Thursday, March 28, 2013

Planting Balled or Burlapped Trees

If you've been following our blog, you know that we've covered how to plant bare root trees and containerized trees. Next on our list is how to properly plant balled and burlapped trees.

For balled and burlapped trees, you’ll need to dig a saucer-shaped hole. If you can, rototill an area five times the diameter and as deep as the root ball. The prepared soil will make the hole easier to dig and encourage root growth. Measure the depth of the root ball to make sure the root collar will be at or a little above ground level when your tree is planted.

Dig the hole 2 or 3 times as wide and as deep as the root ball. The hole should have sloping sides, and don’t disturb the soil at the bottom of the hole.

Set the tree in the center of the hole.

It is important to know how to handle the tree when you are transporting it. When moving the tree, handle it by the root ball, not by branches, the trunk or other parts of the tree. Don't move or lift the tree by the trunk as this can cause the root ball to separate from the trunk.

Check the planting depth. If the root collar is below ground level, compact some soil under the root ball to bring the root collar up to slightly above ground level.
Once the tree is in position, use wire cutters to cut vertically up the side the wire basket and peel it away. Remove all the rope and twine from the ball and all the nails that hold the burlap together. Pull the burlap back and cut away any loose material. Pay attention to what kind of burlap was used to protect the tree. Don't worry about regular burlap under the root ball. It can stay put. But vinyl or treated burlap should be removed completely.

Make sure your tree is straight and then firmly pack the original soil around the root ball making sure there aren't any air pockets. Keep backfilling until the soil is just below the root collar.

Create a water-holding basin around the tree and give the tree a good watering. After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch 2-4 inches deep covering the entire area of backfilled soil, keeping the mulch 4 inches away from the trunk.

The soil and mulch around your trees should be kept moist but not soggy. During dry weather, generously water the tree every 7 to 10 days during the first year. Water slowly at the dripline.

Remove any tags and labels from the tree as these will affect the tree as it grows. You may need to prune any broken or dead branches.

Of course, if you prefer you can hand this job off to your local tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. Those of you local to the Chicago suburbs are in our service area. We have Certified Arborists on staff ready to help you with your planting and overall health care of your trees and plants. Give us a call at 847-913-9069 or visit us at for more information or to request a quote.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Planting a Containerized Tree

Most of us buy trees from nurseries and the most common way they are presented to us is in a container. Containerized trees can be planted properly by following these easy steps.

1. Dig a hole 3 to 4 times wider than the container. The hole should have sloping sides like a saucer to allow for proper root growth.

2. Carefully remove the tree from the container keeping the soil around the roots intact. It helps to tap the outside of the container to loosen the edge. Carefully slide the tree from the container. Don't yank the tree out of the container as this can separate the roots from the tree.

3. Sometimes containerized trees become root-bound or the roots look like they're about to circle the root ball. If your tree is like this, cut an X across the bottom of the root ball and four vertical slices along the sides of the root ball with a sharp knife.
Illustration of a containerized tree being planted according to the fourth step.

4. Set the tree in the middle of the hole. Avoid planting the tree too deep. If the root collar sits below the top of the hole, compact some soil under the tree so that the root flare at the base of the trunk is slightly above ground level. Using some soil, secure the tree in a straight position, then fill and firmly pack the hole with the original soil, making sure there aren't any air pockets. Keep backfilling until the soil is just below the root collar.

5. Create a water-holding basin around the hole and give the tree a good watering. After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch 2–4 inches deep in a 3-foot diameter area around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk.

6. The soil and mulch around your trees should be kept moist but not soggy. During dry weather, generously water the tree every 7 to 10 days during the first year. Water slowly at the dripline.

7. Remove any tags and labels from the tree as these will affect the tree as it grows. You may need to prune any broken or dead branches.

A tip many of us will find surprising is that your should NOT use fertilizer, potting soil, or chemicals on your newly planted trees. Such products will kill your young trees.

And, for watering, it is important to keep your trees watered during their first year. Keep the soil and mulch moist but not soggy. In dry weather, you should water generously every 7–10 days. The water should soak into the soil and mulch. Avoid watering so much that you see standing water.

If you happen to buy a bare root tree and need planting advice, you can see our last post here.

