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- Peter McFarland
- Locke Woodfin
- International Society of Arboriculture
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- Tree Care Industry Association
Pictured here is a male Ginkgo tree, believed to be the oldest Ginkgo tree in North America. It was one of three original Ginkgos shipped from London to Philadelphia in 1785 by William Hamilton of the Woodlands Garden. Hamilton gave one tree to William Bartram and planted the other two at Woodlands (also located in southwest Philadelphia). These two trees were cut down in the 1980s, but this Ginkgo tree still thrives today at Bartram’s Garden. Credit: Photo courtesy of Bartram’s Garden
Trees for Fall Color
The Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) tree, also known as the “maidenhair tree,” is distinct for its fan-shaped leaves, which turn a brilliant golden-yellow each Fall.
It is an excellent specimen tree. With adequate water and nutrients it will grow fast and reach a height of 50-80 feet, or more, with wide spreading picturesque branches. It usually is pest free.
It is dioecious, which means male flowers on one plant and female flowers
on another plant of the same species. The female Ginkgo has a small fruit— the size of a cherry tomato—which emits a foul odor after it drops to the ground or pavement. The male fruit, however, does not have this odor.
An extract from the Ginkgo biloba leaf has medicinal value as an herbal supplement for short-term memory loss.
Ginkgos are a very ancient tree, native to Eastern China.
Now that Fall is almost here, we want to make sure your property is ready for winter.
The best ways we can do this is (1) make sure your trees are properly pruned to minimize possible damage from ice, wind, and winter storms; (2) protect your evergreen plants against winter burn, and; (3) fertilize your trees and lawn so next Spring your landscape will leaf out healthy and lush.
If you are not already on our Fall schedule for these services, please contact us.
As we have reported in this newsletter since 2005, Ash trees throughout Pennsylvania are threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) insect, which has been detected in nearby Bucks and Montgomery counties, and undoubtedly is already present in Philadelphia, in its larval stage eating away at the insides of Ash trees.
Fortunately there are treatments we can apply while your Ash trees are still free of EAB.
See inside for news about two Ash fungal diseases—rust and anthracnose—which we see each Spring on Ashes when the weather stays wet and cool. These diseases weaken Ash trees, making them more susceptible to EAB.
Have a good fall and winter.
— Peter McFarland
Fall, Winter are the Best Times to Prune Trees
Tree pruning makes the most sense during colder months when leaves have thinned or all have fallen, and our crews can prune limbs more efficiently. If the ground has frozen, damage to under-story trees and shrubs from falling limbs is minimized.
As well, pruning in colder weather reduces the window for pathogens and insects to attack the temporary wounds caused by pruning cuts.
Our crews will pay particular attention to reducing safety hazards caused by ice and heavy winds. Several structural defects influence a tree’s susceptibility to winter storm damage, such as V-shaped limb crotches, dead and decaying branches, crowns that are too broad, and branching that is too fine.
V-shaped limb crotch “Pruning Trees,” North Carolina State University, October 2004
Our crews will remove or correct these defects. They will prune to reduce the weight and spread of the tree.
If you are not already on our pruning schedule for the coming months, please give us a call.
Don’t Let Nature Do the Pruning
As a general rule of thumb, every tree on your property should be pruned at least once every five years, or one-fifth of your trees each year.
It has been our experience that homeowners, who have their trees pruned by us on this cycle, experience less tree damage than those who let nature do the pruning.
Good candidates for pruning in the colder months include mature Sycamores, Maples, Oaks, and American Elms.
Fall is Ideal for Planting
Fall is an ideal time to install the right plant in the right location because the root system will have enough time to start to grow and establish itself.
Cooler fall temperatures make it less necessary to have to continually water new plants. Leaf and flower buds will have more time to develop for their Spring burst.
Flowering shrubs such as Azalea, Lilac and Rhododendron, respond well to planting in Fall.
