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Arbor News - 2005

Previous Arbor News Publications

"For the times they are a -changin'. This line from Bob Dylan's song of the same title is as appropriate now as it was way back in 1964 when he wrote it. And imagine no-one ever heard, if even dreamed of the Internet in those days. Talk about things changing and changing fast. Those of us that have lived through the majority of the last half of the 1900's, have certainly seen some dramatic, rapid changes. The same is true in tree care. Gone are flush cuts, tree cut painting, cavity hollowing, topping, & long residual pesticides to name a few. Changes to planting techniques, pruning technique, pest & fertilizer applications, climbing gear, plant propagation and on and on. Most of these changes are certainly for the better and we at Cassity Tree Service strive to offer the "cutting edge" of tree care and to keep our clients the most informed. Growth regulators, bio-rational pesticides, ultra low toxicity pesticides, organic blend fertilizers, lab testing, and keeping you informed of new problems like Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Long-Horn Beetle, Sudden Oak Death are just some of the recent challenges. We have recently taken a big step with the addition of our own website; Along with our own information, we are providing links to expand your research. You can even ask us direct landscape questions or request a proposal or diagnosis from your computer. No busy signals or office horse to worry about. We invite you to check our new website! And as Dylan's song goes on to say: "If your time to you is worth savin' Then you better start swimmin' Or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changing"

Emerald Ash Borer Update

Those of you who are regular clients, are well aware of this devastating Asian marauder we reported on last spring. With millions of ash trees lost already in Michigan alone, it continues to be a very serious concern. The good news is that so far, this pest has still not been found in Wisconsin. Yet, everywhere it has been found so far, entomologists feel it has been present for 2 years or longer. Preventative treatments soil applied in March, remains the best known proactive step towards protection. Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm this summer formally requested that President Bush declare a major disaster for the state of Michigan as a result of the dangers to public safety caused by the severe infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in six southeast Michigan counties.

"Feature Tree"

Musclewood, American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Blue-beech (Carpinus caroliniana)
by Lauro G. Jull Dept. of Horticulture-UWM

Native To: Eastern North American over to Minnesota, south to Florida, Texas and Mexico Mature Height: 20-35'; can reach greater heights

Spread: 20-35' or larger

Form: Small to medium-sized, single-to multi-stemmed tree with wide-spreading, irregular crown. Crooked branches are produced low to the ground.

Growth Rate: Slow; moderate in soils with adequate moisture and fertility.

Fruit: Nutlet borne at the base of a 1"-to 11/2"-long, 3-lobed, green, leafy bract with the middle lobe being the largest and longest. Bracts and nutlets are produced in pendulous, 2"to 4"-long clusters; green, turning brown and can be showy. Entire fruit has an Oriental, lacy texture; occurs in fall.

Bark: Smooth, thin, dark gray to bluish-gray, becoming irregularly fluted with smooth, rounded, longitudinal ridges that resemble muscles. Very showy bark when older. Wood is very hard, strong and heavy.

Requirements: Slow to establish. Difficult to transplant; should be moved in spring. Prefers deep, rich, moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils, but will grow on somewhat drier sites. Can tolerate periodic flooding and lowland areas. Can tolerate full sun to shade and is found as an understory plant in forests.

Suggested Applications: Nice, small-sized speciman tree for patios, courtyards and naturalized areas. Can also be pruned when young and maintained as a pleached, sheared hedge or as a screen.

Comments: Interesting, small native tree often found along stream banks and in the understory. Fine-textured foliage, beautiful fall color and unique bark.

The Art and Science of Watering
by Jean Ferdinandesen, Certified Arborist WI-O149A

Even though we have had sufficient rain and moisture this spring, that cannot make up for past years of drought and lack of timely rains. That would be like expecting a holiday meal to make up for months of starvation. Not only does it not make up for it, the trees' systems are not able to handle it. Many trees now have compromised root systems that are not able to function properly to take up water and nutrients. Roots have been lost from both drought last year and waterlogged soils this spring. Proper watering will be even more important for your trees this season. Most trees require the equivalent of an inch of water every 7 to 10 days. If nature does not provide it, you will need to provide supplemental water. Remember that turf in lawn situations uses large portions of water before trees even et a change to take it up. While the tendency is to think watering is basic, here are some tips to help you water properly:

- Always check soil moisture before watering, pull back mulch and see if soil is dry.

- It is better to water deeply and less often which promotes a deeper root system than frequent light   waterings, wet to a 6" depth and repeat only when dry.

- Watering in the early or late parts of the day helps avoid water loss due to evaporation.

- Do not saturate near the base of trees. Roots spread out two to three times the crown width.

- Apple water where you want it, at the roots, not on the sidewalk or drive.

- Avoid wetting foliage, especially on spruce, pines, and crabapples to help avoid fungal foliage   diseases.

- MULCH helps conserve moisture and modifies fluctuations. Use an organic mulch such as bark   maintained 3" deep. Keep mulch away from the trunk by maintaining a gap of several inches. Please,   no fabric or plastic underneath it.

- Give priority watering to drought sensitive items such as birch and newly planted material.

