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Author: Burkholder PHC

What is Corrective Pruning?

Corrective pruning is a technique meant to maintain or enhance a tree’s health by removing dead, diseased, weak, or otherwise unhealthy or unsafe branches. Corrective pruning can be beneficial to both the tree or shrub as well as the landscape as a whole.

See Our Pruning Before and After Gallery

Benefits of Corrective Pruning

The main benefit of corrective pruning is that your tree will be healthier and more attractive. You can also reshape your tree’s canopy if you have accidentally allowed the structure to become too dense or if you want to create a more open look.

Improving the Health of the Tree

Removing dead or diseased wood allows light and nutrients to reach healthy parts of the tree. Diseased wood can be treated with an appropriate fungicide if necessary. Pruning can also help thin out a canopy which is sometimes necessary to allow more sunlight and air circulation. One reason is that too many branches close together means more competition among branches for sunlight, and as can often happen, some limbs will get more sunlight at the expense of others. Overly dense branches can make it difficult for certain stems to properly absorb enough rainwater or air to circulate within the canopy.

Viburnum Pruning Before Corrective pruning | Burkholder PHC
Viburnum Pruning After Corrective pruning | Burkholder PHC

Increasing Tree Safety

Trees can be afflicted by many issues that weaken the structural integrity of the tree, which increases the risk of branches (or the entire tree in severe cases) falling or breaking off to damage whatever is below or beside them. For example, many tree species are prone to developing codominant stems, where a tree has two trunks that are similar in diameter. Think of a tree whose trunk splits and forms a Y-shape. In this instance, both codominant stems compete, creating a weak upper structure and likely breaking apart in harsh weather conditions.

Pruning back branches that are growing too low down on a trunk helps prevent damage from snow and ice, which can break off large portions of bark in winter storms if they are close enough to ground level. Vulnerable branches at any height can break off without warning and damage property or persons beneath.

In the case of codominant stems, a certified arborist can prune one of the stems, reducing or removing segments or entire branches, so any new growth occurs around a single, strong trunk. Arborists can selectively prune branches to create a more stable, safe, and healthier tree.

Holly Before Reduction Pruning | Burkholder PHC
Holly After Reduction Pruning | Burkholder PHC

Improving the Aesthetics of Your Landscape

Reducing long limbs that are difficult to reach and eliminating unsightly growth at the base of a tree will enhance the beauty of your landscape.

Why You Should Hire a Professional Arborist for Pruning

Corrective pruning is a far more complex process than simply cutting off tree branches. Therefore hiring a professional certified arborist is recommended.

  • The tools need to be adequately cleaned to prevent further spreading or introduction of new diseases.
  • Specific tools are required to prune trees correctly.
  • Pruning requires carefully examining branches and making exact, precise cuts to maintain a tree’s health as much as possible.

For the best results for your trees and to ensure safety, having a licensed and insured tree specialist perform the work is the best decision.

Contact Burkholder PHC for Corrective Pruning & Other Tree Services

If you believe that your trees need corrective pruning, send us an email or give us a call. Burkholder PHC has a team of experienced, qualified arborists who will visit your property, conduct a plant health care evaluation, diagnose the problems, and inform you of the recommended treatment options. In addition, we provide a proactive approach, helping encourage and maintain your trees’ health and appearance. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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What Are Growth Regulators?

Growth regulators are a group of chemicals used to modify the various growth processes in plants. These chemicals help with many issues in a plant’s lifecycle, including suppressing vegetative growth and stimulating flowering, controlling plant height, enhancing plant branching, and enabling plants to flower during short-day conditions (during late fall and winter). The chemicals used can be found inside plants already but are sometimes modified to improve or lower their efficiency and modify specific processes.

Learn About Plant Growth Regulator Treatments

Plant growth regulators are sometimes referred to as plant hormones because the chemicals act similarly to human hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that affect your body’s growth, metabolism, and more, the same role that regulators play for plants. Regulators are absorbed by plants via roots, foliage, or by absorption into sapwood and “tell” the plant when it is time for them to grow, flower, or enter a state of dormancy. These chemicals are slow-acting and can take weeks to affect a plant.

While growth regulators can be used to prevent plants or trees from growing, these hormones differ from herbicides. Herbicides quickly kill all the vegetation with which the substances come in contact. These regulators limit the number of nutrients a plant uses, so the plant grows slowly.

