4 Common Tree Leaf Diseases and Steps To Fix Them (2021 Edition)

Whether in forests, lining the streets, or just in our backyards, Toronto is home to many different types of trees. Because of this variety, there are many diseases, pests, and invasive species that threaten the health of our trees. 

Unfortunately, leaf diseases are and always will be a fact of life for gardeners. Protect your plants by learning to recognize common symptoms and practice preventative matters to keep them healthy. 

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease for many tree species and is easily recognized. In Toronto, the Norway maple is the most common host of powdery mildew; however, the leaf disease can affect almost any deciduous tree species. This disease is cosmetic and doesn’t kill the tree.

Causes & Symptoms:

A variety of closely related fungal species cause powdery mildew; each species has a limited host range, meaning powdery mildew on one type of plant will not infect the other. Low moisture soil combined with high humidity provides optimal conditions for powdery mildew growth. 

The plant disease appears as a white to light grey powder on the upper surface of the leaves. It can also less commonly affect the underside of the leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits. Diseased leaves rapidly turn yellow, wither, and die.  

Occasionally, the powdery mildew kills off infected leaf tissue, creating a ‘shot-hole’ effect. The growth of the plant slows considerably, and the infected leaves slowly die back and drop off. 

Treatment & prevention:

As soon as you see the first signs of powdery mildew, it is important to prune and remove all infected parts of the plant. Pruning removes the powdery mildew spores and improves air circulation to help prevent an increase and spread in infection. 

When pruning the infected plant, try not to shake the branches too much; mildew spores can fall onto the healthy leaves. After each cut, disinfect your pruning tools and clean up fallen debris on the ground. 

Spores can also spread by rain or water splashes, so it is not a good idea to water your trees from above. Direct the water into the soil at the base of the plant. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses help keep the foliage dry and prevent the transfer of spores. 

Keep plants watered and maintain soil moisture around the root system by mulching plants early in the year. Powdery mildew thrives when the plant is not receiving enough water, and mulch helps retain water. Mulch also helps prevent any spores on the ground from splashing back up onto the leaves. 

To prevent powdery mildew, use a home remedy milk spray made with 40% milk and 60% water on a wide range of plants. You can spray plant leaves every 10-14 days to prevent further spread of the powdery mildew spores.

Downy Mildew

Downy mildews, unlike powdery mildew, thrives in cool, moist conditions and loves young, unhealthy, or stressed plants. Wet weather in Ontario means downy mildew can be incredibly detrimental to trees and plants like hops, potentially causing total crop loss.  

Causes & Symptoms:

Downy mildew affects a wide range of plants. It appears as yellow or white patches on the upper leaf surface and appears as light gray to purple downy growth on the underside of the plant leaf. 

Some downy mildew can cause the stems to turn yellow or prevent the plant from flowering altogether and cause crop failure.

Down mildew loves cool, moist weather generally found in early spring and late fall. Spore production occurs when temperatures are below 18˚C, and relative humidity approaches 100%. 

The downy masses are especially noticeable after rain or heavy humidity. As the leaf disease progresses, the leaves eventually turn brown and crispy and fall off. 

Downy mildew overwinters on plant debris and in the soil. Insects, wind, rain, or garden tools transfer the fungi to new plants.

Treatment & Prevention:

To treat downy mildew, remove and destroy all infected parts of the plant as soon as symptoms are seen- this includes any foliage on the ground. It is best to destroy the entirety of severely affected plants. Keep the ground under affected plants clean to prevent the disease from spreading.

Prune or stake trees and plants and remove any weeds to improve air circulation.

Watering in the early morning gives the plants time to dry out during the day. Watering plants in the evening leads to high humidity that persists throughout the night.

Downy mildew is relatively easy to control on most trees when you use a copper spray. Begin using the treatment two weeks before the disease generally appears or when in a long period of wet weather. Or you can begin treatment when the disease first appears and repeat at 7-10 day intervals as needed. 

To prevent downy mildew, avoid conditions the disease favours.

Since downy mildew likes moist conditions, avoid planting too densely and control weeds to provide good air circulation around the plants.

Rake leaves in autumn and remove them from the site to prevent the fungal infection from spreading to new plants the next growing season.

Apple Scab

Apple scab is a serious apple fungal disease that occurs every year in many parts of Canada, especially Ontario. In eastern Canada, apple scab is of economic importance. Severely infected trees become defoliated and the fruit non-marketable, decreasing chances of winter survival.

Causes & Symptoms:

Fungal disease development begins in the wet, cool weather (13˚C – 24˚C) found in spring and early summer. The fungi are carried by the wind, rain, or water splashes. During damp and rainy periods, new growth and leaves are highly susceptible to infection. The longer the leaves remain wet, the more severe the infection.

Apple scab symptoms begin as a small olive-green leaf spot. These spots can later darken to black. The infected leaves turn yellow, become distorted in shape, and drop early in the summer. 

Symptoms present on the fruit are similar to symptoms found on the leaves. They start as small, dark, raised areas that become large and corky. Infected fruit becomes distorted and may crack, allowing entry of secondary diseases and organisms. Severely affected fruits may become stunted and drop early in the summer. 

Treatment & Prevention:

Apple scab loves to overwinter in fallen leaves and soil. To treat apple scab, rake under trees and dispose of leaves and fruit in the fall; this helps reduce the number of fungal spores overwintering in the leaves and fruit and prevents the cycle from occurring again next spring.

Prune the tree to allow aeration, which helps the leaves dry quickly and prevents the spreading of apple scab.

