Ask a Question forum: Help me save our tree please.

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Name: Christina Wall
Northern Cal. (Zone 8a)
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Wallflower
Jun 25, 2016 8:50 AM CST
We just purchased a brand new home in West Sacramento and moved in about three weeks ago. The tree in our backyard had maybe one or two green leaves our first week here. My husband took of two branches and said it might be salvageable because the wood is still soft andi think he said green. Our neighbor told me that the tree is an apple tree. She said it had green leaves at the beginning of early spring. As you see here it looks dead. I do not know what to do this yard and the tree have been completely neglected. Here is a photo of the leaves and some of the tree. I'm hoping you can tell me what kind it is and how to help bring the tree back to life.
I'd hate cut it down.
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Blessings to you!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 25, 2016 9:19 AM CST
What a shame, it looks like it has probably died of drought stress to me. But if it had green leaves earlier, and IF the wood still has green under the bark it may still be alive. Scrape a tiny bit of the bark off with your thumbnail on a smaller branch, and if you see green under there, that is good. If not, take it out.

Did you plant new sod around that tree? The grass looks wonderful for a yard that had been neglected. But putting down the sod over the root area of the tree was not a good idea. The new sod is probably stealing all the moisture - soaking it up before it gets down to the tree's root system. I would strip back the sod around the tree in about a 5ft. circle, soak the ground thoroughly with the hose all around the tree and out beyond the drip line, then put down some wood chip mulch on top of the soil around the tree to help keep the roots cool and the moisture in the soil.

Once it starts to grow some more leaves you can give it a LITTLE bit of fertilizer but wait until the leaves are full sized to do this.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 25, 2016 10:37 AM CST
If that is an apple tree, it needs some radical pruning.

Here is the "life" test: If you can snap off twigs and branches, they are dead. A live branch will bend but not break. Also, when the 'skin' of a branch is scraped, underneath will be green. If you can't scrape or if its brown, dead.

I hope you enjoy your new home.

Daisy
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Jun 25, 2016 10:51 AM CST
Agree with Daisy, you should always leave a circle of earth around the base of a tree. Hope your tree makes it.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 25, 2016 10:52 AM CST
Welcome! I can't quite see it clearly but it looks like there is some wire girdling the tree near the base of the trunk in the top picture, and some stakes that look like they should have been removed long ago. Can you confirm the wire, or post a close picture of the lower part of the trunk?
Name: Christina Wall
Northern Cal. (Zone 8a)
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Wallflower
Jun 25, 2016 7:24 PM CST
Thank you for the welcome!
Yes Sooby those are still in place. We will be removing those and applying the advice given.
Thank you ask so very much. I will keep you updated.
Smiling
Blessings to you!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jun 25, 2016 7:52 PM CST
I don't think that's an apple tree -- the leaves look maybe like an aspen?
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 25, 2016 8:26 PM CST
Aspen wouldn't live in West Sacramento but a Birch would.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 25, 2016 8:26 PM CST
It doesn't look like an apple to me either but I'm not sure what it is. Just adding that a girdling wire is a potentially much more serious problem than grass around the tree. The picture isn't clear but it looks like there's a bulge above the wire.

http://www.ipm.msu.edu/uploads/files/WoodyLandscape_PDFs/Abi...

http://www.birdsandblooms.com/blog/is-your-tree-in-trouble-b...

[Last edited by sooby - Jun 26, 2016 4:24 AM (+)]
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Name: Christina Wall
Northern Cal. (Zone 8a)
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Wallflower
Jun 26, 2016 12:26 PM CST
This is what we've done this morning.
I'm hoping one of you could tell me what this black stuff is on the tree and if it is harmful to it.
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Blessings to you!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 26, 2016 1:29 PM CST
No worries on the black stuff on the trunks, I think it may just be dead moss or lichens - they probably were green or blue but died from the drought.

I've never been a fan of that black weed block cloth, frankly. I think again it's going to deflect water from the root area of the tree. Just mulch with a thick layer of wood chips and it should take care of most of the weeds pretty well. What you need is lots of water to get to the roots of the tree.

