Got Nature? Blog

surface rootTrees in the landscape are highly prized and provide many benefits to you and your home. However, those shallow roots that appear on the surface of our lawns can create real headaches, especially when trying to grow lush turfgrass. This free download Surface Root Syndrome publication will help you learn what surface roots are, common approaches to address the problem, and best practices to management.

Resources
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Support System, The Education Store
Tree Diseases: White Pine Decline in Indiana, The Education Store
Tree Diseases: Oak Wilt in Indiana, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Woodland owners interested in learning more about the ecology and management of their woodlands may enroll in this Purdue University Extension course providing eight weekly meetings and two half-day Saturday field tours. Topics covered include tree identification; forest biology & ecology; forest management planning; forest management practices; selling timber; wildlife management, managing the woodland investment and receive resources. Registration is $50 for individuals and $30 for each additional family member.Forest trees

Dates: Thursdays, March 5 to April 23
Time: 6 to 9 pm CT and two Saturday morning field tours
Location: Pinney Purdue Agriculture Center, 11402 South County Line Road, Wanatah Indiana 46390.

You can find additional program details and registration information on flyer: Forest Management for the Private Woodland Owner.

Contact Lenny Farlee, Purdue FNR sustaining hardwood extension specialist, at lfarlee@purdue.edu or call him at 765 494-2153.

Resources
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Publication
New Issue of Indiana Woodland Steward, Got Nature? Purdue Extension FNR
Tax Information For Woodland Owners, Got Nature? Purdue Extension FNR
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Expensive and complex equipment is often needed around homes.

Purdue Landscape Report: There are many different aspects of tree work which include a wide range of costs, but let’s start with the most common expense: tree removal. It can be difficult to understand why removing a tree can cost so much when the whole process seems as simple as “just cutting it down.” In reality, the work is usually much more involved than making a few cuts with a chain saw and then hauling it all away.

Complexity – Trees being removed often need to be cut apart in sections to avoid dropping the whole tree or large pieces onto the lawn or landscape or into the street. This is a safer approach and also prevents serious damage to the turf and landscape below. News reports are full of accidents involving untrained tree workers, or homeowners, attempting to cut down a tree without the knowledge of how the tree reacts to being cut. Usually, specialized equipment is needed, such as aerial lifts or cranes to access the tree safely. This equipment is costly to acquire and maintain. Some of the typical equipment such as these mentioned can cost more than some homes! Often, the use of this equipment involves setting up traffic control in busy streets where permits and additional flagging support are needed.

Difficult and dangerousTree work requires training and expertise for safe pruning and removals.Tree pruning and tree removal, is difficult and dangerous work. Also, there is a reason why the tree is being removed. Often it has been deemed high risk or presents a danger on the site. Tree crews are regularly asked to work on trees with compromised structure from storm damage or years of neglect. These compromised trees are often dead trees, which are particularly dangerous. A tree that has been dead for several years usually becomes brittle and inflexible. When you try to cut it down, controlling the direction of fall is a challenge and it will often shatter, throwing broken branches in an uncontrolled manner. Often, tree workers are in trees that have electrical conductors running through the branches. That risky situation should speak for itself.

Insurance, Licensing – Because tree work can be hazardous, qualified companies will have expensive liability insurance to protect the homeowner’s property, as well as workers’ compensation insurance to help cover injuries sustained by the crew, should they occur. You get what you pay for and this includes tree care as well! If you select a company that is less expensive, they may not carry insurance which leaves the tree owner at a high risk of having to pay damages several times the original job estimate, if something goes wrong. Always check with your tree care company to be sure they can validate proper insurance before starting tree work. This applies to any service company which may be used in and around your home or property.

Trained and Certified Workers – Its best to choose a tree care company where the crew has current industry credentials Large cranes may be required to safely remove the tree.and a history of training and experience. How do you know if a company’s staff is trained and experienced? Ask to see their credentials and look for programs such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist, or the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Certified Treecare Safety Professional which are indicators of a professional business with the expertise to perform the work. Tree owners and managers have the option to interview two or three tree care companies before deciding about tree removal or other critical practices such as pruning. Ask to see a copy of the current insurance certificate as well as copies of the crew’s competency credentials. If a company representative hesitates to provide these documents or insists, they don’t need to “prove” themselves, find another company to perform the work. Ask for references. This is easy since often all that is needed is to drive by a location to see the quality of the pruning work or removal work completed.
Certified Arborists can provide the best care for your trees.
Find a professional – Also, to check for an ISA Certified Arborist in your area, visit the website www.treesaregood.org then click on the link “Find an Arborist”. By entering your zip code, a list of credentialed arborists can be found nearest your location.

