Tree & Shrub Care Frequently Asked Questions | Baltimore, MD Skip Navigation

Scientific Plant Service Tree & Shrub Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if a shrub is diseased?

White or tan spots on leaves or needles can indicate an insect issue or disease.  While orange, yellow, black, or brown spots on leaves or needles may indicate a fungal disease.

My newly planted trees and shrubs died, why did this happen?

Improper watering may cause a tree or shrub to die before it becomes established.  These plants have a small root system, during dry weather they can dry out very quickly.

How can I tell if my tree is diseased?

Changes in tree bark, premature leaf drop or reduced foliage, needles or leaves with dark spots, unusual leaf color or distorted shapes are all indicators of disease.

Should I put mulch around my trees?

Mulch gives your trees and the soil added nutrients.  But too much mulch can damage your trees, two to three inches of mulch is best.  Mulch should be applied carefully and it should not touch the trunk of the tree, mulch should be kept about twelve to eighteen inches from the trunk.  Rainfall and irrigation will cause the mulch to become moist.  Over time, moisture will cause rot and decay of the bark layer, this kills the cambium layer of growth and will eventually rot the wood of the tree.  

How often should I trim/prune my trees?

Every three to five years for most mature trees of any variety, every two to three years for most younger trees.  To produce larger and better-quality fruit, fruit trees can be pruned every year.  Evergreens can go many years without trimming.  

What will happen if I over-prune/trim my trees?

Over-pruning and/or topping can permanently disfigure or even kill your trees.  A tree’s foliage protects it against excessive sun exposure.  If too much is removed, the tree will sprout poor limbs excessively to boost food production to protect itself against sunscald.  This will have a negative effect on aesthetics and create future issues.  Over pruning can lead to poor nutrition, a lack of sun protection, pathogens, and infestation.

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