Scorch on Oak

A customer brought in a sample of some of his oak tree leaves which have been discoloring annually along the edges. He went on to explain that the plant’s location was once backfilled with lime stone and other various rocks to help give a solid foundation before soil was laid (in this case, about 20″ of soil was applied) so a structure could be built. There is also about 10 feet between the tree and a waterway.

close up of oak tree leaves

Oaks have a deep root system. As his tree continues to mature, the roots will continue to grow as well – the problem is that now his tree has an obstacle in the way of healthy root development and is now developing symptoms of scorch.  For his situation, a maple would probably serve this location better.



Have a newer tree planted in your lawn? Might want to protect it from winter.

Salt can cause considerable damage to plants as it breaks down in the soil and starts replacing available nutrients with compounds that are toxic to the plant, some plants are more susceptible to its effects than other.

  • If your plants are along a roadway that may get slush spray from salted roads you can help protect them by building a barrier with plastic along the road way.
  • Water the landscaped areas and trees close to walkways, roads or drives deeply before winter sets in. You can also add gypsum to promote leaching in late fall or spring (when the snow thaws).
  • Use salt that does not contain sodium chloride for areas around sensitive plants.

Some common trees in our landscape & lawns that are susceptible to salt damage:

  • American Sycamore
  • Box-Elder
  • Japanese Maple
  • Red Maple
  • Serviceberry
  • Boxwood
  • Birch
  • Redbud
  • Dogwood
  • Beech
  • Crabapple
  • Norway Spruce
  • Norway & Red Pine
  • Eastern White Pine
  • Scotch Pine
  • Douglas Fir
  • Many species of Oaks
  • Lilac
  • Yews
  • Arborvitae

Wrapping the trunk of a tree with tree wrap or a light colored wrap will help reflect the suns rays to help prevent activated growth during the winter months.

Heavy cold winds can cause evergreen plants to lose moisture through their needles and dehydrate them. The needles will become brown (though that is not an indication that the whole branch is dead) and unsightly. Help protect your conifers by watering deeply before winter sets in and setting up a burlap barrier on the unprotected side of the tree.

mulch-trunkMulch newer trees to help the soil cool down slower and retain moisture. Never pile mulch directly against the trunk of the tree – it should have a ‘volcano’ appearance (as if the trunk of the tree is the lava shooting out).

For more information, check out:

What’s your soil?

Whether you are an avid gardener, in the industry or you are just looking for more detailed information about your lawn, understanding your soil profile is important.  Some plants perform better in clay while others are happier in sand – this is a subject we will get more in depth with in a later blog post.

The Web Soil Survey website is a great resource when trying to find general information about an areas soil type, it is maintained by the USDA and offers up lots of great tools that a free to use. I’ll walk you through a very quick tutorial about how to utilize this site. You may find it here:

web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

On the left you will see an option for “Quick Navigation/Address”.  Type in the area of the soil you wish to look up. Keep in mind, your area of interest has to be relatively small plots, you can’t pull a whole county. We put our shop address in.


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

There is a tool that allows us to draw which area of our visual we wish to survey (AOI, we selected the rectangle tool).


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

And here’s our plot. The green rectangle and diagonal lines indication our Area Of Interest (AOI).


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot

Next, click “Shopping Cart (Free)” near the top and “Check Out”.  A .pdf report will be generated for download and it contains useful information that will be helpful in determining the soil profile of the AOI. (my browser actually blocks the pop up for this download, if nothing happens after clicking “Check Out”, look into your pop-up blocker).


web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot
web soil survey screen shot


Protecting your flower beds & plants from the upcoming snow


I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Jack Carls of Daystar about landscaped plants and the coming snow; and what we, as homeowners, can do to protect our flower beds and prevent any damage to the landscaped areas of our lawn. Here’s what he shared with us:

How can I protect my landscaped beds that run along the driveway from snow, salt and/or plows? Do you offer a service for this?
Protecting landscape beds that run along driveway… Install a burlap wall along the plants. Do not pile snow on the plants, either blow the snow over the top or have snow pulled/pushed to street and piled in front yard. Yes, we offer this service.