Types of Growth Regulators

Plant growth regulators can be broken down into two main types, with specific chemicals falling under one or the other:

  • Promoters enhance and stimulate cell division, plant cell enlargement, flowering, fruiting, and seed formation.
  • Inhibitors prevent growth and promote dormancy and abscission (shedding) in plants.

Examples of promoters include auxins, gibberellins, and cytokinins. An example of an inhibitor is abscisic acid. Each of these growth regulators affects specific processes within plants.

Auxins

Auxins are hormones found in shoot and root tips that promote cell division and stem and root growth. This chemical is used to help stimulate cell elongation by increasing cell walls, thus helping promote the plant’s stem growth. Auxins can also drastically affect plant orientation by promoting cell division to one side of the plant in response to sunlight and gravity. Plants grow in the direction necessary to absorb the most sunlight possible, so if sunlight only shines on the western side of a plant, auxin will collect on the shady eastern side to promote growth.

Person applying chemical to plants | what are growth regulators | Burkholder PHC

Gibberellins

Gibberellins affect many aspects and processes within a plant, such as germination, flowering, and flower development. One of the uses of gibberellins in plant health care is growth and germination control. Low hormone concentrations can increase the speed of germination and stimulate cell elongation, so plants grow taller.

Cytokinins

Like auxins, cytokinins are chemicals that promote cell division and the formation of new leaves. Generally, cytokinins help initiate flower budding and encourage lateral growth so that a plant becomes “bushier,” or more expansive in size. In addition, if a plant has increased absorption of water and other minerals, then cytokinins can help stimulate the metabolism of young shoot cells, encouraging growth.

Abscisic Acid

Unlike the plant growth regulators mentioned above, abscisic acid is an inhibitor, slowing down growth, metabolism, and seed germination. In addition, abscisic acid helps regulate dormancy and shedding, particularly as a response to environmental conditions and stresses, such as droughts or extreme temperatures. The chemical also plays a vital role in increasing stress tolerance and generally improving a plant’s ability to respond to stress.

Ethylene

While ethylene can inhibit plant growth, this chemical is sometimes used as a promoter. Like abscisic acid, ethylene promotes leaf and flower shedding but can also be used to break the dormancy of seeds and promote flower bloom.

The Importance of Growth Regulators

As mentioned above, each of these plant growth regulators affects different aspects of plant growth and development, and each is needed in different amounts based on the conditions and issues a plant faces. For example, if a plant is too short, a certified arborist or plant health care expert can provide concentrations of gibberellins to promote growth and help make the plant taller. Likewise, if a flower needs help blooming, a plant health care specialist can use chemicals such as cytokinins or ethylene to encourage blooming. All of these hormones and chemicals can be used to help plants grow in a particular way while maintaining the plant’s overall health and biology.

Contact Burkholder PHC for Plant Care Services

If you want to keep your plants and trees healthy and vibrant, contact Burkholder PHC. We offer many plant health care services, such as plant growth regulators, pest control, and soil care. In addition, our team of specialists has years of experience maintaining landscapes in the Main Line area. For more information about our services, request a free consultation today.

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What is Phytophthora Root Rot?

Phytophthora root rot is a common fungal disease that afflicts many plants outdoors and indoors. The condition causes rotting within the plant stem and roots. Young plants are particularly prone to the adverse effects of the disease, but many plants, trees and shrubs can be affected. This article will focus on the causes, symptoms, and potential remedies that may help treat the root rot.

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What Causes Phytophthora Root Rot

Phytophthora is a genus of parasitic microorganisms that cause a range of diseases in plants, particularly in the roots. The genus includes about 140 species. They are oomycetes, as are all water molds, and like other members of this group they have microscopic sporangia (spore capsules) that are produced in great numbers by germination of endospores. Certain conditions are more conducive to disease development, namely if the soil contains too much moisture and if the soil temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In these conditions, oospores germinate and produce additional spores. These spores then infect a plant’s root and rot the system over time. More spores form in the residue, and the entire cycle repeats, infecting other plants.

What does Phytophthora Root Rot look like?

Some of the standard and most visible symptoms of Phytophthora root rot include the following:

  • Leaves that turn dull green, yellow, or in some cases, red or purple
  • Dark brown or black discoloration of the stem that extends up from the root/soil line
  • General wilting of the leaves and branches

Other symptoms depend on the plant that is infected. Trees, for example, can have dark sap oozing from the trunk. Another symptom is reddish-brown streaks in the bark tissue. Signs of the disease can also appear on single leaves or branches of a tree and then spread to others.

