Monday, December 21, 2020

Chlorosis in Trees

Tree foliage becomes chlorotic after disease insect infestations or environmental imbalances

Prevent your chlorotic trees from further decline and death. Knowing how to recognize chlorosis in trees and reverse it will help you keep them growing and thriving. gathered information on what chlorosis is, its causes, its symptoms, and how to treat it.

What is Chlorosis?

Chlorosis is the paling, lightening, or yellowing of foliage tissue. This condition occurs when a tree’s capacity to manufacture chlorophyll (needed for photosynthesis) is reduced or interrupted. A tree’s foliage can no longer produce the food it requires to grow and thrive when in a chlorotic state.

What Causes Chlorosis?

Foliar chlorosis can occur for several or multiple reasons. The following are among the most common:

Poor Soil Drainage – When the soil retains too much water, it can cause tree roots to stop absorbing vital nutrients. This condition may also lead to root rot and the death of the tree.

Compacted Soil – Foot, mechanical, and vehicular traffic around a tree’s root plate can cause soil compaction. This condition leaves the soil void of oxygen and moisture and generally leads to root and tree death.

Root Damage – When roots are damaged by digging activities or surface roots are damaged by mechanical and/or maintenance equipment, those roots may fail or become diseased. This condition can lead to the rapid decline and death of the tree.

Soil Alkalinity – When soil pH rises above 7.0, the soil becomes alkaline. It can no longer facilitate the absorption of iron and other nutrients required for robust photosynthesis. Ideally, a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.5 should be maintained.

Iron, Manganese, or Zinc Deficiencies – Of these deficiencies, iron is the most common cause of chlorosis. You can determine which of these deficiencies is causing chlorosis by observing which foliage became chlorotic first:

  • Iron deficiencies cause younger or terminal leaves to become chlorotic first, then work inward to older or more mature foliage.
  • Manganese and zinc deficiencies begin on the older leaves and then move outward.

Insufficient iron availability in the soil is the likely culprit in the absence of other chlorosis causes.

Disease – When a vascular tree disease invades the cambium (xylem and phloem layers beneath the bark), it can rapidly multiply, causing blockages of nutrient flows between the roots and canopy. This reduced transmission of water and nutrients can cause chlorosis, tree decline, and death. Some of those diseases include:

  • Dutch Elm Disease
  • Verticillium Wilt
  • Oak Wilt
  • Bacterial Leaf Scorch

These “wilt” diseases cause a tree’s canopy to become chlorotic, then wilted, then necrotic (dead). In many instances, such disease can kill a healthy tree within a single growing season.

Insect Infestation – Boring insects burrow beneath tree bark, creating galleries in the cambium layer or the tree’s heartwood. This activity results in the partial or complete girdling of the tree and/or the introduction of fungi leading to disease. Some of the boring insects responsible for this are:

  • Clearwing Borers (day-flying, wasp-like moths)
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Bronze Birch Borer
  • Bark Beetle
  • Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Ambrosia Beetle (named after the fungi it introduces to its host)
  • Ips
  • Twig Girdlers

Boring insects generally attack trees already in distress or decline. However, when beetle populations are in great numbers, they will attack healthy specimens. When these insects, or the disease they bring, cause enough damage, the tree canopy will first appear chlorotic, then wilted, and finally necrotic.

Boring insect infestations can cause chlorosis decline and tree death

Note: In many cases, disease and insect infestations move quickly enough to wilt green foliage and kill the tree without showing signs of chlorosis.

Chlorosis Symptoms

Symptoms of chlorosis are generally the same among all tree species. Chlorosis is another way of expressing the yellowing of tree foliage, referring to light green or yellow leaves or needles rather than a healthy dark green. Frequently, leaf veins remain dark green while the rest of the leaf turns a contrasting lighter green or yellow.

Chlorosis Treatments

Many of the following treatments or solutions take time to correct the problem you are experiencing. In some cases, you may have to strongly consider removing the tree to protect the surrounding landscape. When your tree(s) become chlorotic, the following will help you develop a treatment strategy beyond foliar nutrient sprays and other temporary solutions:

Poor Soil Drainage – Most soil drainage issues occur when your soil is disproportionately composed of clay. You can improve soil drainage by:

  • Slightly reducing your watering schedule
  • Carefully tilling organic material (compost or wood chips) into your soil
  • Maintaining fresh mulch around the root plate
  • Increasing soil biodiversity by adding earthworms
Earthworms help break down soil and create biodiversity for tree health

Note: Tilling sandy soil with your organic material may speed up the betterment of your soil.

Compacted Soil – Even though they occur under different circumstances, compacted soil can be improved using the same treatment used to improve poor soil drainage.

Root Damage – Damaged roots should be cleaned and observed over time. In many cases, roots will compartmentalize damages and recover well. Consider the following:

  • If damaged roots soften or become mushy, contact an arborist to evaluate your tree’s health.
  • Consider raising the soil level to cover and protect any surface roots.
  • If multiple roots have been damaged or severed from digging activities, call a professional to help you take corrective measures (if such measures are possible).

Root damage may require multiple growing seasons for the tree to fully recover. Be vigilant and patient.

Soil Alkalinity – Soil tests can be performed to determine soil pH and nutrient composition. Based on your soil test, you can adjust soil pH by amending agricultural sulfur (powdered sulfur, aluminum sulfate, or iron sulfate) to lower the soil pH, making it more acidic.

Soil tests can help diagnose soil imbalances and lacking nutrients

Iron, Manganese, or Zinc Deficiencies – Nutrient deficiencies may occur naturally and over time. Such deficiencies can be corrected as follows:

  • Fix an iron deficiency by applying a chelated iron fertilizer, in which iron is combined with a chemical called a chelate that helps the iron remain in a plant-deliverable form.
  • Fix a Manganese deficiency by liming your soil to the proper pH level for the tree. This is the most practical way to correct and prevent problems with Manganese. Using acid-forming fertilizers in the soil can increase the uptake of this and other essential micronutrients.
  • Fix a zinc deficiency by adding zinc to the soil along with compost and/or other organic matter to sandy soil.

