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Davey tree doctor.

Drain Fields

Q: What can happen to trees--pine trees in particular--when drain fields have been put all around them? Does it shorten the trees' lifespans? Can the salts weaken the trees?

Unknown, Stanwood, Washington

A: If the installation of the drain disturbed the tree roots, you will have canopy dieback in the same proportion (for example, if 20% of the roots were damaged, then 20% of the canopy will fail). It is difficult to make an assessment of potential harm without knowing what type of drain it is. If it is a French drain or a leach field, the contents may have an effect on nearby trees. However, if the drain is a closed conduit, then the damage will be mechanical only.


Q: My Japanese maple has become too tall for its location. Can the tree's limbs be shortened by about 3 feet without too much damage?

A: Yes, you can remove the top limbs, but the tree will have the best chance for survival if you follow proper pruning practices. Here are some guidelines:

Start the first, cut on the underside of the limb a foot or so from the parent branch or trunk. Make a complete second cut slightly further out on the top side of the limb. This will allow it to drop smoothly, and avoids tearing the bark.

Finally, make a clean cut to remove the remaining stub of the branch. When making this final cut, smoothly do if outside of the branch bark ridge and the evident collar, not flush to the parent branch or trunk. This allows for proper healing.

For help cutting very large limbs or those high in your tree, contact your local arborist.

Pear Trees

Q: I was wondering if there is a disease of any kind wiping out Bradford Pear trees in the Norfolk area of Virginia? Our tree wasn't as full of beautiful blooms last spring, but we didn't think anything of it till mid-summer, when we realized the tree was losing the leaves as if it were fall. I'm afraid the tree may be dead now. What could be causing this?

Donna, Norfolk, VA

A: Your tree may be suffering from fire blight, a bacterial disease that spreads through pollinating insects. It usually begins where flowers are attached, then moves into the branch. When dieback occurs, it can make the tree look as if it caught fire.

While fungicides may offer some protection, the severity of the disease can vary each year based on moisture levels. Additionally, pruning affected branches and sterilizing your pruning tool between each cut may also help.

Trees Abroad

Q: I planted a couple sagwan trees in August. Unfortunately, they have stopped growing, and the leaves are drying up. Is there anything I can do to save them?

Harbans Bawa, Punjab, India

A: The sagwan is a deciduous tree that will shed leaves for 3-4 months during the latter half of the dry season. The rainy season in Punjab is July to September. Presumably the new transplant received plenty of water through September, and then lost its leaves naturally between October and January. They should break bud and releaf in spring. Sagwan seedlings should be transplanted in April.

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Title Annotation:FORUM
Publication:American Forests
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2011
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