What’s Wrong With My Tree? How to Know When a Tree Is Sick

Image of damaged tree leaves with the text, what's wrong with my tree?

Is one of your trees looking a little under the weather? Like animals, plants can be impacted by many different diseases and health issues. Providing preventative care, knowing the signs of disease and consulting an arborist when needed are all important for maintaining the overall health of your trees.  If you find yourself asking, “What’s wrong with my tree,” this guide will help take action before it’s too late. 

Types of Tree Disease 

Caused by microscopic organisms, plant diseases can affect any part of a tree or the whole tree.  It only becomes apparent on the tree once the disease takes hold of its host. Tree diseases are often named after the damage that they produce. A few common tree diseases you may see in Tallahassee include: 

Leaf Rust 

Symptom: Brown and Yellow Splotches on Leaves 

Cause: Leaf rust, also known as rust disease, is a common fungal infection that affects various plants, including trees. It is more common in humid climates, as wet conditions increase the growth and release of spores. While it rarely kills plants, it can make them appear unsightly and it cripples the plant by interfering with photosynthesis. 

Treatment: In many cases, an infected tree will naturally fix this issue by shedding its leaves in autumn (although spores can be dispersed by the wind to infect new trees). The best treatment is prevention.  You can plant trees in areas with good air circulation and rake and dispose of infected leaves. In severe cases, fungicides may be used to manage leaf rust. 

Fire Blight 

Symptom: Twigs Appear Scorched 

Cause:  Fire blight, a bacterial infection, changes the appearance of trees to seem as if they were scorched by fire.Leaves on some branches wither and turn black or brown. The bacteria causing fire blight is particularly active in warm, moist weather. Elements such as rain and infected pruning tools provide transportation for the disease to move. 

Treatment: The best way you can treat trees from fire blight is to disinfect pruning tools, and then prune infected spots on the trees. 

Powdery Mildew 

Symptom: White Coating on Leaves 

Cause: Powdery mildew is a white coating that forms on leaf surfaces during  weather with high humidity. Several fungi can cause this disease, with plants that grow in shaded areas being most affected. Leaves are covered with a thin layer or irregular patches of a powdery, grayish-white substance. Leaves may become distorted and night also turn yellow or red and drop. In late fall, tiny black dots may be scattered over the white patches like grains of pepper.  

Treatment: While it’s often more of a cosmetic issue than a serious threat to the overall health of established trees, it can weaken young or stressed trees. You can prune and remove severely infected leaves or branches to reduce the overall fungal load and prevent further spread. 

What’s Wrong With My Tree? Other Signs of a Sick Tree 

Here are a few more common signs that a tree may be experiencing health issues: 

Visible Pests: The presence of pests like caterpillars, borers or scale insects can weaken a tree and lead to health issues. 

Exposed Roots: If tree roots are exposed or damaged, it can impact the tree’s stability and nutrient absorption. 

Root Rot: Signs of root rot include a foul odor, discolored or mushy roots and instability. 

Twisted or Distorted Growth: Unusual growth patterns, such as twisting or distortion, may be a response to stress, diseases or insect damage. 

Visible Decay: External signs of decay, such as soft or crumbly wood, may indicate internal decay. 

Premature Leaf Drop: If a tree drops its leaves before the typical fall season, it might be stressed due to factors such as drought, diseases or root issues. 

If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to consult with a certified arborist or tree care professional. 

Frequently Asked Questions Beyond “What’s Wrong With My Tree?” 

What causes trees to get sick? Trees can get sick due to various factors, including fungal infections, bacterial diseases, pest infestations, poor soil conditions, root damage, environmental stress and physical injuries. 

Is leaf drop always a sign of a sick tree? Not always. While leaf drop can be a sign of stress or disease, it can also be a normal seasonal process. 

Can environmental factors make a tree sick? Yes. Factors like drought, excessive moisture, poor soil quality and pollution can stress trees and make them more susceptible to diseases and pests. 

Can I treat a sick tree myself, or do I need professional help? While minor issues can be addressed by homeowners, it’s often advisable to consult with a certified arborist for accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations, especially for significant tree health concerns. 

Consulting the Experts 

Not all diseases will kill plants and trees. However, many diseases and conditions can hinder growth and affect the look of the trees. If you have concerns about a sick tree, especially trees affected by diseases that may inflict property damage, call Miller’s Tree Service for a free consultation with one of our certified arborists. Our team will assess the tree’s health, identify the underlying issues and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions to improve its condition.  

Spring Tree Care Tips: Pruning, Mulching and More

Do your trees need a little TLC this spring? 

While many trees seem self-sufficient, it takes care and time to nurture healthy growth. With a little knowledge and the right tools, you can take great care of your trees and invest in the success of your landscaping for years to come. 

With each changing season, trees have different care needs. While each type of tree is different, spring tree care generally involves checking for damage, monitoring the soil and pruning as needed. It’s also the best time to spot damage before the spring buds begin to appear. Here’s what you need to know about spring tree care. 

Checking for Winter Damage

First, do a quick clean-up of your property.  Fruit and small twigs often fall and accumulate over the winter and must be raked up and disposed of. Check your trees for any winter damage, such as broken branches or split bark. If you have holiday lights that you’ve yet to put away, take down any that are wrapped around your trees. Leaving these for too long can result in girdling, a process by which a ring of bark is removed or damaged around the circumference of the trunk. 

Look for signs of stress such as wilting, yellowing leaves or unusual leaf drops. These could indicate issues with water, nutrients or pests. 

Pruning

While the winter season is the ideal time to have your trees pruned and trimmed, spring is the best time to identify any damage or broken branches before the tree begins to bud out. It provides a chance to remove any broken branches – and do last-minute pruning – before spring growth begins. Remove dead or diseased branches and thin out overcrowded areas to improve air circulation. 

Pruning a small tree branch

Mulching

Most tree service experts advise having a three-inch layer of mulch around your trees. Mulch promotes moisture retention of the soil and helps prevent weeds from growing. Be careful not to put the mulch directly against the trunk as this will create a breeding ground for disease. Choose organic mulch materials like wood chips, bark or compost. Organic mulches are ideal because they break down over time, contributing to soil fertility. 

If the soil is dry, water the area around the tree before applying mulch. This helps retain moisture and promotes a healthier environment for the tree’s roots. 