Disease – Disease management often requires multi-faceted approaches to help your tree overcome a vascular disease. Since extensive pruning and chemical treatments may be necessary, it is recommended to hire an ISA certified arborist to help you apply specific treatments safely.

Even with the most aggressive treatments, a diseased tree may need to be removed before the responsible pathogen spreads to neighboring trees.

Insect Infestation – Much like disease management, managing insect infestations requires multiple approaches to prevent tree decline and death. Consider the following:

  • Set traps to capture adult insects
  • Apply insecticides to infested trees coinciding with the pest’s emergence
  • Apply chemical deterrents to unaffected trees
  • Work to increase the health and vigor of your trees

Note: Treating an insect infestation must include discovering what left the tree weakened, allowing the infestation to occur.

Tip: Boring insect infestations should be communicated to a tree professional immediately. Like the emerald ash borer, many of these insects are closely watched due to their destructive nature and management difficulty.

A tree may need removal after severe infection or infestation

Tree Foliage Chlorosis

In this article, you discovered information about chlorosis, what causes it in trees, the symptoms to watch for, and how to treat the condition.

By knowing how to identify chlorotic tree foliage, you can take swift action to discover and correct its cause.

You may be allowing disease or infestation to spread unchecked by ignoring chlorosis, resulting in catastrophic widespread tree damage and death.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Monday, November 23, 2020

Christmas Tree Care

Trimming the bottom branches of a live Christmas tree

Prevent your live Christmas tree from becoming hazardous or catching fire as it dries out. Knowing how to keep your cut Christmas tree fresh through the holidays will keep your home cheery and holiday spirit safe. gathered information on how to select, care for, set up, and eventually dispose of your live Christmas tree.

Fresh Christmas Trees

The first measure of care for your live Christmas tree is selecting a fresh, vibrant tree. Consider the following when looking for the perfect tree:

Christmas tree selection and transportation
  • The tree’s needles must be fresh and resilient. Gently hold one of the branches about six inches in from the tip. Then, between your forefinger and thumb, pull your hand in so the branch slides between your fingers. Needles shouldn’t snap or fall off the tree. If they do, move on to the next one.
  • Lift the tree and lightly bounce it on the ground to ensure needles are firmly attached all around the tree. Check for any needles falling off. A tree is considered fresh if only a couple of needles come off after being bounced.
  • The tree should have a vibrant green color and a pleasant fragrance to it.
  • Fresh trees have more moisture and are therefore more fragrant with firmer needles, provided they are kept cool, out of the sun, and in stands with fresh water.
  • Limbs of the tree should be sturdy enough to hold your decorations and lights.

Note: Even if you cut down your own tree, you should take the time to verify its freshness and resilience before making the cut. Drought, disease, and infestation can cause a pine tree to dry out or become brittle.

Tip: When you search for the perfect tree, take along one or two of your heaviest ornaments. Hang them on a limb to “measure” the limbs’ sturdiness.

Ornaments to test a Christmas tree strength

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive

Before taking your tree indoors, you can give it the best possible chance of surviving the holiday season by addressing the following:

Tree Location – Go to the intended location of the tree and make sure that:

  • The tree will not be near any heat sources (fireplace, televisions, radiator, etc.)
  • There are no heating/AC vents directed at the location
  • There is enough space so the tree can stand without touching any surrounding walls
  • The location has “low to no” traffic
  • The tree will be in a cool and shaded location
  • Outlets can be easily reached

Note: In smaller homes with limited space, select a smaller live tree or use an artificial tree.

Tree Preparation – Before taking your tree indoors, there are three things to do:

  1. Vigorously shake or bounce the tree to remove any loose needles
  2. Cut a 1/2” disc from the bottom of the tree trunk
  3. Attach the tree stand with a water reservoir (minimum 1-quart capacity)

Tip: The tree trunk base should be submerged in water as quickly as possible after being cut. Waiting too long may result in the tree naturally “sealing” the wound, preventing it from taking up water.

Tree Watering – There are multiple myths and numerous concoctions regarding what a tree needs to stay fresh. However, if you have prepared the tree’s location and freshly cut the trunk base, plain tap water will help the tree stay fresh and vibrant. Consider the following:

  1. The reservoir of your tree stand should hold at least a gallon of water
  2. The tree must “drink.” If it is not taking up water, cut another 1/2” disk from the trunk and immediately return it to the water
  3. On the first day, the tree will likely consume one gallon or more of water
  4. Your tree will then consume around a pint of water per day (check it daily)
  5. Avoid using any additives to the water (plain water is adequate)
  6. Do not let the tree run out of water
Watering a Christmas tree to keep it fresh and vibrant

Water is essential, as it prevents the tree from drying out, needles from dropping off, and the boughs from drooping. Water is also the key to keeping your tree fragrant through the season.

Tip: Before leaving the tree lot or nursery where you bought the tree, make sure they will replace the tree if it does not take up water.

Lighting a Christmas Tree

How you decide to light your tree may have a tremendous influence on its ability to retain moisture and stay fresh.

Over the past few decades, tree lights have gotten smaller, more numerous, and safer. It is highly discouraged to use traditional incandescent bulbs (with a wire filament) on live trees as they heat up, accelerating the drying process.

LED (Light Emitting Diodes) Christmas tree lighting has surged in popularity for their durability and energy efficiency. These lights don’t have filaments, so they produce considerably less heat than traditional incandescent lights.