If you need to contact a tree service for advice or tree planting assistance, those of you local to the Chicago suburbs can contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. We have certified arborists on staff to help you with all your tree care needs. or 847-913-9069.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tree Planting Tips

As spring nears, we all start thinking about planting and replenishing our garden.  If you've been following our feed, you probably saw our last post about the many benefits trees give us. So, I hope that has given you the kick in the pants that you needed to go out and find a tree to plant in your yard.

When you purchase a tree, you'll generally get a tree that is a bare root tree, a containerized tree or a balled/burlapped tree. Each one has different methods of planting.

When dealing with a bare root tree, first unpack the tree, removing all packing materials. Carefully untangle the roots and soak the roots in water 3 to 6 hours. It is important to know that you should not allow the roots to dry out.

Dig a hole, wider than seems necessary, so the roots can grow outward without crowding. Remove any grass within a 3-foot circular area. To aid root growth, turn soil in an area up to 3 feet in diameter.

You should plant the tree at the same depth it stood in the nursery, with plenty of room for the roots. Partially fill the hole, firming the soil around the lower roots. Do not add soil amendments such as peat or bark. Also, you may feel like you are helping your tree by adding fertilizer, potting soil, or chemicals in with the soil.  NO! Do not do this.

Shovel in the remaining soil. It should be firmly, but not tightly packed. Construct a water-holding basin around the tree. Give the tree plenty of water.

After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch two inches deep in a 3-foot diameter area around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk.

The soil and mulch around your trees should be kept moist but not soggy. During dry weather, generously water the tree every 7 to 10 days during the first year. Water slowly at the dripline.

Bare root trees often look 'sad' as their roots are exposed, but it is important to know that because their abundant, fibrous roots aren't confined by a container, bare-root trees get off to a more vigorous start compared to containerized roots which typically need more time to adjust to transplanting. Bare-root trees typically surpass the size of larger containerized trees in only a few years.

Stay tuned as I will cover containerized and burlapped tree planting next.

Friday, March 22, 2013

He Who Plants a Tree, Plants Hope

He who plants a tree, plants hope.  That's right. Trees = Human Benefits. Better air quality. Better landscape. Higher property values. Lower heating and cooling costs. Need I go on?

It's time to start thinking about planting. Although spring has sprung according to the calendar date, the weather sure has us thinking otherwise. With snow still in the forecast and freezing temps here in Chicagoland, it is hard to think spring!  But, it will be here before we know it and we all need to do our part in helping the Earth by planting a tree.  There are numerous benefits to adding trees to your landscape and only a few a mentioned above. Infact a well placed tree will help cut energy costs and consumption by decreasing air conditioning costs 10-50% thereby reducing heating costs as much as 4-22%.  So, you know about the many benefits, but do you know about the planting? 

Planting can be tricky. A simple rule of thumb is to plant trees no less than 15 feel from a driveway, 10 feet from a utility pole and 30 feet from an intersection.  Simple, yes, but there's so much more to take into consideration to ensure that the proper tree is planted in the proper place and given the proper care to ensure proper growth.

A consult with an arborist or your local tree service will get you started off right.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. not only is a tree service, but also has certified arborists on staff to assist you with issues such as these. We service the Chicago suburbs and the North Shore suburbs.  You can find out more about us at or call us at 847-913-9069. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

When your trees have taken a hit...

The Arbor Day Foundation has listed a series of steps to take in the wake of a storm.  Storms come on quickly in many cases and can cause a lot of panic.  The number one thing they say to do is DON'T PANIC! Secondly, they say to call a professional. Yep, that's us. Trees "R" Us, Inc. When the storm hits and your trees have taken a hit, we are the people you call.  We have years of experience dealing with storm damage and will take care of the trees on your property the right way, with the right equipment because we have the right experience.

So when the storm hits, first and foremost make sure you and you family are safe. After the storm has passed, assess the damage and let us do the rest. Addressing damage to neighborhood trees becomes central to long-term recovery.

Trees "R" Us, Inc. is a tree service located in the suburbs of Chicago.  We service the north shore and the surrounding suburbs. Among our list of services, is storm damage assessment, emergency tree removal, arborist services and plant and tree health care.  Visit us at or call us at 847-913-9069.

For more on storm recovery tips, visit the Arbor Day Foundation's article at .

Friday, March 8, 2013

Amazing Silk Floss Tree

The Silk Floss tree is located in the tropical and subtropical forests of South America. Its trunk and branches are studded with sharp conical prickles that help to conserve water during dry periods. This beautiful trees has lots of blooms and many colors.