    Wilting phytophthora rot on a Rhododendron | Phytophthora Root Rot | Burkholder PHC

    • Phytophthora rot on a pine tree | Phytophthora Root Rot | Burkholder PHC

      Pine Tree

    • Phytophthora rot on an Arborvitae | Phytophthora Root Rot | Burkholder PHC

      Arborvitae

    • Phytophthora rot on Cryptomeria | Phytophthora Root Rot | Burkholder PHC

      Cryptomeria

    • Phytophthora rot on a maple tree | Phytophthora Root Rot | Burkholder PHC

      Maple

    How Do I Get Rid of Phytophthora Root Rot?

    Water and drainage are among the most important factors when managing or preventing Phytophthora root rot. First, plants need the correct amount of water, as overwatering (to the point of creating standing water around the base of trees or other plants) facilitates growth of this fungal disease. Second, proper drainage, which can be accomplished by breaking up compacted soil, is necessary to prevent excessive moisture in the soil.

    Chemical controls can also be used in conjunction with water and drainage management. Fungicides need to be applied carefully and with professional guidance to maintain the health of other plants and the overall landscape. Another factor to consider is removing the infected plant. Removing an infected plant may be necessary to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants nearby. This is best done in winter since oospores prefer warm temperatures and are less likely to infect other plants.

    What Plants Are Resistant to Phytophthora Root Rot?

    If you are considering planting new plants in your landscape, we advise you to choose plants resistant to Phytophthora root rot. Below are 3 plants that are resistant to the fungal disease and native to Pennsylvania:

    • Summersweet (also known as “Tom’s Compact Summersweet) a compact variety of flowering shrub that produces upright, candle-like, 6-inch-long white flower spires in summer.
    • Sweetspire – a rounded, spreading, fragrant shrub with drooping spires of fragrant white flowers.
    • Eastern ninebark – a deciduous shrub that grows 6 to 10 feet tall and wide, with green leaves 1 to 3 inches long. Small, pink-white flowers bloom in spring and red fruits appear in fall.

    By planting flowers that are resistant to this fungal disease, you can prevent your landscapes from ever being afflicted.

    Contact Burkholder PHC for Plant Health Care Services

    If your plants show symptoms of Phytophthora root rot or other diseases, contact Burkholder PHC. Our team of experienced, qualified plant health care experts will evaluate the health and condition of your plants, diagnose the problems, and provide you with the recommended treatment options to keep your plants healthy and vibrant. Our proactive and holistic approach helps encourage and maintain the conditions that are best for your landscape. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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    Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, a New Pest in Pennsylvania Landscapes

    In May of 2021, we began seeing darkened stems and black moldy growth on crape myrtles in Chester County, carrying over from an insect infestation in the fall of 2020. To recognize that these symptoms were not caused by crape myrtle aphids (common), samples were collected and submitted to the Insect Diagnostic Laboratory at Penn State. These samples revealed the first recorded incidence of crape myrtle bark scale (CMBS) in the state of Pennsylvania. This spring, calls regarding damaged crape myrtles have become much more common, and diagnosis is almost always this insect, which we have now also found in Delaware County. This is bad news for Pennsylvania’s crape myrtles, one of the most ubiquitous and attractive flowering plants in the landscape.

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    How Crape Myrtle Bark Scale Came to Pennsylvania

    Crape myrtle bark scale is an invasive insect introduced to the United States from Asia in the early 2000s. The insect was initially collected and confirmed near Dallas, Texas in 2004, and detections have slowly moved eastward across southern states, with detection in Arkansas in 2013, North Carolina in 2018, and Maryland in 2020. This insect has been detected in 18 states (including DC), and the Pennsylvania infestation is the northernmost detection to date.

    Initial models suggested that this insect would not move north of USDA Growing Region/Plant Hardiness Zone 8 (coastal Virginia and North Carolina); however, the Philadelphia area is precisely aligned with Beijing, China (~40o N Latitude), which is the northernmost range of this insect in its native land. Likely, this pest can survive in any geographic region where crape myrtles are a realistic landscape option; as winter hardiness is bred into crape myrtles, both the plant and the bug will move further north. In general, low temperatures will kill the tree before killing the pest, which can survive through winter at any life stage, from egg to adult.

