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Tree Consultation Services in Santa Rosa, CA

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Consultations For Healthier Trees

Trees add many benefits to our home and business landscapes. Trees provide shade and beauty, wildlife habitats, and privacy to our living and working environments. Our Certified Arborists share in our clients’ appreciation for trees, which is why we offer consultations to assess risks, diagnose pest and disease problems, and make recommendations for improving the health and structure of trees.

The Arborists at TreePro have been providing knowledgeable and accurate consulting services since 1990. Depend on us to help you maintain the optimal health and structure of your trees.

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as “an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.”

How Are Pests Controlled?

To reduce the impact of pest control, IPM utilizes several practices.

Monitoring Pests

The first practice is to monitor pest populations and establish a threshold for pest numbers. For example, if only a few aphids are present beneficial insects such as ladybugs or aphid lions may keep the number of insects in check.

Pest Prevention

The second practice is prevention. Planting trees or shrub varieties that are less susceptible to insect infestation is helpful. Utilizing mechanical methods to prevent or control insects is another method. Examples are installing a sticky barrier around tree trunks to prevent crawling insects from moving into tree trunks or branches or pruning out branches with mistletoe or fireblight.

Pest Control

The third practice is utilizing control methods that evaluate both controlling the pest and the risk of the control method. Less risky choices are made first and include biochemical pesticides like sex pheromones that interfere with mating and attractants to trap pests.

Another method is microbial pesticides. These include bacterium, fungus, virus, or protozoa as the active ingredient. An effective example of a microbial pesticide is Bt. or Baciilus thringiensis. Bt’s are bacterium designed to target specific insect larvae. Bt produces a protein that binds to the digestive system and causes the insect larvae to starve. The advantage of microbial pesticides is they affect only the target species and do not harm beneficial insects or the environment.

When these less risky control methods are not working effectively then other control methods may be needed. We recommend using pesticides with the lowest toxicity level available. Some effective insecticides are produced from plant materials toxic to insects. Drench or injection of pesticides into the soil is preferable to broadcast spraying into the canopy of trees and the surrounding environment. These methods utilize a systemic insecticide that transports the material through the tree’s vascular system to the leaves. When insects feed on the leaves they are killed by the pesticide.

Contact a Certified Arborist at TreePro Professional Tree Care for help identifying and treating insect and disease problems with minimum impact on your home and the environment.

Tree Fertilization

Trees that may benefit from fertilization include younger trees once they have been established, trees with low vigor or off-color foliage, or trees with dieback of twigs at the ends of branches. It is not advisable to fertilize trees that are newly planted, have limited growing space, or have recent damage to root zones according to the ANSI A-300 Standards for Tree Fertilization. Analyzing the nutrients available in the soil and foliage will provide a more complete assessment of nutrients that are needed. The pH of the soil also affects tree uptake of nutrient deficiencies.

Trees should be fertilized so they are available when root growth is active. The type of fertilizer applied will affect the availability. Quick-release fertilizers are readily available while slow-release fertilizers are composed of at least 50% water insoluble fertilizer so they become active over an extended period of time. Slow-release fertilizers are preferred over quick-release fertilizers for trees and shrubs.

Timing Applications

Trees and shrubs should be fertilized in the late fall months (October and November) after hardening of the plant. Early Spring (mid-March to April) is also an appropriate time to fertilize after the soil is free of frost.

Fertilization Rates

Slow-release general fertilizer should be applied at rates of two to four pounds per 1,000 square feet per application. It is important in our area to avoid over-fertilizing trees, especially mature or over-immature oaks. Using excessive fertilizers contributes to the over-growth of new shoots and foliage, which are more likely to become infested with insects like aphids or disease pathogens like powdery mildew.

Application Methods

There are several methods available for applying fertilizers. Surface application is accomplished by using a spreader or evenly distributing the pellets by hand. Surface applications are not recommended in turf areas or where runoff is possible.

Sub-surface dry application is accomplished by placing the fertilizer into evenly spaced holes. The holes should be two to four inches in diameter and spaced 12 to 36 inches apart. The holes should be four to twelve inches in depth. Sub-surface liquid application utilizes the same spacing as dry application but the fertilizer is mixed with water and injected into the soil. This method is preferred by the Certified Arborists at TreePro Professional Tree Care because a slow-release liquid fertilizer consisting of 50% coated urea is available for a longer period. It is also more efficient to mix liquid fertilizer with other micro-nutrients or mycorrhizae.

Mycorrhizae Applications

Mycorrhizae is a beneficial fungus that helps encourage root growth, improve nutrient and water uptake, and reduce drought stress. Mycorrhizae fungi increase the surface-absorbing area of roots 100 to 1000 times depending on soil conditions. Mycorrhizae also release enzymes that help to dissolve hard-to-capture nutrients such as organic nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, and other “tightly bound” soil nutrients according to Mike Amaranthus, Ph.D. at Oregon State University. Mycorrhizal fungi form an intricate web that captures and assimilates nutrients, conserving the nutrient capital in soils.

At TreePro Professional Tree Care, we inject these beneficial fungi into the soil of trees that are stressed, are low in vigor, or have damage to root zones from compaction or construction. Mycorrhizae in combination with mulching have provided new life to declining or stressed trees.

Soil Management

The goal of soil management is to protect and improve the quality of soil. Soil develops over thousands of years and is comprised of air, water, mineral particles, organic matter, and organisms. One-half of soil is pore space which is filled with equal parts of air and water depending on texture and soil saturation. Most of the solid portion of soil is mineral particles. Organic matter may make up only five to ten percent of the volume of soil.

Organic matter is critical in holding soil particles together, storing nutrients, and feeding soil organisms. (2002 University of Minnesota Extension and Regents). Soil structure is critical to root growth and tree and shrub health. Clay soils are low in oxygen and organic material. Low oxygen levels in the soil make root growth very difficult. Compacted soils where the pore space has been reduced also make root growth difficult. Compacted soils are a common problem for trees in construction zones where tree protection is not adequate. Areas of high foot traffic from pedestrians or farm animals also create compaction.

Improving these poor soil conditions can be accomplished by adding organic material such as arbor mulch or soil aeration. A surface application of mulch will break down and incorporate into the soil over time adding organic material and nutrients. There are several methods to achieve better soil aeration for compacted soils including drilling holes and adding pea gravel, installing aeration tubes, or high-pressure air aeration.