5 Tips for Diagnosing Diseased Trees and Shrubs in Your Yard

You probably know when something has gone wrong with your landscaping because the trees and shrubs in your yard start dying. There could be any number of causes for this phenomenon, such as a lack of food or water or harsh weather conditions. But it could also be that your trees or shrubs are under attack from unknown assailants. Luckily, pest infestations and other diseases can generally be brought under control through the use of various natural or chemical treatments, depending on the culprit. But you need to diagnose the problem before you can select the appropriate solution. Here are just a few tips to help you diagnose the diseases attacking the trees and shrubs in your yard.

  1. Know your trees and shrubs. Many plant diseases are specific to particular species of flora and fauna, so knowing which plants are in your yard is the first step towards diagnosing the diseases affecting them. For example, Dutch elm disease is caused by a fungus spread by elm bark beetles, and as expected, it affects many varieties of elm trees. But if you didn’t know you had elms on your property, it would take you a lot longer to narrow down the potential causes for branches beginning to wither and die.
  2. Look for pests. A large number of tree and shrub diseases are spread by pests, although the pests themselves could be to blame for plants displaying symptoms of illness. Emerald ash borer beetles don’t necessarily infect ash trees with a disease, per se, but they lay their eggs inside the bark of the tree after which the larvae spend one to two years eating the inside of the tree as they grow to maturity. Over time, this can lead to disease-like symptoms. And of course, many pests do spread diseases from one plant to the next. So when you begin to see problems, look first for pests. Capturing and identifying the pest could help you to pinpoint the disease.
  3. Identify signs and symptoms. Different pests and the diseases they carry can create many similar signs and symptoms. Leaves and branches withering and dying at the crown are an extremely common early sign of distress. But in most cases there will also be symptoms specific to the disease or pest infesting the plant. Elm disease causes leaves to wilt, yellow, then brown early in the summer rather than in the fall. And emerald ash borer beetles leave telltale, D-shaped exit holes when mature larvae emerge from the tree. You’ll want to look for odd or specific signs and symptoms that can help you to rule out certain possibilities and hone in on others.
  4. Take pictures. Even with all of the information available on the internet, it can still be difficult for the layperson to figure out which diseases are affecting trees and shrubs. A good way to make a determination is to take photos of the damage and compare them to pictures online. Or take them to your local nursery. The specialists there can at least tell you the names of the plants that are affected, and potentially help you to pinpoint the diseases that plague them.
  5. Hire a pro. If you’re at your wits’ end dealing with diseased trees and shrubs, your best bet may be to call in the pros from a reputable vendor like Panorama Tree Care that can diagnose and treat your plant problems. It might cost you more than going it alone, but professionals will likely deal with the problem in a much more expedient and efficient manner.

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