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Tree Aphid Formation, Issues Caused and Control Methods, Part 1

As spring comes into full bloom and soon gives way to summer, those with trees on their property have to consider a few seasonal care areas. One such area is the prevention of several pests that may begin invading trees and other plant areas this time of year, and a top culprit here is the aphid.

At Reliable Tree Care, our certified arborist services include a wide range of tree disease control services, including treatment for aphids, spidermites and scale. Aphids are some of the most common tree-related pests out there, with over 4,000 known species that can create several issues – this two-part blog will dig into how they form and the issues they present to your trees and property, plus how you can go about spotting them and removing them safely.

tree aphid issues control

Aphid Formation

Aphids tend to form a little bit later in the life of a given tree or plant than certain other pests – they don’t attack first leaves in most cases, rather waiting until the stage of growth that comes after cotyledons. For this reason, they’re particularly common in greenhouses, though they can attack anywhere.

In many situations, however, aphid issues can date back to well before spring even begins. Winged adult aphids, which we’ll discuss more in part two of this blog, will shelter themselves in tree bark during the winter months, then begin to migrate to other areas of the tree plus other plants or shrubs during the early spring.

Primary Issues Caused by Aphids

Aphids can lead to several significant issues, the first of which is a residue they leave on tree and shrub leaves. This sticky, shiny substance is the result of excretion from aphids, and it’s both gross to the touch and dangerous to trees.

In addition, large quantities of aphids can lead to significant damage to several tree areas. They cause discoloration, curling of leaves, leaf drop and even plant dieback. They also lead to malformation on leaves and stems alike, which can cause an uptick in multiple different diseases. Finally, aphid excrement often attracts other pests to the area, such as ants.

Aphid Reproduction

Another major problem with aphids? Unlike many other pest types, they do not need to mate to reproduce. They’re able to give birth to living young, always females that are born carrying several additional aphids. This means they multiply at far higher rates than many other pest types, and can overwhelm your trees or other plant areas if they aren’t controlled early and forcefully. And again, all this is without even considering the other pests they attract to the area.

For more on aphids and how to control them on your trees or other plants, or to learn about any of our quality arborist services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Protecting Trees from the Hot, Dry Utah Summer

As those who have lived here for any significant period of time are well aware, summers in Utah are hot, dry affairs. For those with trees they care for on their property, helping them establish root systems and obtain proper water and other nutrients despite long drought periods is a vital task.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to help through several tree care services. We offer everything from tree fertilization to high-quality tree trimming and removal services when needed, plus numerous other areas of certified arborist expertise to keep your trees healthy and beautiful throughout the warm season. Let’s go over a few important areas for protecting trees during the hot, dry summer.

protecting trees Utah summe

Mulch Concerns

As some tree and shrub owners well know after years of use, mulch holds multiple benefits when used in the garden. For starters, it offers several potential nutrients and also allows for a solid receiving surface for water and other substances.

For another, however, mulch can be highly valuable for protecting root systems and other areas from the heat of the heavy summer sun – but it’s vital not to take this theme too far. Some tree owners hear that and think they need to pile up as much mulch as humanly possible around their smaller trees to protect them from the heat, but this may actually risk several other major issues. In particular, too much mulch around the base of your trees will risk several insects that will view this as a safe harbor.

All you really need is a four-foot diameter of mulch around your tree base to help with water retention. Just use a single layer of strong mulch, rather than several layers. If your mulch becomes piled up, try to spread it out evenly to prevent pest infestation.


Vital for all trees is the proper watering and nutrient nourishment they require. As you might expect, trees vary in terms of their watering needs, both by species and by their age and maturity – older, more mature trees require roughly five gallons of water once a week for each inch of tree diameter (at the broadest part of the tree). For younger, more vulnerable trees, the general recommendation is upped to twice a week, using this same basic math.

The best setup here, and one most property owners utilize, is a deep root feeder or a basic sprinkler system. Some also use irrigation systems, though these can be limited in how well they water many tree types and will not properly support all root systems.

Revitalizing Struggling Trees

In some cases, even with great care provided, some trees will struggle with water supply or other summer issues. Our pros are here to help in these cases, with services ranging from fall fertilization to several others that bring needed nutrients to trees that may be struggling.

