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Treating Trees

In some ways treating trees for disease problems is more important than mending fungus-ridden lawns according to John Chiarella Ultimate Services Professional Grounds Management Wolcott Conn.  This is mainly due to a tree's high worth.  Trees are expensive to replace Chiarella explained.  For instance a specimen oak that is 200 years old - a 100-foot grand oak - can add value to a property that makes the tree worth $500,000.  And certain tough diseases like anthracnose can really get inside a tree and not only make it look horrible but resulting damage can decrease its value.  And replacing a tree of that size and value is expensive.

At Ultimate Services Chiarella said tree disease treatments range from three to four times in the spring and summer for normal trees such as maple and dogwood and are mostly preventive to thwart insects from egg-stage to adult and diseases.  These include horticultural oils a spring foliar spray and a summer foliar spray.  Once a tree is diseased Chiarella will use a microinjection treatment to manage diseases like Dutch elm disease.

The company also treats orchard trees and rose bushes but since they are more sensitive to disease the number of sprays increases to 10 to 12 times during the spring and summer.  The biggest problem with roses and orchard trees is scab and leaf spot Chiarella pointed out.  And heavy rain can make these sorts of fungi spread rapidly and become difficult beasts to control.  These diseases make everything look awful - the destruction is very noticeable.  We treat these roses and apple trees preventively every seven to 10 days for six months - it's the only way to stay on top of the diseases out there.

Treating trees is a separate cost at Ultimate Services and Chiarella said the easiest way to bill for the service is to charge by the amount of product used because fungicides can be expensive.  It's like pumping off - you use so many gallons he said.  The amount of product and active ingredient is particularly important because the cost of an active ingredient in a fungicide can range from $88 a gallon to $50 for I to 2 ounces.  And when a client spent $500000 on trees he shouldn't be surprised to get a $3800 bill for tree injection or feeding because this protects his investment.

Following proper cultural practices also can help prevent trees from being infected with diseases Chiarella said.  These include feeding trees with organic material and fertilizer pruning dead wood making sure mulch doesn't smother the tree and watching for cracks and lesions.   - Nicole Wisniewski

*Lawn and Landscape, June 2002

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