Sunday, June 29, 2014

8 Signs that the Next Storm May Take Out Your Trees

Do you have a hazardous tree or two in your yard? Would you know if you did? Summer storms can be severe and the last thing you need or want is property damage because the storm took out all or part of your tree. We know that the majority of our customers don't even realize that some of their trees are in a condition that could pose a very dangerous situation should the tree become more stressed for any reason. 

Here are the 8 most common warning signs that I see day in and day out at work. 

 1. History. Past tree care and circumstances can affect the health of your trees. Things like construction, trenches, and tree topping can all have adverse effects on your tree. By-the-way, you should never tree top - but that's a whole other discussion!

You also need to see if roots have been cut or disturbed. If so, then it is likely that the tree will become unstable.

2. A leaning tree. Trees do not necessarily grow straight up. However, trees with a significant lean
can indicate a problem. Your tree should not look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Look for cracked soil and exposed roots around the base of the tree which may indicate the tree has recently begun to lean.

3. Just how many trunks does your tree have? Some trees develop multiple trunks. Trees with multiple trunks can break if the trunks are weakly attached. Trunks with splits or cracks have a high failure potential. Inspect these trees for cracks or splits where the trunks meet.

4. Weakly Attached Branches. Inspect branches where they attach to the trunk. Tight V-shaped forks are more prone to break than open U-shaped unions. Trees with splits, cracks, and/or several branches  arising from the same point on the trunk can also present problems.

5. Cavities & Decay Pockets. No, not in your teeth! On your trees! Inspect the trunk or branches for peeling bark and hollow or decayed areas. Large decay pockets and decay where branches meet the
trunk can indicate problems. Mushrooms or conks growing on or at the base of a tree are signs of decay-causing fungus.

6. Trunk & Branch Cracks. Inspect the trunk and large branches for cracks. Deep, large cracks indicate structural weakness in the tree and need careful evaluation.

7. Hangers (not those things that are in your closet). Hangers are broken branches still lodged in the tree. Whether partially attached or separately completed from the trunk, hangers are likely to fall and should be removed. Stubs left by broken branches should be pruned correctly.

8. Deadwood. Deadwood, or dead branches, are a normal part of a tree’s growth pattern but will eventually fall. Branches over two inches in diameter can cause serious damage when they fall. Removal of all deadwood may not be critical, but deadwood should not be ignored.
So, why is this so bad? A hazardous tree can do harm at any moment. If a tree is deemed hazardous, keep people, pets, and vehicles out of the area until the hazardous condition has been corrected. Seek professional help from a Certified Arborist to evaluate potential hazards before the next storm hits. 

Certified Arborists

Certified Arborists can recommend the proper course of action to keep your trees safer and healthier. A professional tree care company should have at least one certified Arborist on staff to help you. 

Thanks for Reading,
Jenni Willis
President and CEO, Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Be a Conservationist in 4 Simple Steps

There is so much waste in the world. I see it everyday at work. I feel like something everyone can do is minimize waste in your own environment, yard, or garden. There are so many ways you can help conserve plants and, by extension, help save the planet. So here I've rounded up 4 steps you can take to be a conservationist in an easy manner with very little effort. 

1. Within the confines of your own yard, eliminate invasive plants.
This can be a daunting task. There are 3 basic ways to eliminate invasive plants and that's mechanically, chemically and/or biologically. So that's pulling and digging, mowing and cutting, or chemical applications or treatments. Whichever method you prefer, you can talk to your local tree service to help you get the job done. They will do it right and thoroughly and in much less time than you could ever do on your own. 

2. Add native plants beloved by pollinators.
Check out this guide for the best plants for pollinators for your area. 

3. Incorporate green practices in your garden planning, planting, and maintenance.  
Mulching is the top green gardening practice. Go with organic mulch whenever possible. 

4. Work on a larger scale by volunteering
Volunteer at garden centers or nature preserves, and consider participating in national efforts like Seeds of Success and Plants of Concern.

So there you have it. Simple steps that will make a big difference. 

Thanks for reading,
Jenni Willis
President and CEO, Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Milkweed Beetles are Back and Active this Summer ~ Do You Know What to Do With Them?

The Milkweed Beetle is Back

If you've planted the perennial Milkweed in hopes to attract butterflies, you've probably attracted the nuisance Milkweed Beetle in the process. They're back and here's what you need to know. 

The beetles are herbivores and are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long and red with black spots and long black antennae. These beetles are called milkweed beetles as they generally only feed on milkweed plants. Adults feed on milkweed leaves, while in the larval stage they bore into and feed on milkweed stems and roots. The large milkweed bug feeds on the seeds of milkweed plants. In the process, this bug takes in toxins from the plant and thereby becoming distasteful. The bright reddish-orange and black color patterns of the nymphs and adults are aposematic colors advertising toxicity and its inedibility. At times the family dog will try to eat these. While they are toxic even to the dog, they should do just fine unless a large quantity of them were consumed. If that is the case expect your dog to start vomiting.  

If you have milkweed beetles, they won't kill the milkweed plant, unless there is an abundantly large infestation. They feed on the seeds, deforming the pods, which then can begin to kill the plant. Monarch butterflies and milkweed bugs seem to coexist, but a large infestation of the bugs may crowd out the butterflies. If you grow the plant in a butterfly garden and hope to save the seeds to plant more, milkweed bugs have to go.

You'll know you have milkweed beetles because they are easy to see due to their coloring. Other signs include chewed leaves, stems and buds. If you pull back the bud sheath, you may find milkweed bugs clustered around the bud, sucking the juices out of the seeds. You may also find them grouped on the undersides of the milkweed’s leaves. Milkweed bugs are at their busiest during the summer.