    Magnified branch tip with crape myrtle bark scale | Burkholder PHC

    The Damage Crape Myrtle Bark Scale Causes

    Leaves infested with crape myrtle bark scale | Burkholder PHC

    Crape myrtle bark scale (CMBS) is a serious, direct, and primary pest of crape myrtles; however, an infestation of this pest alone will rarely kill trees outright. Instead, damage to crape myrtles is most commonly seen as the development of black sooty mold on the bark and leaves of the tree, and black sooty mold is just what it sounds like: a gray to black moldy growth covering leaves and bark.

    Aside from the aesthetic problems of having ornamental trees turn black, heavy infestation with CMBS will delay foliar emergence (leaf-out) in spring and can severely limit flower growth (up to 70% loss of blossoms). In addition, the black sooty mold is growing on the insect’s excrement, which is very high in sugars and commonly attracts masses of unwelcome stinging insects such as wasps and hornets. This phenomenon is similar to what one sees locally, accompanying high infestations of spotted lanternflies on maples, willows, styrax, and ailanthus.

    Identifying Infestation

    Trees suspected of infestation by Crape Myrtle Bark Scale can be confirmed quickly since this scale is the only bark scale active on crape myrtles and is one of only two direct pests that produce black sooty mold on these trees.

    The most common symptom of an infestation is a general darkening of the bark, which can be seen in spring, especially when infested trees are close to uninfested trees. Closer examination will reveal clusters of white bumps or tufts, which are the silken sacs that the bugs have spun to either:

    • Lay eggs in and die (adult females), or
    • Protect themselves during metamorphosis (males)

    Looking even closer, the individual insects (eggs, nymphs, pupae, and adults) are bright pink, and smashing the white silken bumps with a fingernail produces a blob of dark pink goo.

    crape myrtle with leaf drop due to crape myrtle bark scale | Burkholder PHC

    • Entire tree infested with crape myrtle bark scale | Burkholder PHC

    • Tree with middle branch infested with crape myrtle bark scale | Burkholder PHC

    • Tree with outer branch infested with crape myrtle bark scale | Burkholder PHC

    With large numbers of CMBS, the presence of these insects on trees is very clear; however, with newer or smaller infestations, most signs will be seen in the following:

    1. At pruning cuts
    2. In branch unions
    3. On the underside of upper branches

    A correlation between trees growing in the shade and more significant CMBS damage has been found, meaning that trees in full sun are either less prone to infestation or damage is less pronounced in full-sun trees. According to preliminary data taken in Texas, significant differences exist in the rate or density of infestation by various crape myrtle. The data found no varieties to be resistant to CMBS. However, some were worse than others, and CMBS has been found to infest all types of crape myrtle available in USDA Zone 6 (most of Pennsylvania).

    Life Cycle of the Crape Myrtle Bark Scale

    Through most of the range of CMBS in the United States, this insect has 2-3 generations per year, and in the northern edge of the known range (Pennsylvania), the hypothesis is that only 1-2 generations will form, given the shorter growing season. Each generation takes 3-4 months to complete development (from adult to adult). However, the number of generations in any particular area can be challenging to determine since all life stages are capable of overwintering.

    Newly hatched eggs (for scale insects, this stage is known as crawlers) are the most mobile and most vulnerable life stage. Therefore, most chemical control products recommend treatment to coincide with egg hatch/crawler activity. Eggs are most likely to hatch after about 10 days at or near 80oF, and in the Philadelphia area, we expect that egg hatch will occur in late May or early June (~650-750 degree days).

    Section of Tree with Crape Myrtle bark scale | Burkholder PHC
    Crape Myrtles with symptoms of crape myrtle bark scale indicated } Burkholder PHC

    What Plants Are Affected

    In its native range (China, Japan, and Korea), CMBS has reported many plants of economic importance, including apple, soybean, blackberry, and Korean boxwood. However, this pest is most associated in Asia with crape myrtle, persimmon, and pomegranate. In trials done in the US, CMBS has been found on 5 plants reported from Asia, aside from crape myrtle. Plants on which CMBS has been found in the US include St. John’s wort, American beautyberry, and recently spirea.

    Treatment for Crape Myrtle Bark Scale

    With invasive pests of landscape plants, population levels and damage can be explosive, and early detection is the key to effective management. Many strategies are available to manage this insect pest, from biological control agents (releasing of the pest’s natural enemies, ladybugs) to chemical controls (systemic insecticides or topical treatments). However, none will be as effective as is possible with the identification of the problem before damage becomes irreversible.