Avoid overhead irrigation and water in the early morning hours to give the leaves time to dry out before infection can occur. 

Spread mulch or compost under the trees, keeping it away from the trunk to cover the soil and prevent the spreading of the fungal spores from water splashes. 


Rust diseases attack a wide range of plants and are among the most dangerous fungus to attack food crops. Though each type of rust is specific to one plant or group of plants, they cause significant crop losses around Canada and worldwide each year. 

Certain types of plants are more susceptible to rust fungi than others: for example, irises, hollyhocks, and edibles like beans and leek. Occasionally, grass can become infected, but this is generally not a serious problem. 

Causes & Symptoms:

Rust spores prosper in a moist environment and produce extreme amounts of spores in a short period of time; they are wind-dispersed over a large area, infecting large areas quickly. 

Rust diseases cause the leaves to become distorted and the twigs to swell. Rust spots, which look similar to leaf spots, are called pustules. The pustules range from bright yellow to black in colour. The colour of the spots darkens as the plant disease matures and the seasons change. In extreme cases, the infected leaf withers and dies rapidly. 

The pustules are raised, and when rubbed with a cloth, a deposit the same colour as the pustule will be seen on the cloth. 

The presence of rust likely indicates an already weakened plant; it’s essential to check for other signs of diseases or infestations.

Treatment & Prevention:

Once established, rust can be one of the most challenging tree leaf diseases to control. To prevent rust from becoming established, keep trees well-watered and fertilized. Allow space between plants and trees to improve air circulation since rust thrives in damp conditions. 

Remove and destroy all leaves and plant parts infected with rust. Clear debris away from underneath plants affected or most likely to be affected by rust. 

Do not make the leaves into compost because the fungus overwinters on plant debris. If the plant is severely damaged, remove the entire plant to prevent them from infecting other plants of the same species. 

Professional Tree Pruning and Removal

At Nature’s Shade, we are here to help you take care of your trees. Tree preservation is a top priority; a little bit of prevention can mean saving the entire tree! 

Whether your tree is already infected and needs to be removed entirely, or you want to take preventative measures and clean up your trees for better circulation, Nature’s Shade professionals are trained in all things tree removal and pruning and will be there to help you from start to finish. 

Visit our website or give us a call and request a FREE quote today!


How to Protect Your Trees from the Gypsy Moth in Ontario (2021 Edition)

The Gypsy Moth in Ontario is wreaking havoc throughout Ontario and Southern Canada. 

The infamous European gypsy moth caused nearly 590,000 hectares of defoliation in Ontario last year and is on track to cause significant damage in 2021. 

Where do Gypsy Moths Come From? 

Originating from Europe, gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar dispar or LDD moth) were introduced to North America in 1869 for possible silk production and are now a well-established invasive species decimating trees and forests across Southern Canada and the Eastern US.

Gypsy Moths arrived in Ontario around 50 years ago and haven’t left. 

Once established, the gypsy moth population fluctuates widely from year to year. Each population varies annually and fluctuates with local conditions. Years of inactivity can follow seasons with high numbers of caterpillars and heavy damage.

What Areas do They Affect?

Out of all of the stages of life, the gypsy moth caterpillar stage is arguably the worst; this is the only stage that the gypsy moth feeds. These hairy caterpillars have few natural predators and can coat a tree trunk and canopy so thick you can hear them. 

The gypsy moth caterpillar infests trees in woodland or suburban areas and prefers to defoliate particular species of trees, such as oak, poplar, willow, birch, and sugar maple. But, during outbreak years, the caterpillars may completely defoliate nearly any broadleaf tree. 

Impact of the Gypsy Moth in Ontario

As previously mentioned, the impact of gypsy moths change from year to year, and last year was a particularly rough year for Ontario; the area of trees completely decimated by gypsy moths was about the size of Prince Edward Island

Not only do gypsy moths affect our trees, but the hairs on their legs can also cause an allergic reaction in some people. Therefore, it is strongly advised to use caution when visiting or hiking in parks this summer. 

Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on approximately 500 different plants. Depending on population and age, caterpillars can chew small holes or completely strip the tree of all leaves. 

Older caterpillars sometimes eat certain species of hardwood that younger caterpillars generally avoid. But, interestingly, when food is scarce, the caterpillars will feed on almost any vegetation.  

Methods to Combat Gypsy Moths

photo of a gypsy moth during the infestation of gypsy moth in ontario

Keeping your trees healthy is key to them surviving gypsy moth infestations. Healthy trees are better able to ward off attacks.

Similar to other tree pests, the gypsy moth will defoliate an injured or stressed tree first. Stressed trees often have wounds or deep crevices in the bark that provide the egg mass and larvae with a shelter that aids in their survival. 

Preventative tips to reduce gypsy moth infestation in urban areas include:

  • Water trees during droughts
  • Protect the tree’s root zone
  • Place mulch around the base of the tree to increase soil moisture
  • Fertilize trees at appropriate times
  • Avoid injuring trees with lawnmowers or other damaging objects 

Preventative measures are no longer helpful once your tree has been affected by gypsy moths. Instead, homeowners can try methods such as:

Burlap Sacks

Placing a burlap band at chest level around the tree trunk, especially oaks, will catch caterpillars when they climb up and down the tree, looking for shade. This method also provides an easy way to monitor the gypsy moth population of your trees and yard. 

To make a burlap band, wrap and tie a strip of burlap about 30 cm wide around the trunk of the tree. The caterpillars come down the trunk to find shade during the daytime and get trapped in the burlap band. 

