by Erin C. Young
You don’t have to remove light snow from trees and shrubs—it’s the heavy stuff that can be damaging. Evergreen trees and shrubs are especially susceptible to having their branches broken after a heavy snowfall, because their foliage allows the branches to collect large amounts of snow. So, if a heavy snowfall has hit your area, blow or brush the snow off by hand or with a broom with upward strokes. Branches can be brittle during the winter months, so be as gentle as possible.
When ice has accumulated, then it’s time to leave the branches alone and let it all melt off. Trying to remove the ice at this point will likely cause more damage. If any branches do break, and they aren’t a hazard to you or the overall health of the tree, wait to have them pruned by a certified arborist at the end of the winter. The end of the winter is the best time to prune because trees and plants are still in dormancy, but it’s not so cold that it could expose them to more damage. If branches do present a hazard, have a certified arborist come to remove them right away.
Our ISA certified arborists at Mead Tree & Turf Care can assist you with these strategies to minimizing winter injury:
– Select hardy species and cultivars
– Avoid late-summer fertilization or pruning, which might stimulate new growth
– Water trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, during dry periods until the ground freezes
– Use mulch to conserve soil moisture and insulate the roots from cold temperatures
– Protect evergreens from wind and salt spray with burlap screens
– Apply anti-desiccant to evergreens starting in late fall, following label instructions
by Erin C. Young
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an Asian flat headed borer that is currently devastating ash trees in the North Eastern United States. First reported in 2002 in the Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario area, it swiftly made its way into Maryland and the surrounding states in 2003 (Fig 1).
Figure 1(USDA Federal Quarantine Map 2017)
Adults usually emerge from previously infested trees and wood sources in May. Female EABs deposit their eggs between layers of outer bark and in cracks and crevices of the trunk and larger tree limbs on Ashes. The larvae bore into the ash tree and feed in the cambium layer on the phloem, creating galleries underneath the bark (Fig 2). The feeding disrupts the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, resulting in thinning in the upper canopy and bark “blonding” caused by woodpeckers that feed on EAB larvae (Fig 3).
Figure 2(David Capert Michigan State University)
Figure 3(Jim Adams Chilli, NY 2015)
Young trees infected with EAB can die in two years if left untreated. Adult trees can survive from four to as long as seven years. The rate of decline and eventual death varies depending on infection population from tree to tree. The good news is that different treatments options are available. In Figure 4, trees on the left have received no treatment for Emerald Ash Borers. The trees on the right have been treated every 2 years for the last 6 years and have also been deep root fertilized after each treatment. These street trees were all installed at the same time.
Figure 4 (Steve Castrogiovanni, Mead Tree & Turf Care)
If EAB is caught early it can be controlled and some ash trees can live for years to come. On the converse, if fifty percent of the canopy is thinned, it’s probably too late to save the tree and it should be removed before it becomes a safety hazard. Our arborists at Mead Tree & Turf Care can inspect your trees, determine the degree of damage, and make recommendations for treatment or removal with our expert Integrated Pest Management services.
by Tina Graver
When the leaves fall from the trees, and lawn mowing is a distant memory, most homeowners put their yards on the back burner until spring. However, there is a lot that can be done to assure that spring doesn’t bring some unpleasant surprises when it comes to your favorite plants due to over-wintering insects, harsh weather conditions and deer.
Dormant Oil Sprays
control overwintering pests
protect from winter-burn
protect from chewing and rubbing
Dormant oil sprays
Horticultural oil is a material approved by the Organic Material Research Institute (OMRI) and poses few risks to people or most desirable species, including beneficial insects such as lady bugs. Horticultural oil works by coating the air holes through which insects breathe, causing them to die from asphyxiation and is excellent at safely controlling certain types of over-wintering pests. Armored and soft scale insects are target pests, as well as mite and aphid eggs that overwinter in cracks and crevices of woody plants. The ideal time to apply is in late fall or early spring when day-time temperature hover around 55 degrees.
Anti-desiccant sprays protect plants from excessive water loss through the leaves and soft buds. The combination of cold drying wind, fluctuating temperature from very cold to warm and sunny causes what is known as ‘winter burn.’ Plants suffering from winter burn will have brown needles or leaves. An important point is that anti-desiccants do not protect the plants from freezing. Vulnerable plants include most broadleaf evergreens and shrubs such as hollies, boxwood and nandina. The spray coats the foliage, preventing moisture loss. The coating should be applied when temperatures are above freezing for at least 24 hours. The coating wears off at temperatures above 50 degrees and may need to be re-applied throughout the winter.
While deer can be an issue all year round, they can cause significant damage in the winter months when food sources become scarce. There are many methods for protecting plants from hungry deer. One option is to install temporary deer fencing or trunk wraps to act as a physical barrier. This kind of barrier may be used alone or in conjunction with deer repellent sprays and bittering agents. Deer repellant sprays are often derived from predator urine such as coyote. These sprays tend to be offensive to many customers and we will often recommend a bittering agent instead. A bittering agent is sprayed on the foliar of the deer’s favorite plants. The deer may sample one of these plants but will leave it alone once they taste the product.