Christmas tree led lights to prevent fast drying

Read More about lighting your Christmas tree at

Christmas Tree Disposal

When you’re finished with your tree or it has dried out, you have multiple options. Consider the following ways of disposal:

  • Start a new compost pile
  • Take it to a recycling center
  • Chip and use it as mulch
  • Submerse the tree in a pond
  • Ask your municipality if they offer pickup and disposal options
Dried out Christmas tree ready for disposal

Tip: Once you’ve removed the tree from your home, getting up all of those fallen needles may pose a challenge. Avoid frustration by using your vacuum’s hose (no attachment needed) to quickly draw up the needles.

Note: When pine trees are chipped and used as mulch, they lower the soil’s pH, making it more acidic.

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive

In this article, you discovered valuable information about selecting, caring for, setting up, and disposing of your live, fresh-cut tree.

When you invest the time to properly care for your live Christmas tree, you give it the means to stay fresh and vibrant throughout the holidays.

Not caring for your Christmas tree can result in the tree’s accelerated dying and drying, creating an extreme fire hazard potentially ending in catastrophic fire damage to your home.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Who Is Responsible for a Fallen Tree

Neighbors tree fell on my home who is responsible

Avoid being stuck with the responsibility and expensive repairs when a tree falls on or from your property onto a neighbors’. Knowing how to define responsibility for fallen trees will help you resolve the situation promptly and fairly. gathered information on who is responsible for a tree when it falls, when homeowners insurance should be involved, and proactive measures to prevent your trees from falling.

Fallen Tree Damage Responsibility

A tree does not decide where to fall, but it can cause catastrophic damages when it does fall. Here’s how to determine who is responsible for what:

Neighbor’s Tree Falls on My Property – I am responsible for the portion of the tree that fell on my property, including filing damage claims with my homeowners insurance carrier.

My Tree Fell on My Neighbor’s Property – I am responsible for the portion of the tree remaining on my property and any insurance claims regarding my property.

This assignment of responsibility for a tree and/or branches falling on your property is common throughout the U.S. cities. However, you can dispute this responsibility if before the tree fell:

  • You documented and communicated your concerns about the tree to your neighbor.
  • You or your neighbor contracted a certified arborist to conduct a tree hazard assessment (of the tree in question) and found it to be diseased, dying, or dead and posing a threat to your property.
  • Your city’s arborist or forester notified your neighbor that the tree was diseased, dying, or dead, requiring its removal or pruning.
Dead tree in neighbors yard

You are not responsible for normal or seasonal debris that falls into your neighbor’s yard, like leaves, seeds, and twigs. Your neighbor is responsible for the cleanup of those things.

Note: Neighbors are typically able to work things out without too much debate or trouble. You may need to file a homeowners insurance claim when there are extensive structural damages. Depending on the policy and coverages you have, your homeowners insurance may or may not cover tree cleanup and damage repair expenses.

Tip: For your local ordinance / regulations regarding tree stewardship and legal tree removal, visit, click on “code library” from the menu, click on your state, then find your county or city. Type “trees” in the search engine and select the relevant results. If you happen to reside in Cobb County or Marietta Ga, visit for local regulations regarding trees.

Tree Damage and Homeowners Insurance Claims

When a tree falls on your house, whether or not you own the tree, there are some things you should do. The following will help you prevent further damages and seamlessly file your insurance claim:

  • Call 9-1-1 in the event anyone suffered injuries when the tree fell.
  • If it is safe to approach the tree and damages, take pictures of the damages (a narrated video will allow you to explain what you are filming and capture hundreds of images from the video).
  • Call your insurance agent. They can explain your options and guide you through the process of filing a claim.
  • After filing a claim, an adjuster will pay a visit to the property, assess the damages, and explain how your homeowners insurance coverages come into play.
  • If you have documented proof that the fallen tree (from your neighbor’s property) was diseased, dying, or dead and that you previously notified your neighbor about the tree’s condition, present this to the adjuster. You may have a case to hold your neighbor responsible for all costs and repairs.
  • Make sure to notify the claims adjuster or insurance agent before contracting a tree removal service. Some well-established tree services may communicate directly with your insurance company, helping you through the claims process.

Tip: If you were injured when a tree fell, and you can prove that someone else’s negligence is the cause of that injury, you may have a legal case. Discuss your fallen tree situation with a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights.

Note: If the fallen tree is yours, and it was diseased or dying before it fell, your insurance claim may be denied due to neglect.

The following measures should also be taken after a tree falls on your home:

  • Once the tree has been removed, hire a roofing company to repair the damaged portion of the roof and inspect the rest of the roof for any hidden damages from the tree’s impact.
  • Hire a contractor to evaluate the structural integrity of your home.
  • Hire a plumber to inspect and evaluate the home’s plumbing.
  • Hire an ISA certified arborist to perform a tree hazard assessment on the rest of your trees.
Neighbors diseased tree fell on my home

The impact of a falling tree can reverberate throughout your home, causing hidden minor damages that can quickly develop into expensive problems.

Read more about the necessity of tree hazard assessments at

How to Prevent Tree Damage

While mother nature can present forces beyond our control, there is much you can do to help your trees withstand severe weather. The following will help you boost the longevity of your trees and avoid catastrophic damages from their structural failure:

  • Water, mulch, fertilize, and prune your trees as needed for their species and age.
  • Hire a professional tree service to thin the crown, reducing wind resistance.
  • Have your trees inspected annually by an ISA certified arborist.
  • When you detect dieback, chlorosis, and/or fungal growth (mushrooms), take immediate action by hiring a tree service to evaluate the problem’s depth.
  • If your tree is leaning, stake it, or have it removed.
  • If you cannot save your tree or it has become a nuisance, have it removed.

Tip: When your tree presents signs of declining health, have it inspected and treated immediately. The longer a problem persists, the more dangerous your tree becomes to surrounding structures and neighboring trees (diseases and infestations spread quickly)

Mushrooms on a trunk indicate serious tree illness

Read more about tree emergencies at

Fallen Tree Responsibility

In this article, you discovered valuable insight into who is responsible when a tree falls, defining who a tree belongs to, when a homeowners insurance policy should be activated, and what you can do to prevent a tree from falling.

