Tips to help your trees with gardening expert Carson Arthur

OTTAWA – Trees do so much for us.

In addition to adding beauty, they provide oxygen, shade, soil preservation, and wildlife habitat.

Gardening expert and author Caron Arthur wants us to do our part to say thank you and says it’s more important than ever.

“With more forest fires, drought, invasive insects, the trees need our help,” says Arthur.

Arthur is a regular contributor to CTV Ottawa’s News at Noon, and he shares four key things we can all do to care for the trees in our neighborhood.

  • Remove grass from the base of trees to reduce fungus and insect infestations in the spring

  • Remove any leaves that have fungal spores – black tar stain

  • Remove dead or diseased branches to prevent fungal infections in the wood.

  • Eliminate egg cases of invasive species like gypsy moths

In a year when our forest canopy has been devastated by wildfires and ravenous moth infestations, Carson hopes people will help in small ways that will make our trees stronger.

“The biggest surprise is what’s happening with the urban canopy,” says Arthur.

“Trees in our downtown areas, right in downtown Ottawa, we are losing them and the owners are not replacing them. We therefore have fewer and fewer trees in urban centers and for climate change, this is a real concern.

The avid plant and tree enthusiast and owner of Carson’s Garden and Market in Prince Edward County, says there are a few things you can do to make your trees a lot happier this year and at the to come up.

“You want to cut all the things around the base of the tree from all the grass, all the weeds because that’s where the bugs like to overwinter.”

However, if you are using an edger, make sure yours is equipped with a guard.

“I’m a big fan of it, but the one who doesn’t have a guard at the end is actually more of a threat to your trees than you might think,” Arthur said.

“Small strings, when whipping, can actually pull the bark from the bottom of the tree. “

“Make sure it has a guard on the front that protects the bark otherwise use pruning shears or hand shears instead to remove the weeds. It’s much safer.”

When it comes to removing dead branches, this gardener is blunt:

“Dead is dead! If you have a dead branch, remove it. If it has peeling bark, you want to remove it because that’s where the bugs will go to live.”

Arthur says that when you remove the dead branches, cut them very close to the tree.

“Don’t paint them with the sealants, they don’t work. Go that route instead and the tree will heal it naturally.”

Do you have black spots all over your leaves?

Arthur says leaves with black tar spots need to be treated this year to prevent a cycle of fungal infection.

“When the leaves fall this year, take out your leaf blowers or rakes and make sure they (the leaves) are clear of the area around the base of the tree. This is where the spores will pass. Winter.”

Otherwise, Arthur says, next spring, when the snow melts, the spores will rise up into the canopy.

“It will take a few years, but eventually your tree will be beautiful and healthy and you won’t have these fungal infections anymore. The tar spot doesn’t hurt the tree, it’s just very unsightly,” reassures Arthur.

Get ahead of the canopy-eating moths

“The gypsy moth egg crates look like custard hanging from the bottom of the branches,” Arthur describes.

“You will start to see them over the next few weeks. Some people have already said that they have seen them.”


What has to be done?

Carson Arthur says to just pull them out with a flathead screwdriver. Carefully of course, so as not to damage your tree.

“You want to take them out and put them in a bucket of soapy water, that will help control the infestation next year,” Arthur said.

“The more egg crates, the more larvae, the more you can remove, the better your tree will be.”

Terri S. Tomasini