Posted by & filed under Tree Care .

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In September of 2003, Maryland was hit by Hurricane Isabel, resulting in a great deal of damage to property, trees, and power lines. More recently, there has been the threat of a very active hurricane season, with one storm after another making the news. Much of the damage from Isabel was the result of fallen trees and limbs leaving many without power for a week or more.  With a little advanced planning, homeowners can reduce the chances of damage to their home and property by surveying their trees for problems. Here are some signs to look for:

-dead wood/limbs with no foliage

-signs of decay such as hollow areas, animals living in the tree, decay at the tree base, or mushrooms growing in a pattern over roots

-trees that may be top-heavy and need crown cleaning, such as Bradford pears

-large limbs over-hanging your house, driveway or sidewalks

If you think your trees may become hazardous during a storm, call Mead Tree & Turf Care for a professional evaluation. Our licensed arborists can help you determine ways to reduce potential property and tree damage, and take care of problem trees before a storm hits. Although having trees pruned or taken down can be an unwanted expense, the damage they can cause during a storm can be much more costly.

 

Posted by & filed under Landscape, Plant Health Care, Tree Care .

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by Tina Graver

Most plants growing in Maryland rely on transpiration, or water loss due to evaporation, in order to stay cool. This is why keeping your plants watered in the high heat is so important. However, heat stress and dehydration are not the same thing. This is as true for humans as it is for plants. In a situation of high humidity and low air movement, cooling via transpiration can be very difficult. During this time, you might start to see some of the signs and symptoms of heat stress on your less tolerant plant species.

If a plant is unable to cool off, several of their cellular membranes and proteins may start to become damaged. The cells responsible for photosynthesis, a process by which plants make food, are some of the first to be negatively impacted. This is one way that prolonged periods of heat stress can cause whole plant death.

  

Figure 1. (Left) River birch dropping leaves in early July due to heat and drought stress.(Right PJM Rhododendron beginning to roll leaves in order to avoid absorbing excess light.

One adaption is for the plant to try and avoid absorbing too much light or radiation.  Some plants may produce little hairs on the leaf, increase the amount of shiny wax, roll their leaves or change leaf orientation. Some plants may produce smaller leaves, or shed leaves all together.  While most clients aren’t alarmed by fuzzy or shiny leaves, they may be alarmed to see their Rhododendron leaves rolling (Figure 1). Similarly, many clients call in late July to report that their River Birch trees are yellowing and dropping leaves (Figure 1.)

 

Figure 2. Knockout Roses in July. Interior growth is yellowing and dropping. This is an adaption where the plant tries to avoid absorbing excess radiation or heat. Leaf drop also helps increase air movement throughout the plant.

Finally, even if a plant doesn’t start showing symptoms of heat stress, they may be more prone to infection by a pest or disease. During the summer months, pests such as thrips and mites.  At Mead Tree and Turf Care, we help clients manage heat and drought stress through irrigation adjustments, addition of soil amendments, deep root fertilization, and targeted spray programs to address secondary pests.  A Certified Arborist or Professional Landscaper can help choose the right plants and help minimize the impacts of severe heat and drought in the landscape.

Posted by & filed under Landscape, Tree Care .

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by Joanne Mead

Maryland weather can be quite changeable and unpredictable due to a number of factors. Proximity to large bodies of water like the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay; the mountains in the western part of the state; and a location that exposes us to wind and cold from the north, moisture heavy systems coming up the coast, and remnants of mid-western storms, all cause Maryland to experience major extremes in both weekly weather patterns and year to year trends. This situation can sometimes wreak havoc on trees, shrubs and lawns (although the weeds seem to survive through it all). A little knowledge of the way different weather situations can affect your plants may help them survive the ups and downs of our regional climate.