The cotton inside the fruit pods, although not of as good quality as that of the kapok tree, has been used as stuffing, as it is soft and flexible, and is employed in packaging, to make canoes, as wood pulp to make paper, and in ropes. From the seeds it is possible to obtain vegetable oil (both edible and industrially useful).

The floss silk tree is cultivated mostly for ornamental purposes. Outside of private gardens around the world, it is often planted along urban streets in subtropical areas such as in South Africa, Australia, northern New Zealand and southern USA. Ceiba speciosa is added to some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Another interesting can buy Silk Floss tree seeds on Amazon! Who's gonna grow one?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pine beetle infestation

Can you recognize this?
This is a textbook case of Blue Fungus caused by a pine beetle infestation. It is also called blue strain and is very common in some conifers...and it is very harmful.

Here are some things you can do to help your infestation.
Plant more resistant species such as longleaf pine and slash pine in place of loblolly pine and planting loblolly pine only on appropriate sites (i.e., right tree for the right place);

Thin overstocked, dense or stagnant stands to a basal area of 80 sq. ft. per ac. (18 sq. m per ha) or less;

Maintain at least 25 ft. (8 m) distance between mature pines in urban settings;

Promote tree diversity in the landscape;

Remove damaged pines;

Maintain tree health and vigor by supplemental watering during extended dry periods;

Minimize construction and logging damage to pines and avoid soil compaction during operations;

Minimize changes in soil and water levels around pines;

Conduct logging or land clearing operations during coolest winter months;
Shorten rotation ages to less than 30 years; and

Apply an approved insecticide to high-value trees when the threat of SPB attack is imminent and the potential benefits outweigh the costs and risks of chemical use.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

#10 - Powdery Mildew

And last, but certainly not least, here is the last of the unwanted pests.  If you've missed some pests along the way, click here to navigate back to the beginning and find the post you are searching for. 

Powdery mildew is my #10 pest.  It is wanted for defacing treasured plants bringing diseases and even death to plants.
Powdery Mildew

Most susceptible are fruit and ornamental trees, especially roses and garden plants. Powdery Mildew like to hangout with fruits and leaves in areas that are cool, shady and humid but not wet.

Physical Features: Fruits and leaves affected by powdery mildew will look as though they've been sprinkled with baby powder. If the infection is bad, the mildew may also be speckled with small brownish-black dots. Eventually the threads may look yellowish green. Only yellow spots, not white ones, will appear on some plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Rhododendrons can have yellow or purplish brown spots.

Here's howPowdery mildew comes about. Spores survive the winter by taking leaf buds hostage and using them as a cozy home. In the spring, they assault tender new plant parts by stabbing them with root-like organs. These organs suck out nutrients from the plant. After stealing food, the rascals reproduce rapidly and continue to raid healthy tissue.

Take the POW out of Powdery Mildew!

Here's what you can do. 
Stake out new growth in the spring. Powdery mildew spreads rapidly on humid, but not rainy, days.
Be more attentive to shaded areas.
Carefully search for white powdery marks and curling leaves.
Make a record of any encounters with powdery mildew. Be sure to record who its victims were and the extent of injuries.
Powdery mildew is usually whitish, but remember it can cause colored spots. If you need help identifying this pest, contact your local tree service.  Reputable tree services, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. will have a certified arborist on staff to help you figure out what is growing in your garden and what the plan of attach should be.

Powdery mildew is one of the only fungal diseases that doesn't benefit from plants being wet. These spores die in water, which also inhibits growth of the powdery strands. Humidity helps powdery mildew, but liquid water is lethal.

Healthy plants can withstand most damage from powdery mildew. However, it doesn't hurt to take some precautions, like pruning.
Seedlings and water- or nutrient-stressed plants are not as able to defend themselves from this prowler.

