The dawn of a new growing season is upon us. That means you should begin thinking about using a tree and shrub fertilizer, along with your typical lawn care to-do list. You don’t want to forget about your trees this time of the year.
In general, most soils in Michigan can provide an adequate nutrient reserve to meet the needs of most trees and shrubs. But it doesn’t hurt to put together a complete tree care plan each year to ensure that they’ll continue to thrive all year round.
Sugar maples are one of the most common types of trees in Michigan. It’s known under the scientific name Acer saccharum. It’s probably the most popular maple tree found in yards throughout Michigan.
So, let’s get to know the Sugar Maple a little better. Let’s see if you’d like to maybe plant one in your yard, or if you have one already, how you can make sure you’re doing everything possible to keep it thriving.
Sugar Maple Facts
If you want a tall tree as part of your landscape, look no further. Sugar Maple trees grow to a mature height of 60 to 75 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. Sugar maples, like most maples, have a naturally beautiful shape which makes them a very low-maintenance tree.
The leaf of a sugar maple tree is 3-5 inches wide and has 5 lobes, with a smooth, curved edge where the leaf of the red maple is jagged.
And the sugar maple tree is also the preferred maple for sap collection. In fact, only North America produces maple syrup, and Michigan ranks seventh in the country with around 82,000 gallons of syrup produced each year.
The Sugar Maple “Helicopters”
The fruit of a sugar maple tree is called a samara. But many people refer to them as “helicopters’. That’s because of the swirling motion they make as they fall to the ground.
Maple Tree Diseases
Like many types of trees in Michigan, Maple trees are susceptible to disease. A few of the most common include:
Anthracnose is a common spring disease on maple trees. It can affect red (Acer rubrum), silver (Acer saccharinum), sugar (Acer saccharum), and Japanese (Acer palmatum) maples. Its symptoms include irregular spots and dead areas.
Maple leaf blister displays symptoms somewhat similar to maple anthracnose.
Sapstreak can be difficult to identify. It’s a fungus that infects a tree from the inside. It’s can also be difficult to notice symptoms (like stunted foliage and dieback) right away. The fungus typically enters the tree through damaged areas of the roots.
If you think your tree is suffering from any of these diseases, you should seek treatment right away.
Taking Care Of Your Trees
There are many reasons to want a maple tree in your yard. It’s the type of tree (in Michigan at least) that you want in your yard. Whether it’s the fall coloration, its size, or its uniquely shaped leaves this common tree in Michigan is anything but.
And taking care of them is no easy task. But Safari Tree offers a 7 step tree Healthcare program perfectly designed for Michigan’s four-season climate. Our combination of deep root feeding, fungal spray, and insect control will keep your trees thriving all year long.
It’s not hard to overlook our trees in winter. Once they lose their leaves and the snow starts flying, they can easily be forgotten about. It’s especially true in January and February. But you may not realize that this is the time of year when our trees are susceptible to injury.
Of course, we’re seeing our heavy snows, sub-zero lows, and high winds like we normally do. But severe weather events cause the biggest issues for trees and shrubs. And to make matters worse, they’re very difficult to capture in long-range forecasts.
So, to make sure that you’re prepared, let’s take a look at some of the things that damage trees in winter.
Ironically, it’s typically when we’re nearing the end of the winter months when the danger really ramps up. One of the first things to worry about is extreme temperature changes.
The most common cause of freezing damage for trees in winter (in Michigan) typically happens in late winter/early spring. That’s when we often experience rapid warmups that increase dehardening followed by a sudden temperature drop.
This is not only tough for trees to deal with, but shrubs can also feel the effects of rapidly changing temperatures. Just be sure to include your shrubs in your tree care plan to ensure that they survive winter, too.
Heavy Snow Can Break Branches
Those changing temperatures can also cause snowfall to get stickier and heavier, which is not good for tree limbs. Heavy snow causes trees and tree limbs to fall. All of the weight from the snow can cause branches to bend and eventually break. This can lead to power outages or property damage.
Your best defense is to use a broom to knock the snow off of the branches. Shaking the branches to get the snow off can do more harm than good.
Winter winds can dry out evergreens and cause their needles to lose moisture. If you can’t water them as moisture is being drawn out from the trees living cells, it can result in permanent damage.
The best way to prevent this from happening is by watering your trees and shrubs adequately in the fall. Mulching will insulate your soil and roots. This will protect them from severely cold weather. Or just get into the habit of planting only hardy species in areas of prolonged exposure,
Safari Tree Can Help
The safest thing you can do is to hire a tree care professional. They’ll have the experience, expertise, and equipment to safely take down, prune and care for damaged trees.
