Tree and Shrub Care Tips from KC Arborist

Tree & Shrub Care PhotoWhen it comes to tree and shrub care, many homeowners are in the dark. They plant a tree or shrub and think their work is done. While Mother Nature does a pretty good job of taking care of things, there are times that our plant friends need our attention. The certified arborists at KC Arborist have created a basic How-To Tree & Shrub Guide to keep your trees and shrubs healthy and happy.

Watering and Fertilization

Watering is key to tree and shrub health, but because varieties and climates are different, it’s hard to give exact rules that apply to all. Instead, here are a few guidelines that should help.

Watering Newly Planted Trees: For new trees, water immediately after you plant a tree and frequently during the first month. After the first month a weekly soaking with about 10 gallons should be sufficient for most trees. For bigger trees add 10 gallons for each inch of trunk diameter over 2 inches. Assuming there is no rainfall, keep this up until the leaves fall from the tree in the fall.

Watering Trees During First Few Years: During the second and third growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Continue to water every 10-14 days if it doesn’t rain. As the root system expands, water in a wider circle around the plant soaking the soil 8” to a foot deep. Pay special attention during the summer when it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. Deep watering and mulching will help it retain the moisture it needs.

How Much Water and When: Check soil moisture by inserting a garden trowel into the ground about 2″ deep. Move the trowel back and forth to create a small trench. Touch the soil. The soil at the bottom of the trench should be moist to the touch. If it is not, watering is needed.

Fertilization Is Important: Without the proper combination of air and soil borne elements, plants cannot function effectively. Fertilization provides nutrients for the roots to improve plant growth and improves nutrient and moisture retention. This gives your trees and shrubs the ability to fight off pests and diseases as well as the ability to increase their drought tolerance.

Insects & Diseases

While trees and shrubs look great from a distance, it’s important to inspect them up close every month or so. Catching diseases and infestations early is your best bet for saving your plants. From bagworms to spider mites, insects and diseases are a constant threat. Here are some of the most common problems to look for in the KC area:

The Emerald Ash Borer Is Killing Ash Trees by the Thousands

The Emerald Ash Borer, a small but destructive beetle, has been killing Ash trees from Canada, through the northern U.S. and has made its way into the Kansas City Metro Area. Symptoms include dieback in tree canopy, new sprouts forming at the tree’s base, tiny D-shaped exit holes on the trunk and woodpecker damage. Call immediately if you suspect trouble. Untreated Ash trees will die.

Keep an Eye on Crabapples and Hawthorns

Rust and Scab are fungal diseases that cause the leaves to fall off of infected trees. Two specific trees that are susceptible to rust and scab are Crabapples and Hawthorns. Keep an eye on those.

Evergreens Are Susceptible to Tip Blight & Needle Blight

Brown needles on pine and spruce trees and even junipers, arborvitaes, and yews is called needle blight. It can be caused by drought, winter injury, sunscald or root rot.

Nutrient Deficiencies in Oak and Birch trees are common in Kansas City. Look for pale, yellow leaves and early leaf drop. If caught in time, we can get to the root of the problem and restore your tree’s health.

Insects and Disease Affect Spruce Trees

Spruce trees are especially susceptible to insects and disease. Rhizosphaera Needle Cast and Spruce Spider Mites are two serious offenders we find in the Kansas City area.

Follow this link for more information on common insects and diseases

Call a Tree Care Professional at the First Sign of Insects or Disease

At KC Arborist, we know exactly what to look for in your Kansas City landscape. Now that you know what to look for, call us if you suspect any tree distress that could indicate disease or insect infestations. Our team of experts will come to your home and diagnose the affected trees and can start treating them right away.  


Trimming, or pruning, trees and shrubs actually helps to keep your yard greener and healthier. Removing dead, damaged and diseased material helps prevent insects and decay organisms from working their way into an otherwise healthy tree. Plus, it allows air and sunlight reach inner branches. Pruning also allows you to cut out crossing branches, that may rub together causing injury. Cutting down old, heavy branches prevents them from tearing and causing damage.

Pruning Maintains Natural Tree Shape and Growth

Trees and plants, left to grow unruly, often grow erratic branches that can change the growth habit of other parts of the plant leaving you with a lopsided tree. Correct pruning practices actually help create and maintain a stronger tree structure. Plus, taking care of hanging branches or limbs that are threatening to fall helps keep your family and neighbors safer. But be careful not to over prune. We have seen homeowners get overly zealous pruning and damage or even kill their trees. If you are not sure about pruning, call a certified arborist.

Follow this link for more information on our Kansas City area tree healthcare services. A tree is a terrible thing to lose. Keep your trees and bushes happy and healthy with regular examination and maintenance.