Check the burlap at least one to two times a day, pick off the caterpillars, and throw them into soapy water. When numbers are low, you can crush the larvae under the burlap. 

Sticky Substances

Another method to fight a gypsy moth outbreak is to wrap your tree in a sticky substance, like duct tape, to trap the caterpillars. Caterpillars crawling up the tree will get trapped in the sticky material and die. 

Make a band using duct tape and waterproof sticky material, such as petroleum jelly or Tanglefoot. 

Make sure the bark is dry before wrapping the duct tape around the tree. Then, press the tape firmly into the bark cracks and grooves to prevent caterpillars from sneaking past your tape. 

Just like the burlap sack, wrap the tape around chest height. Once the tape is placed, smear the sticky material around the center of the band of tape. If you apply the sticky substances directly to the tree bark, you can potentially disfigure or kill the tree you are trying to protect. 

Periodically check the tape band to ensure it has not become clogged with larvae, insects, dirt, or debris. Apply sticky material as needed, especially after it has rained. 

You can take the barrier bands down around late July after the gypsy moth caterpillars have pupated.

Is Your Tree Dead?

Even though it may look like your tree is dead, that is not always the case. While the damage caused by the gypsy moth may be ugly, it doesn’t make sense for them to kill their hosts. If they eat everything up, the next generation won’t survive- this is why gypsy moths go through cycles of abundance and decline. 

It takes several years of severe defoliation to kill a tree unless the tree has already been affected by other factors such as drought, disease, and poor growing conditions.  

Most trees will actually produce a second set of leaf buds- usually by late July. The second set of leaves provides enough energy for the tree to successfully survive winter. 

Gypsy moth caterpillars seldom feed on conifers such as spruce, pine, fir, and Douglas fir unless levels of gypsy moths are high and the leaves on their preferred hosts have already been eaten.

Unlike deciduous trees, conifer trees have a much higher risk of dying when they are severely defoliated. This is because conifer trees produce buds in late summer and cannot create new leaf buds in time if they are defoliated.

How Nature’s Shade Can Help You Protect Your Trees and Yard

At Nature’s Shade, we can help keep your trees healthy and stable and take measures to protect them from the invasive gypsy moth. 

Let us help you by pruning and removing dead branches and stumps from your property where the adult female moths are most likely to lay their egg mass. You can also turn any leftover debris into woodchips to use for mulch to protect your tree from next year’s infestations and increase soil moisture. 

If your tree has died or the damage is beyond repair, we will work with you to explore all options. Nature’s Shade Tree Care professionals are trained in all things tree removal and will be there to help you from start to finish.

Give us a call today and request a FREE quote.


7 Best Trees to Plant in Toronto

Did you know one large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people? And during one year, a mature tree will absorb more than 22 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen for us to breathe.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a good reason to plant a tree for us. In case you need just a couple more reasons to find out which are the best trees to plant in Toronto, keep reading below: 

  • Trees can cool a city by up to 10°C by shading our homes and streets and releasing water vapours into the air through evaporation on their leaves.
  • They contribute positively to the natural environment while reducing the carbon footprint.
  • Trees provide essential wildlife habitats. 
  • Office workers with a view of trees report significantly less stress and more job satisfaction. 
  • Trees beautify the property on which they are planted.
  • Homeowners with robust trees stand to increase the valuation of their property.
  • Tree planting can also be an important community-building activity, bringing neighbours and friends together.
  • Children learn the importance of preserving nature and forming a bond with the outdoors when they take part in planting trees themselves and watch them grow. 

These are only a few of the wonderful advantages of planting trees in your yard. Read on to find out the best trees to plant in your backyard and experience the benefits for yourself. 

How to decide which are the best trees to plant in Toronto?

There is a lot to consider before purchasing and planting a tree on your property. Here are some important questions every homeowner should ask themselves before choosing a tree:

  • Do you want the tree to provide shade? 
  • Do you want a fruit tree, ornamental tree, or will any tree do?
  • Will your fruit tree be included in your garden? 
  • How much space do you have for the tree to grow?
  • What are the best trees to grow in the soil in your backyard?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen tree? Will it adapt well to your property?
  • Considering the light conditions of your location, which trees are best suited for your yard?

More often than not, homeowners cannot reach a suitable answer by themselves and need help coming to a final decision. Testing the soil, checking the space, and pairing it with the best trees requires professional tree service for the best results. That’s when owners contact a local tree arborist to assist them in finding and planting the perfect tree for every yard. 

The best and most popular trees for your Toronto backyard

one of the best trees to plant in toronto next to a church

Quite a few native trees grow well in the Toronto climate, but choosing the best tree depends on the key factors we have previously mentioned. Speaking from our years of professional experience as tree doctors, we have compiled a list of the seven best trees for Toronto homeowners to plant in their backyard. 

The listed trees are by no means an exhaustive catalogue- to learn more about the best trees to plant near your home, take a look at this list of native trees in Toronto. 

White Oak

If you want your tree to provide shade, look no further than the white oak. They reach a behemoth height of about 30 meters and easily towers over your household. Planting oak trees near your home is an excellent idea because the robust roots grow deep and can easily live up to 400 years. The heavy branches grow very close to the ground and may sometimes interfere with your property-practice regular pruning to keep the tree tidy and prevent damage to your house or surrounding buildings. 

American Beech

If you are looking to bring a little joy and life into your garden, the American beech trees are a great addition to consider. They grow up to 5-10 meters and provide partial shade to your property. The decorative trees and edible beechnuts will also frequently invite squirrels, birds, and tiny insects to your property and provide a natural sanctuary for the wildlife habitat. 

