By Jeff Wilson, Certified Arborist #IL-0099
Trees are living investments that enhance your property’s image and create a positive first impression. Healthy trees increase in value with age, purify our air, and save energy by providing shade and protection from strong winds. On the other hand, poorly-maintained trees can be a significant hazard and liability. Fall is an opportune time of the year for us to make applications to help improve the health of your trees. Fall and winter are also the best times to prune, and some species of trees, such as Oaks and Elms, can only be pruned during these two seasons.
Here are just a few of the items we look at while performing a fall tour of your property:
- Leaf size – This one is a little tricky because leaf size will vary with site conditions. We will often compare your tree to like species nearby. Dwarfed leaf size is one of the first signs of stress a tree will show.
- Leaf color – Yellowing leaves may be a disorder called chlorosis. It is often incorrectly associated with nutrient deficient soils. The reality is that chlorotic leaves are nutrient deficient, but not necessarily because the soil is deficient. Usually, there is a problem getting the nutrients from the soil to the leaves. When chlorosis becomes advanced, we often inject trees with ferric ammonium citrate. This injection can only be done in the fall season.
- Foliage density – The number of leaves in a tree are a good indication of its overall vigor. Like leaf size, this will vary with site conditions. We may compare your tree with others nearby to get a better assessment.
- Bud size and density – If the leaves are not present we can get most of the same information by looking at the buds on the trees.
- Dead branches – It is natural for dead limbs to appear in the underside and interior of the canopy where there is a lot of shade. These can be pruned away to improve appearance or for safety reason. If dead branches are seen at the top of the tree, this may be an indication of a health issue. Limbs receiving full direct sunlight shouldn’t die.
- Root flares- Root flares are the area where the tree’s anatomy changes from trunk to roots. If your tree looks like a telephone pole going into the ground you have a problem. It is absolutely imperative that root flares be above ground.
- Twig growth- Is the tree growing? By looking at branches, we can tell how much it is growing and if the growth is consistent or declining.
- Root Zone- Has there or will there be a change to the root area due to construction or other factors? Has the drainage changed? Does the tree need watering? Late season watering can be critical to winter health, especially for evergreens. Getting trees “ready” for a change is the most effective way to help insure the ability to adapt to the coming change.
This is just a sample of the items your Certified Arborist may look at on a fall tour.