One of the great things about living in Michigan is that we have a variety of trees to plant in our yards. But the Eastern Cottonwood probably isn’t one of them. And it’s not because it’s the fastest-growing tree in North America.
Fast growth and great shade are reasons enough to love cottonwoods. But these trees have many other endearing qualities that make them worth planting…not at your house, but in the wild.
So, let’s take a look at one of the many types of trees in Michigan, the Eastern Cottonwood, and why you may want to think twice before planting one near your home.
What Eastern Cottonwood Trees Look Like
The Eastern cottonwood is a large-canopied tree with upright limbs that arch at the tips, creating a vase-shaped outline. They’re common trees in Michigan and even up into Canada. The scientific name for cottonwood trees is Populus deltoids.
We already mentioned that it’s fast-growing. A young tree can add 6 feet or more in height each year. The trees can grow to well over 100 feet tall. In fact, some species climb to almost 190 feet. The canopy of a mature tree spreads about 75 feet wide, and the diameter of the trunk averages about 6 feet, once it matures.
In the wild, cottonwood is one of the fastest trees to colonize unplanted areas. That makes them a good choice for areas prone to flooding and soil erosion. They’re also hardy trees. You’ll find them in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 9.
The leaves of the Cottonwood trees are simple and are about 3-5 inches long. They’re triangular-shaped leaves, with coarse, curved teeth and a flattened petiole. And because of their size, cottonwood trees make good shade trees when planted in the right location.
Should I Plant An Eastern Cottonwood Tree?
Planting cottonwood trees in home landscapes typically leads to issues. One of the problems with the rapid growth of the Eastern Cottonwood is that it leads to weak wood that is easily damaged. Cottonwood branches break off easily, especially during storms or periods of high wind.
In addition, their massive size makes them hard to fit in all but the largest landscapes. And their aggressive root system seeks out moisture. That means you’ll want to avoid planting near septic systems. That’s because the roots will seek it out and can damage the system. This can create an expensive repair for you. You also don’t want to plant the tree close to your home’s foundation or a sidewalk as the roots can lift the area and cause damage.
Another problem is cotton flying in the breeze. The winds can carry the cotton seeds right to window screens where they’ll stick. They can also block your AC unit, or end up floating in your swimming pool.
These messy trees not only have weak wood, but they’re also prone to disease. They include:
Slime Flux: This bacterial infection gets its name from the frothy slime that oozes out of the tree bark after infection.
Canker: It’s easily identified by its sunken, discolored areas of bark. The disease causes dieback as the canker kills the bark and creates an oozing resin from the trunk.
Aphids, Scale & Mealybug: All three of these insect pests are sucking insects that feed on plant juices.
Borers: There are a number of borers which are attack cottonwood.
Leaf Beetles: The cottonwood leaf beetle can completely defoliate a cottonwood tree.
Signs your tree is infected include:
You notice that there are cracks in the trunk or peeling bark.
Your cottonwood has mushrooms growing near its roots.
There are multiple branches that have no living buds.
If you notice one or more of these characteristics, your tree may be in trouble and need to be treated.
Safari Tree Can Help
As you can see, Eastern Cottonwood trees can be a little difficult to take care of. They’re beautiful, no doubt, but have to remain under your watchful eye.
The good news is that Safari Tree has plenty of experience taking care of many types of trees in Michigan, including cottonwood. Our tree care and pest control services will keep your trees thriving all year long.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help to keep your yard looking beautiful, contact us today.
When the snow starts flying in Michigan, winter tree protection should be something you’re considering. While it’s important to think about your lawn and your shrubs when they’re buried beneath the snow, your trees are dealing with it, too. The cold and the snow can leave behind permanent damage.
So, let’s take a look at the type of winter damage your trees can endure. And how to protect trees from the winter weather.
Prepare Your Trees For Winter
One of the best ways to provide winter tree protection is to start planning for it in the fall. You can even start your winter-protection strategy with careful care during the growing season — it’s almost never too early. Some of the things you can do include:
No pruning after midsummer. Pruning stimulates tender, new growth and delays dormancy.
Stop fertilizing six weeks before the first fall frost to help plants harden off properly.
Water thoroughly throughout fall until the ground freezes; make sure the water penetrates 12″ to 18″ deep to reach the root zone.
You can also prevent frost from causing damage early in the season with some of these strategies and by covering your trees, especially if they’re new.
