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How To Identify And Treat Stress In Your Trees

Stress is as bad for trees as it is for people. Call (631) 212-8250 and let Long Island Lumberjack handle your tree stress early! Don’t wait!

Humans have something in common with trees. From how we use water and nutrients to keeping ourselves cool, we share more health systems than you might think. However, there is one significant thing that we both need to ward off as much as possible: stress. Most of us are aware of what causes stress in the human body. Overbooked schedules, not enough time, insufficient sleep. These stress-inducing factors take their toll on the body over time: aches and pains, headaches, disrupted sleep, weight fluctuations and a compromised immune system.

But were you aware that trees also perceive stress?

WHAT ARE STRESS FACTORS FOR TREES?

Air Pollution: Particulates (granules) and dust in the air block photosynthesis in the leaves. Trees also “sweat” similarly to humans (transpirational cooling). Trapped particulates will prevent water from being released by the leaves, which in turn will cause the tree to overheat. Acid rain and ozone can also damage bark and cause an imbalance in the soil’s pH levels. Did you know that stressed trees release volatile carbon compounds, thus contributing to air pollution?

Excessive Pruning: This is a multifaceted situation

Eliminating too many limbs at once causes stress. The cuts made during the pruning process are, after all, wounds. Cutting out too many leaves at once means removing a significant energy source for the tree. Bold pruning can expose the tree to far more light than before, damaging the bark.

Soil Condition

Compaction due to construction and heavy foot traffic compacts the soil, making it difficult for tree roots to access oxygen. Poor topsoil is also commonly used in new housing developments. Compost is a bonus! Quality soil matters.

Temperature

Very often, trees don’t thrive in urban environments. Think of cities as “hot islands,” where concrete and metal don’t absorb heat the way turf does.

Light Pollution

Light pollution impacts a tree’s growth response. If trees are near artificial light sources that are perpetually on, they get confused! Think of it this way: with few exceptions, even most people can’t sleep with the lights on.

Storm Damage

While we can’t always prepare trees for storms, there are corrective actions we can take immediately after the damage has been done. For example, if a tree branch has been broken in half, knowing where to make a clean cut will affect the long-term health of your tree and ward off rot. It’s always best to call a professional if your tree has suffered damage. Long Island Lumberjack not only takes care of the damage after the storm, but we will also come out and check your trees to ensure they’re as stable as possible before an incident.

Moisture

Too much or too little water stresses your trees. Not unlike us humans, trees are made up mostly of water – 75%. The leaves are a whopping 99% water. This water is necessary to carry nutrients from the roots to the canopy. A tree’s water needs vary with the seasons, but in the spring, at its peak, a mature red oak may use up to 200 gallons of water per day.

WHAT DOES TREE STRESS LOOKS LIKE?

Canopy Dieback

You might notice that the tree blooms later than usual, or the leaves come down earlier than expected in the autumn. Compare the top of your tree to trees of the same species. Fewer leaves may be smaller, paler, and more sparse.

Water Sprouts

Sprouting new shoots from the trunk or main trunk is a sign of stress. These limbs are often weak and unsightly. The photo above is an excellent example of a tree under pressure. The stems are covered in unattractive new sprouts and leaves. You can almost see the tree “gasping for air” as a stress response.

Wilting Leaves

Turgor pressure” refers to the process that helps the needles and leaves on trees hold their shape. Just like good hydration makes your skin look dewy and youthful, proper moisture helps keep leaves looking healthy and “plump.”

Early Fall Color

Trees displaying their fall color early in the season are undoubtedly stressed. Low iron or manganese absorption could also be causing early fall color.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Right tree, Right place

Selecting a genetically specific tree for your region is very important. And set your tree up for success from the start. Choose a good location with room for growth, access to water and adequate light, and little pedestrian traffic. The tree should also be able to thrive in the type of soil and water-drainage qualities in the area you have chosen for planting. Some trees do better than others with different kinds of soil.

Water

Frequently, we overlook watering in the winter. Winter watering is essential – particularly during dry spells. Wait until a warm day when you can safely connect your hose and give your tree a good soak.

Avoid compaction

Soil compaction reduces oxygen and water availability to the roots. You can reduce compaction by eliminating heavy traffic zones around the trunk of your tree and within the drip-line zone. You should also be mindful of heavy construction equipment driving over these areas if you plan to have construction nearby.

Prune conservatively

Never remove more than 1/3 of a tree’s biomass in a single season – and you could probably be even more conservative. A licensed tree care specialist like Long Island Lumberjack will know how much is too much. Eliminating many of the tree’s resources will send the tree into a stress response.

It never hurts to call us if you’re concerned that your tree is stressed. We have many solutions to encourage healthy root growth, proper nutrient absorption, and more. Long Island Lumberjack is your best resource for tree care and preventative health maintenance. Our phone number is (631) 212-8250.