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Growing trees around your home can be very rewarding. They give you shade in the hot summer months and block some of the chilling winds of winter. But these are not the only assets of trees. They produce fruit and nuts, give sap to make syrup, provide beautiful blossoms and scent the air around your home. Without a doubt, a healthy tree is a happy tree. But how do you know if that tree in your yard or the one you have chosen to plant is a healthy tree?
Even the best cared for trees can become sick for various reasons. Insect attacks or various diseases can occur with little warning. An open wound on a tree that causes rot, also called a canker, on the trunk of any hardwood tree signals a serious disease. Holes bored by insects with a residue of sawdust at the base of the trunk is a sign of infestation by bark beetles. Evergreen trees will show they are ill by what is know as blister rust. If the branches take on a wilted appearance this can indicate an infestation of weevils. Pine beetles attack the evergreen by extracting pitch from the trunk. Thin haired evergreens will take on this appearance when being attacked by insects or when poorly trimmed. You can check for insects in an evergreen by holding a plain white piece of paper under a branch and shaking it. If there are insects on the paper the tree is sick.
Trees that take up large amounts of space and appear twisted are known as wolf trees. These gnarled and older trees rob newer trees of much need nutrients and sunlight. When buying flowering trees check closely to ensure it is alive. Since most trees are dormant when you purchase them, look for signs of new growth or tiny bud breaks. If you can't find either of these, simply peel back a small piece of bark in a few places along the trunk to see if it is moist and green underneath. If the tree is already in the ground, look for signs of insect infestation on the trunk and branches.
Another of the main causes for undesirable characteristics in trees is planting them too close together. This not only hampers nutrients, sunlight and root space, it can cause disease to spread more quickly. Small trees should be planted at least 6 feet apart. Larger trees should be planted no less than 18 feet apart.