Friday, December 16, 2022


Notes on Winter Tree Care 

Watering is REALLY IMPORTANT! Since Oklahoma is experiencing drought conditions, it is particularly important this season. Choose a day when the ground is not frozen and the temps are a bit higher, try to make sure trees have about 10 inches of water per month though February. Newly planted trees don’t have a root system that’s well established enough to reach the water that is deep in the soil during winter. . Water trees’ roots adequately before the ground freezes in October and through mid-November. During a mild winter, you will still want to provide some moisture, particularly if you’re seeing any browning on evergreens.

Pruning The dormant season, or the few months of winter when trees grow much slower, is a great time to prune. This practice removes dead, damaged, or dying branches that can steal energy from spring growth and does so at a time that reduces the chances for spreading disease.

Pruning in the winter is a great option for elm trees to help limit the spread of Dutch elm disease, which we have observed a resurgence locally. We have also seen this disease infect trees that were traditionally considered resistant such as lacebark elm and Siberian elm. 

Mulching. Mulch acts as an insulator to keep soil temperatures higher, which is one way to keep trees warm in the winter. It also helps prevent cold air from penetrating the root zone of newly planted trees to reduce fall root growth or kill newly formed roots. Place a 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree’s base, spreading it out at least 2 feet from the trunk, but extending several feet is better for the root system.  Remember not to let the mulch touch the trunk. 

Since in OK we can't rely on snow to insulate the roots of our trees through the winter, making mulch even more important! 

Wrapping. Newly planted or young trees, as well as trees with thinner bark, can benefit from a little winter tree protection in the form of a tree wrap. This is because of the possibility of sunscald, which is when the sun heats up the bark for a short period of time, but then leaves it cracked and dry when the cold temperatures return.

Evergreen needles can suffer as well, soaking up sunlight and then immediately drying out. Wrapping trees in winter can help. But which trees you wrap and how you wrap them varies based on tree type.

Root Damage Due to Salt (Salting Driveways, sidewalks, etc) Try to avoid putting salt somewhere it will run off or be splashed into the root system or body of plants.

If you spread salt, choose one with calcium chloride, or better yet calcium magnesium acetate, which is less harmful to plants than salt composed of sodium chloride.

Rinse trees with ample fresh water when the snow clears to rinse away salt on the trunk.

Irrigate the soil around the tree thoroughly with an inch of fresh water at a time each week for the first two to three months of spring to flush out any remaining excessive salt.

To prepare for salt impacts ahead of time, biochar and compost can also be incorporated into the soil to help with salt resilience.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Is My Evergreen Tree Dead?

Many people have been calling the Tree Wizards asking about trees such as this one: 

Tree Wizard, help! Is my tree dead?

Due to the cold period we had last month, we have seen an unprecedented amount of dieback on some of our evergreens-including shrubs such as nandinas, boxwood, and hollies. 
At Tree Wizard, we are recommending that homeowners wait and watch for sprouts. In the case of the tree above, a closer inspection revealed that the tree is already beginning to form new sprouts. 

The more tender cells in the needles perished due to the cold, but the stem and branches remain intact!

When looking for new growth in your shrubs, try looking at the bud on the stem and not the dead or dying leaves. However, in nadinas we have seen new growth (which present as small red shoots) primarily from the base of the stem or near the lower portion of the shrub.

This baby magnolia reflects the leaf damage on many of the Southern Magnolia trees around Norman.

Should We Do Anything to Help Our Plants?

We suggest giving extra Nitrogen to your evergreen plants that have experienced sudden leaf drop due to the cold. Tree Wizard suggests using an organic nitrogen fertilizer such as blood meal dispersed according to the package directions this spring to help with the new leaf growth. If blood meal isn't an option due to critters, there are some fine spike fertilizers you drive into the ground which are sold as Hedge/Shrub fertilizer at the big box stores. 

In general, keeping your plants properly watered and mulched will help avoid extra stress and aid the general health of the plant. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

 Do Your Trees Look SCARY?

As a tree-lover it breaks my heart to see the trees around our community in such a state, but what gives me more anxiety is worrying that people may be removing trees that CAN RECOVER!

My Backyard - Pecan failure at a Co-Dominant Stem

I know it looks bad, but generally the trees will come back from this with proper care. 

Some things to consider:

All the arborists in Norman are slammed so if all you need is for brush to be hauled away that has already fallen to the ground, you really do not need a certified arborist to do that. (But make sure they are insured through worker’s compensation and liability). After the clean-up is done, try to get a certified arborist out to assess the damage. The International Society of Arboriculture has a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification that would be a good thing to look for as they are trained to assess risk in trees. The list of certified arborists in our area can be found here and it will note if they have the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification: 

I highly recommend not allowing the “fly by night” operations make cuts to your trees. They tend to do poor work that will need remediation later, don’t have insurance (or have let it lapse) and rarely clean their saws to avoid spreading disease. 

Trees are long-lived organisms. Therefore, when you are considering the restoration of your damaged tree, it is often best to think in terms of years rather than months or days. It may take a few rounds of pruning over the course of a few years to re-establish the shape of the tree. 

What I have observed in this storm:

  • The breaks tended to be on trees with leaves and heavier weight on the limbs (most sycamores hadn’t dropped leaves yet and had more breaks, most oaks hadn’t lost leaves and some still had acorns and they didn’t fare well. Most pecans are a hot mess, as well.)

  • Likewise, the trees that had already dropped their leaves or have a more excurrent structure fared much better.  See image below. (Most pines are fine. Bald cypresses took it like a champ, although many lost their tops and will get bushy in the coming years-you may want to consider some thinning in two or three years time). 