Recognizing tree problems and having them addressed will help you avoid the uncomfortable situation of being held responsible for structural damages and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Ignoring tree problems leaves you vulnerable to your insurance carrier denying your claim and potentially being sued for all damages and repairs caused by your tree when it falls.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Handling Storm-Damaged Trees

Storm damage can create extreme tree danger

Prevent your trees from dying after severe weather leaves them in tatters. By knowing what to do after weather events damage your trees, you can take swift action to save them and protect your property. gathered information on what to do and how to assess the condition of your trees, deciding what to do with them after sustaining catastrophic storm damage, and how to prevent it.

Damaged Tree Assessment

Once a severe storm has passed, take a look at your trees. The faster you can identify damages, the faster you can take action to secure their safety and start their recovery. Some emergency situations include:

Leaning Tree – This usually indicates that the root plate has destabilized, leaving the tree unanchored to the ground.

Hanging Branch(es) – Sometimes, branches break but remain attached to the tree or get caught in lower branches.

Cracked Trunk – The weight of the tree swaying in the wind can cause vertical cracks (splits) in the tree trunk.

Damaged Bark – When large sections of bark are damaged or lost during a storm, the tree can end up girdled and dying.

Defoliation – In storms with sustained high winds, a tree may lose a great portion or all of its foliage.

Windthrow – This condition occurs when a tree is blown over, pulling up the roots as it comes down.

Storm damaged tree killed by windthrow

Windsnap – This condition occurs when a tree crown breaks off the trunk due to high winds.

Soil Erosion – Another potentially dangerous situation is when the soil is stripped away from a tree’s root plate by floodwater, leaving large areas of roots exposed. The tree could suddenly destabilize and fall.

These and many other scenarios should be addressed by a certified arborist or professional tree service. In emergency situations, they are better equipped to prune, cut, or remove affected trees.

Arborists and Professional Tree Services

Unfortunately, severe or catastrophic weather seems to bring some bad characters along with it. If you are approached by people with a chainsaw offering to remove or repair your tree, politely decline and reach out to a professional. You can find or verify an arborist’s credentials in your area by visiting one of the following:

  • ISA – International Society of Arboriculture –
  • ASCA – American Society of Consulting Arborists –
  • TCIA – Tree Care Industry Association –

When seeking a professional tree service, answer the following questions before making your decision:

  • Is the company licensed to work in your city or state?
  • Is the company recognized by national, state, or local organizations?
  • Is the company insured and/or bonded?
  • Does the company have local references?

While vetting a tree service in an emergency situation may seem ludicrous, it is necessary. If you allow an uninsured or unlicensed company to perform any services on your property or on your behalf, you can be held liable for damages and/or injuries resulting from that work.

Tree Risk Assessment

Can your tree be saved? Storms can leave your trees looking like there’s no hope. Major limbs snapped, foliage stripped away, or damaged bark may leave you with the impression that your tree is doomed. However, trees have an amazing capacity to recover from storm damage. Before deciding to remove your tree, ask the following:

Tree inspection and storm damage assessment

Before the storm, was the tree healthy and thriving?

If your tree is healthy, did not suffer any major structural damage, and poses no immediate threat, it will likely recover over time. Prune out damaged areas, consult a tree professional with any doubts, and allow the tree to recuperate on its own.

Has the tree lost major limbs or its leader?

When a tree suddenly loses major limbs or its leader, it will be significantly more difficult for the tree to recover. When the tree does recover from such injuries, it may end up as a stunted or deformed version of the original.

Has the tree lost more than 50% of its crown(branches and leaves)?

When a tree loses more than half of its branches, it may be unable to produce enough foliage to sufficiently photosynthesize enough nutrients to nourish the tree.

Are the wounds left on your tree recoverable?

A tree can compartmentalize and close over wounds. However, this process takes time, and the more extensive the damages, the more likely the tree is to be successfully attacked by insects and diseases.

After pruning away damaged limbs and branches, have your tree assessed by a tree professional to help you determine its survivability.

Is this your opportunity to replace a nuisance tree?

If you consider your tree as the wrong species for its location (too tall, too messy, invasive roots, etc.), this may be the best time to remove the tree.

Time to Make a Decision

Using the above information, questions, and professional evaluation, you can make a well-informed decision about the fate of your tree(s). Most of those decisions will fall into one of the following three categories:

My Tree is a Keeper

  • Damage is minor
  • Light pruning required
  • The tree is young enough to quickly recover

Wait for My Tree to Recover

  • Damage is extensive but not apparently fatal
  • Prune broken branches and give the tree time to recover
  • Avoid removing healthy limbs and branches
  • Consult a tree professional to assess the tree
Storm damage prevention includes tree pruning cutting and removal

Remove My Tree

  • If the tree was already infested or diseased
  • The trunk has vertically split
  • Windsnap has severed the upper portion of the crown
  • Most of the branches have been lost
  • Too much bark was stripped away in the storm
  • After allowing time to recover, the tree has only declined

Tip: When pruning your tree after a storm, never cut the main (upward) branches back to stubs or to the trunk. This practice is known as topping, and the branches that replace them will grow weakly attached and more likely to sustain damage during a future storm.

Trees and Storms

While trees are incredibly resilient, severe weather events can create some incredibly dangerous scenarios, exposing weaknesses in tree crowns, trunks, and roots.

Your awareness and understanding are of the most crucial factors regarding your trees after severe weather. Consider the following:

Power Line Safety – Along with tree damage, downed or damaged power lines can pose a severe threat of electrocution. When power lines and trees interfere with one another, it can leave the tree energized. Keep your distance from such situations and contact your utility company or 911 emergency services.