For more on protecting your trees during summer, or to learn about any of our tree care services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Protecting Trees and Property From Wildfire Risks

As we move out of winter and into the warmer months of the year, those across many parts of the United States will have to be on greater alert for wildfires. These months see fire risks rise for most of the western US, with the kind of wildlife present that can promote the spread of fire if not properly checked.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re dedicated to every area of care for your trees and property, from insect and disease control to physical safety areas. Trees are vital property areas to understand when it comes to fire mitigation and staying safe during this season – here are some general themes to understand when it comes to wildfire risks and limiting them on your property.

protecting trees property wildfire

Risks of Wildfire

Unfortunately, part of the reason wildfires are so common in this area of the country during the spring and summer is the amount of wildfire fuel that’s often present across properties. Fire can spread to a number of different materials, but it moves particularly quickly through elements like brush, grass, leaves, branches and other highly flammable materials.

In particular, dead or dry vegetation elements are a large risk. These can create what is known as a “fire ladder,” one where wildfire begins in dry vegetation areas and then spreads to elevated areas due to lack of a buffer area. When unchecked, these fires can spread and destroy entire properties and even ecosystems.

“Defensible Space Zone”

When it comes to protecting your trees and property from fire risks, the operative term to understand is “defensible space zone.” This is a term wildfire fighters commonly use to describe a recommended buffer area on your property, one between the property itself and any fire risk factors.

The goal is to create a space that will stop fire in its tracks if it gets going – vegetation reduction is a big part of this, but other factors like reducing flammable materials and factoring in wind directions can also play a role. In a case where a fire does happen, your defensible space zone should be one that helps limit the risks of the fire reaching your actual structures and burning down buildings.

Local Ordinances

One part of the defensible space zone is often defined by various local ordinances. These may cover a few specific areas:

  • Endangered species: Local laws will generally require specific defensible space zone setups for any endangered species habitats.
  • Green waste: In cases where green waste must be disposed of in wildlands, it should be done efficiently to limit fire spread risks.
  • Wildland-urban interface: Any home within 400 feet of wildlands is considered a wildland-urban interface property. These properties are at higher wildfire risk, and while there generally aren’t specific laws requiring fire mitigation here, these services are highly recommended if you’re on such a property.

For more on protecting your trees and property from wildfires during the warm season, or to learn about any of our tree trimming, tree removal or other arborist services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Common Tree Pruning Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to care for virtually every tree type out there, pruning is a vital consideration. Important for everything from tree health to appearance and more, tree pruning helps your trees with density issues, broken or damaged branches, and other areas where removal will help the tree grow properly and live longer.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re proud to offer a wide range of branch structure pruning and other tree trimming services at your fingertips. While this is a common and necessary process, it’s one that comes with a few pitfalls to avoid – the kind that professional arborists help you steer far clear of. Let’s go over a few such areas within the world of tree pruning, detailing some areas to stay away from when it comes to trimming.

tree pruning mistakes avoid

New Trees

There are slightly different requirements when it comes to pruning for new trees that have just been planted. Within the first year or so, for most species, pruning will not be needed during this period of time.

There are slightly different requirements when it comes to pruning for new trees that have just been planted. Within the first year or so, for most species, pruning will not be needed during this period of time.

Safety and Professionals

Generally speaking, safety should be the top priority when it comes to pruning trees. There are numerous areas where this is the case, from general branch and ladder safety to areas like electrical utility conductors or other nearby hazards that may be close to trees.

For this reason, we highly discourage any self-pruning efforts that risk personal safety in any way. If you aren’t a fully trained arborist, even if you’ve done plenty of work on trees in the past, there are several areas of pruning that simply should be left to our professionals every time. We’re happy to advise you on each of these areas as part of our services.

Branch Stubs Vs. Core Damage

During pruning, a top priority of your arborist will be to avoid branch stubs during the process. Branches that are trimmed or pruned need to be removed completely, with a careful eye to the proper location.

Why so careful? Well, because the flip side here is cutting too deeply, causing damage to the core of the tree. Many without experience with a specific tree species will cut in the wrong places, risking major damage that may not always be reversible.

Other Tips

A couple other general areas to remember when trees are being pruned:

  • Climbing spikes: Whether pruning or performing any other task, never use climbing spikes, as these can damage the tree.
  • Wound paint: While this is a product that’s often talked up as a temporary solution to tree issues, it can often cause more harm to the tree than it provides care.

