Author Topic: Tree Spray Service Question  (Read 271 times)

Mr. Freedom

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Tree Spray Service Question
« on: June 04, 2019, 09:22:01 PM »

A couple days ago my neighbor indicated that they had a tree service come out and look at one of their Austrian pines that had significant browning of the needles.  She indicated that the person from the tree service indicated that the tree had a fungus and would ultimately die without two spray treatments costing $90 each and then a special fertilizer application that was $145.  She further indicated that they said that it would take 3 years to see the tree more fully rejuvenated from these treatments as that is the cycle of the needles turning over.  She wasnít sure if the proposal was that all of these treatments be repeated annually of if it was a one-time application. 

My neighbor said the tree service person then pointed out that one Austrian pine on my property in a cluster of Austrian pines was also infected with this fungus and that eventually it would spread to the other trees without these treatments.  Iíve included pictures of the tree with significant browning.  On one side of the tree near the base most of what is on the branches looks really far gone, and the desiccated needles just crumble to dust when held. 

I have a couple of questions.  How do I know this might be a fungus?  Could this be the result of winter burn?  Our countyís Forestry department posted an article on their website that winter burn was particularly bad this past year.  Iím noticing some arbor vitaes and some other kind of evergreen bush on my property seemed to have browning and thinning of the needles. 

Iíd really hate to totally lose this tree and perhaps risk having a fungal infection spread to other trees but Iím still really hesitant to add a tree spray service cost for this even if it is a fungus.  Does the tree on my property look too far gone to rejuvenate assuming that these spray/fertilizer treatments actually work?  That may be one option to just cut the tree down Ė I could do that myself.  The fact theyíre saying it will take 3 years to see the positive effects of the treatments arouses a lot more skepticism in me about this. 

Any thoughts or guidance would be greatly appreciated.



  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Tree Spray Service Question
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2019, 09:44:22 PM »
In my experience (and I am no arborist) once a pine tree looks like that, it is on it's way out.  A pine or any conifer similar, once it takes a hit like this won't be able to recover from a visual aesthetic perspective.  The tree may survive after costly spraying, trimming, etc.  But unlike a deciduous tree that can (for the most part) regrow in areas of loss, a conifer/pine will always have that gaping hole of lost/damaged needles/branches.  It will look ugly for the rest of it's life and really won't ever rebound.  It can grow new growth on the areas unaffected, but will never regrow and/or grow new needles/limbs in the areas that were affected by the mold/blight/fungus. 

When it is a tree on my property that looks like this, I get out the chainsaw and turn it into campfire wood and plant a new tree next to the stump.  By the time the 3-5 years has passed that the "spraying" would have salvaged the original tree, I already have a healthy, visually appealing 10 foot tall tree. 

It sucks when you lose a 50 year old tree, but I just can't handle the visual aesthetic of a previously damaged conifer. 

Unless you are dead-set on having an Austrian, I would recommend a white-pine in it's place.  Where I am at (midwest) they are one of the fastest growing, disease-resistant varieties.  Plus I think they are one of the most visually appealing as you rarely can see through to the previous year's loss of needles like you can with the red-pine varieties like Austrian. 
« Last Edit: June 04, 2019, 09:47:57 PM by gwhunter »


  • Bristles
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Re: Tree Spray Service Question
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2019, 09:28:17 AM »
I would be skeptical about the fungus diagnosis.  It's probably winter burn and/or old age.  I have about 7 pines on my property which are about 35 years old and have been slowly browning and losing needles for a few years now.  I cut one down because it was so far gone.  They do continue to produce some new growth, mainly on the ends of the branches, but the centres keep drying out.  They will be firewood in a few years too - just holding out as long as possible because they're a good privacy screen.  I also had a lawn care company tell me I had fairy ring in my grass, which turned out to just be fertilizer poorly applied.  Of course, they had a costly solution.
Maybe you could send pictures or take samples to a nursery or university botany department if you want to be 100% sure.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Tree Spray Service Question
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2019, 09:32:28 AM »
Always be skeptical when someone tells you out of the blue that you need some expensive treatment/fix. Applies to trees too.

Based on those pictures, take the tree down. Replant as you choose. Make sure you plant a tree that is appropriate for your climate so it's got a good chance.

Mr. Freedom

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Re: Tree Spray Service Question
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2019, 07:13:19 AM »
Excellent, thank you so much everyone for this valuable advice/input.  i really agree with the consensus - even if it was salvageable, which I doubt it is, the existing damage won't reverse.  I love the idea too of inquiring with a botany university program regarding whether this really is the result of a fungus.  There's a bit of a risk that it'd spread to the other trees, I guess.  My neighbor's tree that is "afflicted" is about a 80 yards away so I'm also skeptical about a mass spreading of any kind of fungus in the cluster of Austrian Pines on my property.  Both trees likely succumbed to winter burn.

Thanks for the white pine suggestion.  Fast-growing and disease-resistant would be awesome qualities in tree selection.  I'm a bit down on the conifers/evergreens in general.  I had a really nice blue spruce on my front lawn a few years ago and all the lower branches stared to go.  I was told by a free tree service consultation that it was the result of a rhisophere bacteria and ultimately cut it down myself.  Once these evergreens start to go, it seems there's no saving them and they become quite unsightly.

I'll try to confirm that this is winter burn/old age and probably let the tree go for at least this year.  Like SunnyDays indicated, it provides good privacy screening from the neighbors and still has some green parts on the top.  The new planting will be under a rather large canopy of the other Austrian pines so I'm not sure how viable that will be to take root. Just glad to not be dropping $180 on probably useless spray treatments and another $145 some magic fertilizer. 

Thanks again.  A couple years ago, I would have already had the first $90 spray application done by this time.  Now I've got just a little more to throw into VTSAX.