Could You Spot A Sick Tree In Your Garden?

Time spent in your garden is a labour of love, so it’s not unusual to feel absolutely panicked at the idea of your favourite tree needing urgent care. The threat of infectious disease, light or shade restrictions and/or haphazard weather changes can have even the most seasoned gardener reaching out to a tree arborist. Melbourne gardeners know this better than most!

As no gardener has the power to revive a dead tree, it can be handy to know how to spot the very first signs of illness in the garden. Fortunately, it’s a skill that most gardeners can learn, simply by doing what all great gardeners love to do – by paying attention and observing the trees and plants we care for. While you can always call a tree arborist for any concerns, you can also conduct a simple observation that will clarify a number of concerns.

Firstly, there are many reasons a tree may fall ill. Some illnesses are simple to straighten out, while others are considered very challenging and sometimes even terminal. Whether you’ve had a challenging spell of weather, exposure to a virus, or the placement isn’t favourable to the particular needs of that plant, it can be helpful to stand back and take a look at the big picture before greeting the challenge head on.

Here’s how to run a tree scan that will help you assess what the cause of any problems affecting its health.

  1. Work your way up.

Examining the conditions around the base of the subject will give you a clear idea of what might be happening to your tree.  LOOK OUT FOR: an overall lean, raised soil or increased damage caused by pests, pets or insects, rotting growth, softened or exposed, root systems.

  1. Inspect Bark and mid structure

Your tree needs bark to protect it from the elements. Many trees are surprisingly susceptible if the bark is affected or tampered with. Look for indentations, splits in the timber, cracks or unusual markings.

(NOTE: If you’ve never heard of ‘ring-barking’ you may be surprised to learn that a tree can easily die if it loses its bark. A tree can be ring-barked intentionally or accidentally. Look for signs of missing bark, and prepare yourself for the worst if bark has been removed from the mid-section of the tree, around the girth of the tree.)

  1. Inspect limbs and external reaches of the tree

 Pay particular attention to the following and it will help you to spot potential problems:

  • Areas without leaves, especially if other areas of the tree has good foliage levels
  • Interference from fence-lines
  • Oddly shaped leaves and leaf structure, curly leaves or discolouration, yellow or black spotting on leaves
  • Insect activity can sometimes be spotted on the underside of leaves, or in the case of wasps or wasp larvae, closer to the tree trunk and in between branch crevices.

It is especially true with younger plants that visible problems can most often be attributed to the conditions the plant is growing in. Some helpful questions to ask yourself include:

  • Have light or shelter sources been compromised?
  • Are weather conditions changing?
  • Are any neighboring plants showing signs of illness?

Access to light and shelter are big factors directly affecting the health of plant life. It should be easy enough to identify a tree that is sick because the newly built triple story townhouse next door has cut off warmth and sunlight, and likewise, it should be straightforward to spot the burnt, crispy look of leaves struggling to cope with too much full sun. However, if neighboring plants are exhibiting similar problems to yours, a viral infection may be to blame.

Do you know which illnesses Melbourne’s trees are prone to? The following list includes some of the top illnesses that affect Australian trees.

  • Powdery Mildew – a contagious infection that happily spreads from plant to plant
  • Fire Blight – caused by a bacteria, commonly found in fruit like apple, pear and quince
  • Witches Broom – a deformity found in woody plants and looks like a burst of new shoots.
  • Cankers – widespread and destructive, looks like an open wound. Caused by fungal pathogens.
  • Gall – unsightly but not usually damaging to the tree, insect activity causes twisted and curled leaves.

Once you’ve identified any visible concerns, you can then either choose to treat the problem or reach out to a professional arborist. If you’re not sure what to do, don’t wait for your tree to recover by itself –  call in the experts for immediate help! It’s vital to commence treatment right away, but never treat a tree unless you’re absolutely sure of what to do.

With a little know-how and some handy tips, you can ensure a healthier ongoing lineage from your favourite shrubs and trees.  If you can’t work out why your beloved tree is ill, be sure to contact Daryl’s Tree Care for an expert opinion. For a free consultation, advice or a quote, we can be reached on 03 9897 4418 or 0408 052 564.

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