Tree care performed properly will be an investment in your property that, when done correctly, will give you valued returns for decades.

Resources
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Educational Store
Tree Pruning Essentials, video, The Education Store
Tree Pruning Essentials, The Education Store
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forest Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue Landscape Report: Just as sure as you try to predict the weather, it is likely to change. But going out on a limb, I predict that we will have a bit of a dud for fall color display this year. Not a very risky prediction, considering that many plants already are starting to turn color and/or drop leaves in some areas of the state.

Nyssa sylvatica

Nyssa sylvatica (black gum) showing early fall color due to drought stress. Source

So why would the colors be early and/or a bit duller than usual? Certainly, some of the reason why plants display fall colors has to do with the genetic makeup of the plant. That doesn’t change from year to year. But the timing and intensity of fall colors do vary, depending on factors such as availability of soil moisture and plant nutrients, as well as environmental signals such as temperature, sunlight, length of day, and cool nighttime temperatures.

The droughty conditions experienced during much of the second half of summer are likely to have decreased the amount of fall color pigment. Southern Indiana has been particularly parched. Despite recent rains in some areas, much of the state remains designated as abnormally dry to moderate drought. You can check your area’s conditions at the US Drought Monitor for Indiana. Additional maps and data is available at the Midwest Regional Climate Center.

Growing conditions throughout the season affect fall color as does current weather. Colors such as orange and yellow, which we see in the fall, are actually present in the leaf all summer. However, those colors are masked by the presence of chlorophyll, the substance responsible for green color in plants during the summer. Chlorophyll allows the plant to use sunlight and carbon dioxide from the air to produce carbohydrates (sugars and starch). Trees continually replenish their supply of chlorophyll during the growing season.

As the days grow shorter and (usually) temperatures cooler, the trees use chlorophyll faster than they can replace it. The green color fades as the level of chlorophyll decreases, allowing the other colored pigments to show through. Plants that are under stress–from conditions like prolonged dry spells–often will display early fall color because they are unable to produce as much chlorophyll.

Yellow, brown and orange colors, common to such trees as birch, some maples, hickory and aspen, come from pigments called carotenoids, the same pigments that are responsible for the color of carrots, corn and bananas.

Red and purple colors common to sweet gum, dogwoods and some maples and oaks are produced by another type of pigment called anthocyanin, the pigment responsible for the color of cherries, grapes, apples and blueberries. Unlike chlorophyll and carotenoids, anthocyanins are not always present in the leaf but are produced in late summer when environmental signals occur. Anthocyanins also combine with carotenoids to produce the fiery red, orange, and bronze colors found in sumac, oaks, and dogwoods.

Red colors tend to be most intense when days are warm and sunny, but nights are cool–below 45º F. The color intensifies because more sugars are produced during warm, sunny days; cool night temperatures cause the sugars to remain in the leaves. Pigments are formed from these sugars, so the more sugar in the leaf, the more pigment, and, thus, more intense colors. Warm, rainy fall weather decreases the amount of sugar and pigment production. Warm nights cause what sugars that are made to move out of the leaves, so that leaf colors are muted.

Leaf color also can vary from tree to tree and even from one side of a tree to another. Leaves that are more exposed to the sun tend to show more red coloration while those in the shade turn yellow. Stress such as drought, poor fertility, disease or insects may cause fall color to come on earlier, but usually results in less intense coloration, too. And stress or an abrupt hard freeze can cause leaves to drop before they have a chance to change color.

So far, weather conditions lead me to think this will be one of those not so showy fall color years. I hope I am proven wrong!