    Contact Burkholder PHC for Treatment of Scale Insects in Landscape Plants

    Crape Myrtle Bark Scale can be challenging to control due to their behavior and physiology. If crape myrtles are a signature species of your landscape, or if you have trees that appear to be declining, send us an email or give us a call and we will come out and conduct a plant health care evaluation, diagnose the problems, and let you know what your treatment options are. Burkholder PHC provides no cost identification of the problem in addition to free testing, diagnostics, inspections, and evaluations. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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    Scale Insects in Landscape Plants

    There is consensus among plant health care professionals that the complex of insect and disease pests in landscape plants is becoming more explosive, harder to predict, and more difficult to manage. As invasive pests like Asian longhorn beetle (1998), brown marmorated stink bug (1998), emerald ash borer (2002), and spotted lanternfly (2014) have been brought in through the back door of global trade, attention has been drawn away from many old-school native pest groups, allowing some to catch a foothold in landscape plants and become increasingly problematic. No landscape plant pests have expanded more in the past decade than scale insects, which have historically been kept in check by biological control agents (predators and parasites), kept at low levels by weather factors, or controlled by collateral effects of treatments targeting other pests. In fact, advances in the technology of pest control may be partially responsible for the increasing threat from this pest group, as fewer systemic and broad-spectrum chemicals are used for non-selective pest management in landscape plants.

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    Scale insects are an extremely broad and diverse group, made up of two basic subgroups: soft scale and hardshell scale (armored scale). Soft scales are fairly large (visible to the naked eye) and secrete sugary honeydew that forms black mold on the infested plant along with anything beneath. These insects may look like small bumps on twigs and stems and are most commonly located and identified because of the amount of mold that grows on their excrement, turning plants black. Armored scale are much smaller, often not visible to the naked eye, and generally shaped like tiny oysters. Armored scale are most commonly located and identified because of decline/dieback of individual limbs or white, waxy powder on interior stems. Scale insects do not move very much and spend most of their life securely attached to the plant like a tick or a barnacle. All species of scale insects feed on the vascular system of the plants, intercepting critical nutrients moving between leaves and roots, leading to rapid decline of the infested plant.

    A majority of common landscape plant species have one or more species of scale insects that feed on them and can cause significant damage; in the 2021 field season, we identified and treated 18 species of scale on properties in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.

    Plant Species Soft Scale Armored Scale
    Azalea Cottony Azalea Scale
    Azalea Bark Scale
    Cherry Laurel/Skip Laurel

    White Peach/Prunicola Scale

    Euonymus (Burning Bush)

    Euonymus Scale
    Japanese Maple Scale

    Holly Cottony Camellia (Taxus) Scale

    White Peach/Prunicola Scale
    Japanese Maple Scale

    Rhododendron Cottony Azalea Scale
    Yew

    Cottony Camellia (Taxus)
    Scale Fletcher Scale

    Viburnum Cottony Camellia (Taxus) Scale

    Oystershell Scale

    Arborvitae Fletcher Scale
    Pieris Azalea Bark Scale
    Cryptomeria

    Maskell Scale

    Dogwood Cottony Maple Scale

    Japanese Maple Scale

    Redbud Lecanium Scale
    Crape Myrtle Crape Myrtle Bark Scale
    Cherry/Plum

    White Peach/Prunicola Scale

    Magnolia Magnolia Scale
    Hemlock

    Fiorina/Hemlock Elongate Scale

    Spruce Spruce Bud Scale
    Witch Hazel Cottony Camellia (Taxus) Scale
    Japanese Maple

    Japanese Maple Scale

    Hybrid Elm/Zelkova European Elm Scale

    Japanese Maple Scale

    • Azalea Bark Scale

    • Azalea Bark Scale

    • Cottony Azalea Scale

    • Cottony Camelia Scale

    • Cottony Maple Scale

    • Crape Myrtle Bark Scale

    • Crape Myrtle Bark Scale

    • Elongate Hemlock Scale

    • Euonymus Scale

    • European Elm Scale

    • Fletcher Scale

    • Japanese Maple Scale

    • Lecanium Scale

    • Lecanium Scale

    • Lecanium Scale

    • Magnolia Scale

    • Magnolia Scale

    • Maskell Scale

    • Maskell Scale

    • Oystershell Scale

    • Spruce Bud Scale

    • White Prunicola Scale

    • White Prunicola Scale

    • White Prunicola Scale

    So…what can be done about scale insects in landscape plants? As with all of our integrated pest management (IPM) programs:

    1. Inspect and diagnose to determine which pest species is causing the problem.
    2. Assess the extent of the damage.
    3. Determine the need for intervention.
    4. Apply least-damaging control measures.
    5. Evaluate results and determine the need for follow-up treatment.

