Trees are an important part of our lives. Can you imagine Portland without all of our trees?
We value them. They provide protection and nourishment. They help keep our homes cool in the summer. And they add value when it’s time to sell.
But more importantly, we just like the way they look. Step outside and glance up to the sky. These gentle giants sway in the breeze. Take a look around your property. Can you imagine your landscaping without a tree?
But what happens when you think something’s wrong? When you stroll through your yard and notice something looks off on your tree. There’s something different, and you’re not quite sure what to do.
First of all, kudos for noticing. That’s one of the most important parts of the process. The earlier you notice something has changed, the sooner you can take action. And in some cases, early action can be the difference between saving a tree and losing it.
Proactive monitoring and treatment are important to keep your trees as healthy as they can be.
But now comes the trickier part of determining what is wrong. That’s where a Portland arborist comes into play. We can help you start the process of figuring out if your tree is healthy or needs some extra care. To confirm an official diagnosis, it’s important to have a certified arborist inspect your trees in person.
It starts with a question
We hear them every day. Whether it’s a phone call, an email, or simply a comment on our blog, people ask questions about their trees in many different ways.
“I have a tree in my backyard that has changed in recent months. The leaves are turning spotty and are yellowing at the tips. At least one branch is completely dead. Can my tree be saved?”
“I think the pine in my front yard is sick. The new growth that looked so good a few months ago is suddenly withering and falling away. How do I know if something is wrong?”
“The tree in my yard is filled with dead branches. I’m not sure if there is anything I can do. Can it be saved or is it time to remove it altogether?”
“The fruit on my tree didn’t fully mature. Even the leaves are curling and yellowing. Is there a way to prevent it from dying?”
Let’s face it; we’re not all experts on trees. But as a homeowner, it’s important to recognize changes. And when things don’t appear as they once were, it’s important to get the help the tree needs quickly to see if you can undo the damage and improve its health once again.
How to know if your tree is sick
Once you notice something has changed on your tree, it’s important to investigate a little further. Visually inspect your tree and make a note of any problems you see. Then use this information when you place your call to hire a trained arborist. Here are some additional tips on what to look for:
Step 1: Start from the ground up
Examine the root system. Has anything changed? Is the ground heaving up? Do you see signs of a damaged root system? Are there signs of decay or fungi such as mushrooms?
Step 2: Move to the tree’s collar
This is the area of the trunk just above the soil. Look for changes in the trunk of the tree: peeling or loose bark, cracks or deep cuts in the tree.
Step 3: Eye the rest of the trunk
The trunk is the base of the tree. It’s the base of the overall structure. Has anything changed? Look for swelling, cavities, and soft spots or signs of visible decay. Do you see small holes that could be a sign of infestation?
Step 4: Look up
The branches and leaves can be a sign that something is wrong from below. Dead or dying branches can be a problem. Weak branch unions where two branches have grown together can be a sign of damage. Spots, holes, or odd colored leaves can hint to you that something is wrong.
Common tree problems
Now that you’ve narrowed down where the problems lie, it’s easier to find out what’s wrong.
Do your tree leaves have spots, odd colors, or curling at the tips? This can indicate a number of potential problems, depending on the type of tree you have. Spots may mean a destructive fungus has taken hold in your tree. Dead leaves on a fruit tree may indicate blight. If leaves turn pale and suddenly fall off, it can be a sign of anything from disease to the impact of drought.
Tiny holes may be an indication of an infestation. Leaf curling could be an indication of aphids feeding on the leaves and stems. Ragged, chewed leaves may be from hungry caterpillars. Chunks of leaves chewed down to the vein could indicate you have beetles feeding on the leaves. Branch death and the sign of silky webs could be from bagworms moving in. Your Portland arborist knows what to look for, and more importantly, what to do when they’ve spotted the problem.
Maybe you have a section that never came back to life after the winter months. A portion of your tree is now bare. Reduced leaf growth is a sign of decline. And it can be caused by a variety of things. A harsh winter. Insufficient planting space. A nearby construction project. It’s important to narrow down the cause, then find the proper solution to ensure the rest of your tree can be saved. Or if it’s too late, to be removed safely once and for all.
Why is tree care important?
Trees are susceptible to diseases and pests. And once they settle in, it seriously threatens their health. These pests and diseases can cause physical defects that may harm the tree, which as a side effect can expose your family to bodily injury or damage to your home or property.
In many cases, these defects and problem areas reside inside the tree trunk or way high up in the crown. What may look just a little off to you may be of big concern to a trained arborist. It often takes a trained tree expert to spot the signs and recognize potential hazards. Tree defects are potentially unsafe and could cause harm.
While an arborist can guess at the problem you describe when you call for an assessment, with so many fungal and bacterial infections that can take hold, it’s imperative that this person comes to your home to physically view your tree before addressing the issue. And, the sooner you solve the problem, the greater the possibility of saving your tree.