Resources
Why do leaves change color and why do leaves fall off in autumn?, Got Nature? Blog
Why Leaves Change Color, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Fifty Trees of the Midwest App for the iPhone, The Education Store
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Why Leaves Change Color, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area
It’s Fall, but why are the leaves still green? article and video, WLFI.com

B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulturist
Purdue Horticulture and Landscape Architecture


Cities and towns in the U.S. contain more than 130 million acres of forests. These forests vary extensively in size and locale. An urban forest can describe an urban park such as Central Park in New York City, NY, street trees, nature preserves, extensive gardens, or any trees collectively growing within a suburb, city, or town. Urban forestry is the name given to the care and maintenance of those ecosystem areas that remain after urbanization. Data from the 2010 census indicated more than 80% of Americans live in urban centers with a population increase greater than 12%. The population of Indiana represents only 2.1% of the nation. In the last 8 years, IN has had an influx of 200,000 people which represents a population increase of 3.0%!

Urban forests, which help filter air and water, control storm water runoff, help conserve energy and provide shade and animal habitat must be maintained. As our nation becomes more urbanized, appreciate those urban foresters working to ensure we have save urban forest spaces to enjoy. These precious resources add more than curb appeal and economic value, they improve our quality of life.

What does an urban forester do? Here’s a quick answer:

References:
Purdue Urban Forestry & Arboriculture, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources
USDA Forest Service Urban Forests, United States Department of Agriculture
US Census Bureau, United States Census Bureau

Interested in Purdue Urban Forestry? Contact:
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Forestry and Natural Resources

Resources:
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store
What plants can I landscape with in area that floods with hard rain?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


REEU Activities

Photos: Megan Gunn (mlgunn@purdue.edu)

This past summer marked the first year of the Research and Extension Experiential Learning for Undergraduates (REEU) program at Purdue University. This program entitled “Diversity in Faces, Spaces and Places” was designed to increase visibility of underrepresented students and professionals in Natural Resource sciences disciplines and provide targeted mentorship to current underrepresented undergraduates.

During this PAID 8-week summer program, students were exposed to and participated in a plethora of activities such as: stream ecosystem health evaluation, mammalian tracking and trapping, reptile and amphibian habitat suitability studies, avian mist-netting, bat auditory identification and examination, and the role of genetics in the susceptibility of trees to disease. Students created posters of their research, gave oral presentations, and wrote a manuscript article on their chosen topic of study at the end of the program. Be a part of the fun next year!

REEU Activities

Photos: Megan Gunn (mlgunn@purdue.edu)

View The Familiar Faces Project blog and learn more about the experiences in REEU. Contact Dr. Liz Flaherty or Megan Gunn for information on how you can participate!

Dr. Liz Flaherty
eflaher@purdue.edu
765.494.3567

Ms. Megan Gunn
mlgunn@purdue.edu
765.276.7102

Other faculty involved in the program: Ximena Bernal, associate professor, Purdue Biological Sciences; Reuben Goforth, associate professor of aquatic ecosystems, Purdue FNR; Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service, HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist & Adjunct Assistant Professor; Zhao Ma,  associate professor of natural resource social science, Purdue FNR; and Marisol Sepulveda, professor of ecology and natural systems, Purdue FNR.

Resources
Considerations for Trapping Nuisance Wildlife with Box Traps, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Benefits of Connecting with Nature, The Education Store
The Nature of Teaching: Adaptations for Aquatic Amphibians, The Education Store
August is National Tree Check Month: Are YOUR trees safe and secure?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue FNR Extension
Bats in the Belfry, Got Nature? Blog

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on August 14th, 2019 in Alert, Forestry, Forests and Street Trees, Land Use | No Comments »

One of the most dangerous pests to trees is a human, especially with equipment.  tree injury from equipmentInjuries to trees caused by a lawn mower or weed trimmer can seriously threaten a tree’s health.

Additionally, damage to the bark layer of trees causes a long-term liability by creating a wound which leads to a defect, becoming an unsafe tree.

The site of injury is usually the root flare area, where the tree meets the turf and gets in the path of the mower or trimmer.  The bark on a tree acts to protect a very important transport system called the cambium layer.

mower injury on tree

This is where specialized tubes are located which move nutrients and water between the roots and the leaves. Bark layers can vary in thickness on different tree species.  It can be more than an inch in thickness or less than 1/16 of an inch on young, smooth-barked trees such as maples and birch trees.  This isn’t much protection against string trimmers and mowing equipment, especially the young trees.