If you want to take the wait and see approach, here's what you can expect.
If the weather is rainy and cool this will help plants fight off powdery mildew.
-Select resistant varieties.
-Hack off infected parts. Prune out young diseased tips anytime, but older infected parts should be removed only in the spring.
-Let air circulation keep humidity between plants down. Remember to space plants with plenty of breathing room and, if possible, plant on the windy side of your property.
-Use a forceful spray of water to kill powdery mildew. But beware-wet leaves can be a breeding ground for other fungal infections.
-In garden beds, don't put plants from the same family in the same place every year since diseases usually assault plants from the same family. Rotate plants from different families.
Secret Agents
If you are looking to get rid of Powdery Mildew naturally, get lady beetles as they help in the fight against other bugs. However, there is one kind of lady beetle, Psyllobora spp., that actually eats powdery mildew.  Look for small beetles mottled with black and cream colors.
For a more severe plan of attach, use sulfur products to keep it from expanding. Most home and garden stores sell sulfur products to combat fungi.
-When using a chemical weapon, be sure to read and follow directions for use, storage, and disposal.

After documenting the types of plants assaulted by powdery mildew, note if you took any steps to retaliate or if you just let Mother Nature handle it.
Recording the outcome of the strategies you choose will help you get better each year at fighting off powdery mildew using as few chemicals as possible.

Friday, March 1, 2013

#9 - Black Spot

We're almost done.  "Pest" number 9...the black spot.  If you've missed the other pests on the top 10 list, click here to start from the beginning.

The Black Spot is most commonly seen disfiguring beautiful roses and other plants, infecting plants with a potentially deadly disease.
Black Spot
Certain rose varieties, ornamental plants, garden plants often fall victim to Black Spot. Black Spot likes wet and warm areas; is found on flowers, fruits and leaves

The Black Spot seeks shelter in fallen leaves and diseased branches through the winter, waiting for warmer days to launch their attack. Raindrops splashing on soil under plants and brisk spring winds give these nasty fungal spores a lift, catapulting them directly onto unsullied, budding leaves. Besides being unpleasant to look at, they can damage leaves and inhibit blooms. Black spot spores spend the spring and summer beefing up their troops through reproduction and continuous movement to new plant parts.


Here's how you can stop seeing spots. Start scouting for spots in spring when temperatures begin reaching 60F and the days are wet. Before black spot can infect plants, the temperature must be in the mid-60's and leaves must be wet for 6-9 continuous hours.
Carefully search leaves for spots, being sure to check densely clustered leaves since humidity will be higher where leaves are closer together. Also examine leaves close to the ground.
Take note of what you see and record changes in numbers or size of spots. Some spots may be left over from last year.
Sometimes other problems like nutrient deficiency, water stress, and too much or too little sun can look like black spot. If you're not sure your problem's black spot, let a certified arborist from a reputable local tree service help you out.

Black spot is difficult to get rid of after it has set in, even with chemicals.
Your best chance at warding it off is by making your plants an undesirable place to set up camp. Prune to decrease humidity and increase sunlight around susceptible plants.

Think about your aesthetic standards. Black spot is an ugly assaulter and will deface your plants mercilessly, but the plants will still most likely survive.
Continued leaf loss weakens plants and invites aphids-a one-two punch.
The health of the victim is key in determining if it will survive the assault. Plants that are weak or under stress may be killed by black spot.
Here are some methods to deal with the Black Spot.
Vigorous plants will courageously fight the fungus. As the summer progressively gets warmer and drier, nature will check the advance of black spot invasions.
You can also prune out invaded leaves and canes. Do not compost infected parts. For roses, prune victimized canes down to two buds. Give your plants an advantage by planting in well-drained, sunny places. Also, plant on the windy side of your house to let breezes dry out leaves and lower humidity near plants.
Don't buy wimpy plants! Purchase varieties that can fight off black spot.
Give plants a chance to air out. Don't plant them close together.
You can also destroy black spot hideouts by raking up leaf matter around plants frequently, especially in the fall. Don't compost these leaves.
Try also to smother the spores in the spring by putting mulch around plants.
And, avoid overhead watering. If that's not an option, do it in the morning so plants can dry out during the day.
Remember not to put plants from the same family in the same place every year since diseases usually assault plants from the same family. Rotate plantings from different families.
For fungicidal treatment, start in early spring to prevent black spot attacks. Be sure to treat vulnerable new growth. Usually treating once per week is advised, but read and follow the directions on the label. If your plants are already victims of black spot, you might try sulfur products to keep the attack under control. Use them when the temperature is between 65-85F. Do not use within 30 days of an oil spray. Always read and follow the directions for use, storage, and disposal when using chemicals.
Don't forget to evaluate the results
Keep an annual record that you can refer to each year. If certain plants have been seriously assaulted in the past, your notes will help you decide if preventative steps against black spot should be taken in the spring and which strategies have the highest success rates.