Benefits Of Mulch – Mulch is a Wonderful Thing!

Trees growing in a natural forest environment have their roots anchored in a rich, well-aerated soil full of essential nutrients. The soil is blanketed by leaves and organic materials that replenish nutrients and provide an optimal environment for root growth and mineral uptake. Urban landscapes, however, are typically a much harsher environment with poor soils, little organic matter, and large fluctuations in temperature and moisture. Applying a 2 – 4 inch layer of organic mulch can mimic a more natural environment and improve plant health.

The root system of a tree is not a mirror image of the top. The roots of most trees can extend out a significant distance from the tree trunk. Although the guideline for many maintenance practices is the drip line – the outermost extension of the canopy – the roots can grow many times that distance. In addition, most of the fine, absorbing roots are located within inches of the soil surface. These roots, which are essential for taking up water and minerals, require oxygen to survive. A thin layer of mulch, applied as broadly as practical, can improve the soil structure, oxygen levels, temperature, and moisture availability where these roots grow.

Benefits Of Mulch

  • Retention of soil moisture
  • Weed and grass control
  • Protection of the trunk and surface roots from mowing equipment
  • Erosion control as mulch breaks the impact of rain
  • Increased soil fertility when organic mulches placed directly over the soil decompose
  • Improved soil structure (better aeration, temperature and moisture conditions)
  • Simplified maintenance
  • Improved appearance
  • Reduced soil cracking that can damage small roots and speed drying
  • Help in preventing soil compaction

For more information visit:  American Lawn and Tree Arborist

Avocado Trees: Beware of the New Laurel Wilt Disease

Mysterious Red Bays Disease

I was asked by an arborist at Forest Keepers in Milton, Georgia to stop by and see if I could identify the cause of death of all the Red Bays in his area. Upon arrival we searched for three days in an unsuccessful effort to find a live red bay. I was able to find a stain under the cambium tissue of one of the dead trees which suggested a fungus was involved but I was unable to identify it with my limited library. When I returned to Florida I contacted the University of Florida and found the following information.

The disease “Raffaelea lauricola”, commonly called laurel wilt is vectored by a tiny exotic ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) which, until now, has been found only in Asia. Apparently it was brought to this country through Savanna, Georgia in a wood product about five years ago. Since then it has moved southward at a rapid pace.

It appears this beetle feeds on any of the laurel family and that includes the avocado! I look forward to providing some fungicide injection treatments in an effort to control this devastating disease.

American Lawn and Tree Arborist

How to Plant a Palm Tree Properly – Planting a Palm Tree

Planting a Palm Tree

Planting palm trees is similar, in most ways, to planting other kinds of trees. Nursery-grown palms are generally sold either potted or balled and burlapped. Try to plant your tree shortly after purchase. If there is going to be any lag time between purchase and planting, make sure that the tree’s root ball is kept moist but not soaking. When transporting and handling palm trees, use care. The bark is easily damaged and damaged areas leave the tree vulnerable to insects and fungus. The best time of year to plant is during the warmer months when the soil temperature is at least 65 degrees F. Remember, palms cannot heal wounds in the trunks.

Dig a hole wide enough to fit the root ball with plenty of room to spare. Twice as wide might be a good rule of thumb in many cases. The hole should be just deep enough so that the tree is planted at the depth at which it was grown. Do not plant the tree any deeper as this may deprive the roots of nutrients and water. When the tree has been situated in the hole, backfill with the freshly dug soil.

When the palm tree has been planted, build a soil barrier around the circumference of the hold to form a dam that will hold water. Then lay down a layer of organic mulch round the tree. About three inches deep should do. Keep the mulch from making direct contact with the trunk.

Watering and Tree Care

Frequent watering is crucial for newly-planted palm trees. Daily for about the first two weeks and then tapering off over several months as the tree establishes itself. Use a bubbler or arrange a hose to slow soak the area around the tree. It is important not to allow the soil to dry out as this will severely weaken your new palm.

Palm trees also require periodic fertilizer applications. There are commercial mixes available especially for palms.

For more information visit our Florida Palm Tree Services.

Rid Chinch Bugs from St. Augustine Grass – Florida

Lawn Insects in Florida

Chinch bugs are the most important lawn insect pests of St. Augustine grass. Lawn damage most often occurs in very hot dry weather but can occur anytime, usually in the sunniest areas of your grass. There are several home owner products that are labeled for chinch bugs in your lawn. Be careful to follow the label directions so it is safe for you and your St. Augustine lawn. Cinch bug damage is often confused with other lawn diseases.

Be careful with your diagnosis. If you have any further questions, “Ask the Doc”.

Palm Trees – Consider Growth Factors Prior to Purchasing



What type of palm should I choose?

- Frank A.

Doc’s Answer:

In general four factors should be considered when choosing a palm tree for your property. The first factor is the size of the tree at maturity. Remember that the little palm for sale at a local nursery might reach a height of 50 feet or more as an adult tree overpowering the rest of your property, interfering with overhead lines and underground conduits and perhaps, threatening buildings if the tree is planted too nearby. Make sure that the size of your palm at maturity is in keeping with your needs and overall landscape design.

American Lawn and Tree Arborists

Yellow Jacket Season is Approaching

Yellow Jacket Season

According to Howard Russel, Michigan State University Diagnostic Services, late summer is the time when problems with yellow jackets peak.  Late summer is when they rear next year’s queens so they tend to be less tolerant towards those of us that venture too close.  Also, queen rearing requires sugars and not protein (insects they fed on earlier in the year) so they tend to be closer to us with our fruit and soft drinks during this time of year.

The Unique Biology of a Palm Tree



I see large palm trees being transported down the highways with no leaves and no roots. I know they must be planted somewhere, but how do they survive?

- D. Myers

Doc’s Answer:

Palm trees are not trees at all. In fact they are more closely related to grass than trees. Palms have a unique biology. All their roots are independent of each other . They begin directly under the stem (trunk) so removal of the outer roots is less important than those of a real tree. Removal of the outer froms (leaves) in my view, is more detrimental to the palm than root removal. Contractors remove the lower palm froms and tie the upper palm froms so the palms are easier to transport. Because the palm has lost many of its “Manufacturing plants” (leaves) it takes them longer to recover from the move. Having said all this, proper planting and after care is much more important to the palm or other trees than is the move. For more information visit our Florida Website.

American Lawn and Tree Arborists

How Long Will a Pest Control Treatment Last Before a Home is Safe?



If I have my home treated, how long should I stay out after treatment?

- M. Washington

Doc’s Answer:

Your Pest Management Professional knows “the label is the law”, each pesticide label tells him or her how long you have to remain off a treated area.

American Lawn and Tree Arborists

Stop Voles from Returning Each Year



We had voles in our yard last winter. Will they return again this year? If so, what can be done to stop them?

- Kenny L.

Doc’s Answer:

Voles are an outside animal that resembles a large mouse except their tails are short and their ears are mostly hidden by thick fur. They are present all the time in our environment. They are vegetarians and only become pests where food is short in the winter months. Under snow cover, they can kill tender barked landscape plants and trees. They also destroy long lines of turf when snow cover is available for extended periods. A Certified Pest Management Company can provide a special winter service program. Wrapping trunks and tender barked trees with galvanized screen can protect your valuable plants.

American Lawn and Tree Arborists