What Are the Best Trees to Plant in Michigan?

Spring is here — and among warming temperatures and flowers blooming, that means it’s time for tree planting season. Planting trees in the early spring, right as the ground starts to thaw and plants are still dormant, gives new trees ample time to establish their roots and develop their leaves before the harsh conditions of summer and winter arrive.

This still leaves the question of which trees to plant. Ideally, you’ll want to find trees that not only add beauty to your outdoor space but ones that are also native to your climate. That way, you’ll get the aesthetics you want without all the added time, maintenance and costs. Not to mention, native plants are also beneficial to the environment, as they require fewer pesticides and less water to maintain.

With those elements in mind, here are three trees we recommend planting in your Michigan yard.

3 of the Best Trees to Plant in Your Michigan Yard

1. Eastern Redbud Tree

If you’re looking to add a pop of color to your outdoor space, the Eastern Redbud is an ideal fit. This native tree is recognized for its pink and purple flowers that line its branches in early spring, and the heart-shaped leaves that emerge as the temperature warms. Eastern Redbuds are also known to attract a variety of wildlife, from butterflies to songbirds, inviting the soothing sights and sounds of nature into your yard.

eastern redbud tree

Source: Getty Images

2. White Oak Tree

Most homeowners crave a mix of sun and shade in their outdoor space. While this can come from the addition of structures, it can also come from the trees you plant — with white oak being a perfect example. Between their majestic size and sprawling branches, white oaks offer ample shade to Michigan yards on sunny days, while producing acorns that attract the likes of white-tailed deer, squirrels and other small mammals. In the fall, these native trees also grace yards with pops of burgundy and red colors that create a dynamic, beautiful look.

white oak tree

Source: Getty Images

3. Crabapple Tree

The crabapple tree is a native tree that checks a lot of boxes. White or pink blossoms in the early spring set the scene for bees to pollinate, and once pollination is complete, fruits begin to grow on the tree and are ready to pick by early fall. While crabapple trees make a visual impact year-round, this is especially true in the winter months when the red fruit sits against the backdrop of snow-covered branches.

crabapple tree

Source: Getty Images

As a tree care expert with branches across Southeast Michigan, Safari Tree is passionate about helping local homeowners plant the right trees and keep them healthy and beautiful. Learn more about our tree care services here.

What Is Killing Oak Trees in Michigan?

The No. 1 killer of oak trees in Michigan is caused by oak wilt disease. For several years, this disease has continued to move through Michigan at an alarming rate — with April through July being the time of the year when oak trees are most at risk. In this blog, we’ll share the history of this disease, how it affects oak trees and its impact throughout the state.

What Is Oak Wilt and Where Did It Come From?

Oak wilt, or ceratocystis fagacearum or Bretziella fagacearum, is a fungal disease and is fatal to Michigan’s oak trees. While the disease’s effects can be problematic in Michigan’s white oak trees, oak wilt is fatal to red oaks.

Experts believe the fungus originated somewhere in Latin America in the early 1900s and then came to the U.S. and spread rapidly. Cases were first reported and began killing oak trees in Michigan in the 1970s. The disease infects trees either through the root system or when it is carried to the tree via beetle.

What Happens When a Tree Has Oak Wilt?

Once infected with oak wilt, an oak tree’s leaf tips will turn brown because the tree’s water system gets blocked by the fungus. This discoloration spreads to the base of the leaf, killing it and causing it to fall to the ground. Underground, oak wilt creates a fungal mat that could lead to the discoloration of any sap the tree may produce.

If left untreated, oak wilt leads to tree death in red oak groups of trees in a matter of months (the underground spore mats can travel to nearby trees). White oaks tend to fight off the disease easier, but there can be tree damage left behind.

Oak Wilt in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirms oak wilt exists in 61 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Oaks make up about 10% of the forest in Michigan and oak wilt has the potential to impact 149 million red oak trees across the 20 million acres of forest land that occurs in Michigan, the DNR reports.