    With scale insects, there are challenges at each of these steps, from identification of the pest responsible to recognizing an array of plant injury symptoms and from determining the need for intervention to understanding what management tactics will provide the greatest control at the time of application.

    Contact Burkholder PHC for Treatment of Scale Insects in Landscape Plants

    Although scale insects are a very odd and very primitive group of pests, their behavior and physiology can make them very hard to control, prone to explosive population growth, and very damaging to landscape plants. We would recommend a professional evaluation this winter and spring to determine if properties are currently infested with or at risk of infestation with scale or other pests. The evaluation is free…and proper treatments can bring back the health, vigor, and curb appeal of any landscape. If you are not happy with the appearance of your landscape plants, give us a call!

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    What Are Girdling Roots?

    The roots of a tree are vital to the health and appearance of that tree. Roots provide nutrients, water, stability, and more to keep trees alive and healthy, and any issues that negatively affect roots, in turn, affect trees. Girdling roots is one of the most common issues that trees in urban environments run into and can be a serious problem if left untreated. Below we discuss what root girdling is, what the signs are, and what you can do.

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    What Are Girdling Roots?

    Girdling roots occur when the tree roots circle and coil around the base of the trunk rather than spreading outwards. Think about the effect of wearing a belt that is too tight around your waist and you get the idea of what tree roots do when girdled. Girdling restricts the flow of water and nutrients to the tree, making the tree weaker and more unstable. While maple and linden trees seem the most susceptible, girdling can happen to nearly any tree.

    What Causes Root Girdling?

    Girdling roots are a common problem for trees in urban environments due to the factors those trees face that trees in nature avoid and those issues are related to a lack of space for proper root growth. Improper planting or transplanting is a significant cause of root girdling. If a tree is in a container or burlap for too long, the roots will eventually circle the trunk or container. If those roots are also not loosened during the planting process, the roots become girdled.

    Backyard with trees and maintained landscape | Girdling Roots | Burkholder Brothers

    The same issue can occur when a tree is planted in a hole that is too small: the roots have nowhere to spread and need to encircle the tree to maintain growth, which leads to girdling roots. Pieces of the planting container or other debris in the planting hole can also cause girdling. Heavily compacted soil and proximity to foundations, curbs, and other obstructions (which can hinder root growth) are common causes for root girdling. So because the issue is happening to the roots, you might think that spotting signs of root girdling could be difficult.

    Front yard of house with trees and maintained landscape | Girdling Roots | Burkholder Brothers

    Signs of Root Girdling

    Spotting root girdling is relatively easy, as plenty of signs can indicate that a tree has girdled roots. The most obvious sign is an abnormal trunk flare. A tree trunk typically flares out and widens at the ground, but if a tree has girdled roots, the trunk may appear straight or narrow, looking more similar to a telephone pole than a tree. Roots circling above the soil line may also indicate girdling, as can sunscald or frost cracks visible on the trunk.

    Because girdling roots prevent trees from getting enough water and nutrients, other possible signs include the following:

    • Thin or sparse canopy
    • Die-back in the upper tree canopy
    • Wilting, scorched, off-colored (yellow), or smaller than average leaves
    • Early fall color and leaf drop

    What You Can Do About Girdling Roots

    The best solution for treating root girdling in your trees is to contact a landscape professional. Girdled roots can be removed, but removing them yourself may cause damage to the main stem. An experienced plant health care professional or certified arborist will know the proper technique to minimize damage. In severe cases, girdling compromises a tree’s stability, and as a result, the tree may need to be removed. Preventing root girdling involves knowing the best planting methods, from digging the right sized hole to knowing where to mulch, all of which plant health care professionals know.

    Contact Burkholder for Landscape & Plant Care

    If you want to keep your trees healthy and prevent girdling roots, contact Burkholder. We offer many landscaping services such as plant health care, irrigation, landscape design, and more. Our passionate team of landscape professionals has years of experience designing and maintaining refined landscapes in the Main Line area. For more information about our services, request a free consultation today.

