Tree Health

How Trees Help Retain (and Reduce) Stormwater Runoff

Trees offer countless environmental benefits. For example, they cleanse the air by producing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. They also provide homes and food for animals like birds and squirrels. Needless to say, trees can bring immense value and advantages to a natural landscape.

But the benefits of trees don’t stop there. Trees also retain and reduce stormwater runoff, one of the biggest issues of urban and suburban areas. This means they can play a significant role in protecting the local environment.

Why Is Stormwater Runoff an Issue?

We all know rain is important. It replenishes our water sources, “feeds” rivers and lakes, and keeps our grass green and healthy. Rain also provides essential nutrients for agricultural crops and beautiful trees.

The problem is when rain becomes stormwater runoff. This happens when rainfall or melting snow flows over paved surfaces like roads, parking lots, and driveways. Since these surfaces are impermeable, they don’t soak up water. The result is a large volume of water flowing over ground surfaces.

Here’s why this can be bad news:

Flooding and Erosion

If rapid runoff flows into bodies of water, it can disrupt the natural flow and damage local animal habitats. It can also worsen the severity of flooding in urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Sewage Problems

Stormwater runoff can overwhelm local sewage systems, which are full of harmful pathogens and heavy metals. This presents serious public health concerns.

Pollution

When stormwater passes over paved surfaces, it picks up pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, lawn fertilizer, and byproducts from construction sites. The water then pushes these pollutants into local streams and rivers.

Excess Sediment

Similarly, fast-moving runoff forces sediment and residue into bodies of water. This can destroy natural habitats and block sunlight from underwater plant life.

Trees and Stormwater Runoff

While paved surfaces don’t mix well with rainfall, they’re essential components of developed neighborhoods. It’d be difficult to travel around town without surfaces like roads and sidewalks.

The solution? Plant new trees and take care of existing ones. Aside from beautifying our properties and streets, trees can manage stormwater runoff.

They can:

Retain Water

A tree provides a surface for rain to land on. Specifically, its leaves and bark can “intercept” and retain rainfall. This water will then evaporate or end up in the soil.

Decrease Erosion

Likewise, tree canopies intercept rainfall and reduce the risk of erosion.

Absorb Moisture

Water can also collect on fallen leaves. Eventually, the moisture will permeate the soil instead of flowing over paved surfaces.

Roots also absorb the water and aerate the soil, which soaks up moisture. This reduces the accumulation of runoff after a storm.

Plant New Trees and Reduce Stormwater Runoff

You can’t control the weather, but you can control how your property handles heavy rainfall. That’s why it’s important to plant trees to retain and reduce stormwater runoff.

However, managing runoff doesn’t stop at planting new trees. It also involves taking care of the trees you already have. By keeping your existing trees healthy, you can do your part in reducing stormwater runoff.

Friendly Tree is here to help. As a team of certified arborists, we offer professional tree planting services in New Jersey. We also know what it takes to help trees thrive and flourish.

To get a quote or schedule a consultation, contact Friendly Tree at (973) 678-8888.

How to Avoid Damaging Your Tree’s Roots

When you look at a tree, it’s easy to find something to admire: the robust trunk, the rustling leaves, and maybe even some dainty flowers. In the fall, the leaves morph into a spectacle of warm colors. In the winter, the branches become home to freshly fallen snow.

Needless to say, there’s a lot to appreciate when you look at a majestic tree.

But what about the roots?

While you can’t always see them, the roots are as admirable as the rest of the tree. The root system, which anchors the tree to the ground, supplies the tree with nutrients and water. It also helps drain and aerate the surrounding soil.

So, take the time to learn how to avoid damaging your tree’s roots. By following these safety precautions, you can help your beloved tree thrive for years to come.

Don’t Overwater

When it comes to watering, it can be tempting to literally “shower” a tree with love. After all, as a crucial component of tree care, water is essential for healthy roots.

Yet, it’s possible to overdo it. If a tree is overwatered, the roots will suffocate and fail to take up nutrients. The excess water can also promote the growth of dangerous microorganisms and cause root rot.

Overwatering is especially detrimental within the first two years of planting a tree. During this time, the root system is still establishing itself in the soil, so it’s important to go easy on the water.