- Evergreens should be watered up until the time the ground freezes to help avoid winter desiccation   and damage. Water has been found to be the most limiting factor for plant growth.

Following these basic guidelines for proper watering can help maintain your valuable trees and avoid moisture stress.

Meet Susan

Many of our clients have had the opportunity to meet Susan this past summer doing plant health care on their properties. She is also doing our "Winter Tour". Susan started with Cassity Tree Service in March while earning an associate degree in applied science in Horticulture and landscaping. She graduated with honors in May and received the scholastic award for the highest grade point average in the program. While attending school she has complemented her skills by working at a nursery and a landscape company.

Sue and her husband Helge enjoy biking and hiking, working in the yard and touring nurseries looking for new and unusual woody plants. Sue has proven to be a real asset to our company; we're sure you will find her knowledge and caring attitude an asset to your landscape as well.

The Tree

The tree is miraculous
According to me
How God has made
Each branch and twig
And the sweet little bud
That blooms to a flower
Amidst the droplets of
A fresh April shower

A tree is a relic
From centuries ago
Seen by our ancestors
Small although
Right now it looks like
A giant to me
This sturdy, big and
Miraculous tree.

Maria Aman (Grade 5)


Ailing Wisconsin Spruces

Spruce trees in Wisconsin are exhibiting numerous symptoms indicating poor health. While the newest needles may appear normal, old needles are spotted, banded and discolored olive-green to yellow to brown. Symptoms progress and intensify over time. Needles eventually drop, so that fewer years' needles are held on the tree and crowns appear thin.

Without knowledge of the cause, this collection of symptoms has been referred to as spruce needle drop or "sneed" for short. While sneed is an indication of poor spruce tree health, it has not been proven that any particular living pathogen (such as a fungus or bacterium) or nonliving factor (such as air pollution or a soil mineral deficiency) is responsible for sneed.

Efforts are underway in the UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology to answer these questions, using federal block grant funds generously provided by the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association and Wisconsin Nursery Association.

The Ten Gardener Commandments

1) Thou shalt not shear thy shrub.

2) Thou shalt not top thy tree.

3) Thou shalt not plant thy sun-lover on the shade, nor thy shade-lover in the sun.

4) Thou shalt mulch.

5) Thou shalt not leave stubs.

6) Thou shalt not flush cut, neither shalt thou paint wounds.

7) Thou shalt not cover up the base of thy plant, or thy tree or thy shrub. Neither with mulch, nor with     soil, nor with any landscape material.

8) Thou shalt cur circling/girdling roots.

9) Thou shalt not compact the root zone of thy tree, nor trench near the trunk of thy tree.

10) Thou shalt not weed-whip the trunk of thy tree, nor bash it with a mower, nor leave anything tied on       thy tree or the branches of thy tree, as is done in the land of the philistines.

What Shapes Trees?

There are many reasons why tree shapes differ. A tree growing in poor soil may be stunted due to lack of nutrients, and a tree growing right next to an apartment building may have more leaves on the side facing the sun. Different kinds of trees have their own unique form, but the form that any tree has is also affected by the environment where it grows.

Sunshine and water are both essential for a tree to survive, and both influence tree height, crown shape (for example, a round treetop or the cone shape of a pine tree), and the form of leaves.

Some tree species grow quite tall and receive much sunlight. But what about those trees left in the shadows? Many trees collect sunlight that is filtered through the leaves of the taller trees. These shaded understory trees survive by gathering indirect sunlight or sun flecks that break through openings in the canopy. A rounded crown seems to work best for gathering filtered, understory sunlight, which comes from many different directions.

The shape of the tree's crown also has a lot to do with where it lives. Nearer to the equator, the noontime sun is almost directly overhead all year. Tall trees with flat treetops (or crowns) are very common in this part of the world because the flat shape helps expose more of their leaves to the direct, overhead light.

Up nearer to the Artic circle, the sun is never directly overhead and is usually quite low in the sky. Trees in this part of the world tend to be cone-shaped (think of pine trees), with leaves from the top of the tree to the bottom, to make the most of this sunlight.

Finally, many of the trees up nearer to the Arctic circle (like spruce, pines, and fir trees) have needles, partly because needles are especially adapted to cold, dry climates. Needles retain water better than broad-leafed trees like oaks and maples.

New shoots develop profusely below a topping cut


Topping is generally seen when the tree has outgrown it's location. So the phrase "Right plant, Right Place" comes to mind. Topping is just plain ole UGLY!!! New shoots develop profusely below a topping cut, which stresses the tree & invites insects and decay. More problems!!! Stubs left from topping usually decay. Topping also creates hazards because the shoots that are produced below the cut are weakly attached and often become a hazard.

Alternatives to Topping

There are times when a tree must be reduced in height or spread. Providing clearance for utility lines is an example. There are recommended techniques for doing this. If the height of a tree must be reduced, all cuts should be made to the strong laterals or to the parent limb. Do Not Cut limbs back to STUBS!! This method preserves natural form of the trees.

Previous Arbor News Publications

This newsletter has adapted articles from the publications of the following organizations in addition to our original pictures and stories.

Cassity Tree Service - 9160 Charles Street - Sturtevant, WI. - 53177 - 262.886.5224