Any type of damage or removal of the bark and the transport system can result in long-term damage.  Damage, which extends completely around the base of the tree called girdling, will result in ultimate death in a short time.

weed eater injury on tree

Tree wounds are serious when it comes to tree health. The wounded area is an opportunity for other insects and diseases to enter the tree that causes further damage. Trees can be completely killed from an attack following injuries. Fungi becomes active on the wound surface, causing structural defects from the decay.  This weakens the tree or it eventually dies, creating a risk tree to people around it.

Newly planted, young trees need all the help we can provide to become established in the landscape and these trees are often the most commonly and seriously affected by maintenance equipment.  However, injury can be avoided easily and at very low cost with these suggestions.

  1. tree with mulch at baseThe removal of turf or prevention of grass and weeds from growing at the base of the tree are low-tech solutions to eliminate a serious problem. Spraying herbicides to eliminate vegetation around the base of the tree can decrease mowing maintenance costs. Be sure to use care when applying herbicides around trees.
  2. A 2-3” layer of mulch on the root zone of the tree provides an attractive and healthy environment for the tree to grow. Additionally, it provides a visual cue to keep equipment away from the tree.
  3. Also, trunk guards and similar devices can add an additional measure of protection for the tree. Using white, expanding tree guards can help improve the trees ability to withstand equipment contact, but also help to reduce winter injury.

Trees are a major asset to your property and important to our environment.  Protect our trees and preserve these valuable assets by staying away from tree trunks with any mowing or weed trimming equipment.  The damage lasts and it cannot be repaired and often results in losing your tree.

Purdue University Landscape Report Article

Resources
Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees, The Education Store – Purdue Extension resource center
What plants can I landscape with in areas that floods with hard rain?, Purdue Got Nature? Blog
Tree support systems, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forest Specialist
Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue Landscape Report: When was the last time you really looked at your trees?  It’s all too easy to just trees, grasslandsenjoy their cool shade and the sound of their leaves, but if you don’t know what to look for you could miss deadly diseases or dastardly demons lurking in their leaves and branches. A quick check can help you stop a problem before it kills your tree or your local forest!

National Tree Check Month is the perfect time to make sure your tree is in tip-top shape! Our checklist will help you spot early warning signs of native pests and pathogens and invasive pests like Asian longhorned beetlespotted lanternfly, and sudden oak death. You can stop invasive pests in their tracks by reporting them if you see them.

Is your tree healthy and normal?
Start by making sure you know the type of tree you have. Is it a deciduous tree like an oak or maple? Or is it an evergreen that like a spruce or a pine? Don’t worry about exactly what species it is. It’s enough for you to have a general sense of what the tree should look like when it’s healthy.

Check the leaves

  • Are the leaves yellow, red or brown?
  • Are they spotted or discolored?
  • Do the leaves look distorted or disfigured?
  • Is there a sticky liquid on the leaves?
  • Do the leaves appear wet, or give off a foul odor?
  • Are leaves missing?
  • Are parts of the leaves chewed?

Check the trunk and branches

  • Are there holes or splits in the trunk or branches?
  • Is the bark peeling from a tree that shouldn’t shed its bark?
  • Are there tunnels or unusual patterns under the bark?
  • Is there sawdust on or under the tree?
  • Is there sap oozing down the tree?
  • Does the sap have a bad odor?
  • Do sticky drops fall on you when you stand under the tree? You might have spotted lanternfly. Please report it right away!

Now what? If you answered YES to any of the questions above, there’s a good chance something is wrong. To decide if and how you should treat or report the problem, you’ll need to have a tentative diagnosis. Luckily, there are many ways to get one!

Know the tree species? Use the Purdue Tree Doctor to get a diagnosis and a recommendation on whether treating or reporting is needed.  This app allows you to flip through photos of problem plagued leaves, branches and trunks to help you rapidly identify the problem.  If you have an invasive pest, it will guide you how to report it.

Don’t know the tree species and still need help? Reach out to local experts. We’re happy to help!

Confused but think something is TERRIBLY WRONG?  Contact Purdue’s Exotic Forest Pest Educatorreport online, or call 1-866-NOEXOTIC.