Gloved hands holding mulch

Watering

Providing sufficient water is an important part of spring tree care – just don’t water your trees too soon. Instead, wait until after the last frost of the season to start your watering regimen.  

Check the soil’s moisture level regularly. Adjust watering practices based on rainfall and soil type to prevent both overwatering and underwatering. If you have a bubbler, drip or sprinkler system (or all three), now is the time to check them out and ensure they’re working properly.  

Checking for Pests

Spring is a great time to contact an arborist or tree service to inspect your trees for signs of pests and disease. Early detection allows for more effective control. The arborist can identify pests and provide treatment options to get your trees back to health. 

Invest in Healthy, Happy Trees this Spring

Taking time for spring tree care can ensure your trees are healthy, happy and ready to grow. If something doesn’t look quite right with your trees, trust your instincts and contact an arborist to take a look. The earlier you identify any issues, the easier they will be to treat. 

Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming and pruning. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your trees, identify any structural problems and diagnose any pests and/or diseased trees.  

Contact us today to get started.   

The Lichgate Oak and More: Do You Know These Scenic Tallahassee Trees?

Tallahassee is known for its canopy roads, historic college campuses and natural scenic beauty. The highlight of that beauty is perhaps the variety of beautiful trees – many of which carry decades of meaning and tradition for the community. How well do you know the natural landscapes of the capital city? Here’s a guide to Tallahassee’s most scenic trees – both individual and in groups – and where you can find them. 

1. The Lichgate Oak 

When you reference, “Tallahassee trees,” most residents immediately picture the famous Lichgate Oak. Estimated to be over 300 years old, it’s one of the oldest living landmarks in the city. It was purchased by Dr. Laura Pauline Jepsen, an FSU professor, who bought the three-acre property because she loved the tree. She built her home, named Lichgate, on High Road. The cottage and oak tree together create a picturesque and serene setting that has become a beloved symbol of Tallahassee’s history and natural beauty. 

Today, the property has been designated as a Tallahassee Historic Landmark, emphasizing its importance as a cultural and natural heritage site.  Visitors can tour the grounds and the beautiful tree for free at 1401 High Road. The park is also a popular venue for weddings and other events.  

Where to visit:  Lichgate on High Road 

2. Canopy Roads 

Tallahassee is also famous for its scenic canopy roads: tree-lined streets that provide a picturesque and shaded drive.  

While many roads in town are surrounded by beautiful trees, these nine have been officially designated as the city’s canopy roads by Leon County: 

Where to Visit: Tallahassee’s Canopy Roads 

3. Park Avenue Chain of Parks  

For the next scenic view, visitors can venture downtown to Tallahassee’s oldest continuous green space, the Park Avenue Chain of Parks. It comprises a series of parks connected by a pedestrian-friendly corridor along Park Avenue. The city lights up the beautiful trees during the holiday season, including many live oaks  in addition to redbuds, saucer magnolias and camellias.   

Each year, the Park Avenue Chain of Parks is home to the popular, and free, Chain of Parks Art Festival.  

Where to Visit: Park Avenue Historic Chain of Parks 

4. Maclay Gardens 

Another “must-see” spot to visit in Tallahassee is the Maclay Gardens, a botanical garden and state park. The gardens were first established in 1923 by Alfred B. and Louise Maclay as a winter home. Today, the park offers several walking trails that wind through the gardens, allowing visitors to explore the diverse plant life and natural beauty.  

While most famous for its camellias, it’s also home to beautiful towering live oaks, dogwoods and azaleas. Residents enjoy several popular seasonal events, including A Camellia Christmas in December. 

Where to Visit: Maclay Gardens State Park 

5. The Big Oak (Thomasville, GA) 

Located a short drive from Tallahassee, the Big Oak in Thomasville, GA is another notable tree in the area. With a towering height of over 165 feet, it was famously photographed by President Eisenhower, who was impressed by the tree’s beauty. 

Photo Courtesy of Visit Georgia 

Visitors can even get their picture taken with this historic tree via the Big Oak Cam – just dial (229) 236-0053 on your smart phone, follow the directions and then find your photo in the online gallery at https://thomasvillega.com/big-oak-camera.   

Where to Visit: The Big Oak 

Caring for Tallahassee’s Trees 

At Miller’s Tree Service, we love the trees that make Tallahassee “home,” from the famous Lichgate Oak to the oak trees in your front yard. That’s why we’re here to help you keep your trees happy, healthy and thriving for years to come. Contact us today to schedule a FREE arborist consultation.  

Stump Removal 101: Why You Should Call the Professionals

When you arrange for a tree to be cut down and removed from your yard, you may be left with an unwelcome surprise at the end – the tree stump. Many homeowners think to themselves, “I’ve already invested in the cost of having this tree removed. Maybe I can just tackle the stump removal myself.” 

While do-it-yourself stump removal is certainly possible, it’s not something most experts recommend. Between the preparation, risks and costs involved, here’s why you should leave stump removal to the professionals. 

Prep Work 

Before any work begins, the area around the base of the stump must be well prepared. For instance, removing rocks near the base of the stump helps to protect the grinding equipment from damage. The stump may also need to be trimmed close to the ground before using the grinder to make the process faster.   

Stump grinding is often more time-consuming and potentially dangerous than most homeowners expect. Professionals know what is required to make the process fast, efficient and safe. 

Expensive Equipment  

Next, you will need to either purchase or rent the equipment to remove the stump. For many types of outdoor or gardening projects, this might make sense, but learning how to safely operate a stump grinding machine is not simple and can take valuable time. You may find that renting this equipment for one, then two or even three days can add up – equaling the cost of hiring a professional in the first place.  

Stump grinding equipment

You should also factor in the cost of protective gear. Using a stump grinder without the necessary protection is very dangerous. You need eye and ear protection when performing this activity. 

In addition to the cost of equipment, DIY attempts may result in damage to your property, which means costly repairs. 

Safety Risks 

Stump grinding involves heavy machinery, sharp blades and potential flying debris. Kids and pets should always be kept away during removal. Professionals are trained to handle these hazards, minimizing the risk of accidents or injuries that can occur during DIY attempts.  A faulty stump grinder can cause serious harm to the worker and other people around the property.   

Professionals know how to ensure that the grinder is in good condition before work begins. They also have knowledge about what kind of stumps they can work on and the best method of finishing the job efficiently. Some machines are complex and only an expert may understand how to do the job efficiently and safely.  