How To Prevent Oak Wilt

To stop oak wilt from killing your oak trees, avoid inflicting fresh wounds on your trees in the warmer months (April through July), including pruning, adding climbing spikes, nailing signs or hanging lanterns, as this can result in more new tree infections. Also, beetles carrying fungal spores are attracted to these fresh wounds, making the trees even more vulnerable.

Oak wilt can be treated with fungicide to an extent — the fungicide won’t get rid of oak wilt, but it will help symptoms subside in the short term. The fungicide’s effectiveness also depends on how much the disease has already spread.

Worried your oaks may have oak wilt? Don’t leave your trees vulnerable to fungal infection. For more information on prevention or a free estimate on treatment, contact us.

Can Trees Be Pruned in the Spring?

When spring arrives, you might notice a tree or bush in your yard is in need of a trim, but you might be wondering: Can trees be pruned in the spring or is it too late?

The best time to prune your trees is late fall or early spring. Trees follow a pattern every year — going dormant as cooler temperatures begin and then “waking up” as temperatures warm and the days get longer. Going dormant during the winter months allows trees to survive the harsh winter conditions.

Late fall and early spring are right on the cusp of the dormant seasons and it’s easier to see the structure of the tree because they are either free of leaves or are about to be. This makes it easier to see what branches need trimming and makes it easier to make proper cuts outside the branch collar and in the direction of growth.

Why Prune When Trees are Dormant?

In addition to allowing you to better see the tree for pruning, pruning while trees are dormant reduces stress on the tree. When a tree is active and receives a trim or a cut, its reaction is to stimulate growth and repair the wound.

As an additional benefit, trees pruned during dormancy don’t attract disease-causing pests.

Can Trees Be Pruned in Spring?

While there are many benefits to pruning trees during their dormant periods, you can prune trees once they have buds or leaves — though it’s still best to do this while they are dormant.

If you do prune your trees once they have begun to bloom, don’t remove more than 10% of the tree’s branches and be sure to only prune solely to remove dead or dying branches or to shape the tree.

There are certain varieties of trees that do well when pruned in late spring and early summer, including birch, walnut and maple trees. These varieties of trees tend to bleed sap when pruned in the winter or early spring. If they’re pruned in late spring/early summer, they tend to bleed less, which results in less mess.

It’s also best to prune these trees in the spring once they’re done blooming:

  • Flowering cherry trees
  • Flowering plum trees
  • Apricot trees
  • Chokecherry trees
  • Dogwood trees
  • Juneberry trees
  • Lilac trees
  • Magnolia trees
  • Crabapple trees

Have questions about tree pruning or need help caring for your trees? The team at Safari Tree can help. Contact us today.

How to Care for Apple Trees in Michigan

Apple trees make a great addition to any Michigan lawn for a variety of reasons. While the trees themselves add natural beauty to outdoor spaces and boast leafy branches that provide shade, they supply homeowners with a continuous source of delicious fruit — whether it’s a snack in the afternoon or baked into a pie for dessert.

The unique benefits of apple trees are paired with a unique set of requirements in terms of care. Compared to other tree varieties, apple trees tend to be more susceptible to insect and disease problems, with apple scab being one example. Known to frequently attack a variety of apple tree types, this highly contagious disease affects both the leaves as well as the fruit of apple trees, causing leaves to turn yellow and fall off trees early and fruit to become distorted and drop early too.

In an effort to combat apple scab and other damaging diseases, we’ve put together a checklist on how to properly care for apple trees in Michigan.

1. Follow Precise Pruning Techniques

As with other tree varieties, pruning is critical to maintaining tree health — and in the case of apple trees, producing high-quality fruit. By controlling the number of tree branches (eliminating those that are weakened) and the direction of their growth, you can create an opening for more sunlight to strengthen the tree and its fruit production while also focusing its nutrients around producing ripe fruit versus an overabundance of unripe fruit.

In the pruning process, you’ll want to avoid leaving behind long stubs from cuts while also not cutting too close to the branch collar. Ideally, about 0.25 inches of the cut branch should be left behind. While it may be tempting to cover the wound with tree paint, researchers advise against this as it keeps wounds moist and therefore more attractive to insects and disease.

