But when trees have problems, they can be BIG problems, as these readers discovered.
QUESTION: "We have a maple, not a silver one, that has been in the ground maybe twenty years but still looks spindly. This spring was hard on it and it looks half-dead. Is there anything I should do to help it? It is in open lawn and there is no reason that I can see as to why it is doing so poorly." - Karen Meyer
ANSWER: There are many things you can try to do as a homeowner. One of the simplest is to fertilize the tree using a product called Jobe tree stakes. Directions come with it but it is as simple as pounding in the fertilizer stakes at the drip line of the trees.
For mature trees such as the one you describe you will use three stakes for every two inches of trunk diameter, measured at chest height. For example, five stakes will feed a tree with a three inch trunk diameter, and so on. Using the plastic driving cap, tap stakes into the ground, spaced evenly at tree's drip line. The drip line is directly below the ends of the longest branches.
Another suggestion would be to contact an arborist in your area who deals in larger trees. Here is a link to find one. http://asca-consultants.org/directory/index.cfm You can also click on a direct link to that directory when you find this column at my Web site, www.landsteward.org
QUESTION: "I have a Japanese Purpleleaf Sand Cherry at the front corner of my house. It's about six years old and is quite a size. It is part of my landscape. Around the tree I have evergreens, rhododendron, day lilies, hostas and flowering bushes. I have noticed that the leaves are not as big as last year's and it has a lot of black dots along the branches and some sort of white stuff. What is it and what can I do to save the tree? Please respond ASAP if you can as I don't want the tree to die if I can save it." - Teresa Fallone
ANSWER: It sounds like you have some kind of insect infection. You could try a product I've been using called Take Down Garden Spray. It contains a mixture of pyrethrin and canola oil. It is safe to use on vegetables and fruit trees as well as on groundcover, shrubs, houseplants, etc. Readers have told me they've had success with Take Down controlling Japanese Beetles, aphids, mealy bugs and so on.
the next few weeks. Also, you may experience some die back because of this. Once you see some of the tips or light branches dying, you need to trim them back to reshape the bush. Let me know how it works out for you.
QUESTION: "I had a weeping willow planted a year ago. It has done well and is about 9 or 10 feet tall. We are in a severe drought right now. How often should I water this tree and for how long at a time? I don't want to over water it." - Mary Chase
ANSWER: During the drought I would water once per week. You need to do deep watering to get to the roots not just standing with hose. As I've said here before, use a five gallon bucket filled with water and small 1/8 inch holes on the side at the base. The water coming out that slowly will be more likely to reach the roots.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org