Project Completion 

Professionals ensure that the stump, as well as the tree’s root system which is often extensive, is entirely removed. This is crucial to prevent regrowth and potential issues with nearby structures or landscaping features. 

Wood chips and debris left from stump grinding

Imagine working in the hot sun for several days, paying for expensive equipment and trying to figure out how to operate a stressful machine all to realize that the stump, despite all your efforts, is stubbornly still around. Or you think you’ve removed it, only to realize that you did not get the entire root system, and it begins to regrow. This is an unfortunate reality for many homeowners who attempt stump removal on their own.  

There’s also the cleanup to consider. Stump removal generates a considerable amount of wood chips and debris. Professionals will either manage the mulch in the area left by the removal or may offer to remove it for a small additional cost, saving homeowners the hassle of figuring out how to manage the waste. 

Adding it All Up 

Stump removal is serious business, and is usually more than a weekend yard warrior will want to tackle. You may want to consider saving the costs of renting a stump grinder, safety gear and all other tools needed. You can save time and stay safe by hiring stump removers to come do the job right the first time.  

When you hire Miller’s Tree Service for your stump removal, you can trust that the job will be done safely, efficiently and correctly the first time. Our careful preparation and attention to detail ensure that your yard will be protected from potential damage, with as little debris left behind as possible. Save yourself the hassle and schedule your stump removal with Millers Tree Service today. 

Using a Tree Spade to Preserve Your Favorite Tree

Some trees can’t fully “bloom where they are planted” due to crowding, lack of proper sunlight and hydration, or even planned construction where the tree currently lives. Thankfully, there are options for preserving a favorite tree under any of these conditions. One of the best ways to keep your tree alive and thriving is by transporting it with a tree spade. Here’s how a tree spade works – and why you’re probably best leaving its operation to the professionals. 

What is a Tree Spade? 

As a tool, tree spades have been around in some form since as early as 1961, and make moving trees only possible but far less laborious. They function by using several large blades that encircle the tree’s roots (also called the root ball) and scoop the root ball out in the shape of a funnel. Think it of similarly to how an excavator digs on a construction site. Once the root system has been scooped up, the tree can be carefully transferred to another spot or placed in a pot for long-distance transportation.  

Tree spade lifting root ball out of the ground.

A tree spade is used to dig up trees or bushes. It allows you to transport nearly any tree with minimal disturbance to that tree’s root systems, ensuring that it can survive and continue to grow in a new location.  

Operating a Tree Spade 

Before using a tree spade, it’s essential for a professional to assess the tree’s health, size and suitability for preservation. They will check for signs of disease or stress, as unhealthy trees may not be suitable for transplanting. Once the tree is deemed healthy enough for transportation, they will choose the appropriate tree spade attachment and configuration – a delicate process. 

Once everything is ready, the tree spade operator will position the tree spade near the tree, taking care to align it with the root ball. The blades of the tree spade will penetrate the soil and encase the root ball and surrounding soil, and then the hydraulic system will allow the operator to lift and transport it to its new location.  

Transporting a Tree 

Once the tree’s root ball has been carefully scooped out of the ground, there still is a level of care needed to ensure the tree makes it to its destination. Before planting the root ball, it’s necessary to check that the new hole is appropriately sized. Placing the tree into the new hole is a delicate process as well, as handling it too roughly can damage the roots. You also want to avoid compacting the soil excessively when filling the hole with soil. It’s a good practice to apply mulch around the base of the tree to retain moisture and suppress weeds. 

The newly transported tree will need some extra TLC and maintenance in the early days to ensure its survival. This involves watering the tree regularly and monitoring it for signs of stress while it adjusts to its new home. 

Calling the Professionals  

Tree spades are incredibly useful tools that allow us to transport trees – big and small – to a new location without damaging them. As with any skilled operation of heavy equipment, however, it’s a good idea to leave this task to the professionals to ensure your tree has the best chance of survival and to ensure your personal safety in the process.  

Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming, pruning, transportation and removal as needed. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your trees, identify any structural problems and diagnose any pests and/or diseased trees, including whether a tree is a good candidate for transportation. 

Contact us today to get started.  

Caring for Native North Florida Trees in Your Backyard

Live Oak tree with the text "Caring for North Florida Trees"

With over 50 native tree types in Florida, it’s entirely possible you have more than a couple of species in your backyard. Although not all the trees you see are native to the area, the native North Florida trees are easy to identify once you know what to look for.  

Tallahassee is within Zone 8 on the USDA Hardiness Zone map, a system used to categorize regions based on their average annual minimum winter temperatures. This information helps gardeners and horticulturists determine which plants, including trees, are likely to thrive in a particular area. Trees that are native to North Florida tend to thrive in the ever-changing Zone 8 conditions that include mild winters and warm summers. 

Wondering what hidden tree treasures you have in your own backyard? Here are just a few of the most popular native North Florida trees and how to best care for them. 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

The native Live Oak is one of the most popular native North Florida trees, especially in Tallahassee. Characterized by a massive trunk and large limbs, they tend to be draped in Spanish moss and produce a lot of shade.  

With the average size being 60 feet tall and 80 feet wide, they need a LOT of room to grow. If planted in the perfect area, they can develop for centuries. However, if you plan to add this tree to your landscape, you must be sure to do plenty of pruning when it is growing in its early years. When the tree is older, the wood is immensely strong and durable, even to hurricane winds. Live Oaks are some of the safest and most stress-resistant trees in the area, handling the impacts from construction, stress and disease as well as, or better than most trees in the South. They have extremely shallow root systems, however, and are prone to tip after a hurricane. 

Caring for your Live Oak 

  • Water deeply and regularly during the first year to help establish the root system. Once established, Live Oaks are relatively drought-tolerant but benefit from occasional deep watering during dry periods. 
  • Prune only as needed after the early growing years to remove dead or diseased branches. Live Oaks have a natural, sprawling growth habit. 
  • Keep an eye out for pests like oak wilt and scale insects. Regular inspection and early intervention are key to maintaining tree health. 

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Although not as common as the Live Oak, you may have a Southern Magnolia tree in your front yard. They love the light, so at their tallest point, they can grow to be around 75 feet tall. During the spring and summer months, a Southern Magnolia is known for its beautiful cream-colored flowers that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter! However, even when the blooms are not in season, the tree manages to keep most of its leathery green leaves. When the large leaves do fall once a year, they tend to leave a mess behind. 