Late Fall is when to plant Spring bulbs—such as daffodils, tulips, crocus, or scilla, bluebells, snow drops, maybe even winter aconite—something your family might enjoy doing.
Please call us soon to schedule your Fall fertilizing
Fall is the best time to fertilize your trees and lawn because tree and grass roots grow fastest then, and the nutrients added are easily absorbed and stored until Spring, when trees need more food for leaf and stem growth.
Trees in a forest or woods will self-feed by the natural process of leaf and wood decay. However, in urban or suburban environments, these materials usually are removed. As well, most trees in these settings are surrounded by roads, driveways and sidewalks—surfaces, which reduce the area for nutrient uptake.
For healthier, greener lawns, we recommend early fall fertilizing. Not only does fall feeding help lawns recover from the stresses of summer, it will stimulate root and stem development before cold weather sets in.
We recommend a second feeding in late Fall to keep your lawn healthy over winter dormancy so it will green up earlier in Spring.
Lawn roots need air as well as water and nutrients for healthy growth. Many lawns have constricted air and water movement due to soil compaction.
We recommend core aeration to break up compaction and enable your lawn to breathe easier. Core aeration also benefits the roots of nearby trees.
Emerald Ash Borer Update
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has spread to 22 states, including Pennsylvania, and has killed tens of million of Ash trees.
Pictured above – a before view (left), and an after view (right) of a row of mature Ash trees in Toledo, Ohio, taken from the samevantage point, prior to and after the impact of EAB in northern Ohio. Photo credit: Daniel A. Herms, The Ohio State University
Ash Rust and Anthracnose
Ash rust and anthracnose will reoccur as long as we continue to have wet cool Springs. Fortunately, these diseases will not kill the tree, nor persist over warm dry summer months.
Above: Ash anthroacnose.
Below: Ash rust.
Photo credit: University of Delaware, Cooperative Extension
Ash rust was serious the past two Springs—more serious in 2014— due to wet cool weather. Between years of build-up of Ash anthracnose, and more recently rust, Ash trees are becoming more stressed.
Ash rust is a foliar infection, characterized by small orange growths on leaves and stems. It causes leaves to drop. Severely infected trees look scorched, which prompted some of our customers to call us, thinking they had Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). They did not.
In some instances it can cause full defoliation of the upper canopy, but usually the tree will put out a second growth of leaves.
However, repeated loss of the early leaves interrupts the natural process of photosynthesis. In worst cases, the tree may go dormant for the rest of the year, which does not forebode well for its future health and will make it a sure target for EAB.
Fungicide applications are an option to control rust, especially for valuable specimen trees.
Anthracnose affects many other shrubs and trees.
Ash anthracnose has been around longer than Ash rust. It is caused by a fungus, which brings about temporary leaf dieback, and, in severe cases, complete defoliation, which weakens but does not kill the tree.
Trees heavily defoliated for three or more consecutive years, however, are likely to become more susceptible to EAB, which will kill the tree.
For both diseases, we recommend ongoing monitoring and pruning dead or dying branches. Disposal of the leaves and debris is important.
Preventing Winter Burn
Protect Your Evergreens
Last winter— one of the most sustained ones in recent memory— caused much damage to evergreen trees and shrubs.
When air temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing, winds will cause dehydration to evergreen plants. The leaves or needles will turn brown. Stems and branches may die because the roots are unable to replenish the loss of water. In worst cases the plant does not recover.
To prevent this, we recommend application of a non-toxic, anti-dessicant
spray in late fall to protect broadleaf evergreens, including Aucuba, Azalea, Boxwood, Ilex, Holly, Laurel, Magnolia, Pyracantha, and Rhododendron, as well as conifers with needles or smaller leaves, such as Arborvitae, Fir, Pine, Spruce, and Hemlock.
Over the years, these treatments have worked wonders protecting our customers’ evergreens.
If you have evergreen plants on your property and are not already scheduled for these treatments, please call us to arrange a consultation.
Newsletter Editor: Bill Hengst