For more on avoiding errors made when pruning trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming, tree removal or other arborist services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Keeping Trees Prepared for Larger Storm Risks

No matter what time of year it is, trees on a given property need to be protected from certain storm risks. Storms including high winds and other elements create tree movement that can put both the tree and certain building or property elements at risk if the proper steps aren’t taken.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to help with all your tree care and protection needs, from tree trimming that will help remove risky elements to disease control that will ensure your trees are strong enough to withstand the most arduous elements. Making sure your trees are properly cared for so they’ll be ready to face the next major storm comes down to a few very simple areas, each of which our arborists are proud to assist you with at a moment’s notice. Let’s go over each such area, plus some basics you should know.

trees prepared storm risks

Trimming and Removal

The trees that pose the greatest risk during a potential storm? Dead, dying or sick trees, which won’t be as strong throughout their branch structure and pose several physical hazards. Dead trees can see branches break off much earlier than usual during high winds, or may even fall over entirely if they aren’t taken care of, posing huge safety risks to both people and structures.

To prevent these risks, and even to limit the potential for overgrown trees creating similar issues, proper pruning, trimming and removal is vital. Our arborists will assess all the trees on your property and help you understand which could use some careful attention, both for their overall health and to protect your property during heavy weather.

Younger Trees and Stability

If you have younger or less stable trees that you’re worried won’t hold up during a heavier storm, we recommend the use of tree stakes. These are simple items that are placed around your tree to provide additional support, helping it stand up straight through wind, rain and any other weather. Check the stakes regularly to ensure they are in the proper place and not damaging the tree.

Watering Considerations

Finally, another big factor when it comes to keeping your trees strong and stable is year-round watering. Tree stability begins at the roots, which are simply healthier when they have a steady stream of water to keep them healthy. To go even further here, consider deep root fertilization that will bring greater quantities of air and nutrients to your roots, keeping them strong and fertile so they’ll produce a similarly robust tree above the ground.

For more on protecting your trees and preparing them for storms throughout the year, or to learn about any of our tree trimming, tree removal or other arborist services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Winter Injury Concerns for Evergreen and Broadleaf Trees

After what felt like forever, the long and arduous Utah winter finally has given way to spring. The snow is gone from the ground, trees are beginning to bloom and the weather is warming up.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to tell you about what the changing seasons mean for you as a tree owner, from important fertilization areas in spring to pruning, trimming and much more. If you have any evergreen or broadleaf trees on your property, specifically, the early spring is a period to look out for one post-winter condition simply known as “winter injury.” Let’s go over what winter injury means, how it affects trees, and how you can spot and manage signs of winter injury on your trees.

winter injury evergreen broadleaf trees

Trees and Adaptation

Winter injury is a broad category that can affect a number of evergreen or broadleaf species, including Boxwood, Douglas Fir, Fraser and several others. It’s often marked initially by browning concerns (more on symptoms in a moment).

In many cases, winter tree injury is based on issues with the tree adapting to the conditions of the season. Many of the worst cases of tree injury come when a mild previous summer and fall are followed by an extremely harsh winter, such as the one we just went through. This causes the trees to struggle to adjust to the changes in weather that come so quickly. While tree injury is possible even in milder climates, it’s the greatest risk during seasons that change significantly like this.

Symptoms of Winter Injury

There are several symptoms of winter injury to be aware of:

  • Browning: The first and primary symptom of most winter injury conditions is browning on the needles or leaves, generally on the south side of trees or any needles that are not above a snowline.
  • Water loss: If soil becomes frozen during winter, it may leave trees struggling to absorb water through the roots, especially when the sun is out or it’s windy.
  • “Winter burn”: When sunlight reflects off snow and heats up exposed sides of the tree, causing rapid changes when the temperature drops at night.

Avoiding Winter Injury Concerns

When it comes to avoiding future winter injury, the name of the game is actually paying strong attention to late-summer and early fall tree care. Strong watering of shrubs, evergreens and broadleaf trees should be observed all the way up until the first frost and freezing ground in the fall, and you can consider mulch around the base of these trees to keep water conserved in the soil and protect the roots from frost. Some property owners choose burlap screens for wind and element protection, including keeping trees safe from salt spray from close-by roads.

For more on spotting and avoiding winter injury in your trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or tree removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

Determining the Right Time for Tree Removal, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over several of the broader tree diseases and conditions that may require an eventual tree removal on your property. There are several such conditions, and determining their severity and how they impact your species specifically is the name of the game when understanding whether the tree can be treated or whether tree removal might be necessary.