Southern Magnolia flower with the text "Southern Magnolia"

Caring for Your Southern Magnolia 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish the root system. Once established, water during dry periods to maintain soil moisture. 
  • Prune to shape the tree when young. Minimal pruning is recommended once the tree is mature, as excessive pruning can affect flowering. 
  • Watch for pests like scales and aphids. Magnolias are generally resistant to major diseases but monitor issues and treat them promptly if needed.  

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

As far as flowering trees go, this one takes the cake! Although its size isn’t large – only about 25 feet at maturity – the blooms that this tree puts out in spring sure are. Along the bare branches, clusters of pink or white flowers appear to beautify your landscape.  However, they don’t last forever. In the summer, the flowers will fall and be replaced with dark green leaves – perfect for any Florida front yard. 

Eastern Redbud flowers with the text "Eastern Redbud"

Caring for Your Eastern Redbud 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish roots. Once established, water during dry periods, but avoid over-watering. 
  • Prune for shape when the tree is young. Minimal pruning is usually required for mature trees. 
  • Keep an eye out for issues like cankers and leaf spots. Proper care and maintenance can help prevent most problems. 

Trust the Tree Experts

North Florida is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including these and many more beautiful native North Florida trees. To maintain the health of your trees year-round, it is essential to observe them and provide responsive care as needed.  

Need a little help? Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming, pruning and removal as needed. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your North Florida trees, identify any structural problems as well as diagnosis any pests and/or diseased trees. 

Contact us today to get started. 

The Best Trees for Bees in the Big Bend

We need bees for pollinating our garden, our flowers and the majority of the world’s food crop. The decline in bee populations is an ongoing concern, with questions being posed on how to reverse the trend. We can each do our part, beginning with providing our busy little friends with the best trees for bees in our own yards. Everyone wins – the bees gain pollen and nectar and we gain beautiful flowering trees to enjoy!

A Bit About Bees

There is an amazing amount of information available about the 4,000 different bees in America and the other 16,000 worldwide. In the interest of time and eye strain, we are sharing basic information about the honeybees and bumblebees we have locally, as well as the kinds of trees that will help them thrive.

The life cycle of an average honeybee worker is 15-38 days and up to 200 days in the winter. There is only one queen bee per hive, and she can lay thousands of eggs per day when conditions are optimal and food is plentiful. When a queen honeybee starts to age after a year or two, the hive will hatch a new queen by feeding the larvae a special diet of royal jelly. Honeybees are attached to their hive until they outgrow the current one and swarm to find a new location.

Bumblebees have more of a yearly cycle and are as likely to be found underground in an abandoned tortoise burrow as they are in a hollow tree. They are able to fly in colder temperatures – so you will likely see bumblebees later in the Florida fall and early in the spring. The queen bumblebee and her bees that hold court during one season will die at the end of summer, making way for a new generation that will search out their own burrow or tree to overwinter, repeating the cycle.

Note: It is estimated that the American bumblebee population has declined by 90% in some areas, nearly vanishing from eight states. Pesticides and loss of habitat are contributing factors to the decline, as well as competition from non-native honeybees. Let’s plant more trees so there is plenty of nectar and pollen for all our busy bee friends!

Trees for Bees in Our Zone

Red Maple, Sugar Maple and Silver Maple are all in the Acer family and will provide bees with nectar and sap. The flowers are rich in nectar, and the sap is found from small holes created by woodpeckers or other sap seeking critters. Maples make beautiful shade trees in the summer with a colorful display in fall before the leaves drop. Maples prefer colder temps during the winter months and will do fine in our Zone 8 region.

Eastern Redbuds are native trees that will tolerate shade but are best planted in sun to produce more blooms for bees. Their small pink flowers attract pollinators in early spring. The pollen is a favorite for bees, but the nectar can be challenging for the shorter tongued honeybees. Carpenter, blueberry and bumblebees enjoy both nectar and pollen from redbud blooms.

Serviceberry is often the first tree to show life in the spring with an abundance of nectar-rich white blooms the honeybees and mining bees love. The fruit that comes later in spring is a favorite of birds and is known to make a sweeter pie than blueberries. At an average of 15-20 feet tall, a serviceberry is a great addition to any yard and a must-have for early season bee feeding!

Oak trees and bees are important to each other. Pollinators help to transfer pollen between the male and female flowers that later produce the acorns that feed wildlife or grow into new trees. Honeybees extract nectar from inside the small flowers and bumblebees use their fury bodies to collect pollen.

Black Tupelo is a tree known to like moist, well drained soils, often found in the wild at the edge of ponds and wetlands. The tree offers beautiful fall foliage with displays ranging from yellow to orange, red and rust. Black Tupelos produce small blue-black berries that wildlife and bees use for food. This is not a tree that you want near a sidewalk as the berries will stain concrete and track into a house.

Fruit trees can be very dependent on bees for pollination, with growers often hosting hives in their orchards. For homeowners hoping to give bees seasonal food choices, consider a variety of fruit trees that bloom at different times of the year. Fruits trees that can be grown in our Zone 8 region include apple, pear, plum, peach, fig, cherry, nectarine, apricot, persimmon and lemon. There are plenty more, including bushes and vines such as blueberries and blackberries.

Do your research and look for dwarf varieties to make your fruit harvesting possible without a lift. Keep in mind that some fruit varieties need a male and female tree blooming at the same time for fruit to set. Keep bloom times in mind for the bees, striving to have blooms available for food from early spring to later fall.

Got Bees?

Not every situation with a bee may be positive. Sometimes bees swarm when a hive becomes too large or they lose one hive and have to find a new location. These bees usually congregate together and are less aggressive with no hive to defend. DO NOT approach a swarm of bees. If possible, it’s best to leave them alone or call a qualified removal specialist. This is especially true if you find an active hive within an occupied structure or a tree that is scheduled for removal.

In Florida, registered beekeepers can remove and relocate swarms and established colonies. If a colony is in a difficult place to reach or are overly aggressive and pose a risk to humans – particularly near a school – a certified pest operator may need to eradicate. Both of these services are regulated, and registered operators can be found on the Honey Bee Removal or Eradication List maintained by the Florida Department of Consumer Services.

We hope the information about bees has been informative and is inspiring you to plant new trees for bees. And yes, Miller’s Tree Service can keep the trees you select for your bees trimmed, just like we do for the other trees already in your landscape. We can plant and transplant trees, too. Give us a call at 850.294.TREE (8733) and let us help you realize the dream of being bee friendly with trees!