2. Apply Integrated Pest Management Principles

Generally speaking, most fruit trees (apple trees included) require some form of fungicides to keep pests and diseases at bay in order to retrieve usable fruit. These fungicides are intended to protect healthy trees from infection — not treat existing infections. In the latter case, you’ll want to wait until the following spring to apply fungicides, following proper pruning in the interim.

To account for both fungal diseases and insects, apple trees should be sprayed on a regular basis. This should begin with a spray in early spring as flower buds start to develop, to when the buds start to open a few weeks later, to after blossom occurs and the petals start to drop. That way, bees and other beneficial insects have the time they need to safely pollinate the blossoms.

3. Ensure Proper Soil Drainage

Good soil drainage is critical to an apple tree’s ability to thrive. If nutrients and water can’t reach the roots of the tree system due to limited pore space, the tree will miss out on these vital elements, causing it to weaken. Compacted soil can be caused by a number of factors, from the pressure of heavy foot traffic to the heavy load of lawn equipment.

(One way to check if you have poor soil drainage: take note of sitting water after rainfall. If puddles continue to sit unmoved on soil for several hours, chances are your soil is compacted.)

Aerating your lawn offers a source of relief for compacted soil. Perforating tiny holes into the soil around your apple trees provides openings for air, water and fertilizer to reach the tree roots and in doing so creates a stronger structure that is more resistant to insects and disease.

As a provider of tree care services across Southeast Michigan, Safari Tree can offer you professional assistance for all your tree care needs. Get a free estimate from us here!

Why Dormant Oil Sprays Need to Happen Before Spring

Early spring is just around the corner and that means it’s time for Safari Tree to apply the first round of dormant oil spray to trees. Why now, you ask? The reason is simple.

The Importance of Applying a Dormant Oil Spray Before Spring

As the first round in our spring tree treatments, the dormant oil spray application prevents early spring damage from insects. During the winter months, a variety of insects — a list that includes aphids, mealybug, thrips, whiteflies, adelgids, caterpillar eggs, leafhoppers, scale and mites — will take shelter in the cracks and crevices of tree bark to weather the cold temperatures and snowy conditions. When the temperature begins to warm and springtime arrives, these insects will emerge from their hiding places and leave trees susceptible to infestation that can cause thinning, discoloration and other issues.

Applying a dormant oil spray to trees before spring shields trees from pest infestations. When a spray is applied, it plugs the pores through which “overwinter” insects breathe and in doing so causes them to suffocate. While the timing of the application itself helps eliminate insects before they have a chance to migrate, the fact that this occurs before the “buds break” makes it easier to provide the tree with the appropriate spray coverage.

What’s also beneficial about dormant oils is the fact they do not leave behind a toxic residue and dissipate quickly. This makes them ideal for use on blooming plants and safe for pollinators, such as bees and hummingbirds, arriving later during the growing season. Dormant oils are also considered safe to use around humans and pets.

The Second Round in Spring Treatments: A Deep Root Feeding

While we’re on the topic of spring tree care treatments, it’s worthwhile to note the follow-up step to dormant oil spray: a spring deep root feeding. As the dormant oil spray lays the foundation for keeping trees pest-free, this fertilizer application delivers nutrients to trees to help them flourish throughout the late spring and summer months.

For more information about our year-round tree health care programs, click here.

Should You Shake Snow Off Trees?

When you peer outside after a heavy snowfall, chances are you’ll see accumulation not just on your lawn but also on trees throughout your lawn. For many homeowners, the initial thought is to shake the snow off the trees — with the idea being that its removal will relieve tree branches of pressure and stress. But in reality, this tactic can actually cause more harm than good.

Why You Shouldn’t Shake Snow Off Trees

When trees are covered with thick amounts of snow, it inevitably takes a bit of force to shake the snow free from the branches. The force that it takes to do so can cause stress to a tree in a time when it’s most susceptible to damage, as branches can become brittle amid cold temperatures. In some cases, the branch can become so brittle that shaking causes it to snap off — or even worse, the sudden release of the snow’s weight can create a snapback effect that might injure the tree’s entire circulatory system. And much like the human circulatory system, damage there can have irreversible effects.

