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Sick Tree Care FAQ

Find answers for frequently asked questions about caring for trees on your property.

Frequently Asked Questions about Caring for Your Trees

Is there any financial assistance available to have my trees removed?

We are unaware of any state or federal program to remove trees on an individual’s private property. Trees are part of the maintenance of your property, just like cutting the lawn and painting your house.

New home construction less than 5 years old?

During the construction of a house, construction workers will park underneath the trees, pile work materials under the trees and mix chemicals underneath the trees. The damage done to the root system and the soil may not show up for five years.

Do you park you car underneath the tree?

About three to five passes with a car underneath a tree can compact the soil to the bulk density of concrete. Most of the tree’s root system is in the top 18 inches of the soil. Tree roots need air and water. The tree roots do not go way down underneath the ground like they have shown in drawings 50 years ago.

Have you done any trenching for utilities or irrigation systems?

You should look at a tree as a wine glass on a dinner plate. The leaves and branches are the top of the wine glass and the dinner plate is the tree’s root system. The roots can travel way beyond the canopy of the tree. Trenching across the tree’s root system can be fatal to the tree especially underneath the canopy of the tree.

Have you used a weed and feed fertilizer on your lawn?

Weed and feed fertilizer is wonderful for the lawn. The weedkiller in the weed and feed fertilizer will kill broadleaf plants. A tree is a broadleaf plant. Some weed killers will affect certain tree species more than others.

Lightning just struck my tree, will it live?

It depends on how much damage has been done internally to the tree. No one can tell if your tree will live right after being struck by lightning. Wait a month to see how your tree is doing.

Some branches on my tree are dead.

If it occurs in the lower branches it may be the lower branches are being shaded out by the upper branches. This is a natural occurrence and is how trees grow. If there is dieback in the upper top branches it may be something going on in the root system. If dieback occurs on one side of the tree, the root system may have been damaged on that side or some type of chemical drift contacted the tree on that side.

My old tree is developing dead branches.

This may be the start of the death of your tree. Trees do not live forever. They can decline just like people do. You may need to have the dead branches removed to prevent them from damaging people and property when they fall. This is part of the maintenance of the trees on your property. If your old tree starts to develop too many dead branches it may be time to have it removed and plant a new tree in its place. If your old tree is a water oak and it is declining, it may be time to have it removed. Water oak trees will start to decline when they reach 50 years of age. They can develop extensive rot internally and can become a hazard to people and property.

Is my tree getting unsafe?

You may want to have your tree evaluated by an Arborist. Check our listing of Arborists or Professional in Tree Care.

I cannot get grass to grow underneath my tree.

Naturally, trees and grass do not really go together. Trees grow in a forest and grass grows in a prairie. Trees grow up over the grass to catch the sunlight. Put some mulch underneath the tree. Mulch will simulate the conditions that the tree would be growing in if it were in the forest. Trees love mulch. The mulch will break down and become fertilizer for the tree and help hold in soil moisture. It will also help control the weeds. Do not pile mulch next to the trunk of the tree. Leave a one-inch mulch free zone next to the trunk. Mulch piled against the trunk of the tree will encourage rot and insects at the tree’s base. You will have to add new mulch 2 or 3 times a year. Go out 3 to 4 feet or more with the mulch. You should pile the mulch no more than 3 to 4 inches deep.

The roots of my large tree are coming up out of the ground. Can I put dirt on top of them?

No, the roots are coming up for air. Tree roots need air to live. You can put mulch on top of the roots. This will protect the roots from the lawnmower and the roots will be able to breathe.

Can I put flowers around the base of my tree?

No, remember that a tree’s root system is in the top 18 inches of the soil. I have seen people rototill around the base of the tree and plant flowers. The rototiller destroyed the tree’s root system and killed the tree. You can end up with beautiful flowers under a dead tree.

My tree has bugs.

You may want to have a Professional Arborist determine if it is necessary to have your tree sprayed. Many pesticides are registered for restricted use and require only licensed persons to apply the pesticides. Some particular insect problems will go away on their own and do not require spraying. Consult professionals.

My tree has mushrooms on the tree or on the ground around the tree.

Have a Professional Arborist look and see what is needed.

My trees have carpenter ants.

Visit UnExCo for some excellent information about carpenter ants.

Is there anything that can be done to bring back a declining tree?

If the tree has not decline too far. Tree decline can be traced back to soil compaction. We are aware of only one company in Mississippi that has a special machine to address this problem. This company has a machine with probes that shoot 200 to 300 lbs per square inch of compressed air and powdered fertilizer into the soil. This compressed air fractures the soil and allows air and water to get to the root system. The fertilizer gives the tree a little boost which results in a flush of new growth. Contact Bob Fulgham at (662) 231-0210 for more information.

How do weedeaters and lawnmowers harm my tree?

They can girdle a tree.

My house has fleas or squirrels.

Call an exterminator.