If you’re not sure how often you should water your trees, talk to a certified arborist at Friendly Tree.

Add Mulch Properly

Mulch can do so much more than “prettify” your landscape. When used properly, mulch can insulate the soil and lock in root moisture. It also prevents soil compaction, ensuring that roots can efficiently absorb nutrients and water.

But like watering, there’s a wrong and right way to mulch. For example, piling a “mulch volcano” against the trunk will rob the bark and roots of oxygen. It also encourages the growth of disease-causing fungi and bacteria.

Instead, you should apply mulch from the tree’s root flare. Apply the mulch in a 3 to 10-foot circle around the base and use a rake to spread it out. Additionally, the layer of mulch should be no more than 2 to 4 inches deep.

Never Cut Roots Yourself

Whether you’re adding more plants or building near trees, you might consider snipping roots to make more space. However, much like pruning leaves, trimming roots should be left to the professionals.

Some roots are necessary for the tree’s water flow, nutrient delivery, and stability. If these roots are cut away, the tree can die or fall over.

A certified arborist can determine which roots are safe to trim. They can also consider other important factors, such as the best time of the year to cut roots. (Yes, it matters!)

Avoid Pouring Concrete

If you’re building a new structure or sprucing up your landscape, you might want to add concrete or stone near a tree. Unfortunately, this can severely damage your tree’s root system, even if it’s already established.

Concrete and stone will suffocate the roots, making it impossible to absorb oxygen, water, and nutrients.

If you must add concrete or stone, talk to a professional concrete company. They can work with an arborist to figure out the best way to add concrete without harming the roots.

Treat Your Roots Well with Friendly Tree

While every tree and property are different, these tips will help you avoid damaging your tree’s roots. If you have questions — or if you want personalized guidance — don’t hesitate to contact Friendly Tree.

Our New Jersey certified arborists can provide root safety tips based on the specific trees you own. We also offer a range of professional tree services, including tree pruning and tree planting.

To schedule a consultation or get a quote, contact Friendly Tree at (973) 678-8888.

What Kind of Tree Should I Plant?

So, you decided to plant a new tree. Congratulations! This is the start of a beautiful landscape that will increase the aesthetics and value of your property.

But before you start mapping your dream garden, it’s important to know what kind of tree you should plant. This depends on the environment you’re planting in. Remember, every tree has different requirements, so it should be planted in an area that meets those needs.

Your climate isn’t the only factor, though. The characteristics of your property matter as well. From existing greenery to nearby pipes, there are many environmental aspects to consider.

 

Before buying a tree or digging a hole, take the time to do some research. By learning how to choose the best tree for your area, you can ensure it will thrive for years to come. Here are several factors to consider.

 

Temperature

As you know, North America is a continent of extremely different climates. Therefore, in order to help folks choose the appropriate trees for their area, the USDA created The Plant Hardiness Zones.

 

Each zone represents an area in the United States or Canada. The zones are divided based on an area’s lowers annual average temperature. In each zone, there are specific trees that can endure the winters in that area.

 

Before buying and planting a new tree, find your plant hardiness zone. There are 11 zones in total. All you need to do is visit a hardiness zone map and enter your zip code.

 

Rainfall

When it comes to moisture, every type of tree has different needs. Some trees require constantly wet soil, while others prefer a dry environment. As a result, it’s vital to consider your area’s natural rain patterns throughout the year.

 

Be sure to acknowledge nearby bodies of water, too. Ponds, for example, will affect the level of moisture in the surrounding soil.

 

Soil

From clay to sand, soil isn’t a one-size-fits-all component. Every soil has different biological, chemical, and physical characteristics, so you must choose the appropriate trees for your soil type.

Granted, things like pH and draining can be altered with various substances. For instance, you can improve soil drainage by adding organic matter like compost. But for optimal results, it’s wise to pick the most appropriate plants for your property’s soil.

 

Available Space

Every property is unique, regardless of climate or state. So, be sure to acknowledge the different aspects of your land.

Think about your available space and nearby trees, shrubs, or plants. Over time, the tree’s root system will attempt to establish itself, so it’s essential to provide enough space for both new and existing plants. This will ensure that they don’t have to compete for water and nutrients.