A Better Alternative: Use a Broom to Remove Snow

Gently sweeping a broom over a snow-covered tree branch offers a gentler approach to tree snow removal that avoids unnecessary stress. Just be sure to use the soft side of the broom versus the broom handle or other heavy tools, as the force of heavier objects can damage tree bark.

The one caveat to this approach occurs when the snow is frozen. In this case, it’s best to wait until temperatures drop and the snow melts. Otherwise, you’ll have to apply even more pressure to shake the snow and ice free, and in doing so, are likely to cause further injury to your trees.

Utilize Pruning as a Proactive Measure

While Southeast Michigan homeowners will always have to deal with snow-covered trees in the winter, proper pruning makes a huge difference in how your trees respond to these conditions. When weak and diseased branches are removed from trees before the winter season, the trees become more structurally sound as their root systems grow stronger and more extensive. The healthier trees are, the better they’ll handle the weight and stress of heavy snow accumulation.

From a timing standpoint, tree pruning is an activity best suited for late fall or early spring. Both on the cusp of when trees enter their dormant season, these two time frames offer greater visibility of the tree structure to make proper cuts while also minimizing the stress that is placed on the tree while cuts are made. Learn more about the importance of tree pruning timing, as well as other pruning tips here.

When Is the Best Time to Prune Trees?

On paper, the late fall and early spring don’t seem to have much in common. But when it comes to tree pruning, they do. Late fall and early spring are the best time of year to prune trees — and we’ll explain why in this blog post.

Why It’s Best to Prune Trees in Late Fall & Early Spring

It’s a pattern that trees follow every year. As cooler temperatures roll in and winter nears, trees go dormant, or essentially “fall asleep,” so they can sustain themselves amid the season’s harsh conditions, from the snowfall and ice to the lack of sunlight. Then, as temperatures rise and the days become longer, trees receive the signal to “wake up” and the growing season commences.

Late fall and early spring are right on the cusp of when trees enter their dormant season. At this point, it’s easier to see the structure of trees, as they have already shed their leaves to conserve energy throughout the winter. This makes it easier to spot branches that should be removed based on their damaged or diseased appearance. Increased visibility of the tree structure also makes it easier to make proper cuts outside the branch collar and in the direction of growth.

Outside of the visibility factor, pruning trees in the late fall or early spring also makes them less susceptible to stress. When pruning occurs, a tree’s natural reaction is to stimulate new growth and close the wound from the cut that was made. Pruning in the dormant season, when a tree is already at rest, gives the wound the time it needs to heal and — as an added benefit — delivers more robust growth when the growing season arrives.

The last layer to this pruning puzzle is the fact that when trees are pruned while dormant, they are less likely to attract the attention of disease-carrying insects. When cuts are made to trees, insects (like beetles, for instance) tend to be attracted to the scents that emerge from them — and these beetles could be carrying with them oak wilt spores to otherwise healthy trees. In the dormant season for trees, many of these same insects are also dormant or inactive, so there is less cause for concern.

Pair the Proper Timing with the Proper Techniques

While we’ve shared some insights into the best time to prune trees, there’s also a conversation that needs to be had around the right techniques to use. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts:

  • Do use sharp pruning tools so you can make cleaner cuts that heal fast
  • Don’t cut too close to the branch collar of the tree, as it can cause the trunk to weaken and decay
  • Don’t trim more than 25% of a tree’s foliage, as this can harm its overall health
  • Do use the three-cut method to prevent tearing bark off the tree and damaging it
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to an industry professional like Safari Tree with questions!

Helpful Tips on How to Protect Trees from Heavy Snow

Southeast Michigan homeowners are no stranger to the obstacles that heavy snow can create — from shoveling cars out of the driveway to navigating barely visible walkways. Beyond these more apparent wintertime frustrations are the hazards heavy snow creates for trees in your yard.