Storm Damage in Tallahassee – Preparing You and Your Trees

tree is falling over from storm damage in Tallahassee Florida

People joke about the weather in Tallahassee being unpredictable. However, when summer comes around, we can almost predict severe weather warnings will be followed by storm damage with trees down in some part of Tallahassee. There are measures we can take to minimize storm damage to our trees as well as best practices after damage occurs. No plan is foolproof, but we wanted to share many of the things we have found helpful when dealing with our predictably unpredictable weather in Tallahassee.

Preparing Trees for Summer Storms in Tallahassee

Start Preparing Early by Watering Younger Trees Deeply

When you plant a young tree, your job of caring for the sapling is just beginning. Depending on the time of year and size of the new tree, staking, watering and fertilizing will vary. The goal behind watering younger trees is to have their roots grow deeper into the soil, avoiding surface roots that lend less strength when strong winds blow in with summer storms. Even if you get a light summer shower on watering day, you will still want to keep to your schedule of deep watering, encouraging the roots to develop further down into the soil.

Another factor in growing healthy young trees is remembering our Tallahassee summers can become brutally hot with the full sun burning off moisture quickly. Mulching is an important part of your plan to help your young tree retain the moisture from your deep watering sessions. But improper mulching can do more damage than leaving the soil bare to bake under the summer sun. For information on mulching young trees the right way, read our recent blog on best practices on our website.

Pruning for Air Flow

If you have two lawn chairs the same size, made of the same material and facing the same direction – but one has a solid back and the other has room between the straps – when a strong gust of wind comes along, which chair will blow over first? The solid backed chair will blow over first, like trees that have not been properly thinned and pruned to allow air movement through their branches.

Pruning for air flow is standard maintenance for many trees and may include removing a variety of different sized limbs. The goal is to open the interior of the tree structure, allowing maximum air flow and discouraging an environment attractive to pests. A tree with a dense limb structure may have branches rubbing together or rotting, making the tree at risk to diseases and destructive bugs.

Removing Dead Tree Branches

When summer storms kick up wind gusts, objects like dead limbs can become deadly projectiles. It may seem easy to get the job done by pulling out limbs that are low enough to grab by hand. You might be surprised how many dead branches can hide in a larger tree, ready to fall and cause storm damage. Removing dead limbs can be hazardous when homeowners try to do it themselves with equipment not meant for the task.

Professionals will use lifts – or occasionally climb with safety harnesses in place – to access the interior of the tree. They will remove dead limbs and check for any that are in poor health or position, crowding others and rubbing away bark. A word of caution – allowing someone to climb your healthy tree with spikes to remove dead limbs is inadvisable. Inserting multiple holes in the bark of a tree is like an open invitation to pests and rot! Spikes may be used by trained professionals with additional safety precautions only when a tree has been marked for removal.

Miller's Tree Service Tree Spade

Moving or Removing Problem Trees

It is not unusual to decide a tree is too close to your home once storm damage in Tallahassee becomes a regular subject of summer conversations. What once looked pretty and perfect now looks menacing as you see the branches whipping closer to windows and roof line. If you have a strong attachment to the tree, there may be an alternative to removal. A tree spade can be used to transplant smaller trees that are rare ornamentals, commemorative plantings or still have decades of growth ahead, but have outgrown their current location.

A tree spade is a unique piece of equipment that digs a hole at the destination site commiserate with the size of the tree to be moved. The operator then repositions the equipment with the spade blades surrounding the tree to be removed. Once set into proper position, the spade blades are slowly pushed into the ground by hydraulics, surrounding the tree and root ball. Next, the operator reverses the action, lifting the entirety of dirt and tree in one motion. The intact tree, root ball and surrounding soil is then moved to the previously spaded area and positioned into the hole. Using this method causes minimal damage to the tree and saves significant time in digging.

If the tree is at the end of its natural life cycle, diseased or too large for the available tree spade – then removal is the best course of action. Depending on homeowner preference, the stump of the tree can be left at a certain height, cut off at ground level or ground down. Regarding stump grinding, some tree stumps are left for natural habitats or craft ideas, but not if located too close to the house. As stumps decay, they attract boring insects and other bugs which may be okay in the far corner of your lot but should be avoided close to the house.

Preparing Yourself for Storm Damage in Tallahassee

In a city like Tallahassee, it is inevitable that strong summer storms or remnants of a hurricane will bring down trees. Where those trees fall and how it personally impacts you can range from the inconvenience of lost power to roof intrusion and subsequent water damage.

None of us wants a repeat of Hurricane Michael, but if a strong storm comes ashore at Carrabelle or St. Marks, it will heavily impact Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. We have a list from our September blog with pointers on how to get tree help quicker, know what to expect, and protect you from the questionable characters that pop up when disaster strikes.

9 TIPS ON WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER SEVERE WEATHER

  1. Call your preferred tree company first, then your insurance company, then a roofer or contractor of choice. Have your insurance information ready at the time of the call.
  2. Do not pay any vendor up front for any work and always ask for a copy of their insurance.
  3. We know it is a difficult time, but please be patient! Thousands of calls will be coming in and they will be prioritized based on location, severity and order of the call.
  4. We will only be handling trees on houses and structures until those are cleared up.
  5. If you have trees in your yard, they will have to wait until trees on houses are finished. You can still call us to get in the queue for yard clean up.
  6. Please understand, your yard may get damaged. With it being very wet, combined with a large volume of work to do, your yard and driveway may get damaged more than if it was a regular tree job. We will make every effort to minimize this damage, but in emergency situations, we can’t spend extra time trying to protect the yard.
  7. Once the tree is removed from your house, it may be weeks before we get back to do a final cleanup of your yard. Again, be patient, as there is a large volume of damage across town.
  8. Your debris will be stacked by the road possibly for weeks. We will either give you a price to haul it later, or the city or FEMA will haul it.
  9. We will not be tarping or repairing roofs. Have a roofer or contractor on your short list of vendors.

You can find additional pointers by visiting our blog on Recovering for Summer Storm Damage in Tallahassee.

Storm damage is a predictable part of our summer weather in the Big Bend. Tree maintenance, trimming and removal are part of what we do to keep Tallahassee trees healthy. Moving your favorite tree is now a possibility with Miller’s Tree Service, as we recently invested in a tree spade –  available for both residential and commercial clients.