How can I keep deer from eating my plants this winter? Do you offer a service for this?
How to keep deer from eating your plants…. We can apply a deer repellent that will keep them away. Yes, we can help keep deer away from your landscaped areas and trees.

Is there a way to avoid a slushy mess from salt melting ice and snow?
Remove all snow before applying ice melting agents.

Do you have any tips to help protect plants before winter comes into full force? Do you offer a service for this?
Protecting your plants from winter….. Burlap fencing, mulch leaves and place around plants instead of taking to curb or mulch before snow arrives to create a blanket for the plants. Also spray with dormant oil to protect. Yes, we offer these services.

If you have questions for Jack and Daystar, here’s their contact info:

DayStar, LLP.

P.O. Box 1192
Holland, OH 43528

Midwest Community Tree Guide: Some Helpful Info

Got some extra time today and I’m tweaking the website a bit. Came across a great .pdf that talks about trees and energy savings. One example I’ll share: plant a deciduous tree on the south side to shade that area of the house in summer, though as the leaves drop in winter the sun has an opportunity to warm the wall.

Pg 41 discusses energy and location of planting to optimize your homes heating and cooling efficiency.

The season is just flying by, and so are the leaves!

If you haven’t picked up your leaves yet, there’s a good chance that your lawn has HEAVY leaf coverage.

Leaves in lawn?

Although it seems like a huge chore to rake and move a whole lawn full of leaves, it really is a necessity to get them off the lawn or at least break them up to the point of easy decay.  Allowing the leaves to remain throughout all of winter will kill-off portions of your lawn. If you have not had the chance to clean up the leaves yet, you may still try and mow them over to break them up, though depending on how thick a layer you have may only result in a bunch of tiny leaf particles still forming the original thick layer you were just trying to rid your lawn of, only now it will be a pain to rake!

One of the things I like to do:

I have a small flower bed that runs along my driveway. I like to rake my leaves about 3 feet from the flower bed (which is level with my lawn) and mow over them with the side discharge aimed at the flowers. This way, I can chop up a good amount of leaves and offer my plants a little extra protection from the coming winter as the leaves are discharged basically right on top of them. It’s a good idea to chop the leaves too instead of just straight raking because of the speed of decay, nature will naturally break up the smaller particles first and you may still be left with full-sized leaves come next spring if you simply rake them. Not only will it help protect your plants from potential salt, it will also offer insulation and return nutrients back to the soil!

Autumn is lovely

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year; new hues highlight our leaves and the sky takes on a warm new color when the sun starts to set. The weather outlook is giving us a few nights this week at or below freezing. Although I’m not overly excited about the chill that is about the be presented, I am always willing to welcome a few nights of freeze. Why you ask? I use this time of year to do some much needed gardening.

Things to do this fall:

  • Rake leaves and move them to the flower beds, this will help keep those desired plants a little warmer and protected from the winter elements.
  • Trim my rose bushes: this year I’ll try snipping them down to about 6″; if you have knowledge or tips for me, I welcome all comments as I’m not all too familiar with rose bushes.
  • Cut my lawn as low as possible without scalping the yard. You do not want to damage the crown of the plant, but you also want the turf short enough that it does not mat down under heavy snow (this will help reduce the risk of snow mold).
  • Prune some trees/shrubs – though I will continue to wait until all leaves have fallen and we’ve had a good number of days below freezing.
  • Wrap new trees with white tree wrap to protect the bark from sun scald.
  • Protect any trees near the road, drive or sidewalk where salt will be applied. Some trees are very sensitive and will suffer damage.

Thankfully we have had a good amount of rain recently, I do not believe I need to water the trees at this point. If you have any ideas that you would like to add, feel free to toss a comment here.