Considering that Michigan averages 64 inches of snow per year, it’s natural for flakes to pile up on trees throughout the winter season — especially when a snowstorm surfaces. When snow starts to accumulate in heavy amounts, it’s possible for branches to droop and eventually break. This can lead to trunk wounds that cause decay, while also creating safety issues for your yard.

Rather than have to deal with these issues, we want to put you ahead of the problem in the future, while offering advice on how to navigate for the present.

The No. 1 Source of Protection: Pruning Your Trees

Proper pruning is recognized as the best layer of defense for trees against imminent snowfall. With weak, dead branches removed before winter starts, the overall health of a tree improves. While the tree grows stronger and is better able to withstand the stress of harsh conditions, it’s less susceptible to the impact of heavy snow from both a health and general safety standpoint.

When it comes to what proper pruning entails, it’s a matter of both timing and technique. Best performed when trees are dormant (late fall or early spring) and are less susceptible to stress, pruning should be approached in a manner where cuts are made in the direction of growth and just outside of the tree branch collar (where a branch meets the trunk). In combination with the right tools, these efforts help tree pruning wounds properly heal and encourage healthy growth.

Little Things You Can Do Now That Make a Difference

While pruning may be a to-do that’s added to your tree care plan for this year, there are a few simple steps you can take now to help protect your trees from heavy snow. Let’s have a look.

Gently Brush Off Snow From Trees

When heavy snow accumulates on trees, you can relieve some of the stress it creates by brushing off the snow with either your hand or the upward motions of a soft broom. Considering the fragile, weak nature of tree branches in winter, it’s important to make this step a gentle one. Shaking tree branches too hard to remove snow can do more harm than good, causing damage or breakage.

In some cases, snow may be frozen to the tree branches from which you want to remove it. Taking into account the need for a gentle approach, it’s best to leave these snow-covered tree branches be and circle back once the ice has melted to brush off any snow.

Be Mindful of Where Shoveled Snow Goes

Shovels and snowblowers are designed to move snow out of high-traffic areas, but in doing so, the snow can land in other areas of your lawn, including trees. Compared to natural snowfall, this snow tends to be much denser and stick together, creating more room for it to cause stress and damage to tree branches. With this in mind, it’s important to direct shoveled or blown away snow in a direction away from trees and other plants within your landscape.

As a lawn and tree care provider, Lush Lawn & Safari Tree knows what it takes to protect Southeast Michigan landscapes from winter damage. So in the midst of temperature drops, winter winds and wet snow, you can be sure your landscape can withstand winter injury and thrive in the springtime. Let us help protect your home’s outdoor space — request a free quote!

Tree Health: The Benefits of a More Proactive Approach

It’s not an uncommon scenario for homeowners to notice signs of poor tree health and then make the decision to take action. Whether this decision is prompted by the sight of dead branches, discolored leaves or decaying bark, the shared problem is the damage has already been done — to some degree. In other words, you’re doing what you can to reverse the issue, which can become a costly and time-consuming feat that doesn’t always deliver the best results.

As is the case with lawn maintenance, maintaining tree health should be a proactive measure, not a reactive one. This will save Southeast Michigan homeowners many headaches down the road — a handful of which we’ve highlighted in this blog post.

4 Reasons to Be Proactive With Your Tree Care

Your Landscape Will Be Healthier & Safer

Consider the case where a storm hits, and weak branches fall victim to the harsh conditions. Or maybe it’s a matter of pests that have infested trees moving to other areas of your lawn and cause further damage to plants. In either scenario, declining tree health puts your landscape (and your home) at risk. With a preventative tree care plan that combines deep fertilizations, fungal sprays and periodic insect control applications (in conjunction with pruning), you can eliminate these issues before they ever have a chance to do more harm to your landscape.

