During these frigid winter months it’s easy to forget that our wonderful woody ornamentals are actually living things. In most areas in the United States, trees will shed their leaves and become dormant for the winter. All activity ceases as they tower above us in an almost ominous fashion. What was once a beautiful park with lush green foliage and fragrant blooms now sets the scene for an upcoming horror film. Although they appear to be dead, they are in fact waiting for the first sign of warmth to spring back into action. Many of us see trees only as structures that grow without any aid, but this is not always the case in an urban setting. Trees, like any other living thing, have basic requirements for survival that are not always readily available in a landscape setting.
Trees need food, water, and a place to live in order to thrive. Compared to most animals that consume food, trees differ in that they create their own food by utilizing light through photosynthesis. Using the energy from the sun, as well as water and carbon dioxide from the air, trees create carbohydrates (sugars), which are either consumed for growth or stored for later use. In comparison with other living things, water is a major component for survival. All trees need water, some more or less than others. Newly planted trees need to be watered regularly to keep the roots from drying out. Mature trees need water as well; however, they can handle fluctuations in availability more readily than younger trees due to their more established root systems. In times of drought it is beneficial to water your trees to reduce stress. The third factor for living things is usually shelter, but trees don’t have the luxury to seek out shelter during inclement weather. In order to cope with adverse conditions, the above ground part of the tree has adapted to life in the elements in a variety of ways such as woody bark and shedding leaves before winter. Root systems do not fare as well out in the open, though. They need to be protected by the soil like the vascular tissue is protected by the bark. If left out of soil, roots can fall subject to desiccation (drying out), and are easily wounded. So in a way, the soil acts as the shelter part for this model.
Following the model of all living things, trees can also fall subject to pests and diseases. These can come from opportunistic pests that invade stressed trees, or invasive ones that exploit trees that do not have any natural defenses against it. There are multiple treatments for numerous ailments of trees, which can make the whole thing seem pretty daunting. In reality, a good majority of insects and diseases can be handled by simple treatments, or good tree husbandry. That’s where we come in. The Tree Geek is a tool for you to help identify what’s going on, and the best way to go about treating for it. There are some procedures that can be a bit complex and we recommend consulting with your local arborist to tackle those projects, but we’ll be here to help you along the way so that you know your trees are well cared for.
These are simple explanations for complex topics – we will go into more detail in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for the latest and greatest and in the meantime go checkout our website and take a look around, or head over to our social media pages to learn even more about trees. We always appreciate your feedback, so feel free to shoot us an email and let us know how we’re doing. Thanks, and have a Tree-mendous New Year!