Property Damage – When a storm-damaged tree falls on your property, damaging your home or other structures, the following will help you sort out the situation:

  1. Move everyone to safety
  2. If anyone was injured, call emergency services
  3. Contact your insurance company
  4. Photograph or video all damaged areas from multiple angles
  5. Contact an emergency tree removal company
  6. Contact a plumber to evaluate your home for potential leaks and hidden damages
  7. Contact a roofing company to evaluate and repair any damages to your roofing system

Other trees on your property should be evaluated for structural damages.

Be Patient – After a severe storm passes through your area, city officials and response teams need time to organize and properly respond to the destruction left behind.

City crews, utility crews, and tree care companies will first focus on eliminating hazards to life and property. Afterward, the often daunting task of debris removal, including fallen branches and entire trees, will take place.

Storm damage may require cutting pruning or emergency removal

Responsibility – The responsibility of storm-damaged street-side trees varies from city to city. To determine whether you are responsible for street-side trees bordering your property, contact your city’s arborist or forester.

Tree Preparation for Storms

One of the greatest ways to help your trees survive a storm is to prepare them for one. While a storm’s impact is unpredictable, there are ways to give your tree a fighting chance. Consider the following:

  • Keep your tree sufficiently watered
  • Fertilize when needed
  • Mulch the root plate
  • Prevent or eliminate insect infestations or diseases
  • Annual tree inspections
  • Crown thinning and seasonal pruning

Tip: Remove trees in rapid decline or that have already died. When these trees fall in severe storms, they can cause catastrophic damage to structures and other healthy trees.

Storm damage can leave trees unable to recover and dying

Read more about preparing trees for storms at

Trees Surviving Storms

In this article, you discovered how to assess the condition of your trees after severe weather events, how to determine a course of action for your damaged trees, and preventative measures to take before a storm.

Knowing how to assess your trees after severe weather events, you can help them recover or make informed decisions about their removal.

When you ignore storm-damaged trees, you create the possibility for catastrophic damages when your tree suddenly falls on your home or car.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Monday, August 24, 2020

When Should I Prune Trees

Tree pruning cut with a handsaw

Prevent disease, infestation, and poor health from debilitating and killing your trees. By knowing some simple pruning information and techniques, you can help your trees stay healthy and thriving for years to come. gathered information on reasons to prune, the best time for pruning trees, the value of pruning, how to prune branches, and when you should seek a professional tree service.

Why Are You Pruning Your Trees?

Before picking up any equipment or making any pruning cuts, you should be crystal clear about the reason for your pruning. The following are some of the reasons trees should be pruned:

  • Encourage growth in a specific direction
  • Eliminate potentially dangerous branches
  • Remove interfering branches
  • Shape your tree
  • Encourage or reduce flowering or fruiting
  • Remove suckers or water sprouts
  • Crown cleaning (removes dead, diseased, or infested wood)
  • Crown thinning (allows more light to reach inner branches)
  • Crown raising (removes lower beaches)
  • Crown reduction (for mature trees, leaves old growth while encouraging new growth)

Once you have accomplished your pruning goal, stop. Every cut you make is an open wound and potential for infection and infestation.

Note: Never make physical contact with a tree that touches live power lines. The tree may be energized and cause your electrocution. In these cases, contact your power company to either prune the tree or cut the power while pruning or have the tree pruned.

Tip: Avoid pruning activities in late summer and early fall, this is the time diseases are most active and infectious.

Pruning Deciduous Trees

Deciduous tree species are those that shed their foliage in the fall, preparing for winter dormancy. During this period of dormancy, the tree conserves energy and slows all of its functions to a slow crawl.

Pruning deciduous tree species during dormancy in late fall or early winter

Once the tree is dormant, and until bud break in early spring, it can be safely pruned for structure, shaping, safety, and encouraging vigorous, healthy new growth. Deciduous tree species include:

  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Elm
  • Beech
  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Poplar
  • Willow

Pruning a deciduous tree during its dormancy period lowers the multiple risks of disease and pest infestations in open pruning wounds.

Pruning Evergreen Trees

Evergreen species are those that retain their foliage throughout the year. In the case of evergreens, they will shed old foliage as new foliage grows in regardless of the season. Evergreen tree species include:

  • Pine
  • Fir
  • Spruce
  • Hemlock
  • Redcedar
  • Arborvitae
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus
  • Yew

Except for pine tree species, evergreens should be pruned:

  • Before the emergence of new growth in early spring
  • During the period of semi dormancy in mid-summer

Use caution when pruning evergreens, some species like cypress have dead spaces behind their foliage. This is the area between the trunk and the foliage, consisting of only branches and twigs. Aggressive pruning for these species is discouraged, as it will likely leave large holes behind that will not fill in.

Pruning evergreen tree species after new growth or in mid summer

Note: Pine trees should be pruned in spring (damaged, dead, diseased, or infested branches can be pruned at any time). However, try to avoid pruning activities on pine trees in late summer and fall.

Pruning Flowering Trees

Flowering trees can be separated into two categories; One would be those that flower in the spring. The other would be those that flower in mid to late summer. Consider the following:

Trees and shrubs flowering in spring are doing so on last year’s growth. These trees and shrubs should be pruned when their flowers fade. These species include:

  • Azaleas (Rhododendron)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Magnolia (Magnolia)
Pruning flowering tree species when flowers fade or in winter

Trees and shrubs flowering in mid to late summer are doing so on the current year’s growth. These trees and shrubs should be pruned in winter or early spring. These species include:

  • Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana)
  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
  • Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissiam)
  • Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Wisteria (Wisteria species)

Pruning these species outside the timeframes described above can lead to a year without their flowering. Unseasonal pruning also exposes your tree to opportunistic diseases and insect infestation.

Pruning Fruit Trees

Your fruit trees should be pruned during dormancy, winter to early spring when foliage has fallen, and you can see the tree’s growing points (dormant buds). Think of your fruit tree as having vertical and horizontal branches.