 

Existing Constraints

Before choosing a tree, consider any existing underground pipes and power lines. Don’t forget about your driveway, sidewalk, and neighbors. Lastly, check any local ordinances and rules as to how far a tree must be planted from the street.

With these environmental aspects in mind, you can determine if you should get a small, medium, or large tree. You’ll also be able to figure out what kind of canopy and foliage will work well with the area.

 

We’re Here to Help You Choose the Best Trees for Your Property

If you’re not sure what kind of tree you should plant, consult the professionals at Friendly Tree. Since 1989, we’ve offered tree planting services throughout northern New Jersey. We’ll take the time to choose the best species for your property and needs.

 

This way, you don’t have to worry about all the details on this list. Leave it up to us! Our team of professional arborists knows exactly what to look for.

For a free quote, contact Friendly Tree at (973) 678-8888.

I Just Planted a New Tree — Now What?

It’s no secret that planting trees has many benefits. For starters, trees are beautiful; they can improve the appearance and value of your property. Trees also produce oxygen, clean the air, control noise, and enhance mental wellness. And with strategic planning, trees can even reduce energy bills by offering shade in the summer and blocking wind in the winter. (Oh, and did we mention they’re beautiful?)

You can’t go wrong with tree planting in New Jersey. In fact, you might have already added several trees to your property. But have you thought about proper care and maintenance?

Compared to older trees, newly planted trees have different needs. So, if you just planted a new tree, keep the following tips in mind. By doing so, you can help it flourish for years to come.

 

Mind the Mulch

When done properly, mulching prevents soil compaction, maintains root moisture, and insulates soil. Mulch also benefits the appearance of your landscape.

Yet, mulching isn’t as simple as making a pile and calling it a day. Piling mulch around the trunk will suffocate the bark and roots. This “mulch volcano” can also promote fungal and bacterial growth, and eventually, kill your new tree.

That’s why it’s vital to mulch your trees correctly. First, the mulch should be applied away from the trunk and spread to a diameter of at least the three feet. You can use a rake to evenly spread it out. Additionally, the mulch should be no more than 3 to 4 inches deep.

 

Avoid Over Fertilizing

Unlike soil in the wild, soil in landscaped settings don’t contain enough essential nutrients and minerals. Therefore, fertilizing your trees is one of the best things you can do. Fertilizer contains vital nutrients that can support the growth and vitality of your tree.

However, it’s possible to over fertilize a tree. Doing so can strain a tree and disrupt its ability to absorb water.

Plus, if a new tree was properly planted, it won’t require much during the first two years. A newly planted tree requires nothing more than organic matter, water, sun, and mulch.

It’s advised to wait two years before using fertilizer. This will allow enough time for the root system to establish itself. Otherwise, if you add too much fertilizer too soon, the new tree will overproduce and become stressed.

 

Watch the Water

We all know trees need water to survive. And when you plant a new tree, you may be tempted to overdo it. But like mulch and fertilizer, using too much water can cause health issues.

Overwatering deprives the roots of oxygen. In turn, the roots won’t be able to supply enough nutrients to the tree. Overwatering also encourages the growth of harmful organisms, which can eventually lead to root rot.

To care for a newly planted tree, you need to keep the soil moist — not wet. All it takes is 30 seconds of a steady stream of water for each tree. For best results, use a garden hose with a diffuser nozzle attachment.

The root system will establish itself within the first two years. At this point, it will be able to handle more water.

 

Know the Tree’s Needs

New tree care isn’t limited to regular food and water. It’s crucial to think about your future plans, too.

Be mindful of the quantity and types of plants in each bed. Remember, every plant needs water, nutrients, and space to grow. But when there are multiple trees and shrubs in one bed, they will all compete with each other.

Do your research or consult an expert. By choosing a thoughtful combination of plants, you can ensure that every member of the bed will survive and thrive.

 

Call Friendly Tree for Professional Help

If you planted a tree and need assistance, contact Friendly Tree. We’re happy to take care of mulching and answer all your questions about trees.

Friendly Tree also offers tree planting services in New Jersey. We’ll choose the best specimens for your property, style, and preference. Most importantly, our team will plant your trees in a way that sets them up for long-term success.

