News release: Tree Decline in the Home Landscape, Part II

Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist
102 N. Main, Suite 1, Gallatin, MO 64640

Release Date: July 23, 2015

Headline: Tree Decline in the Home Landscape, Part II

In my last column, I described tree decline, a common problem found in Missouri.  This week, I would like to give some tips on how to avoid it.

So how can you avoid tree decline?  If you are planting the tree, the first step is to choose a proper site, well-suited to the tree’s requirements.  Avoid overcrowding.  Too many trees in a given area produce stress as they mature.  If any other trees are weak and dying, consider removing them as they may harbor secondary diseases and insects.

For existing trees, a good feeding is usually beneficial.  Healthy, vigorously growing trees are less subject to tree decline.  Avoid fertilization late in the season, as succulent growth is more  subject to winter injury.  For tips in fertilizing shade trees, see Guide Sheet G-6865, Fertilizing Shade Trees.

Be sure to avoid severe drought stress.  Large trees can transpire phenomenal amounts of water on a hot summer day, so if extended drought becomes a problem, you may need to water.  With large trees, it’s generally better to irrigate greater amounts less frequently than lesser amounts more frequently.  The exception might be a newly transplanted tree, which may need more frequent watering the first year, until a good root system has been established.  Keep in mind that if your tree is in your yard, other plants (such as grass) may have differing water requirements.

A number of other preventive measures may be taken.  Those steps and further details on tree decline are described in Guide Sheet G-5200, Tree Decline - What Is It?, which is available at your local University of Missouri Extension Center.  If you are planting a new tree or think your tree may be suffering from this disorder, I would urge you to pick up a copy.