Did you test a twig for signs of life? (since you've been working on it, I guess probably it's still alive?) Hurray!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 26, 2016 2:55 PM CST
I agree with Elaine, the black powdery looking stuff probably isn't much of an issue, but it looks like there is also black stuff running down the trunk which might be more concerning. Like Elaine, I sure hope it is still alive considering all the work you have done on it Crossing Fingers! It looks as though there is a sucker at the base? If the girdling wire has caused a problem above, the tree could be regrowing from the base. I notice you appear to have "topped" the tree. It's too late to undo that now but the top twigs had the best chance of producing new leaves in a timely manner if the tree is still alive. You might want to read about other reasons why topping trees is not recommended:

Articles about topping trees:
https://www.google.ca/search?q=topping+trees&client=safari&h...

Name: Christina Wall
Northern Cal. (Zone 8a)
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Wallflower
Jun 26, 2016 6:33 PM CST
Yes it is alive Big Grin
We will be putting river stones on the black cloth. We're trying to discourage any growth to come back in.
These are the leaves growing from a root. Do you recognise it? Not sure sure if we should let it grow or not.
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Blessings to you!
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 26, 2016 6:47 PM CST
That is not part of your tree - a volunteer of a shrub, I suspect. There is a shrub with similar leaves that insiduates itself all over the valley. I don't know what it is (besides annoying).

Daisy
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 26, 2016 7:05 PM CST
Suckers can appear a little distance from certain trees although in this case I would agree with Daisy, it's not part of the tree. If you look at the dead leaves from the earlier picture, they have serrated (toothed) edges whereas the "not a sucker" has smooth un-toothed leaf edges. Whatever it is growing there at the base, it is not an apple because it has opposite leaves (arranged in pairs). Not that we have determined what kind of tree it is yet either.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 26, 2016 7:06 PM CST
Strongly advise against using river stones as mulch. It will cook the roots, not insulate them while still letting moisture evaporate. Then you will be faced with removing stones from your garden. Trust me, you will regret it SO much if you do that. Stones as mulch belong in a desert where you don't want ANYTHING to grow.

A thick layer of wood chip mulch will insulate the soil to keep it cool, help retain moisture in the soil and add organic material to the soil as it breaks down. Yes, it's not quite as "permanent" as stones but it does a much better job if your goal is to try to make the tree live and be healthy. You will have to buy a couple of new bags of mulch each year to freshen it and keep the layer thick enough to discourage weeds but in the long run it will be better, cheaper and the tree will live.

Please, please remove that black landscape cloth and buy some bags of wood chip mulch to help your tree recover.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Jun 26, 2016 7:09 PM CST
One further thought, before you spend any more time or money on this tree, how was it determined whether it is still alive?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Jun 26, 2016 7:18 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:Strongly advise against using river stones as mulch. It will cook the roots, not insulate them while still letting moisture evaporate. Then you will be faced with removing stones from your garden. Trust me, you will regret it SO much if you do that. Stones as mulch belong in a desert where you don't want ANYTHING to grow.

A thick layer of wood chip mulch will insulate the soil to keep it cool, help retain moisture in the soil and add organic material to the soil as it breaks down. Yes, it's not quite as "permanent" as stones but it does a much better job if your goal is to try to make the tree live and be healthy. You will have to buy a couple of new bags of mulch each year to freshen it and keep the layer thick enough to discourage weeds but in the long run it will be better, cheaper and the tree will live.

Please, please remove that black landscape cloth and buy some bags of wood chip mulch to help your tree recover.


I SO agree with this! In the past I've been inspired to use the "weed barrier" several times; in my experience, although weeds may not grow up through it, weeds still grow there (in whatever sort of mulch you may have used on top of it) from seeds that inevitably find there way onto it. They become more of a problem, in my opinion, than just having weeds growing out of the soil. And rocks of any kind... I've also had unfortunate experience with them, what a PITA !!

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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jun 26, 2016 7:42 PM CST
And weed barrier cloth just makes it harder to remove the weeds that do find their way there. You try to pull the weeds, and it pulls up the cloth and the whole thing turns into a big mess. There is a reason I know this. Sighing!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 26, 2016 7:50 PM CST
YES! Is the tree alive? Your little 'sucker' is not proof.

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