To schedule a consultation or get a quote, contact Friendly Tree at (973) 678-8888.

How to Prep Your Trees for Winter

 

The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping, the days are already getting shorter and that means it’s time to prepare your yard for winter.

 

Freezing temperatures and winter storms can really do a number on your landscape, if it is not properly put to bed. So, while the trees are doing their part – shedding their leaves to conserve energy for the months ahead – take some time to do yours.

 

First, Clean Up the Yard

It can be tempting to stay inside where it’s warm, and just hope the leaves will all blow away. But allowing debris to build up on your yard can attract pests and fungal diseases, and prevent proper water absorption and drainage. Similarly, fallen fruit that is allowed to rot over the winter is asking for trouble.

 

Rake leaves, harvest fruit, pick up fallen branches and remove dead annuals from your yard. Mowing your yard one last time – with the blades on the lowest setting – is also a good idea. A clean, open landscape is less attractive to insects and diseases than one that is full of decaying debris.

 

Tidy Trees and Shrubs

Winter storms and weak or dying branches is a bad combination. Now is the time to take care of limbs that are hanging, look weak, are infested or dying, as well as give your trees and shrubs an all-over cleanup. A healthy tree is less likely to be damaged in a winter storm.

 

Remember to wait until after trees have gone dormant to prune them, and always consult a professional if you see anything worrisome, or don’t know how to properly prune.

 

Don’t Forget to Water

Just because the hoses are detached doesn’t mean your watering days are over until the summer. Trees and plants still need to be watered during dry spells throughout the fall and winter, and your lawn does, too. Even dormant plants need water to survive. Now is also the perfect time to add compost or fertilizer to feed your trees throughout the winter.

 

Protect Them With Mulch

Think of mulch like a blanket for your trees. A layer of organic mulch about two to three inches deep helps insulate trees from harsh temperatures and retain moisture in the soil. Just be sure not to mulch too deep, and always keep it away from the tree’s trunk.

 

Discourage Pests

While the bugs are winding down for the season, once spring hits the larvae will be back in full swing. Applying horticultural oils now will help prevent the larvae of common pests like aphids, mites and scale insects from hatching when temperatures rise.

 

Horticultural oils can usually be found at your local garden center and are relatively inexpensive and easy to apply. Properly removing leaves, dead branches and fallen fruit is also critical to preventing pests from taking over.

 

When to Winterize

Winterizing your yard should happen around the same time you would winterize your house or vehicle; in New Jersey, that’s usually in October or early November.

 

Fall Planting

Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs. Planting now gives them time to develop a strong root system before the heat of summer hits. So before you put your yard to bed for the season, add some new life, and be rewarded in the spring.

 

Investing the time now to winterize your yard will mean less troubleshooting in the warmer months. Trees that are properly cared for react better to stress and generally have fewer problems the following season.

When Your Trees Need Some TLC

Are your trees looking not quite right? They may be crying out for help. The urban environment can take its toll on tree health, causing early tree decline and death.

Lucky for us, trees express themselves in different ways, giving us clues to what’s troubling them. It helps to know how your tree is communicating by recognizing some of the common signs of tree stress.

Take a few minutes to observe the trees on your property for red flags, starting at the top:

Canopy

Take a look at the tree’s canopy. Does it look sparse compared to nearby trees, or compared to previous years? Are there dangling branches? These are signs your tree needs some help.

Leaves

You can tell a lot about the health of a tree by looking at its leaves. Wilting, yellowing, brown, misshapen, curling, spotted or dropping leaves mean your tree is struggling.

Trunk

Large, open wounds, splits, and cracks can all point to something going on internally with your tree. Also be on the lookout for exit holes from bark beetles and borers.

Base

Mushrooms that repeatedly appear at the base of a tree point to a problem underground, usually root rot.

The best way to prevent stress from taking its toll on your trees is to give them what they need throughout the year. Here’s how to keep your trees healthy and resistant to many of the above problems.

Water Consistently and Deeply

One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to caring for their trees is overwatering. It sounds hard to do, but it happens often. Too much water can lead to root rot and fungal issues; too little water causes dehydration and makes trees more susceptible to pests and diseases. Trees like their water slow and deep. Watering deeply at the drip line whenever the soil is dry is the best way to keep your trees happy.