Don’t Shake Snow Off Trees
When trees are covered with snow, you may be tempted to shake the tree as hard as you can to get the snow off of it. But doing so can stress your tree in a time when it’s most susceptible to damage. So, don’t shake the snow off your trees.
Once the temperature drops, the winter winds start howling, and the ground freezes, branches can become brittle. In some cases, the branch can become so brittle that shaking causes it to snap off. Another thing that can happen is that when the weight of the snow is suddenly removed, it can create a snapback effect that might injure your tree’s entire circulatory system. And much like the human circulatory system, damage there can have irreversible effects.
You’re better off using a broom to gently brush the snow off the limbs. Or, if you decide to prune over the summer, your branches will be shorter and less snow will accumulate. 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.
Thin-Barked Trees Are Susceptible To Temperature Changes
Cold temperatures can injure trees, especially if their bark is thin (like American Beech). And what’s surprising is that some of the damage can happen on the warmer days of the winter. It’s called Sunscald.
Sunscald is sometimes referred to as southwest injury and typically occurs on cold, sunny, winter days. It can happen when freezing temperatures are replaced by much warmer temperatures throughout the day.
Bark heats up to the point that cambial activity resumes. But if the temperature of the bark drops quickly, like when the sun is blocked by a cloud, or when it drops behind a barrier such as a hill, it can kill your tree’s active tissue.
You can use some basic winter protection tactics to prevent sunscald. Just wrap the trunk of your trees with a commercial tree wrap. But if you are going to use a tree wrap, put it on in the fall and remove it in the spring after the last frost.
You can also use plastic tree guards to protect your tree trunks from the winter sun. Place them on either side of the tree.
One other thing you can do is to paint the trunks of your tree with white latex paint. The color will reflect the sun and keep the bark at a more constant temperature during the winter months.
Safari Tree Can Help
There’s no denying that evergreen foliage and other trees look great covered in snow. But all of that beauty could come with a price if you’re not careful. That’s why a winter tree protection plan is a must.
If you need help preparing your trees for winter, the experts at Safari Tree are happy to help. Contact us today to learn more about our 7-step tree healthcare program perfectly designed for Michigan’s four-season climate.
Winter shrub protection may not be on your list of things to do before the snow starts flying each year, but it should be. Heavy snow, freezing temperatures, and cold blowing winds can wreak havoc on your woody plants. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to protect your shrubs all winter long.
A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground and can be deciduous (ones with flower buds) or evergreen. It’s their size that can make them more vulnerable to winter damage. Trees can typically take a little more punishment in the winter.
So, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to create a great winter shrub protection strategy for your yard.
One way to decrease the risk of cold damage is by planting shrubs that are native to Michigan like ninebark and viburnums. When selecting shrubs, trees, and other plants, check the Michigan hardiness zone map developed by the USDA. It divides growing zones into 10-degree F. (-12 C.) increments according to average winter low temperatures over a 30-year period.
Basing your shrub choices on where you live in the state will help you to pick the best possible shrubs for your location.
Watering Before Winter
Water shrubs deeply in fall, while soil temperatures are still warm. This is especially important to do if moisture has been scarce during the growing season. That water loss can hurt landscape plants during the winter months.
For example, winter sun and wind cause the foliage of evergreen shrubs to lose moisture that is not replaced while the roots are frozen. But Alberta and Serbian spruce, hemlock, yew and arborvitae, and broadleaf evergreens, such as boxwood and rhododendrons are all susceptible.
Supplemental water will encourage strong root growth, which is the foundation of a strong, healthy plant, even after the stems have gone dormant. Try to apply enough water to moisten the soil 8 to 10 inches below the surface once a week until the ground freezes.
Make Sure You Mulch
This favorite spring pastime is something you may want to consider late in the fall. It will not only encourage root growth, but a layer of mulch can help protect your shrub’s root zone from frost penetration into the ground and extreme cold.
And if you have newly planted shrubs (and trees), you should consider adding another 1-3 inches of mulch through the winter. This will give the roots a little added protection from the cold temperatures. You can remove the extra mulch layer in spring when growth resumes.
Burlap Screens For Better Protection
In this case, you may want to call them “brrrrrrrrrlap screens,” but all kidding aside, a burlap screen offers great winter shrub protection.
A well-constructed burlap screen will not only help protect plants from winter winds but also those subject to salt spray from passing traffic. Simply wrap the screen around the potentially affected areas and secure it into place with a few garden stakes and bread ties.
