Autumn Arboriculture

The one thing we can count on in Kansas City, each year is different weather. In 2009, we were blessed with one of the mildest summers on record. This summer however, we endured one of the hottest and driest late summers in recent history. Rainfall has been somewhat variable, but left most locations fairly wet in the spring and early summer. This was then followed by nearly a month of drought.

Late this summer, many diseased trees began prematurely dropping leaves. Diseased leaves on the ground as well as infected branches on the tree are a call to action. Bacteria and fungi (plant pathogens) will survive on branches and fallen twigs as well as leaves throughout the winter. Debris, if left till spring, will be a pathogen source for 2011.
This year, it is especially important to clean your beds and lawns of fallen leaves and associated debris. This doesn’t mean that you have to pick up the leaves when they fall; these leaves will be suitable for composting. However it is important that your leaves don’t stick around until next spring.

Once your landscape is bare of leaves, pruning needs will be much more evident. These needs include dead branches, broken branches as well as those weakened by plant pathogens. Fall is the very best time to prune. Why? One word; energy. Trees and shrubs have the most stored-up energy in the cambium than any other time of the year. Stored energy is important as this is the tree’s defense against decay entering pruning wounds. Freshly cut wood won’t attract bark beetles and borers that come to infest and spread additional diseases; as these wood boring insects have already become dormant for the winter season.

Make time now to clean up your beds and lawn before the snow flies. For large trees or projects beyond your expertise, now is the time to schedule work with your tree care company (arborist). Book work now and it can be completed anytime during the fall and winter.