Mulch

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – mulch is a tree’s best friend! Mulch provides numerous benefits and is a simple way to help prevent many stressors.

Prune the Right Way

Although pruning is usually done with the best of intentions, it is often done incorrectly. Pruning the wrong way can do more damage than good. In fact, incorrect pruning is one of the major causes of insect and pest problems in trees. When in doubt, contact your local tree service professionals for advice on where and how much to prune.

Know How to Plant

It may seem simple, but the way you plant a young tree can really be a deal-breaker. Never dig the planting hole deeper than the height of the tree’s root ball, and always dig the hole two to three times wider than the root ball. These simple steps will help prevent your tree from getting unnecessarily stressed down the road.

Consult a Professional

What happens if your tree is already showing signs of stress? Is it too late? If you’re noticing warning signs, now is the time to give us a call.

Many problems can be corrected with proper treatment and care. At Friendly Tree, our inspections and assessments are always free. We pride ourselves on providing expert, reliable service, taking the utmost care of our customers and their trees.

Fertilizing Your Trees – The Basics

If you’ve ever dug into the forest floor, you’ve probably observed that the soil looks quite different than the dirt in your backyard.

That’s partly due to the large amounts of organic matter on the surface, and partly because the plentiful organisms in the soil break down that organic matter and incorporate it back into the soil.

Trees growing in the forest thrive without fertilizer because the rich soil gives them all the nutrients they need.

 

Why Fertilize?

Trees growing in their natural habitats rarely have nutrient deficiencies. In urban settings, however, this is not the case.

Soils in artificial habitats can be very different than native habitats, and they are often lacking in essential nutrients.

If you haven’t fed your trees this year, they may be hungry! Applying fertilizer at least once a year is usually necessary to replenish essential minerals and nutrients in the soil.

 

When to Fertilize

Although you can’t see them, a tree’s roots continue to take in nutrients well after it sheds its leaves for the year.

A good rule of thumb is to feed your trees in the fall, before it freezes. This way the fertilizer will be absorbed by the roots and ready to feed the tree once it begins to come out of dormancy in the spring. Nutrients at-the-ready allow for robust new growth as leaves emerge.

If fertilizing in the fall is not possible, you can also feed your trees in early spring, as soon as the ground thaws.

 

Types of Fertilizer

There are many different types of fertilizer; the type you use will depend on your trees, your landscape, and soil conditions.

Granular Fertilizer is applied at the soil’s surface either by hand or by the mechanical spreader. This is often the method of choice for homeowners because it is fast, easy, inexpensive and quite effective. This method is particularly beneficial for trees growing in mulched areas and lawns.

Liquid Injection Fertilizer involves high-pressure injection of liquid fertilizer, allowing for rapid uptake of nutrients, and is often the preferred method of professional arborists.

Fertilizer Spikes or stakes are less common today, as they have shown limited effectiveness. With this method, solid spikes of fertilizer are driven into the soil around trees at measured distances.

Foliar Spray is commonly used as a quick fix for nutrient deficiencies. With foliar feeding, liquid fertilizer is sprayed directly onto the tree’s leaves. Foliar fertilization is a helpful supplemental fertilizer, adding micronutrients just before the growth period, but it is not effective as the only source of fertilizer.

Tree Trunk Injections are primarily used to treat specific mineral deficiencies, such as iron or zinc deficiencies, and are not recommended as general, multi-purpose fertilizer.

 

What do the Numbers Mean?

On just about every bag of fertilizer, you’ll find, you will see three numbers. The first number indicates the percentage of nitrogen; the second number indicates the percentage of phosphorus, and the third number indicates the percentage of potassium.

These numbers are important because different plants need different ratios of these elements to stay healthy. Research has shown that high nitrogen fertilizers yield the greatest growth in woody plants, such as trees and shrubs.

Pay attention to the ratios, not just the numbers. Look for a high-nitrogen fertilizer with ratios of 3-1-1, 3-1-2 or 4-1-1. For example, an 8-2-2 fertilizer follows the 4-1-1 ratio.

Ask your local arborist or nursery for the best combination for your soil and region.