At Reliable Tree Care, our arborists are proud to assist numerous clients in this area, from assessing issues and providing disease control services where possible to taking care of tree removal when it’s required, plus everything in between. In today’s blog, we’ll look at a few issues of placement or physical issues that may lead to removal needs, plus how you can assess the concerns and make the right choice.

determining right time tree removal

Ground Roots

If you have begun to notice roots from a given tree that are growing along the top of the soil, this is generally a sign that the root system is struggling to find purchase within the soil. There could be a few reasons for this, including soil makeup concerns.

Regardless of the reason behind it, trees in this position are at risk of physical damage from humans, animals and other surface elements. When exposed to winter weather, roots may undergo significant strain. In certain cases, enough roots in this form will signal that the tree simply cannot build an adequate root system and must be removed.

Sewers and Septic Tanks

One of the single most significant and expensive plumbing issues that can happen to homeowners relates to trees: The invasion of tree roots into main sewer lines or septic runoff areas. Tree roots are always on a natural search for water and nutrients, which may lead them to these plumbing areas in some circumstances – leading to massive repair needs and often tree removal concerns. Ensuring trees have both proper water and appropriate distance from main water lines is important for their long-term health.

Roof Concerns

If trees have grown to the point where their branches overhang a roof or other areas of the home, there could be risks present for both the tree and the structure. Roof shingles and moisture protection areas could be at risk of physical damage, especially during high winds or storms, as could siding or other structural areas.

In addition, branches that are in contact with the home will be tough to trim and prune. This can compromise the health of the tree, allowing it to grow out of control and create even further hazards in a damaging cycle.

Power Lines

Down similar lines, it’s vital to trim and otherwise prune tree branches that are anywhere close to power lines. Branches that are even in the vicinity may become entwined during wind or storms, leading to major electrocution risks or other hazards. Such trees will need to be removed for the safety of nearby building occupants in many cases.

For more on signs it might be time to remove trees, or to learn about any of our tree disease care or pruning services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Determining the Right Time for Tree Removal, Part 1

Trees are wonderful and highly beneficial property elements, and those many of us build a bond and connection with over time, but even the longest-lasting trees reach the end of their road at some point in time. In fact, in many cases, the best tree owners are able to spot the signs that their trees are reaching the end of their lifespan, allowing them to provide the proper care to both the tree itself and surrounding property areas.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to help with everything from proper care of diseased trees to tree removal when needed. We can also help explain the risks of delaying dead tree removal when the time comes. How do you know, though, when the time is coming to remove a tree? This two-part blog will go over several important factors here, including certain situations that may or may not indicate tree concerns, plus those where removal is an absolute necessity.

determining right time tree removal

Dead Trees Vs. Dormant Trees

For starters, it’s important to understand the full range of actual tree conditions out there. Namely, while certain trees may appear to be dead or dying, they might actually just be dormant – and knowing the difference is important.

In many situations, trees go dormant during the fall or late summer as they prepare for winter. In others, damage or sickness may appear in only sections of a given tree, while the rest of the tree remains fine. In both these and related situations, it might not be necessary to remove the tree. Our arborists can assess the tree and make a determination.

Stressed Trees

“Stress” is another broad category that a tree can come under, and it may or may not lead to removal needs. It’s marked by the appearance of small “shoots” near the base of the tree, little branches that look out of place in this area. They often show up because trees are struggling with some part of the environment or soil system, and an arborist can assess their specific causes plus whether they signal a need for removal.

Branch Damage

In many cases, branches that are damaged can be removed for the good of the tree while the tree itself remains. This is often done purposely during the pruning process, in fact.

In other situations, though, too much branch damage may necessitate a full removal of the tree. If too many branches are damaged, the tree may not be able to harvest enough sunlight to keep itself alive, and letting it die naturally can be dangerous to the surrounding environment.

Fungal Infection

Fungal infections in trees may give off a few different visible signs, from strange wounds without a known cause to brackets that begin to form from the trunk, roots or even branches of the tree. Once again, not all fungal infections necessitate removal, though some do – and a trained arborist will know best.

