Tree Care – Determining Whether Your Tree Has a Problem

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,826
    Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor with the Tree Care Industry Association talks about detecting early on some of the problems that trees can have.

    Peter Gerstenberger: Hi! I'm Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor with Tree Care Industry Association. I'm here today to talk about tree care basics, and right now, we're talking about detecting early on some of the problems that trees can have.

    Generally speaking, the problems that trees tend to have, tend to be very host-specific. What that means is that specific trees have very specific problems. Also, generally speaking, the problems that trees have, tend to be exacerbated or increased by environmental stresses that those trees are under.

    Finally, believe it or not, in an urban and suburban setting, the most common cause of tree problems is us. So, perhaps, we can change something we're doing that's harming our tree, or perhaps there is some pest affecting it. In either case, we can't fix it until we understand what the real problem is.

    Just like in human medicine, effective treatment of a problem starts with an accurate and timely diagnosis. Tree problem diagnosis is definitely a science, not unlike medical diagnosis. It's made more challenging because of the diversity of tree species in the urban environment, and because the organisms responsible are small and not easily detected in the early disease stages.

    Once a problem is recognized, the disease is often in an advanced stage, limiting the arborous treatment options. That's why it's so important to carefully observe the trees and shrubs in your landscape, and to do this frequently.

    I want you to think of a tree as essentially two separate systems, the biological and the structural. The biological system of a tree is evaluated by how lush and green the tree is. The structural system is evaluated by looking at the major structural components of the tree, the stem and the trunk, and evaluating how sound they are.

    Here is a protocol if you will that you can use to observe a tree. First, I recommend looking at that tree from a distance to assess its overall canopy for any sign of defect or decline. Then we can move in closer to that tree and start to look at the individual parts of that tree more closely.

    You may see welting or scorching leaves, leaves smaller than normal in one section, for in the whole tree, early fall coloration in one section of the tree, dieback of twigs of limbs, any kind of abnormality when compared to trees of the same species is an indicator of some sort of problem.

    Once we have determined what the problem is with our tree, it's time to consult with a professional, to determine our best course of action for treatment, or actually if treatment is needed at all. Well, that's a little bit about diagnosing tree disorders.

    Next, we want to talk specifically about how do you go about hiring a tree care professional to protect your investment.