Pruning fruit tree species in front of dormant growth buds

Pruning a vertical branch will encourage vegetative growth, creating a bushing effect. Pruning horizontal branches renews fruiting wood and thins excessive fruiting.

Pruning vertical branches opens the tree canopy to more light while pruning horizontal branches removes fruit. Horizontal branches left unpruned will bear fruit earlier with more massive crops than those that were pruned.

When preparing to prune, be aware of the following fruiting principals of your tree:

These trees fruit on last year’s shoot growth and produce abundant crops. You can safely remove half of the previous year’s growth:

  • Kiwi
  • Peach
  • Nectarine

These trees bear on spurs. You can remove up to 20% of the previous year’s growth:

  • Olive
  • Walnut
  • Fig
  • Pecan
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Plumb
  • Apricot

Perhaps the easiest to maintain are trees bearing citrus fruit. Keep the tree skirts pruned off the ground:

  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Clementine
  • Pomelo

Pruning fruit-bearing trees in the summer will slow fruit ripening and expose it to sunburn. However, early summer pruning can slow the growth of overly vigorous trees that have become too large to manage.

Tip: Sun exposed branches are fruitful and will produce larger fruit. Shaded branches will eventually stop producing fruit until drastic topping occurs. If you do most of your pruning in the top portion of the tree, the lower branches will continue exposed to sunlight.

Pruning Diseased and Infested Trees

Dead, diseased, and insect-infested branches (of any tree species) can be removed at any time of the year. In fact, the harm of leaving these branches, until the right pruning season, far outweighs the potential risks of pruning them off, out of season.

If the infestation or disease symptoms are present near the branch collar or on the tree trunk, hire a professional tree service to evaluate the tree’s condition and recommend a course of treatment or preventive actions, including emergency removal.

Diseased tree with mushroom conks growing on its trunk

Note: In cases of severe infestation or infection, it is common practice to remove and destroy the tree. Thus preserving the health of your landscape and neighboring trees.

Pruning To Prevent Self-Pruning

Light deprived branches do not photosynthesize at the capacity they were intended. Over time, the tree may isolate that branch and let it go. In such scenarios, the sudden falling of a branch may occur, as the tree has self-pruned. Also known as cladoptosis, the following trees are notorious for spontaneously dropping their branches:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Aspen
  • Elm
  • Maple
  • Pecan
  • Pine
  • Poplar
  • Willow

Even providing the best care and attention possible to your trees, you may not be successful at preventing them from self-pruning. However, the following will help you slow this natural process:

  • Water your tree frequently with occasional deep waterings
  • Check the soil annually for nutrient deficiencies and its pH level
  • Prune to encourage healthy growth and remove unwanted/unneeded growth, consider crown thinning to allow more light to reach lower branches
  • Have your trees inspected annually for signs of infection and disease

Note: Even trees not known to self-prune may do so when under severe duress. Read more about cladoptosis at

Pruning Tools

The pruning process begins with the right tools for the job. Before starting, verify that your tools are sharp (to make clean cuts) and that they have been sanitized (to prevent transmitting disease pathogens) since their last use. The following is a list of tools to help you get your pruning job done correctly:

Pruning shears to cut stems and twigs up to three quarters of an inch
  • Hand-Held Pruning Shears (safely cuts branches up to 3/4 of an inch)
  • Loppers (safely cuts branches up to 2-1/2 inches thick)
  • Pruning Saw (capable of cutting branches up to 5 inches in diameter)
  • Pole Pruner (used to cut branches up to 1-1/4 inch thick up to 8 feet into the canopy)
  • Hedge Shears (these work well to trim evergreens)

Due to weight and the potential hazard more massive branches may pose, it is highly recommended that a professional tree service be hired to remove them.

Tip: Pruning shears and loppers come with anvil (has a straight blade using a splitting action), bypass (similar to scissors), and ratchet (like anvil, but with a locking mechanism allowing you to cut in stages) style blades.

How To Prune Tree Branches

The following will help you determine where and how to make pruning cuts:

Small Twigs and Branches – Use hand-held shears for anything up to 3/4 of an inch. You can cut these back to the main branch, or just in front of (1/4 of an inch) a dormant bud to encourage growth in the bud’s direction. All cuts should be clean and made at 45-degree angles.

Stems and Branches – Use loppers or a pole pruner to cut anything up to 2-1/2 inches. These can also be cut back to the main branch or trunk (just in front of the branch collar). If pruning out disease, make your cut 10 to 12 inches ahead of the affected area.

Large Branches – Use a saw to cut branches up to 5 inches in diameter. Due to the weight of these branches and potential for severe bark damage, make your cuts as follows:

  • Cut #1 is made under the branch about six inches ahead of the branch collar. This cut should be 1/4 of the branch’s diameter.
  • Cut #2 is made about 6 inches in front of the first cut to sever the branch from the tree.
  • Cut #3 is made just ahead of the branch collar to remove the rest of the branch.

Watch this video to see how pruning cuts are made.

Tip: When pruning any size branch back to the main branch or trunk, do not injure the branch collar. This is the tree’s mechanism used to compartmentalize the wounds left behind by pruning activities.

Note: When pruning out diseased wood, dispose of it carefully. Do not compost diseased wood or foliage, and sanitize your pruning equipment and gloves after contact with infected wood.

Tree Pruning

In this article, you discovered the best times and reasons for pruning various tree species, the value of properly pruning your trees, how to make pruning cuts, and when to call for professional help.

By pruning your trees, you can encourage vigorous growth, remove disease and infestation, and improve their health.

When you neglect to prune your trees, you encourage disease and infestation to debilitate your tree’s health, eventually leading to its death.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Monday, July 27, 2020

How To Save a Dying Maple Tree

Maple tree in autumn with foliage changing color

Prevent your dying maple tree from becoming an extreme hazard to your property and wellbeing. By knowing what to do when your maple is in decline, you can save it from an otherwise early death. gathered information on how to identify when a maple tree is in decline, what is causing it to decline, and how you can nurse it back to health.