The American Beech is a blue barked tree with a beautiful oval leaf. They need to be tended to while seeding and only grow into a full-bodied tree in nutrient and moisture-rich soil. 

Blue Beech

The Blue Beech thrives in moist soil, grows up to 22 meters, and gives shade to the property on which it grows. The smooth grey bark of this short tree grows harmoniously alongside the longer oaks, pine, and maples. Don’t be misled by its name, though; they don’t belong to the beech family. Even so, they are one of the best trees for your backyard. 


The sycamores are one of the best shade trees to include on your property. In well-fertilized and moist soil, they tend to grow up to 30 meters and develop dense foliage. They are one of the best trees to plant in your backyard, but make sure you have adequate space to let them spread out. This deciduous tree sheds leaves heavily and constantly during fall, making for more than one mandatory leaf clean-up. 

Sugar Maple

The Sugar Maple tree produces the majestic maple leaf, Canada’s national emblem. Needless to say, the Sugar Maple is one of the best trees to include in your backyard for community purposes. Come fall, the thick foliage displays the vibrant fall colours gloriously. They enhance the beauty of your property, provide shade, grow well in all kinds of soil, and are very easy to maintain in colder climates. However, the population of this tree is declining. Planters are choosing to focus on species that fare better industrially. Help the Sugar Maple thrive again and add one to your property today! 

Kentucky Coffeetree

This native plant of Toronto is also one of the most unique types of trees to consider. Its narrow frame and controlled branching make it an ideal tree to include in a garden, urban forest, or limited spaces. The tree grows very well in any kind of soil, adaptive to various climates, and drought-resistant. The Kentucky Coffeetree is a threatened species in Ontario today, making a solid reason for you to plant this tree often and re-populate it in your backyard.

White Pine

The evergreen white pine grows to its fullest form in wide spaces and adapts to a wide range of soils. It is generally a tough tree, resistant even to fire, but often falls prey to tree-killing fungus. 

White Pines almost always stand out in a larger group, owing to their height and beauty. It is a  low-maintenance tree that provides shelters to squirrels, birds, and other local wildlife. 

Now that you know seven of the best trees to plant in Toronto, you can narrow down your favourites. Local tree professionals will carefully analyze all of your needs and recommend the best trees for your property. Call Nature’s Shade for professional help choosing and planting your next tree today!


7 Reasons To Love Your Evergreen Trees

In the tree world, there are many fabulous types to consider. And while oak trees and apple trees all have their gifts, evergreen trees are a perennial favorite. These trees never lose their needles, and thus are a true constant. If you’re not sure why you should love your evergreen trees, we’ve got a few ideas for you.

1. Green All-year

Winter definitely has its advantages but after some time, the season can start to really drag on. Even newly fallen snow can only make the area look lively for so long. At the end of the day, winter can feel like a barren landscape.

The one constant bright spot of winter, however, is the inclusion of evergreen trees. As other deciduous trees all lose their leaves, evergreen trees hold onto theirs, allowing us the chance to always see green.

Without evergreen trees, there would be no green in winter, and that is not a pleasant idea. You don’t even need to have a lot of evergreen trees in your yard to make a difference. A few in the front and a few in the back can make a big impact. It’s also nice if there is an evergreen tree in view of well-frequented areas, such as the living room and the kitchen. This way you can look out a window and be reminded that life still exists outside.

2. Wind Breakers

Evergreen trees are a great way to stop the wind from wreaking havoc on yourself and your home. While cold days can be felt inside your home, windy days make that cold felt even more. Evergreen trees, and their strong, full branches, can protect that wind from entering your home year-round.

These trees offer a layer of protection to your home. As a result, it won’t get as cold inside and that means less money spent on your heating costs.

3. Shade Makers

While evergreen trees provide extra warmth in the winter, they actually provide extra coolness in the summer. This is because evergreen trees provide a lot of shade. As they are usually quite tall trees, they can really cover the whole house in shade.

More shade around your home means cooler temperatures inside. Not only is this more comfortable but it also means your air conditioning costs can take a bit of a break.

4. Clean the Air

Interestingly, evergreen trees go dormant in the winter, meaning they don’t produce oxygen through photosynthesis. However, when they wake up in the spring, evergreen trees can start producing oxygen right away.

Deciduous trees, on the other hand, only produce oxygen once their leaves have grown, which doesn’t happen until late spring. They need to wait for the tree buds to start growing and develop into leaves. Meanwhile, evergreen trees never lose their needles so they don’t need to wait for new growth to start the oxygen process.

You will end up breathing clearer air with evergreen trees on your property.

5. Habitat for Animals

Your home is where you live, but your yard is where animals live. Why not give them a bit of sanctuary with some evergreen trees?

Other types of trees will lose their leaves, and exposed branches are no place for birds to stay safe. Instead, evergreen trees offer birds and other animals a chance to stay in a safe, warm place.

Furthermore, the berries and cones that evergreen trees produce are a much needed source of food, especially in the winter.

Critters are our friends, and having a few evergreen trees in your yard means they will be as warm and snug as you are in your home.

6. Privacy

If you move into a house in the summer you might start with a perception that you live in a very private area. But come winter, that privacy can start to diminish, leaving your house, and everything that happens in it, quite exposed.

Deciduous trees, or those types that lose their leaves in the winter, are very different throughout the year. A maple tree can be full and bushy in summer, but completely bare in the winter. As such, while you may get to experience privacy for half the year, the rest of the year can be quite revealing.

