Mature trees can look so strong and magnificent in the warm seasons that you’d never guess they could have any kind of health issues. Yet, trees are subject to health problems just like humans are, and when those issues get serious enough, it can cause a tree to become sick and die. Here are some of the most common health issues which trees are subject to, even if they might still appear to be robust and doing very well.
Probably the most severe weather issue faced by trees are powerful storms, which can literally uproot any tree regardless of how mature and healthy it might be. Next is drought, which can cause a tree to slowly dry out, with damage potentially appearing as much as a year after the drought has taken place. Once a tree has been in place for two years or more, it is usually capable of finding water sources, unless severe dry conditions prevail for an extended period. Another issue which primarily affects evergreens is winter burn, in which temperatures are freezing and strong wind conditions persist for a period of time. This can cause the needles to lose color and drop off, and degrade the overall health of the tree.
If a tree is improperly pruned, it may become susceptible to infestation by insects or to infection. When pruning is done with inadequate time before winter, a tree cannot adapt quickly enough, and may lose the pruned branches. It’s a good idea to educate yourself about proper pruning methods before undertaking the action on your trees, so you don’t inadvertently cause more harm than good.
When a tree is in good health, it can generally withstand the onslaught of insects, but if the insects are too numerous or the tree is in poor health to begin with, it’s entirely possible that an insect infestation can kill off an entire tree. Some insects chew on leaves and bark, and these can be controlled by applying horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to the area of infestation. Boring insects are much more difficult to manage, and your best bet is to seek the advice of a certified arborist before proceeding.
Any time you see mushrooms growing on the bark of a tree, you’ll know there is a serious problem, because mushrooms require decaying matter in order to grow. Whenever you observe this situation on one of your trees, the infected area should be cut away and discarded, or you should contact an arborist. It is very possible that the tree is already so infected that it will have to be destroyed, in order to prevent the infection from spreading to other healthy trees in the area. Birds are often the culprits for spreading fungal diseases, since they can carry spores from one tree to another, and quickly spread mildew, cankers, rust disease, fire blight, and a whole host of other fungi.
All trees are dependent upon the soil at their base for moisture and nutrients, and if this soil becomes compacted, it will be far more difficult for a tree to obtain everything it needs from the soil. Soil can become compacted if you drive heavy machinery back and forth near the tree base, or if you were to construct an outbuilding in that location. With the soil so dense and compressed, tree roots are unable to seek out nourishment, and the tree will begin to lose vitality. In addition, tree roots will no longer be able to provide effective anchoring, so it’s much easier for strong winds to blow over a tree, and cause catastrophic damage.