We are invested in keeping Tallahassee proactive against storm damage, so please call 850.894.TREE (8733) for a free arborist consultation before the next big storm!

Magnolia Trees – Picking, Planting and Care

Magnolia Trees for Tallahassee and North Florida

Magnolia trees are a popular choice for landscaping in Tallahassee due to their beautiful flowers, glossy foliage and ability to tolerate our hot, humid summers in zone 8b. From the classic Southern Magnolia to the compact Teddy Bear, magnolias make a beautiful addition to any landscape. After reading through the varieties, picking just one may prove impossible. If you have enough sunny yard space, consider adding two or more for a truly magnificent magnolia experience!

Magnificent Magnolia Varieties
Southern Magnolia Tree Flower

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora):
One of the most classic of southern trees, the native Southern Magnolia is big, bold and green. With glossy, leathery evergreen leaves that are deep green on top and brown on the bottom, it provides shade year-round. A slow grower, the initial size of the tree can be deceiving in a five-gallon pot. Considering most Southern Magnolias reach a height of 60 to 80 feet and spread 30 to 50 feet, planning to leave plenty of room for growth is imperative.

While planning the location, be sure you have a spot in full sun to ensure plenty of beautiful white, fragrant blooms. At 8 to 10 inches in size, Southern Magnolia blooms live up to the name “Magnolia grandiflora.” Their heady fragrance in late spring and summer is magnified by the heat and humidity of Tallahassee.

Hardiest in zones 7-9, Southern Magnolias will tolerate a variety of soils including sand and clay. Once established and flowering, it also is a boon for wildlife. The cone in the middle of each flower matures into a pod of seeds that are eaten by birds and other wildlife. If you have a sunny space large enough for a mature Southern Magnolia, consider it for your next tree planting.
Southern Magnolia: 60-80 feet tall, 30-50 feet wide native, best grown in zones 7-9.

 

Sweetbay Magnolia

Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana): Another native species, Sweetbay Magnolias are smaller, deciduous or semi-evergreen trees with a dense, rounded canopy. The upper surface of each leaf is a dark green with the underside being a pale green or silver. The leaves are often gathered for their citrus scent, and used in potpourri, oils or tea. Also used for herbal remedies and some culinary dishes, the Sweetbay Magnolia leaves have a wide range of uses.

Slightly cupped and about 3 inches wide, Sweetbay Magnolia blooms may be small, but their fragrance is beautifully enhanced. Creamy white flowers bloom in late spring to early summer, emitting a lemony, citrus scent. Small pods with bright red seeds remain on the trees through winter.

The Sweetbay Magnolia is used in gardens, landscapes and naturalized areas. It is hardy in zones 5-9, and tolerant of wet or poorly drained soils. If you have a wetland or rain garden, this is the perfect magnolia. As a moderate grower, give it room to grow in a sunny spot where you can enjoy its fragrant blooms and leaves.

Sweetbay Magnolia: 10-35 feet tall and 10-35 feet wide native, best grown in zones 5-9, near a pond or rain garden.

 

Little Gem and Teddy Bear magnolia

Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’): A Little Gem Magnolia is the “mini-me” of the Southern Magnolia, growing 15-30 feet tall and 8-15 feet wide. The flowers are the same beautiful white with the classic magnolia fragrance, averaging 4 -6 inches in width with possible repeat blooming in the fall and winter.

If you have a sunny spot in your yard that is too small for a Southern Magnolia but you still yearn for its magnificence, then Little Gem is your landscape solution. As a dwarf cultivar, you get all the best of the classic magnolia at a portion of the size. If you have a bit more room, consider the Teddy Bear Magnolia, also a dwarf cultivar with more spread. Though not as prolific a bloomer, the Teddy Bear has deeper green leaves on its average 15-20 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide body.

Little Gem: 15-30 feet tall, 8-15 feet wide, dwarf cultivar of the Southern Magnolia in zones 6-10.
Teddy Bear: 15-20 feet tall, 10-15 feet wide, dwarf cultivar of the Southern Magnolia in zones 7-9.

 

Star magnolias come in many colors.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata):  Similar in shape to the Teddy Bear Magnolia, Star Magnolia averages 15-20 feet wide and 15 feet wide. However, it differs greatly in hardiness, flower shape and available flower colors. Originally from Asia, the Star Magnolia is deciduous, dropping its leaves in fall with fragrant narrow petaled flowers of white, purple, pink, yellow or red appearing in early spring. After blooming, it produces bright pink seed pods, later bearing fruits full of brilliant orange seeds – a beautiful complement to its autumn-colored foliage.

Hardy in zones 4-9, the Star Magnolia tolerates both cold winters and hot, humid summers. Most often grown as multi-stemmed shrubs, blooms emerge on old wood.  Like most magnolias, the Star Magnolia prefers minimal pruning but, if you feel strongly about reducing stems, do your cutting after blooming so next year’s buds have a chance to develop.

Star Magnolia: 15-20 feet tall, 15 feet wide, indigenous to Japan and best grown in zones 4-9.

 

Jane Magnolias are deciduous

Jane Magnolia (Magnolia x ‘Jane’):

The Jane Magnolia is a small hybrid of the native Southern Magnolia that produces purple-red flowers in early spring. The foliage appears after the flowers bloom, beginning in mid-spring. The tulip-shaped flowers are between 4 to 8 inches when open, white on the inside with the outer purple fading to pink as the long-lasting blooms remain for up to 4 weeks.

Jane Magnolias are hardy from zones 4 through 8, losing their leaves in the fall with blooms appearing mid-spring. As a 10-15-foot-tall tree with a rounded canopy, their narrower width of 8-12 feet wide makes them suitable for smaller gardens or as a focal point in landscapes. Jane Magnolias are also versatile as they can be grown as a tree or shrub.

Jane Magnolia: 10-15 feet tall, 8-12 feet wide, native hybrid grown in zones 4-8.

Planting Pointers for Magnolia Trees

Magnolia trees prefer full sun to partial shade with at least six hours of full sun as a minimum. When looking for the perfect location, consider both the height and the width of the magnolia tree you are planting. It can be difficult to imagine a 3-foot tree growing to 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide, but leaving the room open around your new tree will allow it to reach its full growth potential.

