Trees are a large investment of time, money and attention but are well worth what you put into them as they give back decades of enjoyment in the form of beauty, shade and value to your property.

Established trees that have desirable attributes can add thousands of dollars worth of value to a property. Keep in mind that not all trees are considered desirable when owning or buying a property, as some are considered more of a nuisance than a benefit. Trees that shed unwanted fruit, drop branches on the lawn or produce lots of messy seeds could be considered undesirable trees.

Since trees can be so financially valuable, as well as have some emotional significance, it is critical that you do your part to help keep them doing well.

Lance Ellis

Lance Ellis

The best defense against both insects and diseases is to maintain a healthy tree first and foremost. Insects will seek out trees that are stressed or not doing well over trees that are healthy. Trees that are healthy will also be able to fight off an insect infestation or disease better and many times survive it, whereas a weakened tree will generally be put out of its misery by a bug or sickness.

Adequate and sufficient watering is critical for a tree’s health and vigor. In our dry and arid climate, the trees we plant would generally not survive here without watering from people. Sometimes people think that large trees don’t need any care and that they are fine on their own, but large trees can die when they are neglected and are dehydrated from lack of water. Fertilization of your trees can help to promote growth and overall health, if needed. If you see signs of a nutrient deficiency, then a fertilizer application may be warranted. Otherwise, a single annual fertilizer application should be sufficient to help maintain good growth and vigor.

Avoid fertilizing in late summer or early fall, as it causes the trees to produce a lot of tender growth which is not cold hardy to withstand winter temperatures.

To maintain a healthy tree, only make good, clean pruning cuts that will be able to heal over and not be an open wound for insects or diseases to enter the tree. Also, remove any diseased wood or infested branches you may find so that it does not spread around to other parts of the tree.

Lastly, homeowners are very quick to spray a chemical when they think that there might be a threat of a particular insect or issue going around. Remember that if you don’t have an insect or disease present in your tree, or in the tree’s history, then there is very little need to pre-treat your trees.

In a nutshell, you don’t apply a chemical for something that the tree does not have afflicting it or is posing a threat. If you do identify something causing a problem for your tree, then being proactive will help to save it from further damage. You can have insect or disease issues in your trees and shrubs identified by bringing in a sample to the Fremont County Extension Office, located in Saint Anthony.

Lance Ellis is the University of Idaho Extension educator for Fremont County. He can be reached at 208-624-3102.