Safari Tree Can Help
Another way to make sure you’re providing the best winter shrub protection each year is by partnering with Safari Tree. Our 7-step tree healthcare program is designed for Michigan’s four-season climate. This care program gives you the maintenance that will allow your trees to flourish all year long.
It’s not just your grass that could use a boost this time of year. You often need to consider a fall fertilizer for trees and shrubs, too.
Most soils in Michigan can typically provide an adequate nutrient reserve to meet the needs of trees and shrubs. Even those that are planted next to lawns can get some of their nutrients from lawn fertilizers. That being said, depending on the properties of your soil, nutrient deficiencies can occur.
So, let’s take a look at why you should consider fertilizing your trees in the fall and what the best fall fertilizer is for them.
When To Apply A Fall Fertilizer For Trees
It used to be that trees and shrubs that needed a nutrient boost got their annual fertilizer application in early spring. It’s the time just before active growth begins for the year. Many experts accepted this timing for years. And although early spring is a good time, new research indicates there is an even better time.
Now a majority of arborists consider late September or October a great time to consider a fall fertilizer for trees and shrubs. They say to apply it then, or about a month after the first killing frost. Why? Because plants (including trees) will use the nutrients they need in different ways throughout the year.
Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies In Trees
Here are the three most common nutrient problems that homeowners in Michigan typically see in trees and shrubs. They are deficiencies of nitrogen, iron, or manganese.
Nitrogen deficiencies may occur in trees since it is the element that is needed in the largest amounts. The reasons that trees become deficient in nitrogen include:
Most of them are located in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose.
It is lost from the soil over time through leaching.
Removing leaves each fall interrupts the natural recycling of nitrogen that occurs in native forests.
Think about that last one the next time you’re raking leaves.
Iron and manganese deficiencies are common in certain landscape trees. These deficiencies are typically associated with alkaline soil pH. In both cases, soils may contain adequate amounts of the element, but availability and uptake are reduced by alkaline soil conditions.
The Best Fall Fertilizer For Trees
Most experts recommend applying 1 to 3 pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of tree bed and cultivating lightly. But to figure out the exact amount of fertilizer you’ll need, you’ll have to do some math.
Start by calculating the square footage of your beds. Then take those measurements with you to your local garden center and determine how much you’ll need.
Using a slow-release fertilizer is important. That’s because there will still be nutrients in the soil come spring when your plants start to grow. A slow-release fertilizer also ensures that your trees get the right amount of nitrogen and not too much at one time.
If you have a tree or shrub that does not flower well, a dose of superphosphate will help promote flower growth. However, if the plant is not located in the right spot, all the superphosphate in the world won’t make it flower.
When Not To Fertilize A Tree
And keep this in mind. Don’t fertilize newly planted or newly transplanted trees. These are trees that were planted or transplanted less than two years prior.
Applying fertilizer to newly transplanted trees can excessively dry roots. This is called burning. Wait until after the third year before you consider fertilizing it. At that point, it will be considered an established tree.
Let Safari Tree Help
Safari Tree’s year-round applications include a fall deep-root-feeding that delivers nutrients straight to the root system of your trees. This helps your plants recover from the long hot summer and prepares them for the cold winter season ahead.
You’ll also get a fall anti-desiccant spray. It winterizes your evergreen trees and shrubs.
If you’re going to need help winterizing your yard, contact us today. We’ll be happy to help.
If you’re asking yourself “Are leaves good for grass?” chances are, you don’t feel like raking them. The short answer to the question is “Yes.” Leaves are good for your grass, but you probably shouldn’t just ditch clearing them altogether.
Leaves will decompose, but if you leave them on your lawn and they begin to pile up, they can actually do more harm than good. That’s because when they get wet (from rain or even snow) wet leaves smother and kill the grass. But there are a number of different ways to approach your leaf harvest. And depending on your particular situation, it doesn’t always involve raking.
So, let’s take a look at why you should avoid raking leaves and talk about a couple of alternatives (composting and mulching) that will help your lawn to thrive.
Why Mulch Or Compost Leaves?
You should compost or mulch your leaf litter to keep them out of landfills. Michigan law requires all yard waste to be composted – it may not be disposed of in a regular landfill. This started in 1995 because of the many problems caused by yard clippings in landfills. This led to the banning of yard waste from Michigan landfills.
Why? According to EPA data, yard trimmings, which include leaves, can create as much as 34 million tons of waste each year, which is about 13% of all waste generated. The majority of it comes from composted or mulched in-state programs, but according to the EPA, as much as 11 million tons can still end up in landfills. This accounts for just under 8% of all waste in landfills.