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    FAQs About Plant Health Care

    Homeowners approach us about plant health care, wondering precisely what services are involved and how those services benefit them. While the name sounds simple at first, plant health care encapsulates a wide range of different landscape maintenance techniques and plant health maintenance methods. Homeowners benefit from plant health care services in numerous ways. We have gathered some FAQs about plant health care to help people understand what exactly plant health care is, what is involved, and how they benefit.

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    What Is Plant Health Care?

    Plant health care (PHC) is a comprehensive, total care solution for evaluating, treating, and maintaining the health of all plant life on a property. More than simply making sure plants get enough water or fertilizer, plant health care takes a holistic approach to plant health. One of the duties of a landscape professional or plant health care specialist is to create a landscaping and care plan that ensures all plants have their needs met. Another objective of plant health care is to develop and maintain the proper growing environment for all plants so that landscaping professionals and specialists can prevent and more efficiently resolve health issues.

    Why Is Plant Health Care Important or Needed?

    Close-up photo of diseased leaf | FAQs about Plant Health Care | Burkholder Brothers

    Plant health care is essential for a few reasons. One reason is that keeping your plants healthy maintains their beauty, making your landscape more attractive, more usable, and more enjoyable to use and admire. Another reason is that by improving or sustaining the health of every plant in a landscape, the beauty and value of said landscape remain consistently high, which is essential if you are interested in keeping high property values. Plant health care also emphasizes preventing any issues with your plants, which means fewer landscaping problems for you in the future.

    Your landscape is an investment as much as a place for your family to use and enjoy. Fixing or remediating any issues that arise with your plants’ health is more costly than preventive care. With plant health care, you are protecting a valuable investment.

    What Is Involved in Plant Health Care?

    One of the common FAQs about plant health care that we hear is “what is involved in plant health care?” As stated before, plant health care is a comprehensive, holistic approach, and each landscape is unique. Therefore, the specific services within a plant health care plan differ for each homeowner. Some homeowners may have severe pest or plant disease issues, while others might have problems with their soil. At Burkholder PHC, we offer many different plant health care services that can resolve whichever issues your landscape is facing.

    These services include the following:

    • Pest Management
    • Soil Care
    • Cultural Management
    • Weed Management
    • Biological Control
    • Growth Regulation
    • Deer Browse Deterrents
    • Diagnostics

    Each of these services has its own services or actions covering a broad range of issues homeowners and their landscapes may face.

    Photo of landscape professional performing corrective pruning | FAQs about Plant Health Care | Burkholder Brothers

    Contact Burkholder PHC for Plant Health Care Services

    If you have any other FAQs about plant health care that you want the answers for, contact Burkholder PHC. Our team has up-to-date knowledge of the latest and best practices for plant health and landscape design. The passionate and experienced specialists at Burkholder will work with you to create a beautiful and healthy landscape. For a free consultation or more information about our services, contact us today.

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    What Is Beneficial Insect Release?

    As homeowners continue to look for ways to keep their landscapes beautiful, one particular solution has been growing in recent years: beneficial insect release. Beneficial insect release is when plant health care experts use insects rather than chemicals to control and manage pest populations. Pests can cause significant damage to a landscape, and releasing certain insects is an effective means of reducing pest populations (and their subsequent damage to trees and plants) while minimizing chemicals. Here is an explanation of what beneficial insects are and when they are used.

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    What Is Involved in Beneficial Insect Release?

    As stated above, beneficial insect release is a biological control method based on using insects rather than other substances like chemicals. The idea is to target pest populations by releasing their natural predators within a landscape to control the specific pest population, minimizing the harm done to your plants. Certain insects are also either neutral or beneficial to particular ecosystems, which is part of what makes releasing beneficial insects work.

    For example, praying mantises are harmless to plants and people and feed on aphids: small, sap-sucking insects that can damage plants and leaves. So a homeowner can have praying mantises released in their landscapes to protect their gardens from aphids.

    When is Beneficial Insect Release Used?

    Beneficial insect release is an augmentative biological control, meaning that helpful insects are often used as part of a more extensive plant health care program rather than the sole method for pest control. In terms of populations, low to mid-level populations of pests can be controlled by beneficial insects. Below are a few examples of beneficial insects and the pests these insects target.