The Longevity of Your Trees Will Increase

While the life span of a tree varies vastly depending on its species, it’s also a matter of the level of preventative care it receives. Let’s circle back to the fertilization example referenced above. When trees are given the nutrients they need to grow strong, they have a structure in place to better withstand the impact of weather, pests and disease — which in turn helps them live longer. As you appreciate the beauty and shade of trees already in your landscape, you’ll also save the costs of having dead trees cut down and removed (an average of $750) as well as the cost of planting a new tree, which can come out to (with labor included) more than $500.

You’ll Save Costs on Extra Tree Treatments

While a homeowner can plan for the routine costs of a preventative tree maintenance plan, the costs associated with reactive measures are not only surprising but also more expensive. For instance, if an apple tree is infected with apple scab over several seasons, it can make itself susceptible to other diseases that exacerbate the initial problem. When these issues pile onto one another, homeowners can find themselves shelling out more money to try and combat the declining tree health — and oftentimes, having to make the costly decision of tree removal.

The Value of Your Property Will Increase

Curb appeal has a big impact on the perceived value of your home. Whereas trees that appear weak with scarce leaf coverage can take away from the aesthetics of your landscape, healthy and well-maintained trees can add to the beauty of your home and boost its price point. This increase in value can stretch anywhere from 7% to 19%, according to recent nationwide surveys.

At Lush Lawn & Safari Tree, we believe in proactive care to keep your trees healthy and safe. While you’ll save costs and frustrations, your landscape will look and feel its best. Learn more about our tree care services — and when you’re ready, request a free quote!

How Do Trees Survive Winter?

Below-freezing temperatures. Layers of snow and ice. Blustering winds. In Southeast Michigan, homeowners are accustomed to the harsh conditions of wintertime — and with the season just a few weeks away, many are in the midst of preparing for what’s ahead. In combination with tasks like cleaning out gutters and sealing pavement cracks, there’s also the need to give trees a little extra attention as well so they can weather the storm and emerge healthy once spring arrives.

While we’ll dig deeper into the manual efforts that support tree health throughout the winter, let’s start by first looking at the natural processes that help trees survive this season.

Trees Go Into a Dormant State In Winter

Whereas birds and other animals can migrate south to avoid winter conditions, trees are rooted in the ground and therefore must adapt to their new normal. This is why trees enter dormancy — or in simpler terms, a state of rest. During this time, the metabolic and growth activities of trees slows down, leaving more nutrients in plant roots versus sending them up to the leaves. This extra stored energy helps trees withstand winter conditions and stay healthy and strong.

One of the early signs of tree dormancy is a sight we’re familiar with in the fall: trees lose their leaves. This is an active sign of plants trying to conserve resources. Rather than work to protect fragile leaves throughout the winter season, trees simply shed them so they can hold onto more water and energy.

(In terms of tree types, deciduous trees are the ones that lose their leaves. Coniferous trees only grow needles and cones, so there are no leaves to shed — just old needles that are replaced by new ones.)

Supplying Trees with Added Nutrients for the Winter

While trees do their part to preserve nutrients for the winter, a deep root fall fertilization helps supplement what’s naturally available. In this technique, nutrients are injected directly into the area where trees need them most: the root zone. With nutrients immediately available to trees, deep root feedings provide an efficient way to prepare these plants for the winter months ahead.

In the case of evergreen trees, a fall anti-desiccant spray can also be beneficial. When temperatures drop and the ground freezes, plants can no longer absorb water from the soil. So instead, evergreen trees will turn to water stored in their leaves for moisture. If this source is depleted, the plant can dry out, or desiccate. By adding a protective coating to the leaves of evergreen trees, anti-desiccant sprays minimize water loss through pores and retain moisture.

Turn to Lush Lawn & Safari Tree for Your Tree Health Care Needs

At Lush Lawn & Safari Tree, we’re in the business of providing year-round tree health services for Southeast Michigan homeowners. Spread across the spring, summer and fall, our well-timed applications combine dormant oil treatments, deep root feedings, insecticide and fungal sprays and anti-desiccant sprays to help trees flourish throughout every season.

Take a closer look at our tree healthcare program — and if you’re ready to invest, contact us for a free quote!