Arboricultural Systems Integration   972-772-5314

How to kill a tree!


Now we know this appears to be a strange topic for a company that has spent nearly four decades planting and preserving trees, but there is a point to be made here.  Some trees are killed out of ignorance.  Some are killed by those rendering other services.  Those people may attempt to assure you that their services will cause no harm to your tree.  Why?  They may be motivated only by today's cash flow, and little regard for your personal property.
 The first on our list for willful destruction of your property is one segment of those engaged in turf management.  We have many who are quite ethical, but entirely ignorant of the impact of some of the materials they are using.  But all of them that hold a license issued by the State of Texas are required to know, understand, and adhere to the product label of the materials they apply.

Weed control materials applied to your yard are often labeled with a variation of "Not for use within the root zone area of desirable trees and shrubs".  In other words, the chemical does not discriminate between a Dandelion and an Oak, Elm, or Boxwood.  While the chemical may produce quick death of all those pesky Dandelions, it may not produce one recognizable foliar symptom in your trees or shrubs.  But be forewarned!  That herbicide IS at work on the quite complicated, delicately balanced, botanical metabolisms of the much larger, highly valuable, trees and shrubs.


Sometimes this effect reduces tree or shrub capabilities to contend with other stress factors, such as high temperatures, drought stress, or nutrient deficiencies.  Add in years of applications and the cumulative effect can overwhelm a magnificent tree that had more than a hundred years of life remaining.  Often insects move in upon stressed trees, so mortality is assigned to that population surge.  Though the insects may have caused the mortality, they werenít what set the tree up for being vulnerable to them.  You see, trees have innate systems that deal with insects.  Stress the tree and the opportunistic insects move in on the weakened tree.


But, it can be even worse!  We have caught applicators of these materials applying the chemicals at two, three, or more times the recommended concentration or frequency of application!  Now why would someone risk a violation of quite stringent regulations and risk heavy fines, loss of their license, protracted litigation, and perhaps even imprisonment?  For some it is sheer ignorance.  They believe that 'more is better'.  For others, the motivation once again boils down to money.


Some companies pay their applicators a percentage of production profits as their primary compensation.  And many applicators are independent small businesses.  For some, money overrides ethics, the law, and personal responsibility.  If they have to return to a yard to re-apply chemical herbicides, because their client noticed that not all of the weeds were killed in the last service call, the expenses of that extra 'free' service call cuts deeply into their profit margin.  Many companies have a 'weed free' guarantee.  So why not mix it stronger so that every last weed is more certainly killed?  The reason they shouldnít is because that label has restrictions for very valid reasons.


Many in the weed control business have a poor understanding of how plants function, especially their subterranean structure.  They have told us, "We donít apply it within the drip line of trees".  They are often surprised when we inform them that trees have root systems that extend two to three times the drip line of a tree.  In many cases, that means a single medium sized tree in the front yard precludes use of the herbicide anywhere in the yard!


This is not an indictment of all turf maintenance companies.  However, at this time, we observe the majority of them using such products well outside the labeled restrictions.