Earlier this month, the Rye Garden Club and the Rye Nature Center sponsored a Tree Talk and Walk at the Nature Center.
Earlier this month, the Rye Garden Club and the Rye Nature Center sponsored a Tree Talk and Walk at the Nature Center. Patrick Laidman and Jonathan Hale, arborists with The Care of Trees in Elmsford, led the program for an audience of about 60 members of the community. They shared tricks to identifying trees, steps to care for trees responsibly, and what pests and diseases we need to look out for. Below are a few highlights from their informative presentation.
According to Laidman and Hale, people are the worst enemies of trees. Construction and desire to have a lawn around trees deprive root systems of their needs. When power equipment such as mowers, blowers or trimmers nick trees, the wounds they leave are sites in which disease and pests can enter, thus compromising the health of the tree. Ideally, an area as large a tree’s crown should be preserved around a tree’s base to make sure the tree’s roots are receiving the water, nutrients and room they need. They recommend mulching this area with landscape mulch (not wood chips!) or compost. However, be careful not to over mulch! Only two inches of mulch is necessary and should not be in contact with the tree. Mulch piled high around a tree will slowly kill a tree through suffocation and disease.
Aeration and fertilization are recommended for trees, but be careful not to over-fertilize. Organic fertilizers are naturally slow release and are much safer for trees. With the strange weather patterns of late, it is important to take note of times of drought and water your trees but make sure not to over water. Home irrigation systems need to be kept in check.
Threats to Trees and Shrubs
Verticillium Wilt– This soil-borne disease that affects maples and has lately been taking a toll on Japanese maples in our area. Once a tree has a wound, it becomes susceptible, so mulch around your tree to keep mowers away.
Boxwood Blight– Caused by an aggressive fungus, boxwood blight first appeared in Europe and New Zealand in 2000, and arrived in the U.S. in late 2011. It starts with spots on the leaves and can quickly spread to cause leaf drop throughout the plant.
Asian Longhorned Beetle– Patrick and Jonathan have seen many trees affected by this pest in New York and in Manhattan particularly. An invasive beetle from China, it is believed to have arrived in the U.S. via untreated packing crates. It attacks most hardwood trees. Once a tree is infected, the tree must be destroyed and the wood burned or chipped. Quarantine zones have been established to contain the pest. Central Park’s quarantine has been successful and has just been lifted, but the Asian long-horned beetle continues to be a concern and is ravaging Massachusetts and Ohio.
Emerald Ash Borer– Another Chinese beetle that arrived in the U.S. the same way, the emerald ash borer only attacks ash trees. It has spread through the country through the transport of ash wood products. New infestations have occurred this year in Dutchess County and Waterbury, Conn.. The Care of Trees team expects Putnam and Westchester counties to be placed under quarantine soon.
The two experts prescribe the same methods to prevent all these diseases and pests. Keep your trees and shrubs strong through care of the roots, fertilizing, pruning, and repair of damage. Fertilize trees and shrubs with organic-based, slow-release fertilizer. High nitrogen, quick-release fertilizers feed fungus too, so they should be avoided.
Trees the Experts Recommend
Eastern Redbud – a beautiful native tree that thrives in our area.
Concolor Fir – a lovely, less-known conifer.
Ginko– pest-resistant with great autumn color, but make sure to get the male tree. The female tree bears a messy fruit with a terrible smell!
Serviceberry– a pretty native with lovely white flowers in spring, edible berries in summer, and striking fall foliage.
River Birch– this beautiful, fast-growing tree thrives with ‘wet feet’, so it is helpful with water mitigation.
Avoid the Callery pear tree. This fast-growing variety has been popular lately, but it suffers weather poorly.