Composting involves scooping leaves into a pile or containing them in a bin and leaving them to naturally decompose.
It provides rich fertilizer for gardens and landscape plants. You can buy Bins or easily make one out of low-cost materials. You can add veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells, which also helps to cut down on your kitchen waste. Just don’t add items like meat scraps that can smell bad and attract pests.
If a compost pile isn’t ideal—try this. You can also use a lawnmower to shred leaves and compost them in a place where they will fertilize the grass. All you do is roll your mulching mower over the fallen leaves. Dried leaves are easier to mulch than wet ones, but mulching leaves (and your grass) and leaving them to decompose can become an important part of your lawn care regimen.
Mulched leaves keep the soil warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The nutrients provided by mulching also reduces the amount and expense of fertilizer need to achieve green-up in the spring. You can also mulch perennial flower beds with shredded leaves or till them right into garden soil.
And if that’s not enough, research was done at Michigan State University actually shows that leaving the leaves on your yard in such a manner not only does your lawn no harm, but it can actually suppress weed growth.
There is no shortage of bugs that kill trees in Michigan. Wood-boring insects are abundant. And it takes a proper pest control plan to keep them at bay.
Invasive insects are one of the biggest threats to your trees. Fungal infections also cause problems, and oftentimes it’s a bug that causes a disease to develop in a tree or shrub. That’s why it’s important to learn to recognize invading insects, as well as signs of insect or fungal infestation such as holes in trees, sawdust or leaves turning brown at the wrong time of year.
So, let’s find out which bugs are most troublesome.
Bugs That Kill Trees In Michigan
Asian Longhorned Beetle
The Asian longhorned beetle can attack and kill many tree species including poplar, willow, sycamore, and horse chestnut, but its favorite host is maple trees.
Adult female beetles chew depressions in trunks and branches where they lay their eggs. When the larvae hatch, they burrow into the tree’s heartwood, creating large chambers. The larvae feed in tunnels in the wood of the tree branches and trunks, eventually killing the tree.
The new adults emerge in the summer by boring round exit holes about three-eighths of an inch in diameter.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
The most common stink bug in Michigan is called the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). Brown marmorated stink bugs are an invasive species originally native to Southeast Asia. In Michigan, they live around the tree fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants, and legumes they feed on.
The brown marmorated stink bug not only can affect yields in fruit, nut, legume, and vegetable crops, but it can also become a nuisance in indoor environments where they overwinter — like in your house.
Gypsy moths are an invasive species. They feed on the leaves of more than 300 species of trees in Michigan and across much of the northeastern United States. They especially like oaks but many other trees are also good hosts.
The leaf-eating caterpillars are hairy, up to 2 inches long, and have a pattern of blue and dark-red spots. Male moths are dark buff in color and fly; females are white with black, wavy markings and do not fly. These insects are ravenous feeders. A single caterpillar can eat its way through 10 square feet of foliage as it grows. Trees that are infested with these caterpillars can be completely defoliated, and become weak and more susceptible to other problems, potentially killing the tree.
Adult Japanese beetles are easy to identify. They’re about 3/8 inch long, metallic green in color, and emerge from the ground in late June.
They feed in groups, starting at the tops of plants, then work their way downward. Individually, Japanese beetles don’t consume much. But collectively, their damage can be devastating.
The types of trees they often target include:
There are a lot of products on the market to get rid of them, but you need to be cautious — especially if you use traps. The traps are designed to lure the beetles in, so you may attract more beetles than you already have.
Emerald Ash Borer
If you have an ash tree, you may have noticed small green flying insects attacking your tree. This insect is called the emerald ash borer and has been labeled the most destructive pest in America.
They lay their eggs on the ash trees. After about two weeks, the eggs will hatch and the larva will bore their way through the bark.
Outbreaks and infestations of emerald ash borer are announced very frequently. To find the most current information on the locations and status of each state, province, and county, it is best to go to Emeraldashborer.info or access their current map, typically updated once a month.
Controlling Bugs That Kill Trees
The Safari Tree pest control package combines killing insects and their larvae by strengthening your tree so it can survive the pests that do manage to attack. It starts in the spring when we’ll spread dormant oil on your trees. This will immediately begin to cut down on early insect infestations. We then fertilize your tree’s deep roots later on in the season, allowing it to get off to strong growth.
Find the treatment that will protect you, your family, your trees, and your entire yard. Contact us today.