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Stop Insects from Going Wild in Your Trees

Tree Insect Control

Spring is in the air, which means insect control for trees is a priority for many garden owners around the country. Unfortunately, the warmer weather also brings insects and other pests in masse to the new greenery and blossoms in your yard — turning it into a free, endless buffet. Scale insects are some of the most common, and leave behind hard, colorful bumps on leaves and stems. They’ll suck the juices right out of your greenery, ultimately leaving behind a sticky residue that lures in other insects such as wasps, ants and flies.

Acting quickly is key with any infestation, but especially when dealing with scale insects. If untreated, a tree can eventually die from a scale insect infestation. Spray insecticides don’t work well against these bugs, which have a wax coating that protects them. Instead, go for a systemic insecticide, which will smother them. Just be careful you also use an option that’s not harmful to your specific plants and trees.

Furry and Cute Can Mean Disaster

Some caterpillars are harmless, but others like the eastern tent caterpillar can destroy your landscape. They can be spotted first in February in some parts of the country, spinning nests of silk in branches and trunk forks. When they’re feeding, they can totally defoliate younger trees, essentially killing them. They also leave behind unattractive cocoons. You can remove the silk yourself, then brush the caterpillars into a simple water and soap solution.

Another tree destroyer is the whitefly, which is Lilliputian and starts showing up when the weather becomes warmer. You can spot them as small clouds, but they’re skilled at hiding under leaves. A telltale sign is yellow, dry leaves that are quick to drop—as a group, they can kill whole branches. They can be taken care of with a systemic insecticide early in the spring in order to prevent a mass summer killing of your trees.
Spring Flings

Also watch out for the emerald ash borer beetle. A gorgeous green and just half an inch long, it’s actually this insect’s larvae that will kill your plants. They eat the ash tree bark, and are noticed when canopies start dying. If you have an ash tree, you’re at risk. These pests can only be killed with systemic insecticide.

Bagworms look a bit like a wasp’s nest from a distance. Their “bags” will dangle from trees and hatch a horde of caterpillars in spring. They don’t cause a lot of damage, but the bags are ugly. Knock the bags into soapy water to take care of them. There’s a solution to every insect control problem, and some are easier than others; however, relying on a professional is the best (and easiest) way to keep your trees gorgeous.

4 Shade Trees That Grow Quickly

Shade Tree

Choosing the right kind of shade tree for your region will help keep trimming to a minimum and any insect/disease issues under control. Many homeowners need shade trees thriving in a hurry, which means quick growth and easy care. However, you don’t want to risk forcing a fast growth, because in those situations the tree often ends up weak — like the notorious silver maple, which almost always offers up weak wood. The princess tree can shoot up 15 feet each year, but these can be such a pain that some arborists call it “the biggest weed.”

Slow and steady is the best approach to achieve healthy, strong trees, but what if you don’t have that kind of time? It’s time to re-define what “fast growing” means, because if you want your tree healthy, it’s two feet per year, max. Of course, all trees will grow more quickly when they’re younger, but some options are spry and strong at the same time.

1. Freeman Maple

This gorgeous tree offers up bright orange and red leaves in the fall and can reach a full height of 80 feet while reaching 50 feet wide. It does well in most sunny regions, and prefers soil with a neutral pH that’s well drained. Autumn blaze is a particularly popular species of this type of maple, featuring some of the most brilliant autumn colors in the country.

2. Tulip Tree

This straight trunk topped with an oval crown is a real eye catcher. The leaves are shaped like saddles and the flowers that blossom in the spring look (surprise!) very much like tulips. At a maximum of 90 feet high and 50 feet wide, this is another showstopper when it comes to autumn colors. It likes a lot of sun and moist, acidic soil — plant this tree deeply for best results.

3. Dawn Redwood

Redwoods are of course the biggest and most majestic trees in the United States, and this subspecies provides bright green deciduous needles that shift into a burnt orange in the autumn. The bark is deep fluted, and the tree can grow up to 100 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It does best in well-drained soil that’s a little acidic and moist.

4. Eastern White Pine

For those who prefer an evergreen, you can sit back and enjoy blue-green needles year-round. A real shape-shifter, as a young tree the pine is pyramidal, but grows up to 80 feet high and 40 feet wide while filling out. It doesn’t like a lot of wind, but does require moist, drained acidic soil and plenty of sun.

Whether you need shade trees for your own comfort or to increase a home’s value, these four options are clear winners.

3 Trees & Flowers to Plant in February

Rose Bush

Did you know February is prime time to plant trees and flowers in some parts of the country? While it might seem a little chilly outside, spring is around the corner and avid gardeners can get a head start on their newest additions, if they know how to make the right choices. If you just can’t wait any longer to bust out your spade and new Crocs, here are a few gorgeous options:

1. Deciduous Fruit Trees

While February is often cold and rainy (and as such not good weather for many plants), deciduous fruit trees can’t get enough of this wet weather. You’ll most likely find them bare root, so there won’t be any root soil or leaves. Nurseries have them in abundance this time of year, often in boxes.

Most will be dormant, but you might find a few beginning to show leaves. If this is the case, feel free to remove shoots that are too young and short of chlorophyll. You’re better off holding out for new sprouts that will come soon enough.

2. Camellias

Right in time for Valentine’s Day, camellias adore this time of year and get their growth spurts immediately after they flower. That’s why nurseries are touting their best camellias this time of year. Make sure to plant them high, allowing about one inch of the root ball to protrude above the ground.

You’ll want to allow space for the root ball to settle. If the planting is done incorrectly (too low), it can kill camellias (pro tip — this also goes for azaleas) and is the main cause for early death. Besides their persnicketiness for needing to be planted just so, they’re otherwise a durable option.

3. Roses

A rose by any other planting season might not grow as sturdily. While they’ll demand pruning on an annual basis, they’re also without leaves and happy to stay dormant. Of course, with so many breeds of roses, you’ll need to prepare to prune in a variety of ways — some are really demanding, while others require virtually no care at all.

As with any shrub, make sure old branches are snipped to encourage new growth and allow air and light to get in. Not sure which trees or plants are your best bet? Let a professional take care of the selection (in tandem with you, of course) and the dirty work. All you’ll have to do is kick back and watch them grow by the time spring break rolls around.