Slow-release nitrogen fertilizers are best for long-term growth because they allow for nutrient absorption throughout the season, and therefore more uniform growth.

Be careful to avoid lawn fertilizers containing herbicides, which can damage or even kill your trees.

When it comes to tree health, preventive maintenance is key. A vigorous and healthy tree is much less susceptible to disease and infestation.

With proper maintenance, your trees can add value to the landscape and stay healthy for a long time.

How to Keep Your Trees Healthy During Drought

We all know that trees need water to survive, but many homeowners don’t know that watering properly can mean the difference between a tree’s life and death during seasons of drought.

Summer’s heat can take its toll even on established trees. Since trees are difficult and expensive to remove, it’s important to know when your trees are stressed, and how to manage it.

Signs of Heat Stress

Trees are amazingly resourceful and some can survive for a long time in poor conditions with little water. A tree can be suffering silently for years before it finally succumbs.

If your tree shows any of these signs, it may be crying out for help:

  • Wilting Leaves
  • Premature Leaf Drop
  • Yellowing Leaves or Early Fall Foliage
  • Sparse Canopy
  • Undersized Leaves or Fruit

Trees that are stressed are much more likely to be attacked by insects and diseases, so it’s not uncommon for trees with one of the above symptoms to also be infested.

Caring for Trees During Drought

Follow these tips to keep your trees happy, even when water is scarce:

Mulch

Mulch truly is a tree’s best friend. Not only does mulch reduce evaporation and retain soil moisture, but it also helps regulate soil temperature. Mulch can be a lifesaver in the heat of a summer day, when evaporation is at its peak and the soil dries out more quickly than roots can take in the moisture.

Check the Soil

The best way to tell if your trees need water is simply by testing the soil. Insert a garden trowel about 2 inches into the soil and feel it; if the soil is dry, your tree needs water. Keep in mind, you want the soil to be moist to the touch, not soggy.

Water Slow and Deep

The most important aspect of watering your trees isn’t how much water to give them, it is how to water them. Trees like to be watered slow and deep. Remember, tree roots can extend up to four times beyond the canopy, so don’t just water at the base of the tree.

A drip irrigation system placed beyond the canopy line will allow the tree’s critical root zone to take up water before it’s lost to evaporation. Water to a depth of 10-12 inches, since approximately 90% of a tree’s roots are found within the top 12 inches of soil.

Fertilize

Fertilizing year round will make for stronger, healthier trees that will be tough enough to better withstand periods of drought.

Manage Evaporation

Did you know — during the heat of a summer day, up to 60% of water evaporates before it soaks into the ground? Knowing how to minimize water loss from evaporation is especially critical during times of drought when watering is often restricted and every drop counts. Using a drip line and watering first thing in the morning are effective ways to manage evaporation.

Water Throughout the Year

Trees that are taken care of throughout the year are more resilient when adversity comes. Watering your trees in the winter, as well as the summer, helps them develop strong root systems and encourages healthy growth.

6 Tell-Tale Signs Your Tree Needs To Be Removed

Tree removal isn’t fun or easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. When disease control or pruning is not enough, tree removal may be needed to prevent hazardous situations for people and property.

The Secret Life of Trees

Some trees have a special knack for looking fine on the outside while silently suffering on the inside. To the untrained eye, your tree may look like it’s growing well, but it could actually be crying out for help. A tree can struggle on for years and years before finally succumbing to tree failure, potentially causing injury or destruction as it falls.

The good news is, you can usually tell when a tree needs to be removed if you know what to look for.

Signs Your Tree Should Be Removed

When inspecting your trees, it’s easiest to start at the top and work your way down. If you’ve said yes to one or more of the below questions, contact one of the Friendly Tree experts to assess your tree before it becomes a hazard.

Are there dead or dying branches in the tree’s crown? Crown dieback is usually a symptom of tree stress and large, dead branches can seriously injure those below.

Is the tree suddenly leaning to one side? Some trees naturally lean to one side, but if your tree suddenly starts leaning, this could indicate a structural problem.

