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My Tree is Sick: What Should I Do?

Trees are some of the most desirable aspects of your yard. They provide shade, act as windbreakers, produce fresh air and beautify the landscape. The trouble starts when a tree becomes diseased. Here’s how to tell your tree is sick, how to treat it and ways to prevent tree diseases in the future.

Symptoms of a Sick Tree

Watch for these signs that your tree needs a little tender loving care:

  • Poor structure: Trees that lean or have irregular growth patterns are in danger of falling over in high winds.
  • Decay: While sick trees rot from the inside out, you can spot some signs of decay on the outside, including mushroom-like growth, an expanded base, dead branches, and breakable wood.
  • Weak joints: If the branches don’t seem firmly connected to the trunk, your tree is undoubtedly sick. Weak branch unions could snap at any time.
  • Cracked bark: In some species, grooved bark is normal. However, if the cracks go too deep, affect the tree’s branches or harbor pests, they are a problem.
  • Cankers: These areas of dead bark are caused by bacterial or fungal infections. Fortunately, you can prune cankers, allowing the tree to heal.
  • Deadwood: Your tree may be suffering from this symptom if the branches are dry and easy to snap in half.

How to Treat a Sick Tree

If you spot the symptoms of a sick tree early enough, you can reverse the disease by following these steps:

  • Discontinue using synthetic fertilizer and toxic pesticide: These products can cause a chemical imbalance in the soil, stressing your diseased tree even more. Eliminate them while you work on helping your tree recover.
  • Expose the root flare: Many trees are planted too low. Carefully dig around the trunk to expose the root flare and increase oxygen intake as a result.
  • Aerate the root zone: Punch holes of 6 to 8 inches deep into the soil around the tree using a turning fork or core aerator.
  • Apply organic amendments: Rock minerals (including lava sand, greensand and decomposed granite), sugars (including cornmeal and dry molasses), and compost provide the tree with nutrients to help it heal.

How to Prevent Tree Diseases

Once your tree is feeling well again, keep it healthy with these tips:

  • Steer clear of the tree while conducting yard work. A blade could cut the bark, creating an open wound that can become infected.
  • Cover exposed roots located away from the trunk to prevent root rot.
  • If you apply mulch, leave some room at the base of the trunk so the tree can breathe.
  • Water your tree during summertime droughts.
  • Prune your tree once a year or as needed to promote proper growth and a healthy immune system.

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to save a sick tree. If these tips for treating and preventing plant diseases fail, you can schedule tree removal services from DKI. Contact us today to learn more.