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Acorn Tree Care Learning Center

This is our learning center and blog. We will update this with information about all things related to trees and arboriculture.

Dieback Trees

Dieback Tree Disease

Dieback Tree Disease
Dieback Tree Disease

Are You Looking For Buds In All The Wrong Places?

Right now our deciduous trees in Atlanta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, and Cumming are starting to leaf out and one of easiest ways to get an indication of their vitality is to visually look for die back or decline in their foliage. This means to look for limbs or sections of a tree that don't have leaves. Dieback is defined as a condition in which the ends of the branches are dying. These sections are generally located at the limb tips, but can also be entire limbs or sections of the tree where there are no leaves.

For example, when you look at your trees this spring and see that the buds are starting to leaf out with the warm weather, you may see an entire section or a large limb that is not leafing out like the rest of the tree. This is most likely an indication that something is not right with the whole tree. Another indication of stress can be large amounts of water sprouts or sucker growth on the interior of the tree. A water sprout or sucker growth can be described as small shoots growing directly from the trunk or larger limbs of the tree. Don't be mistaken if you see leaves on the sucker growth, this is still an indication of overall tree stress.

If you find that your trees show some of these signs keep in mind that when they are stressed, they become much more susceptible to secondary offenses associated with insect infestation or disease that once sets in can kill trees. If you start to see smaller limbs and twigs falling down from the extremities of the tree, the tree is letting you know that it is stressed! If you start to see many larger limbs, starting at 3'' to 4" in diameter or even large sections falling from the tree, the tree is more than likely in an advanced stage of stress.

Having a Healthy Tree

When the bark of your once healthy tree becomes brittle, spongy, and even starts to fall off, it may be too late to save your tree. If you are concerned with any of the trees on your property, this is usually an indication that you have noticed something that is not right. The sooner you contact an arborist, one who is educated to assess your tree(s), the more cost effective it becomes for you. Talk about going green! Some of the situations that may cause your trees to not grow green this spring are as follows. Insect infestations, tree diseases, construction impact, and the accumulative drought are all factor.

Surprisingly, trees can feel the effects of construction impact and droughts indefinitely which in turn, makes them more susceptible to the tree diseases and insect infestation. Keep in mind that massive amounts of development have highly stressed and killed many of our trees. In fact, many times families purchase a specific lot in a development over another because the lot is wooded or at least has some trees, only to have these trees become severely stressed or die from the impacts associated with construction.

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Facts About Trees

Trees & the Environment
  • Trees continue to keep our air supply fresh by soaking up carbon dioxide and generating oxygen.
  • The volume of oxygen made by an acre of trees each year equals the amount consumed by 18 people yearly. One tree generates almost 260 pounds of oxygen each and every year.
  • One acre of trees eliminates up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide every year.
  • Shade trees will make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler during the summer.
  • Trees decrease air temperature by evaporating water inside their leaves.
  • The cottonwood tree seed is the seed which stays in flight the longest. The little seed is encompassed by ultra-light, white fluff hairs which will carry it in the air for a few days.
  • In a single year, an acre of trees can take in as much carbon as is created by a car driven approximately 8700 miles.
  • Trees supply shade and shelter, decreasing yearly heating and cooling expenses by 2.1 billion dollars.
  • Trees decrease air temperatures by evaporating water inside their leaves.
  • The typical tree in a city area survives just about 8 years!
  • A tree doesn't get to its most fruitful stage of carbon storage for about ten years.
  • Trees decrease noise pollution by serving as sound barriers.
  • Tree roots strengthen the soil and stop erosion.
  • Trees enhance water quality by slowing and filtering rain water in addition to protecting aquifers and watersheds.
  • Trees shield you from downward fall of rain, sleet, and hail in addition to reducing storm run-off and the potential for flooding,
  • Trees supply food and shelter for animals.
  • Trees situated alongside roads behave as a glare and reflection control.
  • The death of one 70-year old tree would return over 3 tons of carbon to the atmosphere.
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Pruning Trees Properly

Pruning Trees Properly
Proper Tree Pruning

There are different objectives for tree pruning.

The first one is always safety. Trees in areas around your home or on properties where there is foot traffic or vehicles need to be pruned to remove deadwood. Dead limbs fall from trees frequently and should be removed to reduce liabilities with trees making areas safer. During this type of pruning, it also gives the arborist a chance to view the trees canopy (aerial assessment) to look for any types of stress cracks, hanging limbs, structural defects etc. Another safety issue involving tree pruning is to prune for any type of visual obstructions for traffic areas or low hanging limbs and foliage that people could walk into.

Secondly, trees should be pruned for maintenance concerns with homes and buildings. Limbs and foliage touching and rubbing can damage paint and excessive rubbing can even cause minor structural damage. They can also become an entry point for insects or even unwanted critters. Too much low canopy can start to encroach and present conditions favoring mold or mildew build up from poor air circulation and too much shade. Mosquitoes can also become more prevalent in this environment and fungal problems with trees and plants will become more likely. Thinning tree canopies may be necessary for added exposures to certain plantings or turf grasses.

Thirdly, trees may be pruned to promote overall health and to help encourage proper growth and structural integrity. Generally speaking, healthy trees have good foliage density but are not overcrowded in the interior. Crown thinning can help alleviate the wind sail effect. Trees with good symmetry and scaffold branch arrangement are typically stronger and less susceptible to storm damage. Dead limbs that are removed routinely and properly vs falling off on their own can prevent damaging wounds that can sometimes happen and lead to decay columns. Dead wood removal also eliminates the hosts for wood boring insects and some diseases. Trees in close proximity to one another often times start to conflict; pruning can helps keep separation between them. This helps maintain good air flow, sunlight, and symmetry in their crowns. Structural pruning could be done to help fruit trees withstand the added weight of the fruit.

Finally, trees are pruned for aesthetics. The purpose for this is to help embellish a property, adding curb appeal and accenting architectural features. Properties with poorly maintained trees and plants can detract from the beauty and make them feel less inviting and hospitable. Differentiation between trees and between trees and structures is welcoming and makes the overall look and feel of a property better. Vista pruning could be put into this section as well. This type of pruning is done to gain a sight line or improve a view, typically of a natural feature such as a lake, mountains, or golf course.

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