Mulch Mounds! Oh My!

Two days ago I stopped by the local gas station/grocery store compound around sunrise to replenish my truck’s fuel tank. As I drove on the service road passing the commercial property I felt something strange tugging at my peripheral vision, like large chocolate chips dotting the edge of my field of view. I took my eyes off the road for a moment, and sure enough, seemingly overnight the landscape had changed. It was as if a very large community of rodents had decided to move in and dig burrows in the landscape, leaving all the soil in regular mounds, perfectly spaced on the lawn. The next moment I saw that each mound had a tree growing out of it.  Then the colors of breaking dawn also brought the light of knowledge to me as I realized “It’s spring, and the mulch mounders are at it again”.

Welcome Back, Walter!

I want to take a moment to share a couple exciting things with you that are happening at Russell Tree Experts this spring. As of April 1, 2019, I am proud to be the new Production Manager of Russell Tree Experts. I now will be working with clients to schedule jobs, and working with all of our crews to ensure an efficient, safe, educational, fun and productive work environment. I look forward to continuing to answer your questions and hearing your feedback…

Tree Law: "Who Owns This Tree?"

First and most importantly, I am not an attorney. What I am is a concerned business owner who has an interest in the law.  Having recently read Arboriculture and the Law co-authored by Victor D. Merullo and Michael J. Valentine, I am inclined to share my findings in hopes of answering a few common questions we receive every year dealing with liability basics and the general risks associated with tree ownership.

Watch Out for Girdled Trees!

Quite regularly I encounter trees that are being girdled by some sort of material, mostly guy wires or straps installed during planting, and subsequently forgotten. Sometimes there are other things that catch me by surprise. Usually these are things placed by people and never maintained. For this article I will start with the most common girdling issue and then mention some of the other items.

TJ's Top 10 Natural Bird Feeders (in Winter)

I happened across a Hawthorn downtown this past weekend who’s dormant canopy was alive with several dozen robins gorging themselves with its fruit. The birds seemed so happily preoccupied in their feast that they hardly took notice of me. When I arrived home a few minutes later, I noticed a Mockingbird cleaning out the last of the fruit on our holly outside the kitchen window. Later, when I shared these details with my wife, she informed that February is National Bird Feeding Month.  Shame on me - I had no idea. 

New Research: Boxwood Blight Update

If you read my first installment on this relatively new disease, you will know the major difficulty of this pathogen (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is that it infects otherwise healthy plants, and once it is at a site, removal and destruction of the infected plants is recommended, with no plant replacement for 3-5 years.  This is because the spores remain in and on the soil to infect new plants.  Existing asymptomatic plants were to be sprayed with fungicides to help prevent infection.

Trees: Links to the Past and Messages into the Future

Last year my wife and I spent a week or so vacationing with family, visiting Civil War Battlefields. The time was well spent, although sobering to be on the actual soil where so many people died, not that long ago, locked in a struggle that is difficult to understand, at least for me. This article is not about the Civil War, but about two things I found there that came back to me early this year and reminded me a little bit of why I do what I do. I would like to share a bit with you. I know you are busy… Will you stop and sit with me for a moment?

That "Stuff" Growing on Bark

As Central Ohio moves further into winter, and the majority of deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, bark becomes increasingly visible. Bark is an interesting and important characteristic for trees and tree identification. It doesn’t take long for a novice naturalist to distinguish certain tree species based almost entirely on the bark of a specimen (Beech, Hackberry, River Birch, etc.). Upon further inspection of a tree’s bark an observer might notice organisms growing on the trees bark. A large variety of fungi can be seen on the bark of deadwood in trees and is usually associated with poor health of that particular branch or the entire tree. However, fungi are not the only organism to inhabit the bark of trees.

A Boxwood Bummer

I wanted to dedicate this installment to Boxwood Blight, since this is a disease which has the potential to disrupt formal landscapes all across the state. The disease is fungal, and affects boxwood, especially the cultivated varieties ‘American’ and ‘Suffruticosa’. It is relatively recent in the United States, and was found in Ohio nurseries in 2011.

Don’t get Fooled by the Fall Color of Conifers

Every fall I get calls from folks concerned about yellow needles on their evergreen trees. Often times I’m told that the trees are sick or that they appear to be dying from the inside out. There are some disease and insect problems that can cause yellowing and premature loss of needles in conifers but most often what people are reporting is just normal fall color.

Test Before Treatment: Soil & Tissue Testing

I find it interesting that test procedures recommended in the medical field for human health have become part of the expected methodology, but not so much in arboriculture, for tree health. As arborists, we are trained that a soil test should be done prior to recommending fertilization, for example, but I don’t know of many outfits that make soil sampling a part of their modus operandi.

Fear no Weevil (With Fall Systemic Insecticide)

As we prepare for another season of Fall Tree Wellness, another important insect pest to take note of is the White Pine Weevil. White Pine Weevil is a damaging pest to a broad range of conifers, including White, Scotch, Red and Austrian pine as well as Colorado blue, Norway, and Serbian spruce. Douglas-fir can also be attacked.