Your magnolia will also prefer to be planted in cooler weather in slightly acidic soil. Amending the soil with compost when digging the hole will help lower the pH. The size of the hole should be slightly shallower than the top of the root ball and twice as wide. Planting the tree too deeply can lead to suffocation of the surface roots. Cut away any intruding roots from nearby shrubs.

As you are backfilling the hole with loosened soil, gently firm it down to eliminate air pockets. Always thoroughly water after planting – it helps settle the soil and give fresh water to the recently exposed roots of the tree. During the establishment phase, water infrequently and deeply to encourage deep root growth.

Caring for Your Magnolia

Mulching

Mulching your magnolias follows many of the best practices found in our recent blog “Why Mulching Matters for Young Trees.” Organic mulches such as wood chips, bark or pine straw should be spread in an even layer of 2-3” under the tree canopy and 6” from the tree trunk. Never pile mulch up against a tree as that encourages pests and moisture to gather around the base of the tree.

For a mature Southern Magnolia mulching is not as important for retaining moisture in the soil. The broad spread of the evergreen tree canopy shades the ground, discouraging evaporation. However, for the smaller and deciduous varieties of magnolias, mulching helps reduce stress in dry and hot conditions by retaining moisture and keeping any surface roots cooler.

Pruning

Magnolias are more prone to pruning stress than some of the other popular landscape trees in our Tallahassee area. Generally, magnolias grow in the shape they are meant to be, only requiring pruning of dead or damaged branches. If any shaping is needed, keep it as minimal as possible and plan to perform the pruning during slow growth months in the winter. If there is more extensive damage done from bad weather or a fellow tree falling, consider calling a certified arborist to determine the best plan for maximizing shape and minimizing stress on your magnolia.

Common Pests

Generally considered pest-resistant once established, healthy magnolias seldom require any specialized care. Examining leaves and the overall health of your tree on a regular basis can head off many pests before they become a problem. If you do notice pests or foliage issues beyond what you are comfortable treating, consult an arborist for a tailored treatment plan.

Scale Insects

If you see bees or wasps visiting your magnolia you may have an infestation of Magnolia or Tulip Tree scale. These insects survive by feeding on the water and sugar within the tree. Once they latch on with their elongated mouth into the tissues of the tree, they stay in the same place and begin excreting a sticky substance called honeydew, a food source for bees and wasps. Honeydew also drips down on leaves and causes issues with sooty mold, preventing photosynthesis on leaves and potentially starving the tree leaf by leaf.

If caught early on small trees, the scales can be removed with a small brush. On taller and more mature trees a systemic insecticide brings longer-lasting results. If left untreated and an infestation reaches a threatening level, horticultural oil can be used to smother the scales.

Thrips

With small, elongated bodies and wings, thrips can spread quickly. They feed on the sap of a magnolia through the leaves. Females will lay their eggs on the ground near the tree with larvae appearing in spring. Keeping the ground around your magnolia free of decaying plant materials is one of your best defenses against thrips.

Because they are flyers, you can use sticky strips to trap them when they reach the adult stage. If you are interested in ladybugs, ordering some in to feed on the larvae will also put a stop to the sap-sucking thrips. If the swarm has already grown to a larger problem than the previously mentioned solutions can handle, spraying the leaves with a solution of horticultural oil is advisable. Please follow directions carefully to ensure proper concentration and application.

Mealy Bugs

Another sap happy pest, mealy bugs are often encountered on houseplants and ornamentals. The small, white and slightly elongated bodies can be found on magnolia leaves that are slightly deformed or yellow. Though they may look soft their backs have a strong shell that acts as protection. Mealy bugs move and reproduce quickly, making the use of horticultural oil a viable solution to preventing eggs from hatching. For a general defense, insecticidal soap or pesticides can be used.

Magnolia trees are some of the most magnificent landscape specimens in any Big Bend landscape. The wide varieties of sizes, bloom color and foliage mean there is a magnolia for any situation. Whether you plant the grand Southern Magnolia or the pretty pink flowered Jane, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing your magnolia will be providing you with a show of strength and beauty for years to come.

At Miller’s Tree Service, we often help our clients with the care of their magnolias. Our certified arborists can answer your questions about the placement of new trees to maximize sun and shade.

Contact us online here or call 850.894.TREE (8733) to schedule an arborist assessment – we are invested in keeping all of our Tallahassee trees looking their best!

 

Why Mulching Matters for Young Trees

Mulch is a popular way to spruce up flower beds and define the area between lawn and garden. It’s also used as a buffer, keeping moisture in soil longer instead of the sun baking the uncovered dirt dry. Mulching young trees certainly tidies up the area and helps hydration, but there are other benefits as well. Read on for more information on choosing the perfect mulch and best practices in application.

Why Mulch Your Young Trees

Mulching a young tree is beneficial because it helps retain moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature, suppress weed growth and provides a source of nutrients as it decomposes and minimizes erosion. These benefits help the young tree establish its root system more effectively, grow more quickly and become more resilient to environmental stressors.

Moisture retention: Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil by reducing water loss through evaporation. This is especially important for young trees that have shallow roots and need to establish themselves in the soil.

Temperature regulation: Mulch acts as an insulator, regulating soil temperature and protecting the roots from extreme temperatures. Imagine the difference between cool, shaded soil and the Florida sun beating down on bare ground in July.

Weed suppression: Mulch helps suppress weed growth by minimizing the amount of light that reaches the soil. Weeds compete with young trees for water and nutrients by leaching them from the top surface of the soil before they can reach roots. While mulch helps, there are usually a few weeds that still make it through. Spot treat those with your weed deterrent of choice.

Nutrient cycling: As mulch made up of natural materials decomposes, it releases nutrients into the soil, benefiting young trees. The process is carried out by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, which feed on organic matter in the mulch. As they break down the mulch, they release nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium into the soil.

Erosion control: When rain falls on bare soil, it can create a hard crust on the surface, making it difficult for water to penetrate. This can lead to runoff and erosion. Mulch helps by minimizing impact and distributing moisture more evenly throughout the soil.

 

Which Mulch is Your Perfect Match

There are advantages and disadvantages of organic versus inorganic mulches. While each may find a use, the added advantage of nutrients being added to the soil during decomposition pushes organic to the front of desirable mulches for young trees.