With evergreen trees, you get the same amount of privacy year-round. No matter what season you move into your home, you can count on the same amount of privacy if your yard is full of evergreen trees.

7. Different depths

While we might automatically think of towering pine trees when it comes to evergreen trees, the reality is that there are many varieties that come in both different colors and different heights. The abundance of choice will really make you love your evergreen trees.

You can choose cedar trees to make a border between you and your neighbors, which can be more attractive than a simple fence. Cedars also help create borders, such as down the driveway.

Boxwood plants are an excellent evergreen that creates borders and is easy to manicure. Create a dynamic path with a boxwood, clipped as low or high as you would like.

If you’re looking for a bit of whimsy in your yard, consider yew trees. They grow to be 5 to 10 feet tall and are easy to shear. You can get quite creative in what shapes you want, making them a real focal point of any garden.

Finally, there’s something really majestic about spruce trees, that can tower up to 60 feet tall. Knowing that there was once a spruce forest in your area, before the land was cleared for houses, makes you feel a real part of the history of the area.


5 Tree Care Resolutions

A new year means a new you. But what about other parts of your life? Even though it’s winter, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your yard and make some important tree care resolutions. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

1. Take better care of your tools

So often we start the year off right, carefully putting yard care tools away. And then at some point in the year, it becomes a bit tiring and they’re left haphazardly all over the place. Start the year right by organizing your tools.

Select a designated space for all your tree care tools. Make sure it is somewhere accessible and most importantly dry and not exposed to the elements.

Inspect your tools. Clean off any rust and take items like pruning sheers in to be sharpened. Designate a day every month to inspect your tools and tidy them up if need be. Once this becomes a habit, it will be easier to take care of all your tools, which means they will last for much longer.

2. Make a schedule for the entire year

So often we live in one season and become a bit surprised when it changes to the next one. We can be comfortable in our homes, allowing the snow to fall, and then when spring hits we’re suddenly unprepared for the tree care tasks that are upcoming.

Take some time to think about the entire year and make a list of what needs to be done for each season.

Some examples include:

  • SPRING – inspect for winter damage, plant new trees, fertilize
  • SUMMER – mulch, create a watering schedule
  • FALL – trim branches, add winter mulch
  • WINTER – prune trees, wrap specific trees against cold

When creating a tree care schedule, think about external factors such as your own vacation time and how often you are able to get out in your yard to work on it. Also take into consideration the unique climate of where you live as this will determine what needs to happen when.

3. Create a tree care budget

Proper tree care takes money. However, with proper planning, you can end up spending a lot less. Start by thinking about big projects you want to take on in your yard. This could be a big landscaping project, taking down the old tree house, planting new trees, or removing trees.

It’s important to think about projects you can envision for the next five years. If you have kids that are growing up, they might want to play in the tree house for another year, but that could change real soon. Likewise, you may have trees that are providing a nice mix of shade at the moment, but in just a few years they can become too bushy or too tall, creating more shade than you wish.

Once you have a five-year plan, start assigning costs to each project. Ask neighbors, check the internet, or call a tree care company to get rough estimates.

After the bigger items are listed, start thinking about yearly costs. These include annual tree trimming, planting seeds, buying fertilizer, new trees and plants, and any new tools.

Finally, set aside money in your budget for emergencies such as winter storms and broken branches. When all the numbers have been crunched, you will have a good idea of how much to save each year so you can stick to your five-year budget and have the yard you’ve always dreamed of.

4. Only hire professionals

We’ve all been there before. You need a tree trimmed but don’t want to pay for a professional. So, you hire a cheaper alternative with unsurprisingly disastrous results. Then, you need to end up paying again to have a professional fix the mistake.

Tree care professionals are experienced and knowledgeable. They know how to do things the right way and they stand by their results. It can be tempting to cut corners but you will regret it in the end.

This is why making a tree care budget is so important. If you know how much you will need to spend each year on your trees and the rest of your yard, then it won’t be a surprise when it comes time hiring a tree care professional.

5. Learn more about the trees on your property

Our last recommendation for tree care resolutions is kind of a fun one. Take the time to learn more about the trees on your property. Most people move into a house that already has tree growing around them. And too often, we have no idea what they actually are.

There are many ways to figure out what types of trees you have. You can take pictures or even clippings of the branches and head to your local gardening store. You can also download apps that will identify the trees for you.

Once you know what kind of trees you have, you can take much better care of them. You might find that you have a tree that is drought-tolerant, and therefore don’t have to worry about always watering it. Or, you might find that a tree needs even more water than you’re already giving it.

Knowing the types of trees you own means you will also know what their future will hold. Perhaps you have a tree that looks kind of young. However, you may find that it grows to be way bigger than imagined, and at a very quick pace. In this case, you can really plan for the future and move it to a more suitable location.

Knowing more about your trees is always a good thing, so make this an activity for the whole family. The world of trees is pretty fun once you start getting to know it.


5 Common Winter Tree Care Issues

Winter can be a stressful time for trees. The extreme weather can cause all sorts of issues and it’s important to be prepared for them and know how to react. The more you know about winter tree care issues, the better able you will be to keep your trees healthy year-round.

Animal Damage

While some animals hibernate during winter, there are still plenty of animals that are active. And those active animals need to find a suitable habitat and most importantly, a food source.

During winter, food sources are naturally scarce for animals. There are no nuts available and most plants no longer have seeds or berries. While most animals are adaptable, when there is heavy snow on the ground, animals can have a hard time accessing the remaining leaves and grasses.

