The Dutchess DIYer

Learn how to properly care for your property, discover tell-all signs of maintenance needs

and how to become a better homeowner.

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Tips On How To Spot A Healthy Tree


You may have a tree plantation, or just a few trees in your backyard. Either way, you will need to ensure the trees stay healthy all year round. Common practices used to maintain trees include pruning, fertilizing, and watering. However, you will need to make sure you check them regularly in order to know if you are on the right track.


Proper leaf size, shape, and color


The leaves are a good indicator of poor tree health. Make sure the leaves have the right color according to the season. Be especially wary if the leaves are yellow, unless the tree has naturally variegated or yellow leaves. They should not be irregularly-shaped or stunted. All these can be signs of diseases, pesticide damage, watering problems, insect damage, and nutrient deficiencies.


Evidence of yearly growth


New growth occurs on trees annually on both their branches and trunks. You can do this by measuring the distance between each bud, then checking the same distance the next year. Growth evidence can be seen by scars on the branch. Average growth depends on the type of tree, so find out what you should expect from your tree.


Check the trunk


The bark should not be peeling or loose, with the exception of specific trees such as some maples, eucalyptus, and birches. Fungi growth should not be present on the trunk. When using garden equipment around trees, be careful as damage to the trunk may result with an open wound. Such wounds are prone to attacks by diseases and insects. The trunk should not have large holes or cracks.


No broken or dead branches


Prune broken and dead branches the moment you notice them. These are the common ways for diseases and insects to enter the tree. Scraping the branch using your thumb nail is a good way to test for dead branches.


Live branches show green underneath. Gently bending the branches is another test. Living branches bend and supple easily. Dead branches snap instead of bending.


No bare patches


For evergreen trees, look for areas without leaves throughout the year. Otherwise do not worry about your trees until leaves start appearing in spring. Bare patches are commonly caused by:

• Insects and diseases

• Pesticide damage

• Improper pruning practices

• Animals eating the leaves


No wilting


Wilting is a common sign of a stressed tree. The stems and leaves will lose their rigidness and start drooping. Common causes include:

• Root-bound

• Diseases

• Over-fertilization

• Too little or too much sun

• Over-watering

• Lack of water


Bottom line


Checking your tree regularly is a good practice. You should make sure you combine these factors when checking a tree. This way, you will be able to know if the tree has an issue, and how to handle any if it exists.

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