Tree roots need deep watering

Many readers have contacted me regarding bug problems with their trees and I'll get to a couple of recent bug-related questions in a minute. But first, a reader sent me an e-mail with a question about how best to water her new trees.
QUESTION: "HELP.....We have just planted some 12 foot Glory Maples and some 6 foot Norway Spruce. How much should water do they need? 2 gallons, 5 gallons, 15 gallons?? per day, every other day? per week? The trees are planted in Fairfax Virginia and our soil is clay and rocks...also how soon before we feed them and what do you suggest feeding them? Thank you for any help you can offer." - Ann Stone
ANSWER: I use a device called a Ross root feeder spike apparatus that you should be able to pick up at a garden center or hardware store. This is a spike that attaches to your hose and comes with watering instructions. I would deep water my trees every 2 to 3 weeks during this first season, using this Ross feeder.
Simply standing by your trees and spraying them with a hose or using a lawn sprinkler will not get down to the roots where the water is needed. If you deep water the roots every 2 to 3 weeks during this first season you will be fine until fall. Fertilizing these trees can be done at any time. If you're using the feeder, you can buy fertilizer tabs that dissolve and go right to the roots through the feeder.
If you decide not to use a root feeder, try a time-release triple-13 fertilizer or something comparable. Use about to 1 cup around the base of the tree but come out about 14 to 16" from the trunk.
QUESTION: Several years ago I bought 25 hybrid poplar. Within 1 and 1/2 years they grew 15 ft tall and were just beautiful, but this year they got holes going in a circle half way up looking like a woodpecker had got at them. They leaved out beautifully half way up the tree, however the rest of the buds on the tree did not open although they are not dead. We put some kind of tree paint from our nursery that was black and the holes (which I think are due to some kind of borer) have stopped moving up.
My question is what do we do with the 5ft of bare tree in the middle? Do we cut it or leave for the tree to recover... or will it? Any help you can give us would be appreciated as we do not want to lose our beautiful trees as they line our 4 acre property. We live up in the middle of the mountains and people always stop to admire our trees. - Roberta Walsh
ANSWER: Don't despair! This should be fairly simple. You need to cut out the dead section down to the green wood. Once the dead is removed the tree will start a process of putting on more top growth. Send a picture through email if you can.
QUESTION: "What is the best what to rid my trees of bagworms?" - John D
ANSWER: The first thing you have to do when you see them is to clip them off the branches, put in a bag and take them somewhere to burn them. Afterwards you need to spray the plants with an insecticide, such as Monterey Garden Insect Spray, about once every 30 to 45 days. Usually, you'll only need to do this two times per growing season. Follow the direction on the bottle to make sure your particular plants are okay with the chemical.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org. For resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free weekly e-mailed newsletter, go to www.landsteward.org
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@Greenwoodnursery.com wrote:

And don't put them in you purse or front pocket(for men).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Plant Man
"The trees are planted in Fairfax Virginia and our soil is clay and rocks...also how soon before we feed them and what do you suggest feeding them?"
FIRST, Autotrophs make their own food. Heterotrophs have to have it made for them. Trees are AUTOTROPHS! People who say they feed trees have no understanding of photosynthesis. For people who say they can feed a tree - I would say, feed the tree real good and then place it in a closet. Look up - "TREE FOOD" http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/T/index.html
We can feed the system, or feed the soil carbon based cellulose.
Also, wound dressing or so-called tree paint does not stop decay. Unless you desire to stimulate decay to create a cavity for small wildlife, wound dressing really does not do much good. It sounds like you have sap suckers. They are protected in USA.
Look up "wound dressing" http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/W/index.html Also see: Journal of Arboriculture 9(12): Dec 1983 WOUND DRESSINGS: RESULTS OF STUDIES OVER 13 YEARS by Alex L. Shigo and Walter C. Shortle
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr. Beware of so-called TREE EXPERTS who do not understand TREE BIOLOGY! www.treedictionary.com
http://mercury.ccil.org/~treeman / Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss. Some people will buy products they do not understand and not buy books that will give them understanding.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 23 Jun 2006 07:10:25 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@Greenwoodnursery.com"

A newly planted tree has no "deep roots." The roots are all in the original rootball. Usually, the tree comes with looser soil than the transplant site, so it dries out quicker. For the first few weeks, standing by the tree and spraying it is exactly what you should do, and you should do it often. Once the tree begins to spread new roots into the native soil, you should start thinking about deeper water--but I prefer a nice, slow soaking to the method above. Tree roots exist primarily in the top couple of feet of soil. A deep-root wand will put most of the water below the tree roots.
As for fertilizer, it is irresponsible to recommend any regimen that does not start with a soil test.
But virtually every tree will benefit from a properly-installed layer of organic mulch (see link below for instructions).

If you want to determine what parts of the tree will survive, use the thumbnail test. Scrape the bark of a suspect twig with your nail. If you reveal green tissue under the surface, the twig is alive. If it is dry and brown, it won't come back. Prune it to a branch collar (see link below). Do not paint the wounds.
The holes are most likely from sapsuckers (bird family that includes woodpeckers). They bore a series of holes, which exude sap. They come back later to dine on the insects that are stuck in the sap. Your treatment probably made their diner look less appealing, so they moved on.

Avoid poison controls. Spraying a tree means lots of overspray in most cases. The simplest solution is to use a pole of some kind to poke holes in the webs. If possible, roll the webs onto the pole like spaghetti onto a fork. Once the protective webs are gone, the natural predators (insects and wasps) can access the worms and kill them. The denuded branches are rarely killed by defoliation--leave them alone, and next year (or later this year) they will probably come back.
If you are seeing a particularly bad outbreak, you can control with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which is sprayed onto the leaves. When ingested by the worms, the bacteria kill them. This treatment kills caterpillars indiscriminately--i.e., not only the bagworms, but other moth and butterfly larvae may be affected. Spray as a last resort.
for more info about proper tree are, visit www.treesaregood.com
Keith Babberney ISA Certified Arborist #TX-0236AT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Most of the non-woody, absorbing roots (roots that absorb water and elements dissolved in it) are mostly in the upper four inches of the soil. As the tree becomes established, the non-woody roots will still be in the upper 4". You should water the root ball area well at least two times. Then water should also be applied further away from the root ball.
I agree with Keith Babberney. For the record, my father planted a blue spruce, maybe 30 years ago. As long as I can remember, the tree had bag worms. The bag worms have not killed the symplast of the branches and the tree still looks fine. Thus removing the branches with bagworms would be like placing a tourniquet around your neck to stop a nose bleed. Back to pruning. The biggest problem for trees and branches is improper pruning. A must to read is this book. http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/TPRUNING.html Flush cuts leave us with many of the tree problems we face in our cities. Wound dressing adds insult to injury. We must also care for the system and not just the wound. A great book on treatments is here: http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/MARBOR.html If your library does not have the books, they can order them here for you: http://www.shigoandtrees.com /
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr. Beware of so-called TREE EXPERTS who do not understand TREE BIOLOGY! www.treedictionary.com
http://mercury.ccil.org/~treeman / Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss. Some people will buy products they do not understand and not buy books that will give them understanding.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.