The result is that many animals, including mice and rabbits, will start feeding on bark. The resulting damage that is done is called girdling. Trees need their bark to protect the inner wood, especially in winter when there are extreme temperatures. Too much girdling and a tree could possibly be weakened beyond repair.

Thankfully, there is an easy to way to prevent animal damage to your tree. Before heavy snows, wrap your tree trunks with metal mesh. This will deter the animals from eating the bark.

Frost Heaving

When temperatures plummet, and especially when there is little moisture in the air, frost occurs. When this happens, the dirt around your trees actually moves. Roots in the ground are pushed upwards, which is known as frost heaving, and has two major consequences.

The first is a practical result. Trees that grow next to pathways and sidewalks can have their roots pushed up so that they move the surface above them. This damages the pathways and sidewalks. Not only will you have to remedy the situation in the future, but in the meantime this is a major tripping hazard.

The second consequence refers to the tree roots themselves. As the roots are pushed upwards, they undergo a lot of strain. They can end up breaking or splintering, thus depriving the tree of important nutrients.

The best way to prevent frost heaving is by adding a thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch is a great insulator and will protect the soil below from frost. Just don’t place mulch right next to the tree trunk as it can lead to mold growth. At Nature’s Shade Tree Care, we provide mulch deliveries


While humans need to be really cautious about the sun’s rays in summer, trees need to be extra cautious in winter. Sunscald is similar to a sunburn, but for trees. In winter months, clear skies and bright sunshine can actually be quite warm. However, when this heat is suddenly removed, as thick clouds develop, a tree can’t regulate itself.

As a result, the inner wood of a tree can develop thick cracks in it. The tree’s cells that were activated by the heat aren’t able to adjust quickly enough to the absence of it, which is when damage occurs.

The only positive with this winter tree care issue is that sunscald is more common in southern locations. If you live in a southern region, be sure to wrap delicate trees to give them an extra layer from all the elements.

Snow and Ice Breakage

Winter storms are one of the major causes of winter tree care issues. Snow, ice, and wind can all create high levels of damage. While some issues can wait for spring, many of them need to be dealt with right away.

Large amounts of snow that accumulate quickly can be too much for tree branches to bear. While trees naturally bend under pressure, even they have their limits. While you certainly don’t need to shake your trees every time it snows, as this actually provides a layer of insulation, you might want to remove the snow if it is a large amount.

In some climate areas, freezing rain and ice storms are an issue. In this case, the temperature starts out above zero with rain falling, only to quickly drop to below freezing. The result is trees encased in ice. If this lasts for more than a few days, the ice can do real damage.

The extra weight of ice surrounding the whole tree can cause branches to break and limbs to fall. Furthermore, ice can cut off nutrient supplies to your tree, causing it to become quite weak.

Unfortunately, when an ice storm happens, there isn’t a lot you can do. Trying to chip away at the ice can cause more damage to the bark. It may take some time, but you have to just let the ice melt away naturally and hope there wasn’t too much damage caused. Just make sure you perform a thorough inspection after an ice storm to see if any branches are at risk of falling down.

If you live in a region that regularly has ice storms, there is a way to prepare for them. Tie branches of trees together in a loose fashion. You can use coated twine or strips of fabric. One spring comes around, you can untie the fabric.

Tree Drought

While we often think of massive snowdrifts in winter, the reality is that many regions experience a cold, dry winter. This is especially true at the beginning of winter. When the ground freezes, the water source of many trees also dries up. As a result, trees actually enter a state of starvation. If this lasts too long, permanent damage can be done.

Be sure to monitor your weather in winter. If there has been no precipitation for a few weeks, give your trees a good drink of water. They need a lot, in small amounts. You may have to water your tree every hour for a day or two in order for the roots to properly reach the ground water.


4 Winter Tree Care Tips

When we think about trees in our yard, we often think about the growth of spring, the abundance of summer, and the beauty of fall. The bare branches of winter are not high in our love for trees so this season is often forgotten when it comes to winter tree care tips.

However, there are still plenty of tasks to complete in winter for optimal tree health all year round. Before deep winter sets in and the weather becomes too cold and too snowy, invest a bit of time in your yard and your trees. We guarantee that is will be worth it. To help you out, here are our top 4 winter tree care tips for 2020.

Protect Your Trees From Freezing

Some trees are better suited to cold weather than others. If you only have trees and plants that are native species, then you won’t have to worry about them freezing. However, if you have a more diverse garden, then your trees may not be able to survive the winter.

The first step is to know what gardening hardiness zone you are in. The second step is to know what zone your trees belong to. You can find this information at a local gardening center, or online.

If the zone you are in and the zone your trees belong to aren’t the same, then you should take further steps to winterize your tree.

You can use a mixture of materials to cover your trees. These include sheets, tarps, or burlap. Before the temperature drops, take the time to wrap each vulnerable tree.

The best way to wrap a tree is to use a frame so that the covering doesn’t actually touch the tree. The less contact there is, the more protection you will provide for your trees.

If you have shrubs, plants, or even saplings that are in pots, you will also want to take care of these. Potted shrubs don’t offer the same protection to the elements that plants dug into the ground have. Be ware of bringing potted plants and trees indoors, though. It can shock them too much, especially when you bring them outside again.

Instead, think about placing them in a more protected area outside. Either sheltered from the wind, or in a make-shift greenhouse are good options. 