Resources:
Trees and Storms, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Why Is My Tree Dying?, The Education Store
Caring for storm-damaged trees/How to Acidify Soil in the Yard, In the Grow, Purdue Extension
Tree Risk Management, The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices,  The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1 & Tree Planting Part 2, videos, The Education Store

Cliff Sadof, Professor & Coordinator of Extension
Purdue University, Department of Entomology

Elizabeth Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue University, Department of Entomology


man standing in tall grass

A “weedy” field like this may seem unsightly to some, but to wildlife, it provides invaluable food and cover. Just by leaving this field unmowed, you can improve habitat on your farm.

man mowing tall grass

Mowing just to clean up the farm, or Recreational Mowing Syndrome (RMS), eliminates habitat for countless wildlife species.

Do you have a sudden urge to jump in the tractor and mow your fields, field borders or road ditches?
You might have RMS.

Do you enjoy spending your weekend in the cab of the tractor with a mower in tow in search of places to mow across your property?
You might have RMS.

Do you get queasy at the sight of a “weedy” unkempt field?
You might have RMS.

What is RMS you ask? RMS stands for Recreational Mowing Syndrome, a condition that afflicts many rural landowners during the summer months. And if you answered yes to any or all of the questions above, then you have RMS.

What is it?
RMS is the sudden urge many landowners get to ‘clean’ up their property by mowing the ideal fields, field borders, and road ditches around the farm during the summer months. While a mowed field may look attractive in the eyes of a landowner, in the eyes of wildlife, this is a serious problem.

These prime mowing spots provide habitat for a suite of birds, mammals, herpetofuana, and pollinating insects that inhabit our rural landscapes. Many of these species are actively nesting or raising young in these areas during peak mowing season – April through September. And the weeds coming up in these fields like common milkweed, tall ironweed, common ragweed, and many others provide food and cover for wildlife.

How to treat it?
The easiest way to treat RMS is by going cold-turkey – park the tractor for the summer. If you are not ready to give up mowing all together, then restrict your mowing to just the lanes around the fields, instead of the whole field. If you are ready to give up mowing, but still want to enjoy time in the tractor, try these options.

Instead of hooking up the mower, hook up the sprayer and go control some invasive species on the property, like bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, or sericea lespedeza. Or try hooking up the disk and disking around the field to prepare firebreaks for a late summer or fall prescribed fire.

You can still spend time on the tractor during the summer months without eliminating wildlife habitat through mowing. In fact, you can improve it!

Next time you look at your window and see a “weedy” field, don’t cringe and give into the urge to mow it. Instead, just smile and listen to all the quail whistling, songbirds singing, and bees buzzing in the habitat you improved by not mowing.

Resources
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Effective Firebreaks for Safe Use of Prescribed Fire, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension – FNR
Sericea Lespedeza: Plague on the Prairie, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension – FNR

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Storm damage, trees downSafety first! Stay clear and look for dangerous hanging limbs, broken branches and other failures before beginning cleanup or inspections. Keep others clear of the areas beneath and around damaged trees. Be alert for power lines that could be involved with damaged trees. All utility lines should be considered energized and dangerous.

Lindsey Purcell, Purdue urban forestry specialist, shares, “in my experience, during storm cleanup, many tree owners are faced with the decision of what to do with their trees relative to restoration or removal”.  There are several types of tree damage that occur from violent weather. Each has its own specific assessment considerations. All parts of the tree should be inspected during a post-storm assessment. This requires the expertise of trained, professional arborists to assist with the decision making regarding the best course of action. Unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of the situation and overcharge or provide poor advice when it comes to the best decision on their trees. Don’t make any hasty decisions and be sure you are hiring an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist, ask for references and proof of insurance in the process.

View publication Trees and Storms located in The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center, for more information.

Resources:
Trees and Storms – The Education Store, Purdue Education Resource Center
Caring for storm-damaged trees/How to Acidify Soil in the Yard – In the Grow, Purdue Extension
Moist soil and rotten roots makes it easy for trees to come crashing down – Fox 59 News
Why Is My Tree Dying? – The Education Store
Tree Risk Management – The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment – The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Got Nature?

Recent Posts

Archives