Maple Tree Diseases, Problems, and Solutions

To save a dying maple tree, it helps if you know why the tree is dying. When inspecting a dying maple tree, consider the following symptoms, their meaning, and what to do:

Chlorosis of Maple Tree Foliage

Leaf spot and chlorosis caused by disease

Your tree’s leaves should remain vibrant green (or red depending on the species) until the beginning of the fall season (when cooler weather sets in). If they are losing their color prematurely, this may be a symptom of:

  • Poor soil drainage
  • Compacted soil
  • Poor root growth
  • Damaged roots
  • High soil alkalinity
  • Nutrient deficiencies in the tree

Treatment for chlorosis varies depending on the cause. Consider the following measures to reverse this condition in the next growing season:

  • Poor soil drainage requires the introduction of mixed layers of soil, the Installation of subsurface tile drains (sections of perforated pipe buried 12 to 18 inches below the soil surface), or working large quantities of organic material into the soil surrounding your tree.

Note: Take extra precautions to preserve tree roots when tilling or aerating soil within your tree’s root plate.

  • Compacted soil and poor root growth generally occur hand-in-hand. You can reverse soil compaction by working large quantities of organic material into the soil surrounding your tree. Once the organic material has been worked into the soil, keep the entire root plate covered with a 3 to 6-inch layer of organic mulch.

Tip: The addition of earthworms will significantly speed up this process. They will draw organic material into the soil as they tunnel through it.

  • Damaged roots can present a challenge as they are a gateway for a disease to quickly infect and severely compromise the health of your maple tree. Damaged roots from digging or lawnmower activity should be cleaned and treated with tree paint or pruning sealer.
  • High soil alkalinity and nutrient deficiencies in the tree can be corrected by adjusting the soil pH and soil enrichment with organic material. The ideal soil pH range for maple trees is between 5.5 and 7.3. It can be lowered by using organic mulch, which coincidentally, will provide nutrients to your tree.

Water Sprouts and Tree Suckers

Water sprouts growing from maple tree trunk

Water sprouts are a tree’s attempt to grow more branches, often after injury. If the tree is in decline or roots have been damaged, suckers may grow from the roots or base of the trunk. When suckers grow higher on the trunk, they’re referred to as water sprouts and usually appear at the site of a pruning wound, a crack, or some other damage.

Water sprouts and tree suckers deprive a tree of essential nutrients and energy. Even though this is typically an emergency response by the tree to heal or survive, they do more harm than good.

After removing water sprouts and tree suckers, address the injuries or deficiencies that prompted their growth.

Mushrooms on Your Maple Tree

Mushrooms growing on maple tree trunk

If mushrooms are growing on your maple tree’s trunk or roots, you may have a severe problem. The presence of mushrooms and mushroom conks is a sign that the pulp of your tree is rotting. The fungi that produce mushrooms (the fruiting body of the fungus) flourish when fed by decaying organic material.

  • Prune and dispose of branches with mushrooms growing on them.
  • Have the tree treated or removed by a professional tree service when mushroom growth is located anywhere on the trunk or roots.
  • Sanitize all equipment used on infected trees with a 1cup of bleach to 1gallon of water solution to prevent the spread of disease to other trees and plants.

Tip: As millions of spores can be produced and released by a single fruiting body, it is recommended to call a professional tree service to remove and dispose of them.

Read more about the significance of mushrooms growing on a tree at

Splitting Tree Bark

Tree bark splits or cracks for several reasons, and you cannot simply fix it. However, you can protect your tree while it compartmentalizes the damage and protect it from further damage by taking preventative measures.

While bark splitting is a common occurrence on younger trees, all trees are susceptible to bark splitting when exposed to the following conditions:

  • Sunscald (Southwest Winter Injury)
  • Frost Cracks
  • Environmental Conditions (Drought)
  • Herbicides (Glyphosate Products)
Maple tree bark can split when herbicides are used on surrounding vegetation

Bark splitting may also be caused by the swelling of the trunk or branch when infected by a rapidly reproducing pathogen.

As split bark presents an opportunity for successful attacks by disease or insects, call on the expertise of a professional tree service to assist you in protecting your maple tree as it compartmentalizes the damage.

Read more about the causes and treatment of splitting bark at

My Tree Is Leaning

When your mature tree can no longer hold itself to the land or has broken away from its roots, it may lean before suddenly falling. This is a tree emergency and should be immediately removed by a professional tree service.

Younger, lighter trees can be cabled or staked in an attempt to stabilize them. This process may require several growing seasons before the tree’s root plate can successfully re-establish itself.

During this recovery time, the reason(s) for the tree’s destabilization should be diagnosed and corrected to avoid future occurrences.


A sure sign that your tree is in distress is when branches begin to lose foliage, become brittle, and die. This often occurs when the branches in question are diseased or infested (these branches should be pruned from the tree).

Maple tree dieback from disease and boring insect infestation

However, when this condition is widespread throughout the canopy, it is referred to as dieback. Dieback occurs when:

  • A pathogen is disrupting the tree’s hydraulic system
  • Boring insects have consumed sufficient xylem or phloem to impede the back and forth flow of water and nutrients from the tree’s foliage to its roots
  • The tree is suffering from severe drought conditions
  • The tree is partially or entirely girdled

Unfortunately, by the time a tree shows signs of dieback, it may be too late to save it. However, the following may help it partially or wholly recover over several growing seasons:

  • Promote the tree’s health by watering, fertilizing, pruning, and mulching it.
  • Have the tree inspected and treated for boring insects and/or disease by a professional tree service
  • Increase watering frequency during drought conditions
  • Remove any roots, ropes, fencing, or vines that are circling the tree, restricting its water and nutrient flow

When treating a tree, keep in mind that as a tree’s health declines, it becomes vulnerable to secondary attacks by insects, pathogens, and even weather conditions. Always be on the lookout for multiple symptoms when diagnosing your maple tree’s problems.

