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Autumn care helps long-term tree health

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, U of M Extension, (612) 626-4077, ajsandve@umn.edu

ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/14/2013)—Drought conditions over the last two-plus years have left trees and other perennial plants visibly stressed this fall. Tree stress symptoms include abundant seed production, leaf scorch, early fall colors, leaf drop, limb dieback and yellowing or browning of leaves and needles.

Fortunately, several measures can help enhance tree and shrub health.

Trees and shrubs--especially conifers (such as pine, spruce and cedar) and those planted in the last three years--should be watered generously until the soil freezes. Mulching newly planted trees also helps reduce winter root damage.

Young maples and thin-barked trees may benefit from sunscald protection to prevent the bark from cracking this winter and spring. This usually involves plastic tubes or tree wraps, which are removed in spring. These practices can also help reduce winter animal damage. Other fall management practices which will help reduce winter damage to trees and shrubs can be found at http://z.umn.edu/winterdamage

Protecting trees from rabbits, mice, voles and deer is another major winter concern. Mow or remove tall grass to reduce mice and vole damage. If the bark is removed or severely damaged around the tree, it will die. Protective physical barriers such as tree tubes, hardware cloth or fencing can be done when practical.

Odor, taste and visual repellents can repel many wildlife species, but may have inconsistent effectiveness. Human hair, soaps, garlic oil, hot sauce and animal repellents can be applied to branches and foliage to discourage browsing. Weather, application frequency, animal population and feeding pressure affect the success of repellents. Alternate the repellents since some animals become desensitized to them. A web resource that reviews prevention and control of wildlife damage can be found at http://z.umn.edu/critters

If you're unsure about what's causing problems in your landscape, University of Minnesota Extension has a great web site to help homeowners diagnose tree, shrub and plant problems or identifying a weed or insect. This site also has links to the University of Minnesota Plant Disease Clinic and Soil Testing Lab: http://z.umn.edu/diagnose

Fall is also a good time to plant trees; water them until the soil freezes. Recommended trees for all regions of Minnesota are at http://z.umn.edu/rectrees. The best time to prune trees is during the dormant season from January to March. Flowering shrubs can be pruned in the summer after flowering.


Source: Gary Wyatt, University of Minnesota Extension agroforestry educator

For more news from U of M Extension, visit www.extension.umn.edu/news or contact Extension Communications at extnews@umn.edu. University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

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