    • Green lacewing: Aphids, Whitefly, Leafhoppers, Mealybugs
    • Ladybug: Aphids, Mealybugs, Soft Scale, Whitefly
    • Praying mantis: Caterpillars, Flies, Grasshoppers, Aphids

    Praying mantis on flower | beneficial insect release | Burkholder Brothers
    Lady beetle on a blade of grass | beneficial insect release | Burkholder Brothers

    Releasing beneficial insects is often used in landscapes with plants prone to injury from mites and aphids. Beneficial insects are also used for plants or landscapes sensitive to potentially harmful pesticides or those who prefer organic, natural methods of maintaining their landscapes.

    The timing of a beneficial insect release is also crucial to its effectiveness. Praying mantises, for instance, need to be released via egg mass in March, as early spring is when the mantises will start to hatch and can begin feeding on pests. Other insects can be released as adults, but the timing is just as important. Other factors include the pests damaging a landscape and the surrounding plants and the environment’s overall conditions. Overall, beneficial insects should be part of a larger plan to help balance your landscape’s ecosystem and maintain its beauty and health.

    Contact Burkholder Brothers for Plant Health Care Services

    If you want to keep your landscape free of harmful pests or are interested in beneficial insect release, contact Burkholder Brothers for a consultation. Our team of highly qualified, passionate landscape professionals has up-to-date knowledge of the latest and best plant health care practices. Our specialists and account managers will work with you to maintain your landscape’s beauty and value. For more information on our services, contact us today.

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    Plant Care 101 from Burkholder PHC

    The most efficient approach to protecting your landscape and plant health is through consistent maintenance and care. Our experts are offering some Plant Care 101 -information about preventive measures and building resiliency within plants. Plant care is also comprehensive and includes several different areas of landscaping and horticulture.

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    Aspects of Plant Care 101

    Our Plant care 101 covers several different aspects of plant health care. Plant health care is a comprehensive solution focused on maintaining plant health and beauty. Breaking it down into a few core ideas will help you better understand a plant health care program’s scope. Here are some aspects of plant care.

    Pest Management

    Pests cause numerous problems for your landscape, harming your plant life, curb appeal, and property values. Pest management helps mitigate pest populations and damage. Landscape professionals take different approaches to pest management.

    • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses pest control applications based on risk as determined by a plant health care professional, rather than general treatments at the time of year pests appear on home gardens or landscapes.
    • Targeted Pest Management (TPM) is a pest control approach based on a specific pest’s timing and a particular plant/s susceptibility.

    Other forms of pest management involve managing and removing invasive species (pests that affect human or animal health) and using organic control methods rather than chemicals.

    Soil Health

    Spotted lanternfly on leaf | plant care 101 | Burkholder Brothers

    Healthy soil care and management are fundamental aspects of plant care 101. The soil on your property provides your plants with water, nutrients, oxygen, and space for growth. As a result, plant care specialists and professionals need to properly analyze soil to learn the surrounding trees’ and plants’ exact needs.

    Soil also needs the proper fertilizer based on the season (for example, soil needs a more potassium-based fertilizer in spring). Landscape professionals need to be keenly aware of the complexities of soil, and provide meticulous care and treatment to ensure a robust and healthy landscape.

    Properly Water New Plants and Established Plants -Plant Bed Irrigation - Burkholder Landscape

    Weed Management

    Managing weeds on a property is another important aspect of plant care and includes different approaches to accomplish its goals. Pre-emergent weed control focuses on removing weeds before they have a chance to grow. This preventive approach to weed management is generally performed during the fall or winter before weeds have germinated.

    Post-emergent weed control is the opposite approach: removing visible weeds during the spring or summer. Certain weeds are also invasive species and can be a significant problem to the native plant life.

    Other Areas of Plant Care

    Some other plant care 101 topics include the following:

    • Biological Control: Using beneficial insects to target and control pests.
    • Cultural Management: Tools or methods that modify a plant’s environment to suit the specific needs of the plant.
    • Disease Management: Managing diseased trees and plants.

    Contact Burkholder Brothers for Plant Health Care Services

    If you want more Plant Care 101 to keep your landscape healthy, contact Burkholder Brothers for a consultation. Our team of passionate landscape professionals has decades of experience maintaining refined landscapes in Main Line Philadelphia communities. The team has up-to-date knowledge of the most effective plant health care practices. We have specialists who will work with you to sustain your landscape’s beauty. For more information on our services, contact us today.

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