Yearly patterns in the recent past have included severe drought and excessive precipitation. Both situations call for monitoring of existing plant material and caution with installation of new plantings. Temperature trends also have a significant effect on plants. A warm spring and hot summer with little rain is a questionable time for tree digging and planting unless monitored watering is available. Daily weather events can also affect plant health. Maryland often experiences violent storms that include high winds and heavy rain that can tear up or topple trees. Some advance preparation can limit the damage caused in these storms.

STORMS AND HURRICANES

Most storm damage is the result of fallen trees and limbs. With a little advanced planning, homeowners can reduce the chances of damage to their home and property by surveying their trees for problems. Signs to look for are:

  • dead wood/limbs with no foliage
  • signs of decay such as hollow areas, animals living in the tree, decay at the tree base, or mushrooms growing in a pattern over roots
  • trees that may be top-heavy and need crown cleaning, such as Bradford pears
  • large limbs over-hanging your house, driveway or sidewalks

Any of these signs may indicate a need for pruning or removal. Although having trees pruned or taken down can be an unwanted expense, the damage caused during a storm can be much more costly.

If you have concerns that your trees may become hazardous during a storm, call Mead Tree & Turf Care for a professional evaluation. Our licensed arborists can help you assess your trees and determine ways to reduce potential property and tree damage that can be caused by storms.

Fallen Tree on House
Fallen Tree on House
EXCESSIVE PRECIPITATION

Too much of a good thing can often cause problems, as is the case with too much rain or snow. When the winter and spring have been excessively wet, some plants can suffer. Potential issues that may arise include:

  • Loss of nutrients in the soil
  • Browning out of plants that don’t thrive in wet soil (such as yews)
  • Root rot in trees that are already compromised by drought, insect infestations, or disease
  • Fallen trees due to loose soil if there are high winds

Steps can be taken to monitor and replace soil nutrients, and to treat or remove trees that may be a hazard. Dead foliage can be removed to improve appearance, and plants may recover in conditions change. Plants that like drier soil should not be planted in low areas or in areas that direct run-off drainage.

 

EXTREME TEMPERATURES

Although shrubs and trees are usually marked for climate zones, even the hardiest of plants can lose vigor or die during very cold, harsh winters. Fall mulching can assist in protecting plants from winter stress. Smaller plants that are sensitive to cold can benefit from being screened from wind with burlap or buried in leaves loosely placed inside wire mesh. Evergreens can be helped by keeping them watered into the fall. Anti-desiccants can also be applied to evergreens to retain moisture, although this is not always successful depending on conditions.

High temperatures can be problematic as well, especially when accompanied by drought. Make sure to water plants in the early morning. This allows moisture on foliage to evaporate before being hit by the suns burning rays. Monitor soil for moisture by digging down a couple of inches and compressing a soil sample in your hand. If there is no moisture the plant requires watering. Over-watering can damage plants as well, so monitoring and moderation are the best course to take.

 

DROUGHT STRESS

Maryland periodically experiences drought conditions and when this happens, the effect is noticeable – dormant lawns, trees dropping leaves early, less fall color, and stressed trees and shrubs resulting in insect infestations, disease, and eventual loss. Water restrictions in some areas can limit the ability to water lawns and plantings. What are some strategies for maintaining healthy plants under drought conditions?

  • Fall aeration and fertilization can promote a good spring start up for lawns that have been under drought stress the previous year; over-seeding can also help if there is enough moisture.
  • Treating problems before they get out of control can help prevent tree loss so inspect trees for signs of stress. Deep root fertilization and vertical mulching can help trees thrive by encouraging root development. Pruning dead or diseased limbs can prevent the spread of problems to healthy parts of the tree. Insect infestations can be identified and treated at the appropriate time.
  • Fall mulching can help protect plants and hold moisture in the soil. It can also help prevent weeds in the spring.
  • Consider installing or using systems that conserve water, such as drip irrigation in shrub and flower bed. Younger trees or new plantings can benefit from the use of Gator Bags. These provide slow, steady watering over a number of days.