My Tree Is Self-Pruning (Cladoptosis)

While maple trees are among those species that have a tendency to self-prune, consider the following causes when diagnosing your tree:

  • A branch has become too shaded and can no longer sufficiently photosynthesize
  • Poor pruning practices have left the canopy too dense, obstructing light from reaching inner branches
  • Disease has debilitated the branch leading to its decline or hydraulic failure
  • The branch is infested, triggering self-pruning as the tree’s defensive measure
  • Climbing vines are blocking enough sunlight in the canopy to trigger cladoptosis

Cladoptosis occurs when there is a problem with your tree. If you are unable to detect the primary cause, get a professional tree service to help you before a falling branch causes catastrophic damage.

Maple tree self pruning causing branches to suddenly fall

Saving a Dying Maple Tree

In this article, you discovered several of the conditions your maple tree may be dying from, and how to resolve them to save your tree.

By knowing what to look for, how to quickly treat your tree problems, and when to seek help, you can add countless years to its lifespan.

When you ignore or neglect to treat the often subtle signs of distress your tree displays, you may be sentencing it to certain death.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on:

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Self-Pruning Trees (Cladoptosis)

Cladoptosis or self pruning trees can cause the sudden drop of limbs on structures and vehicles

Avoid catastrophic property damage or serious injury when your tree sporadically drops a branch. By knowing why and how this happens, you can take the preemptive steps to stop it from disrupting your life and property. defines what self-pruning is, how it happens, why it happens, and which tree species are more likely to do it.

What is Self-Pruning

Self-pruning or cladoptosis is a compartmentalization process involving the shedding of shaded, diseased, or infested branches that have become a drain or a burden on a tree’s resources.

Further defined, this is nature’s way of letting a tree determine which branches need to go, rather than an arborist or a property owner making the decision for it.

Note: On wooded land, self-pruning is a common occurrence, especially in densely populated stands where there is not sufficient sunlight for trees to keep all of their branches. Branches low on tree trunks will likely die from shading and competition, occurring over several growing seasons.

How Self-Pruning Happens

Self-pruning occurs the same way fall foliage, shoots, and twigs are shed from a deciduous tree. As it does with leaves, ripe fruit, flowers, and seeds, a tree will form an abscission layer where the branch connects to the trunk (at the branch collar) and shed the branch cleanly.

Why Self-Pruning Happens

Several reasons can cause a tree to self-prune. Consider the following possibilities:

  • A branch is too shaded and cannot sufficiently photosynthesize
  • Poor pruning has left the canopy too dense, obstructing light from its reaching inner branches
  • Disease has infected the branch causing its decline or hydraulic failure
  • The branch has become infested, triggering self-pruning as the tree’s defensive measure
  • Climbing vines have blocked sufficient sunlight in the canopy to trigger cladoptosis
Cladoptosis or self pruning trees can suffer stress from climbing vines that create conditions for a tree to shed limbs

Self-pruning is more prevalent in dense forests, orchards, more mature trees, and landscape areas that have been over-planted.

Basically, when a tree branch cannot sufficiently photosynthesize (due to a lack of sunlight) or has triggered an infection or infestation response, the tree can spring into action and self-prune the branch.

Regarding shaded branches, how long one survives will vary among tree species and its degree of shade tolerance. Shade tolerance relates to the capacity of a tree species to compete and thrive under shaded conditions. Shade-tolerant species like American beech and eastern hemlock are More proficient at balancing photosynthesis and respiration when growing with severely limited light.

Cladoptosis or self pruning beech trees shed branches when they no longer provide photosynthesis or nutrients to support the limb

Sometimes, the death of a branch does not necessarily ensure its shedding. Although the tree shuts the branch off from water and nutrients, depending on the species, it won’t sever it. In these cases, the tree enlists outside help. These dead branches persist until further weakened by fungi, insects, animals, wind, snow, ice, or gradual decay. At some point, the branch will weaken and fall from its own weight.

Note: In well-kept yards and landscapes, dead, dying, and diseased branches are usually pruned away before cladoptosis can take place.

Trees That Self-Prune

Self-pruning is more prevalent in the fall, and as your trees age, they are more likely to shed more limbs. The following species are known to self-prune, and can do it without warning:

  • Ashes
  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Cherries
  • Cypress
  • Elms
  • Eucalyptus
  • Larches
  • Maples
  • Oaks
  • Pecans
  • Pines
  • Poplars
  • Walnut
  • Willow
Cladoptosis or self pruning trees aspens shed branches leaving black spots resembling eyes

While it is good practice to remove limbs that grow over your home or other structures, it is necessary to remove them if you have a tree species known to self-prune.

How To Prevent Trees from Self-Pruning

Even with the best care and attention to the needs of your tree, you may not be entirely successful at preventing it from self-pruning. However, the following will help you slow this natural process:

Tree Health – From the time your tree is planted, you should provide it with:

  • Water (two to three waterings per week and more often during drought conditions)
  • Soil (test frequently to adjust nutrient levels and soil pH)
  • Mulch (to protect the root plate and regulate soil temperature); click here to learn more about mulching
  • Prune (to encourage healthy growth and remove unwanted/unneeded growth)
  • Inspect (annual inspections by a professional tree service can help detect issues before they develop)

Tip: When selecting a tree species for your yard or landscape, choose a species that is appropriate for your region’s climate and not prone to self-pruning.


In this article, you discovered the definition of self-pruning trees, how the process happens, what causes it, and the species most likely to do it.

By taking steps to increase the health of your tree and the sunlight it receives, you can avoid being taken by surprise when your tree suddenly drops a branch.

Allowing your tree to grow without proper care and attention can lead to it self-pruning unannounced, suddenly dropping branches, causing catastrophic damages to anything or anyone below.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Originally published on: