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Common Issues | Insects of Alberta | Common Tree Diseases

Topping Trees

Topping hurts Trees and is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Other names for topping include “heading,” “tipping,” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over.”The most common reason for topping is to reduce the size of a tree.

Here are reasons NOT to top a Tree.
-Topping Stresses Trees
-Topping Causes Decay
-Topping Can Lead To Sunburn
-Topping Creates Hazards
-Topping Makes Trees Ugly
-Topping Is Expensive

Alternatives to Topping

If you feel a tree must be topped there are other methods to control the height and spread. We have recommendations for doing so. If possible, branches should be removed back to their point of origin. If a branch has to be shortened, it should be cut back to a lateral branch that is large enough to assume the terminal role. A rule of thumb is to cut back to a lateral that is at least one-third the diameter of the limb being removed. Our Certified ISA Arborists can ensure that your Tree will still look attractive and under control.

Improper Pruning

Proper pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. Trees that receive the appropriate pruning measures when they are young will require little corrective pruning when they mature. Poor pruning can cause damage that lasts the life of the tree. Trees do not heal the way people do. When a tree is wounded, it must grow over and compartmentalize the wound, as a result, the wound is contained within the tree forever. Each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree and leave it vulnerable to insects, disease and breakage. Deciding what and where to prune involves an understanding of basic tree biology, sharp tools, and an artful eye. Remember, we must prune with a purpose; we should prune to remove dead or diseased wood, provide clearance or improve the structure of the tree. Our ISA Certified Arborists know where to make the proper cut so your trees remain healthy.

Lack of Water

Keeping the soil moist is crucial, but not saturated. Water trees at least once a week, or more frequently during hot summer days, a good “rule of thumb” is when the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch it is time to water. Water your trees around the drip line of the canopy not at the base of the trunk, feeder roots absorb the water and carry it into the canopy, in turn over-watering causes leaves to turn yellow wilt and fall off. Continue your watering schedule until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less frequent watering.

Trees and Grass

Turf grasses provide many of the same environmental benefits as trees, that is a good thing, but we must pay extra attention when grass and trees are living together. It is important that efforts are made to make trees and lawns compatible, having said this keep in mind mechanical tools like lawn mowers and weed trimmers, are a necessary component to lawn care. Improper use around the trunk of trees can cause badly damaged trunks leading to possible disease, insect infestation and general weakness of the tree system, at worst death of a tree is a possibility. We recommend using natural mulch around your trees staying away 1-2 inches from the trunk to prevent trunk rot.

Planting Floral and Plants around the trunk of Trees

It might look aesthetically pleasing to the eye, however planting flowers and plant material too close to the trunk area robs the fine feeder roots close to the surface of essential nutrients and moisture, an example is walking in a forest; very rarely do you see any kind of plant material growing around a trunk of a tree. It is wise to apply a layer of mulch instead around the trunk area staying 1-2 inches away from the trunk to prevent trunk rot.

Rodents and Common Animal Species

Pay attention to the trunk and lower branches of your trees, depending on where you are living your yard is susceptible to Deer, Squirrels, Mice, Rabbits etc., they are looking for food; especially in the winter months mice for example will burrow under the snow close to the tree and chew the bark, which in turn causes damage to the trunk. Come Springtime the tree is forced to compartmentalise that area to protect the rest of the trunk from decay, insects etc.

Insects and Disease

Insects and disease can threaten tree health. As soon as an abnormality is noticed in your trees appearance, a careful examination should begin to identify the concern. Identifying the symptom early is the first step in understanding the cause, once the problem has been diagnosed the correct treatment plan can be implemented. Stress can play a large part in plant health, there are basic elements that influence the health of a tree and are vital, such as sufficient water, light and proper balance of nutrients. If there is too much or too little of these environmental conditions present plant stress may occur.
Accurately identify the tree or shrub
Look for a pattern of abnormality
Carefully examine the landscape
Examine the roots
Check the trunk and branches
Note the position and appearance of affected leaves and or tree bark

Once the abnormality has been diagnosed a plan of action can then be implemented.

Common Insects of Alberta

Ash Bark Beetle
Ash Borer
Aphid varieties
Birch Leaf Miner
Bronze Birch Borer
Cooley Spruce Gall Aphids
Leaf Roller
Mountain Pine Beetle
Poplar Borer
Poplar Gall Mite
Spider Mite
White Pine Weevil

cooley spruce aphid wooley elm aphid
aphid ash borer
bark beetle birch leaf minor
Bronze Birch Borer bud gall mites
budworm leafroller
mountain pine beetle poplarborer
psyllidae sawfly
spidermite white pine weevil

Common Tree Diseases of Alberta

Apple Cedar Rust
Black Knot
Dutch Elm Disease
Fire Blight
Leaf Spot
Powdery Mildew
Verticillium Wilt

apple cedar rust blackknot
canker dutch elm disease
fireblight leafspot
powdery mildew sunscald
verticillium wilt  


Construction and Trees

Construction can be devastating. The visible injuries like broken branches and wounds to tree trunks are only the beginning, the damage caused to the root systems will often result in tree loss. Trees can be preserved if the appropriate measures are taken soon enough. Although the goal is to preserve trees whenever possible, that goal must not supersede any question of safety.

Give me Space to Grow

Trees, shrubs, ground covers and lawn grasses all require: sunlight, water, and rooting space for growth. Each plant in the landscape competes with neighbouring plants regardless of type or species. Some even produce chemicals that are discharged from roots to restrict growth of nearby plants. For each plant to do well, it must have adequate space. Perennial woody plants increase in size each year, they require additional space over time. Your landscape design should provide adequate space for all plants to mature.


The majority of fine absorption feeder roots are about 6-12 inches below the surface. Many herbicides or weed killers that are used in grass can cause severe damage to trees when misapplied. Mature trees have expansive root systems that extend 2 to 3 times the size of the leaf canopy. A major portion of actively growing roots is located outside the tree’s drip line. It is important to understand this fact when applying fertilizer to your trees as well as your grass. Many lawn fertilizers contain weed and feed formulations that may be harmful to your trees. When you apply a broadleaf herbicide to your grass, remember that tree roots co-exist with grass roots. The same herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds in your lawn is picked up by tree roots and can harm or kill your broadleaf trees if applied incorrectly. Understanding the actual size and extent of a tree’s root system before you fertilize is necessary to determine where it is best applied. Precise Pruning offers a fertilizing program for Spring and Fall, give us a call to maintain your trees health.




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