Trees are an essential part of any landscape or garden as they provide homeowners with numerous benefits, including providing shade. However, without a proactive approach to tree care, trees are susceptible to problems and diseases that may affect their health.
Luckily, understanding and recognizing the most common environmental problems and diseases that affect your trees can help you maintain your plants’ health.
So, what are the most common tree problems homeowners should watch out for?
- Two-lined chestnut borer
The leading cause of oak mortality is the two-lined chestnut borer. This insect, also known as Agrilus bilineatus, is attracted to weakened and stressed oaks. For instance, if a storm damages your trees or there’s construction injury to your roots, the two-lined chestnut borer will attack your weakened plants.
The two-lined chestnut borer attacks white, red, black, and bur oaks and they can cause extensive damage to your trees such as:
- Leaf browning
- Branch and twig death
- They feed under the bark of your trees, destroying the nutrient and water-conducting tissues
Some of the symptoms that show your trees are infested with two-lined chestnut borers include discolored foliage, dieback at the end of the branches, and leaves that turn uniformly brown and wilt suddenly.
Prevention is your best choice at avoiding a two-lined chestnut borer infestation. Healthy trees can’t attract borers, and in case they invade them, your trees can fight off the borers. To keep your trees healthy, water them during periods of drought to minimize stress. Additionally, avoid damaging the bark of your trees and compacting the soil.
- Winter injury
During late fall and winter, your trees can experience damage caused by the extreme fluctuations in temperature. This can range from marginal scorching of leaves to the death of foliage, roots, and limbs. Some of the common signs of winter injury include frost cracks on trunks, root damage, plant death, and brown foliage.
Many homeowners confuse winter injury with needle cast diseases and drought stress, which often appears as purplish or reddish-brown. If you’re not sure about the symptoms you’re seeing, contact an arborist.
You can prevent winter damage by pruning and trimming your trees often to reduce damage from ice and snow. You can also water, fertilize, and mulch your trees during spring and fall to prevent winter injury.
- Scale insects
These pests attach themselves to the leaves, branches, and twigs of conifers and other backyard trees. They can easily go unnoticed as plants don’t show signs of damage immediately. A large infestation of scale insects on your trees may result in reduced vigor, poor growth, and chlorotic leaves. And, if you don’t eliminate these sap-sucking pests, your trees may die.
Pruning and disposing of infested branches and twigs is your best bet at getting rid of scale insects. Some homeowners also use organic pesticides to kill the larvae of scale insects. For a more sustainable method, you can rub or pick off scale insects from infected plants by hand. But, this is only effective when the infestation is low.
- Anthracnose fungus
This is a fungal disease that tends to attack the leaves and twigs of trees in summer. Although anthracnose is rarely fatal, it can pose a huge problem to your trees as it causes leaf foliage. Anthracnose affects many evergreen trees and shrubs and can be difficult to treat since it’s dormant during dry and hot weather and active when it’s cold and wet.
To treat anthracnose, pick up and dispose of diseased plant parts, including any leaves and twigs on the ground. This ensures the fungus doesn’t overwinter near your healthy trees. Alternatively, keep your plants healthy to ensure they can ward off any fungus attack.
Remember, stressed plants have a hard time recovering from anthracnose. Therefore, maintaining the health of your trees is your best bet at preventing anthracnose.
With this guide, homeowners can take a proactive approach to tree care and prevent tree problems and diseases that damage their plants.