Organic Mulches

shredded bark and woodchip mulch
Shredded Bark or Wood Chips

PRO – Provides long-lasting, attractive coverage and helps improve soil health by slowly decomposing over time and releasing nutrients into the soil. Also heavy enough to help prevent soil crusting and erosion.
CON – May attract pests such as termites or carpenter ants if not aged properly. Can also be flammable and pose a fire hazard in dry conditions if piled close to the home.

 

leaves and grass clippings tallahassee

Leaves or Grass Clippings

PRO – An inexpensive and readily available mulch that provides good moisture retention and weed suppression.
CON – Can mat down and form a barrier that prevents water from reaching the soil. Can also harbor diseases or pests if not composted properly.

 

compost and manure as mulch

Compost or Manure

PRO – Can provide a high-nutrient, slow-release source of fertilizer for plants, while also improving soil structure and water-holding capacity.
CON – May have a strong odor, attract pests, or contain pathogens if not aged properly. Can also be high in salts and potentially harm plants if used in excess. Be sure compost and manure are properly aged so the heat of decomposition does not burn plants.

 

pine needles for mulch

Pine Needles

PRO: An acidic mulch that can help acidify soil, making it ideal for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, blueberries and rhododendrons.
CON – May acidify soil to the point where some plants cannot grow. Can also be difficult to rake or remove once in place.

 


Cocoa Bean Shells

PRO – A decorative and fragrant mulch that can suppress weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Can also deter slugs and other pests.
CON – Can contain theobromine, a chemical toxic to dogs and other pets. May also be expensive and not readily available in all areas.

 


Sawdust or Wood Shavings

PRO: An inexpensive and effective mulch for suppressing weeds and retaining moisture. Can also improve soil structure over time as it decomposes.
CON: Can deplete nitrogen from the soil as they decompose, leading to nutrient deficiencies in plants. Can also be flammable and pose a fire hazard in dry conditions.

 

Inorganic Mulches

 

gravel and river rocks for mulch

Gravel or Rocks

PRO – A long-lasting and attractive option that can be used to create a decorative and low-maintenance landscape. Ideal for arid climates where water conservation is important.
CON – Can be difficult to remove or change once in place. May also heat up and contribute to increased temperatures around plants, leading to potential plant stress or damage. Rocks must be kept away from trunks as they can abrade surface areas of bark.

 

rubber mulches

Rubber or Recycled Tires

PRO – Provides long-lasting and durable coverage. Comes in a variety of colors and sizes.
CON – May release harmful chemicals over time and not decompose or contribute to soil health like organic mulches. Can also be visually unappealing in some landscapes. Beware of metal remaining in some rubber mulch recycled from tires.

 

sand or pebbles for mulch

Sand or Pebbles

PRO – Ideal for use in areas with high foot traffic or where drainage is a concern. Can also provide a decorative element to the landscape.
CON – Can be difficult to remove or change once in place. May also not decompose and contribute to soil health like organic mulches.

 

landscape fabric and geotextile membranes

Landscape Fabric or Geotextile Membrane

PRO -Provides effective weed suppression and moisture retention, while also allowing water and nutrients to pass through to the soil. Can be used in combination with other mulches for added benefits.
CON – Can be expensive and not visually appealing. May also prevent some beneficial insects or organisms from accessing the soil.

 

Mulch, Compost and Fertilizer

Can compost be used for mulch? Do you need fertilizer if you use mulch – or is it compost you’re thinking makes good mulch? The terms can get confusing, so here is a summary for reference before you plan the next steps of caring for your young trees.

Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil around plants or trees, typically for the purpose of conserving moisture, suppressing weed growth, regulating soil temperature and improving soil health. Mulch can be made from a variety of materials, including organic materials such as leaves, wood chips and straw, as well as inorganic materials such as plastic or rubber. Mulching is a common practice in landscaping and gardening and can provide numerous benefits to plants and soil when applied correctly.

Organic mulch supplies some nutrients to the soil as it decomposes, but young trees likely need additional nutrients to encourage root growth and overall health.

Compost is a type of organic matter that has been decomposed and transformed into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. It is created by combining organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, food scraps (not meat) and other plant material in a pile or bin and allowing them to break down over time through the process of aerobic decomposition. A note of caution – when compost is going through the active stage of decomposition it is considered “hot” and can damage plants.

Compost can also be purchased commercially to be used as a soil additive or organic fertilizer. Quantities from single bags to truckloads are easily available. For those looking to cover a large area, many landscape companies will offer a ready-made solution of part soil, part compost so it’s ready to use as soon as the truck departs.

Compost is often used as a natural fertilizer in gardening and farming and is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Fertilizers are used to supplement the nutrients in soil that may be deficient or depleted, as well as to enhance the growth and productivity of plants. They contain a combination of macronutrients, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), as well as micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. For a more detailed information on ingredients and best practices, you can read our blog “The Scoop on Fertilizers.”

The type of fertilizer that should be used for young trees depends on a variety of factors, including the species of tree, the soil conditions and the age and size of the tree. Look for products that are high in phosphorus, which supports root development, and low in nitrogen, which can promote excessive leaf growth at the expense of root development. A balanced fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 may be appropriate for young trees but be sure to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application rates and timing.

Best Practices – the Do’s and Don’ts of Mulching

valcano versus donut way to mulch

  • Do use organic mulch, preferably shredded bark or wood chips, for mulching your young tree.
  • Do mulch to within three inches of the trunk.
  • Do spread the mulch out to be 2 to 4 inches deep.
  • Do take the mulch out to the dripline – the end of the branches – of the tree.
  • Do renew mulch yearly.
  • Do not pile up against the trunk of the tree, creating an undesirable moisture trap and pest haven against the bark, often referred to as a tree volcano.
  • Do not exceed four inches of mulch creating an unnecessary expense.

Note: Larger, more mature trees do not require mulching, but it still looks nice

Overall, mulching young trees using organic mulch and best practices gives you an increased likelihood of success. Proper mulching, watering, nutrients and pruning all add up to watching your new tree grow to its full potential. Imagine the 4-foot twig with a few leaves growing to shade the house on warm summer days!

At Miller’s Tree Service, we love watching the progress of young trees growing in the landscapes we service each year. At a certain point, they are added to our trimming list, assuring proper branching and air movement for tree health. If you need help with your new or old trees, or even have one that needs to be moved, we can help. Call to schedule a free consultation with one of our arborists – they love talking about trees!  Contact us online here or call 850.894.TREE (8733) – we are invested in helping our neighbors keep their trees and landscape looking their best.