbers again. The presence of predators of these pests plays a large role in those population swings. For the Tussock moth, the overwintering cocoon in the trunks of trees can help indicate the potential of a population outbreak.

Are there safe methods of keeping their population low?

At Arborwell, we strive to find the safest, most effective solutions to pest problems. For the Tussock moth and other caterpillars, we use a commercial version of a biological suppression product that is effective on caterpillars. This fits most LEED and organic type programs. Timing is very important to be effective so often we recommend two or more treatments in a given year. Preventative treatments are available that work inside the tree – eliminating the need to spray the canopy of the tree.

If you are concerned about Tussock moth or other caterpillar problems in your trees, contact your Arborwell arborist to help you create the most effective management plan for caterpillar damage on your trees.

arborist, plant health care, spring, tussock moth

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