Are the tree’s branches growing close to power lines or structures? Proper planning can usually prevent situations like this, but as they say — hindsight is 20/20. When a tree gets too close to power lines, it can quickly become a hazard and should be evaluated by a professional. Homes or other structures built too close to a tree can lead to a compromised root system and cause expensive problems down the road. The rule of thumb is 20 feet away from any structure.

Are the tree’s leaves and trunk showing signs of infection? Discolored or misshapen leaves, emergence holes and feeding galleries in the trunk, thin leaf cover, and stunted growth all indicate infection. If you notice any of these signs, have your tree inspected for pests and diseases.

Is the trunk compromised? Cracks splits or large wounds in the tree’s trunk are bad signs and point to internal decay. Trees can survive for a long time with internal decay before falling. Some trees can even remain standing for a while with completely hollow trunks (these are a hazard and must be removed as soon as possible).

Are there root defects? Root defects tend to be the hardest to spot. Fungi growing near the base of the trunk is a sign of root decay and should sound off the warning bell. Sprouts emerging at the base of a tree also indicate a compromised root system. This tends to occur when the tree is too close to structures or other construction, like sidewalks and driveways.

Not every tree failure can be prevented — but many can if the appropriate measures are taken. Now is the perfect time to inspect the trees on your property for potential issues before they become big problems.

If you need help determining if your tree needs to be removed, or you need an expert to do the job, Friendly Tree can help. Our certified arborists adhere to ANSI standards for tree care practices, and assessments are always free.

Keeping Your Trees Pest Free

Now that summer is near, New Jerseyans are coming out of the woodwork to soak up the warm weather and sunshine. Unfortunately, so are the pests.

We believe the best approach to pest management starts with healthy, vigorous trees. While few trees are entirely pest-free, healthy trees are much more capable of resisting pests and the damage they cause.

It is rare for a truly vigorous tree to succumb to pests. Here are five key steps you can take to keep the trees on your property free from insect infestations:

Ensure Good Soil Conditions

Perhaps the most significant thing you can do for your trees gives them rich, healthy soil to grow in. Ideally, you should have species well suited to your region’s growing conditions and soil type. Proper drainage is key to avoiding pest problems, and adding compost yearly will provide your trees with the nutrients they need to grow strong.

Be sure not to over-fertilize, as an excess of nitrogen can actually steal nutrients from the soil and leave trees susceptible to pests and disease. Controlling weeds will also help to limit the habitat for creepy crawlies.

Water Correctly

Believe it or not, overwatering is actually more prevalent (and deadly) to trees in urban areas. Too much water can not only cause root rot but invites conditions for pests and disease. Trees with too little water, however, become stressed and vulnerable. Moist, but well-drained, the soil is preferable. Learn how to properly water your trees.

 Prune Properly

Regular pruning is one of the best gifts you can give your trees to keep them healthy. Good air circulation in the tree’s canopy is important for warding off infections and infestations. However, when done incorrectly, pruning can actually leave open “wounds” for insects to enter and attack. Pruning done by a certified tree service or arborist will ensure that the branch collar – which contains specialized cells to help the tree heal properly – stays intact.

Don’t Overmulch

Mulch can be a tree’s best friend, but only if you do it right. Mulching too deep can lead to root rot in wet or heavy soils, making the tree susceptible to infestations. Mulching during the late fall, right before the ground freezes, should also be avoided, as it provides a home for pests to overwinter. Read how to mulch your trees the right way.

Clean up in the Fall

Insects and other pests love to hide out in fallen leaves, decaying branches, and fallen fruit. Once the summer season comes to a close, remove any leaves, branches, twigs, seed pods, fruit (on or off the tree) or anything else littering your landscape. If you see the diseased material, dispose of it in the trash. Keeping the ground clean can deter pests from hibernating in your yard for the winter.

What About Spraying?

At Friendly Tree, we believe the first line of defense when it comes to pest control is preventative action. However, if you find yourself fighting an uphill battle with infestations, insecticidal soaps can be particularly effective against aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, thrips, mealybugs and other common pests. We typically encourage avoiding chemical pesticides, as they can do more harm than good if not applied by a professional.

Proactive care really does go a long way in keeping your trees healthy and pest free. If your tree has a bad infestation, it may need to be inspected by a professional and potentially removed.

If your trees need troubleshooting, we can help. Our inspections and assessments are always free.