For more on conditions that may or may not lead to tree removal, or to learn about any of our tree pruning, removal or disease care services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Managing Tree Root Contact With Sidewalks and Walkways

At Reliable Tree Care, our top priority is the health and safety of your trees. From basic tree shaping and trimming services up to checking for disease and preventing insects, we’re here to keep your trees beautiful and healthy for decades into the future.

One common property area where basic tree care can become a bit more complex is when trees are located near a property walkway, most commonly a sidewalk. Let’s go over why this can sometimes be a small concern, what can be done when tree roots begin interacting with concrete or other walkway materials, and how our arborists can help here.

tree root contact sidewalks walkways

Roots and Sidewalks

Roots are a vital part of any tree, and as the tree ages, their root systems will spread out. This spread isn’t random – it’s based on finding areas where the roots can comfortably supply nutrients and moisture without interruption.

When roots expand into areas nearby walkways, however, this process can be bothered. The outcome here will often be negative for both the tree and the walkway; roots will not grow properly and the tree’s health may suffer, plus root areas will often grow directly into seams or expansion joints in sidewalks, damaging them significantly.

“Just cut the roots, then,” you might be thinking, but it isn’t that simple. First off, roots can simply grow back again right into that same section and cause even more damage, often within just a couple years. Secondly, cutting roots this way during tree growth risks further damage.

Tree Stability is Paramount

When assessing the options for managing this kind of interaction, which we’ll go over momentarily, the top priority for arborists is the stability of the tree. Roots aren’t only present for nutrients – lateral roots are also vital for resisting wind and keeping the tree stable. If they’re cut, you risk the tree being uprooted far m ore easily.

Essentially, cutting roots closer than five feet from the tree will only be used as a final option if all others have been exhausted. This is due to both tree health and potential liability concerns.

Available Options

There are a couple good options your arborist might suggest when it comes to dealing with tree roots that are reaching walkways:

  • Sidewalk shaving: If possible within local regulations, shaving down the sidewalk is the safest method here for trees. This can be done with asphalt in some cases, or with other formats, and can be repeated several times if needed to even out the sidewalk.
  • Slabjacking: Slabjacking is a recently-popularized technique that utilizes injections into concrete that raise the slabs to a certain level. While it’s commonly used for concrete leveling to avoid removing large slabs of concrete, it may also be used to correct a slab when roots are nearby and make the space safer for both.

For more on how to handle tree roots that are pressing up against walkways, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

All You Need to Know About Watering Trees, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some of the basics of watering trees on your property. We discussed both younger and mature trees and how their watering and root systems differ, plus some other general tips.

At Reliable Tree Care, our pros are always here to assist with watering concerns and questions among our wide range of tree services, which also include trimming, disease control and several other areas. In today’s part two, we’ll go over some of the practical elements of watering trees – when and how to do it, avoiding too much or too little water, and a few specific factors for watering in the fall.

need to know watering trees

Basic Watering and Time of Day Considerations

Generally speaking, we recommend using either a proper soaker hose or an installed drip system to water the trees on your property. These allow water to slowly be released into the soil, sinking into the ground and reaching the full root system of the tree.

When should you be doing this during the day? The answer might depend to some degree on which tree species you have on your property, but in general the best period for this is in the evening time, a couple hours before dusk sets in. This is a period where the ground and soil are still relatively warm from the full day, but the sun is no longer beating down at its highest levels and will not risk evaporation of much of the water meant for your tree’s roots.

Avoiding Overwatering or Underwatering

So how do you know if you’re providing your tree with the proper amounts of water? We went over some basic amount guidelines in part one here, but as we noted in that section, this really depends on a few factors that will vary from property to property. Our pros are here to offer some expertise, though – here are some signs that a tree is overwatered:

  • Area surrounding the tree is constantly wet or moist
  • Leaves or branches may begin to turn yellow when this is not the desired color
  • Root rot or fungus may begin to appear at the base

On the flip side, here are some red flags that your tree might not be receiving enough water:

  • Leaves have begun to wilt or curl in strange shapes
  • The edges of leaves begin to turn brown
  • Leaves are generally smaller, and may drop earlier in the fall than usual

Fall Factors

Speaking of fall, some people wonder whether watering should be done the same way during this period of the year. If you’re dealing with newly planted trees, the answer is yes – you should water them in the same manner as you would during any part of the year. For mature trees, however, you may slow your watering near the beginning of fall – but plan a deep watering at least once before the ground freezes over to prepare them for winter.

For more on watering your trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or other arborist services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.