Mulch Around the Base Of Your Trees

One of the most important winter care tips is to provide a thick layer of mulch around your trees. Mulch is organic matter, usually consisting of wood chips that are about 1-inch in size and leaf matter. Wood mulch takes about 3 to 6 months to break down. When it does, it releases much needed nutrients into the soil, including nitrogen.

Around each tree should be 3 to 5 inches of mulch. It should start 3 inches away from the base of the tree and extend up to 2 feet around in all directions. When completed, you should have a large circle of mulch around each tree.

If you have trees that shed a lot of leaves, start by raking this up and distributing it around the tree. If you have large leaves, you can always run a lawnmower over them, breaking them up into smaller pieces that break down easier.

The mulch rings should be even in height. While you might see rings that peak in the middle, like a volcano, it’s better to have it spread evenly.

Don’t Forget To Water

When we think about winter, we automatically think about snow. But in many areas, snow doesn’t really start to accumulate until January. November and December can be pretty dry months. Furthermore, when it is cold and dry out, a lot of moisture evaporates and your trees can start to suffer.

If you have newly planted, young trees, be sure to water them every week or two. Young trees need about 10 to 15 gallons of water. Young trees go through a lot of stress when they are transplanted so they need a lot of love and attention, even in winter.

Mature trees only need to be watered once a month. Give them about 10 gallons of water for every inch they measure in diameter. For example, if your tree is 10 inches in diameter then it needs 1000 gallons of water.

When you water your trees, it’s best to do so slowly. Give the trees and their roots plenty of time to absorb the water. You may need to water a mature tree multiple times throughout the day.

Even if you have some rain or snow, it’s always a good idea to check the soil around your tree. The moister it is, the more warmth it will absorb, which is then radiated out at night time.

Prune Your Trees

Towards the end of fall and the beginning of winter, trees start to become dormant. This is actually a great time to prune your trees.

Once the leaves have fallen, it’s actually easier to spot what branches should be pruned and which ones need to stay. The winter dormant season of trees really is ideal for pruning.

Pruning trees is incredibly important. It establishes a sounds structure to your tree that will keep it healthy in the future and prevent damage.

Important components of pruning your tree include removing dead and dying branches. You should also take the time to look for any diseased spots. The sooner you notice a diseased part of a tree, the greater the chance your tree can be saved.

If pruning your trees sounds too complicated, or you just don’t want to brave the cold, it’s best to contact a tree care expert.


How to Deal with Gypsy Moth Infestation in Ontario

What are Gypsy Moths?

Gypsy moths are one of the most invasive species the world over. They are a pest whose sole purpose is to consume the leaves of trees and shrubs. While there are over 500 species of flora that gypsy moths consume, they particularly like hardwood trees, such as cottonwood, elm, and birch. A gypsy moth infestation is not something you want. 

It’s important to identify gypsy moths in the caterpillar stage as other types of caterpillars are not as detrimental to your garden. Gypsy moth caterpillars are about 2 inches in length and are very hairy. They are distinguished by five pairs of blue dots and then six pairs of red dots.

While gypsy moths don’t live very long as actual moths, you can identify them by their hairy bodies. Male gypsy moths are grey while female gypsy moths are white. Interestingly, though, female gypsy moths can’t actually fly.

Life Cycle of a Gypsy Moth

Like all moths, gypsy moths have a standard life cycle. They begin as eggs which are laid on branches of trees and shrubs. However, these eggs can also be found in sheltered areas such as beside rocks. When the eggs are laid, a covering of hairs protects the eggs, insulating them from the cold and protecting them from predators.

After a month, the eggs essentially hibernate over winter. Gypsy moth larvae aren’t born until 8 or 9 months later. Once spring arrives, gypsy moth caterpillars, or larvae, are born. This is when the most amount of damage occurs.

Once they emerge from their eggs, gypsy moth caterpillars eat the protective hair around them and then the leaves in their vicinity. They don’t really stop eating until they reach the next stage in life, the pupal stage, which occurs from June to July.

Finally, gypsy moths emerge from their cocoons in July and August. Once they are fully-formed moths, they only live about one week, just enough time to lay eggs and start their life cycle all over again.

Signs of Gypsy Moth Infestation

The good news with gypsy moth damage is that your tree can recover. The bad news is that it can take a real toll on its health.

Start by looking at the leaves of your trees. If you have giant holes in your leaves, or your healthy leaves have seemingly disappeared overnight, this is a sign of a gypsy moth infestation.

Another key sign to look for is masses of gypsy moth eggs. This can look almost like a giant spider’s web, thanks to the fibrous hairs that cover the eggs in a protective layer. Each egg mass can have about 300 eggs, so it should be fairly obvious.

Solutions to Gypsy Moth Damage

The best solutions to gypsy moth infestation is to targe their different life cycles.

Egg Stage: September to April

One benefit pest control agencies have against gypsy moths is that the insect has a very large egg intubation period. After laying their eggs in September, gypsy moth eggs lay dormant for much of the year.

Furthermore, the eggs of gypsy moths are usually in clusters. You can destroy a large amount of eggs in just one location.

In the fall, perform a through inspection of your yard. Remember to look both up and down for gypsy moth eggs. They can be high in the treetops and low in the rocky ground. Look for large masses of fibres or hair, to spot their egg masses.

If you have seen an egg mass, collect the whole substance and place it in mild soapy water. Leave the egg mass in the water solution for a few days so that it can fully penetrate the egg sacs. You will want to wear gloves when handling the egg mass as the hair fibres can be a bit sticky.