To get rid of these bugs, pull the seed pods off the milkweed. With no food source available, the

milkweed bug will go elsewhere to eat. The bugs don’t bite, so another solution to the milkweed bug problem is to pull them off the plant and drop them into a bucket of soapy water or drop them to the ground and squish them with your foot. If you aren’t growing milkweed to attract butterflies, use an insecticidal soap spray to kill the milkweed bug. 

At Trees "R" Us, Inc. we take pride in not only our professional tree care services, but also educating our customers. It is through education that we really save trees and help the environment. We hope you found this post informative and educational.

Trees "R" Us, Inc. is a professional tree service for the Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest suburbs. Tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding, fertilizations, tree disease treatments and prevention as well as plant health care are just a few of our high quality, professional services. Contact us today for a free analysis or quote at or at 847-913-9069.

Thanks for reading,

Trees "R" Us, Inc. President & CEO

Sunday, June 8, 2014

10 Tips to Help Your Trees Thrive in the Heat

Your trees and shrubs need protection from extreme weather conditions and summer's heat is no exception. Even those plants that are tagged as sun and drought lovers, need some cooling off. Between the heat, possible drought conditions and watering bans, it can be difficult to properly care for your landscape. But, not to worry. I've created some easy solutions to summer's hot temperatures, even drought and watering bans.

Follow these proven tips to help ensure your trees and plants beat the heat and stay beautiful throughout the season.

  1. Water plants thoroughly to promote deep drought- and pest-resistant roots. Wait until the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist or footprints remain in the lawn before watering again. Whenever the soil is dry, water appropriately, but I recommend deep watering over more frequent, light watering; see tip #2.
  2. Avoid light, frequent watering. This will encourage shallow roots. Shallow roots are less able to tolerate drought and more susceptible to disease and insect problems.
  3. Fertilize to enlarge root systems
  4. Mulch the area well. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil in garden beds and around trees and shrubs. Mulching conserves moisture, moderates soil temperature by keeping roots cool and moist, and suppresses weeds. 
  5. Prune to remove dead and dying branches
  6. Inspect for insects and diseases. Hire a certified arborist to take a professional look at your trees. It is important to keep pests at bay when your trees are already battling heat and drought. 
  7. Keep your mower settings on high. Taller grass produces deeper roots that are more drought-tolerant. A deeply rooted lawn is also more resistant to insects, disease and other environmental stresses.
  8. Lots of us hate to do this one, but it is good to leave the grass clippings on the lawn. They add nitrogen, organic matter and moisture to the soil.
  9. Remove weeds from garden beds and borders as soon as they appear. They rob water and nutrients from your desirable garden plants.
  10. Prepare for rough weather. Contact your local tree service for regular tree care. It's never too late to do this. 
Try these steps this summer, especially in hot, dry spells. Your trees, shrubs and lawn will thank you!

Thanks for reading,
Jenni Willis
Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

18 Tree Care Tips for June

June is finally here and we don't dare complain about the heat after the winter we've had! I've compiled some great tree care tips which also include some general tips for the garden and lawn. If you've got something to add, just do so in the comments. We'd love to know what you all do with your trees and shrubs come June.

1. PINCH OFF terminal growth buds on rhododendrons to increase next year's buds.
2. PRUNE all spring-flowering shrubs immediately after they flower.

3. EVERGREENS, such as boxwood or yew, can be lightly pruned after the new growth fills in to maintain a formal shape.

4. PRUNE out all ground-level sucker growth from crabapple, apple, plum, peach or apricot trees by cutting out growth below soil level.

5. PRUNE weak, green but very fast-growing water sprouts that grow vertically from branches of fruit trees, redbuds, or other ornamental flowering trees.
6. PRUNE -  If necessary, boxwood and yews can be lightly pruned to maintain geometric form. 

7. AVOID overpruning, especially in very sunny, hot weather.

8. MULCH. Apply 1 to 2 inches of leaf mulch on flower beds and around trees, keeping mulch away from the trunks. Mulch conserves moisture, protects plant roots, suppresses weeds, and regulates soil temperature. 

9. WATER. Make sure all trees, shrubs, perennials, and roses receive 1 inch of water per week. If Mother Nature does not provide this amount, it is best to water deeply once per week rather than water shallowly several times per week.

10. WATERING SCHEDULE. Implement a watering schedule for all plants to help prevent drought stress.

11. LOOK for insect damage. Damaging insects can be very active at this time. Call your arborist if you detect trouble.

12. PRECAUTION. Be careful not to wound trees with lawn mowers and trimmers.
13. PRUNE hedges after new growth has appeared.

14. PRUNE Spring flowering shrubs. Pruning after they flower encourages maximum blossoms for the next year.

15. PLANT TREES. In many areas, June is a good time for planting trees, shrubs, vines and ground cover.

16. THIN FRUIT TREES. Take care of fruit trees now to make sure you get your sweet rewards later in the season. Thin Asian and European pear trees heavily now.

17. ANALYZE YOUR TREES. If it's a "light year" for any of your apple trees, avoid pruning them — but the heavier fruit bearers should be thinned lightly after their unpollinated fruit has dropped. Remove one apple from triple and double clusters to encourage the growth of larger fruit.

18. DESTROY LARVAE. If you find tent caterpillars in tree branches (they're especially fond of crabapple and fruit trees), prune out the limbs and destroy the cocoons.
Good luck with your spring tree care and gardening!  Stay tuned for more tips in the coming weeks. 

Thanks for reading,
Jenni Willis
President and CEO
Trees "R" Us, Inc.