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How to Protect Your Trees Against Disease and Insects

30 Jul Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on How to Protect Your Trees Against Disease and Insects
How to Protect Your Trees Against Disease and Insects

Trees are an important part of any landscape and nothing is so frustrating as sick plants. They look terrible and can be costly. The key to preventing disease and unwanted insects is to keep plants healthy. A stressed tree becomes extremely susceptible to invasion.

Preventing plants from becoming stressed is simply a matter of knowing the causes of stress. Here are some key preventative measures that should always be considered:

  • Airflow: Trees need to breathe in order to be healthy. If branches are too thickly entangled, moisture will not evaporate and fungus will set in. Insects are sure to be close behind.
  • Proper mulch use: Mulching right up to the base of a tree is a huge mistake. Tree trunks need room to breath. Only mulch about six inches away from the base of the trunk.
  • Mulch type: The most common mistake made by even the most experienced gardener is the use of inappropriate mulches. Never use any type of wood mulch. These mulches are a haven for fungi and wood loving pests. Use a nice rich compost or pine straw.
  • Clean house: All leaf litter should be cleaned from under the tree every fall. This eradicates any diseased leaves that may be on the ground and prevents the disease from spreading.
  • Limit pesticides and chemical fertilizers: Nothing stresses a tree like the harsh salts found in chemical fertilizers. Using compost as mulch nicely feeds the tree, while looking attractive. This will keep the tree healthy eliminating the need for pesticides.
  • Encourage predators: The best way to keep unwanted pests away from plants is to encourage animals and bugs that eat them. Bats, birds and ladybugs all eat common tree pests. Put out bird feeders, bathouses and bright flowers to attract the right kind of predators.

Taking these preventative measures should ensure that plants stay healthy. If plants are already suffering from ill health, treatments are determined by the causes. Brown sections, powdery leaves and spots on tree foliage indicate that a fungus is to blame. Compost tea contains a natural agent that eats fungus. Routinely spraying the sick tree will quickly clear up the problem.

Giant holes in the leaves and disappearing foliage are a good indication of pest problems. Treatments of pests vary depending on insect type. An insecticidal soap stops beetles, moths and aphids in their tracks. Spray the bacteria BTK to clear up any caterpillar problem.