What is That Bush on a Stick Doing on my Lawn?

You bought your brand new house.  Great!  Your hopes and dreams are being realized.  You love your new community.  You’re on a roll!  Good for you!  While I don’t want to rain on your parade, I must warn you:  Trouble lurks, right on your front lawn.

Let’s get into what that trouble may be: When developers build their new communities, putting up houses at speeds that amaze and mystify, they do not often give much thought to what trees they’re going to plant on the front lawns of those new homes.  Only when the homes are built, and everything else is signed off on, do the developers have their contracted landscape companies come in and plop a few trees on the front lawns of each of hundreds of houses, in one fell swoop.  Often, those trees are planted incorrectly, but that is a subject for another article from your humble Certified Arborist.  What I will deal with, today, is the failure of the new trees you see on the front lawns of newly built houses in new real estate developments.

Developers and builders buy trees by the millions.  As their bottom line is what they value, above all, not much thought is put into the quality of the trees they install.  They look for the most trees for the least cash outlay.  They want trees that grow fast and don’t require much work, at least during the time they still can be held accountable for them by new homeowners.  These homeowners have other things on their minds when they first move in.  They don’t pay attention to their lawn trees, usually.  In time, within the first three to five years, those trees grow and grow and——- It’s a bush on a stick, maybe two, maybe more, that now sit on their front lawn.  In the biz, we see these bush on a stick trees, daily.

What are the ramifications, health-wise, for these trees?  First off, let’s make sure we’re on the same page:  A bush on a stick is a tree that looks like a, a, a —-well, a bush on a stick.  The canopy is so thick that you cannot see individual branches, you cannot see any daylight through that canopy, and the effect is simply a large blob of brush on a thin, elongated trunk.  Got the picture?  Simply drive through your nearest, new real estate development to see things more clearly.

When a tree is a bush on a stick, sunlight cannot penetrate through the canopy, nor can air reach the leaves in healthy amounts.  As a result, certain predictable, and harmful, things happen, in the canopy.  Numerous pathogenic processes can initiate:  Fungal spores can diffuse into the canopy, their settling on leaves aided by slowed air flow.  These spores can germinate quickly, because of the raised ambient humidity in the tight canopy.  Different insect pests seek refuge in the tight, dark, humid, inner canopy.  Gall wasps can infest the interior space.  Birds can nest in the dark recesses, and while the birds, themselves, do not actively harm the tree, nesting materials they bring in may contain more pathogens that can attack the tree.  Two of the most important factors for good tree health, sunlight and fresh air, are seen to be greatly limited.  Additionally, with the clumping of the canopy, poor branch form becomes the rule as the tree struggles to grow in a more “normal” way.  Branches cross each other, branches rub each other, included bark forms in branch crotches where two branches diverge, leading to poor attachments and, eventually, branch failure.

When we examine the types of trees, as above, we see the same things over and over, again:  Leaf spot, caused by fungal pathogens, and galls, round wooden balls that harbor the larvae of gall wasps and are caused by female wasps.  We also see the poor branch structure referenced above.  All of these conditions can lead a given tree into a downward mortality spiral and premature death.  So, what can be done?

The most important thing you can do for a bush on a stick is to have the experts at Happy Tree come out, trim and prune the tree to promote sunlight penetration and airflow.  By carefully removing up to 25% of the overgrown canopy, Happy Tree can restore airflow and sunlight to a given tree and remove it from the bush on a stick category.  Trees that can breathe and receive the beneficial rays of the sun are, in fact, happy trees, and at Happy Tree we can make sure your trees are headed in the right direction towards their long-term health and survival. The benefits are long-lasting, and because we prune your trees with care, you will immediately see a difference in their overall appearance:  They’ll not only be healthier, they’ll look healthier, as well.

Please give Happy Tree a call, today, at: 512-212-0010.  We want to turn your bush on a stick into a happy, healthy tree.  Thanks!

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