Another method of destroying the gypsy moth eggs is to take a dull knife and scrape off the eggs from a branch. Once they hit the ground, be sure to crush the eggs fully so that there are no accidental survivors.

Finally, if you have a leaf blower/vacuum you can suction up the eggs. Just be sure to empty the vacuum to destroy the contents.

Larva Stage: April to May

Despite your best intentions, you may have missed some egg masses in your yard. The next step is all about preventing the gypsy moth larva from finding their way to an open food source.

Prevent the gypsy moth caterpillars from moving up tree trunks by taping duct tape around the base. Then, apply a sticky substance to the tape. This will prevent the caterpillars from crawling up the tree, thus removing the higher leaves as a food source.

Late Caterpillar Stage: June to August

As the larva grow in size and become full-fledged caterpillars, their eating patterns change. They become nocturnal and will eat at night.

You can start to trap the caterpillars by using burlap sacs. Take a piece of burlap that is about 3 feet in width. Wrap it around the tree trunk and then place a rope around the middle of the burlap. The top will fold over, leaving a very convenient place for caterpillars to hide during the day.

Once it becomes late afternoon, perform a quick inspection of your burlap. If there are gypsy moth caterpillars hiding, you can trap and kill them before they are able to climb higher and reach the tree leaves. Always use gloves when handling gypsy moth caterpillars as they can lead to skin irritation.

Will my Trees Recover?

Thankfully, if you are able to remove a gypsy moth infestation from your yard, your trees will recover. You may even find that once the caterpillars are removed in the summer, your trees will naturally restart growing their leaves right away.

However, if a gypsy moth infestation is allowed to continue for multiple years, your trees will become quite weak and will therefore be prone to damage. Tree removal might even be a necessity.

Prevention and education are the two tools that will keep your yard healthy and stop the spread of gypsy moths. If you’re still not sure how to deal with a gypsy moth infestation, be sure to contact us and an expert can help you. 

Need Help With Gypsy Moths? 

Pesticide Tree & Garden



5 Signs Your Tree Is Sick

Tree is sick

On the outside, you may think your tree is perfectly fine. But what if it’s not? An unhealthy tree can cause a lot of damage, including fallen limbs and even infecting other, nearby trees. It’s important to inspect all the trees on your property, at least once a year, to see if any of them are sick. To help you out, follow these five warning signs to tell if your tree is sick.

 The Bark is Abnormal

One of the most obvious signs that your tree is unhealthy lies in the bark. This is the first step to see if your tree needs a bit of help.

The bark layer of a tree works as a protector. It should be solid so that the inner part of the tree is completely protected. A major red flag with your tree’s health is if the bark has a large split in it. There may also be holes in the bark.

When looking at the structure of your tree’s bark, be sure to look all around the tree and even higher up. While weakened bark often happens at the base of a tree, it can also manifest in higher branches, so you may need to use a ladder.

Your Tree is Decaying

If your tree is decaying, or rotting from the inside, it can be hard to see if there is a problem. However, a weakened tree does have some tell-tale signs.

Look for mushrooms or other fungi that are growing on the outside of your tree. Mushrooms like to grow from rotting wood, and if they like your tree, then it is a sure sign your tree is sick.

Some fungi can look similar to bark, so you will need to perform a close inspection. Look for fungi that is circular in appearance, almost in a specked manner.

Another sign your tree is sick is if the bark crumbles when touched. Take a small piece off your tree. If it holds tight, then your tree is probably fine. If the bark crumbles in your fist, then your tree is sick.

There are Dead Branches

There is always a reason your tree has dead branches. And most likely, your tree is sick. With larger, bushier trees, it can be hard to tell if there are dead branches. However, dead branches are more than just a sign your tree is unhealthy. Dead branches are a very big hazard. A windstorm can bring these weakened branches down, causing damage to your home or even a person.

A good time to look for dead branches is during the spring when buds and leaves are starting to come out on branches. Look for branches that are bare. You will want to perform this inspection before summer when fuller branches hide weakened branches.

The Leaves are Discolored

Leaves should look a vibrant green in summer and a rusty gold or red in fall. If they are different colors, then your tree is likely sick.

Take note in summer to see if there are any leaves that are discolored. Often, only a few branches will be sick and so part of the tree will have brown leaves while the rest will still be green.

If some of the leaves are discolored, take a closer look at the branches to see if they are dying. The good thing is that these branches may be removed to keep the rest of the tree healthy.

The Tree is Lopsided

Trees should grow straight up and they should be symmetrical. If they aren’t, then there’s a good chance your tree is sick.

A lopsided tree means at least half of it isn’t getting enough nutrients and as a result, it isn’t strong enough to stand tall. The biggest risk with a lopsided tree is that it may fall over due to the imbalance, thus potentially causing damage to your property.

One reason your tree is lopsided is because it is growing around something like another tree or even the foundation of your house. If there isn’t enough room for the roots to grow, then this can greatly weaken the tree. The result would, again, be that the tree could fall over and cause damage.

While cables and braces could help if a tree is crooked, you may need to remove it if it is growing into a foundation.

Going Forward

Trees are an important part of any yard and can live for decades and even centuries. However, they do require some maintenance. In addition to regularly pruning, watering, and fertilizing your trees, you also want to inspect them for signs of disease and decay.

After performing your inspection, the next step is to fix the problem. Contact Nature’s Shade Tree Care and we can discuss all your tree options.

Whether it’s removing dead branches, bracing a lopsided tree, or even removing a dead tree, we can help with all your tree care needs. 

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