  • Most of the breaks are 4 inch diameter limbs and smaller. This is particularly important because the basic structure of the tree is maintained. 

What will happen to the trees?

While it is impossible to say with certainty what will happen, here are a few thoughts: 

  • We will begin to see “witch’s brooms” in the next growing season (appropriate for this time of year, n’est pas?). In arboriculture, a witch’s broom is where you have had a cut or break and several limbs sprout from that spot, giving it the look of a broom. How this relates to tree health and tree health is that the sprouts are all sort-of “cries for help” from the tree that is trying to restore its canopy as quickly as possible. Each of these sprouts, however, has a weaker point of attachment than the original branch. Furthermore, after a few years this will put more weight on the original limb than should be there, so you will want to consider pruning to allow only a few of the sprouts to remain. Hopefully with proper care and pruning, the new sprout (or two/three depending on the tree type and branch structure) will take over and become the new replacement branch. 

  • Trees may now behave differently in wind storms. There is now a different structure to the trees, some have large gaps in them that can allow for wind tunnels and more airflow. This is a mixed bag, on one hand, fungal agents may have a more difficult time taking hold, on the other, it leaves the branches that are left far more exposed to the gusts of wind we get in Oklahoma. How the tree responds to this additional stress relies heavily upon variety, health and environmental conditions. Again, consult an arborist about your specific situation. 

  • Trees that have been bent - even if they didn’t break - may now have a compromised vascular system. The vascular system in a tree can only bend and stretch so far before there is damage, but this varies greatly by species. Most pines, for example, could survive a world-class limbo competition and still carry on just fine. Albeit a bit tilted or funny-looking.  

  • Fewer branches = more light for the grass. So there is that. 

Below I have linked a few videos from my photos that I think are interesting. I recently taught the Master Gardener class on trees using my backyard as an example, and showed them how an arborist looks at a tree for pruning during a consultation, giving reasons for each cut and making sure you aren’t taking too much in any one growing season. The storm hit my yard particularly hard and it is very interesting to see the difference in less than a three week period side-by-side. 

Video of Backyard before the storm from October 13th, 2020: 

Follow up video after the storm October 27th, 2020:

So the take-away here is that we will need to pay special attention to our trees in the coming years, and with proper care and pruning most will make a full recovery. :)

Let me know if you have any questions about any of this! 


Mariah Menzie

P.S. The goats in the video are perfectly fine. They eventually ate their way out of the shed and we were able to move the goats and chickens to a safe location while we cleaned up and got the electric line sorted. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Plant Health Care Spotlight: Snipper - Deflowering Agent

As arborists discussing tree care with our clients, one of the most common complaints we hear is about the litter dropped by trees. Often, people are resigned to the fact that they will be raking up leaves, but what irritates them the most are the nuts/fruit produced by their trees!

Cottonwood Fluff

Many trees have noxious offspring: 

Cottonwood fluff, acorns, ginkgo fruit, sycamore balls, and of course, the often-resented sweetgum.           

Sweetgum Balls

In our mission to maintain a balance between human quality of life and the lift of the Urban Forest, Tree Wizard has started offering a deflowering agent called "Snipper" to prevent many of the fruit/nuts from being produced. 

Sycamore Balls


Many homeowners are frustrated every year by their trees dropping nuts or fruit on the lawns...Most people have no idea that products even exist that can solve this problem. 
The product is called Snipper, and will drastically reduce the number of acorns, gumballs, or other fruits falling from your trees.
Snipper is applied using a microinjection capsule, which are sold in boxes of 25. To apply you simply drill a hole into the base of the tree, and push the capsule in. Capsules are placed one every four inches around the circumference of the tree. The chemicals will be injected directly into the xylem of the tree, allowing them to be taken up into all of the trees tissues. If done at the right time, this will kill emerging flowers, preventing them from being pollinated and creating fruit. This action has no negative effect on foliage or overall tree health. 
An application of Snipper in early spring when flowers are budding can drastically reduce acorns, gumballs, nuts and fruit. This can be applied to: Ash, Black Locust, Black Walnut, Cherry, Cottonwood, Crabapple, Gingko, Hackberry, Hickory, Honey Locust, Maple, Oak, Olive, Persimmon, Plum, Tree of Heaven, Sweet Gum, and Sycamore trees.

It is critically important to time this treatment properly: too late or too soon and it will fail. It must be applied AFTER the flowers have budded but BEFORE they are pollinated! 

Also please make note:

Snipper has been observed to be between 75-95% effective preventing acorns, nuts and other fruits except for gumballs. Due to the nature of Sweetgum Tree reproduction, which is multiple waves of flowers, with very little uniformity, Snipper needs to be applied multiple times per tree, and even then the effectiveness is much lower than in other trees.

Tree Wizard is committed to arboricultural excellence and is excited to bring this treatment to the Central Oklahoma community. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consult with an ISA Certified Arborist, please contact us here: 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Tree Service and COVID-19

Due to the community concerns with COVID-19, The Tree Wizards are now offering "teleconsultations" to our clients who would prefer to maintain social distance. We will schedule a time to send one of our four Certified Arborists to your property, during which we will call you and discuss the work to be done while they walk around. We will then send you your quote via email and text.
To our clients who have work scheduled: Tree Wizard is continuing to provide exceptional tree service to our community and if you wish to avoid direct contact we will be happy to accommodate this. Tree Wizard has a digital billing system that allows for an entirely paperless payment system when the job is finished and you are happy!
As always, Tree Wizard is committed to providing exceptional tree service while keeping in mind the health of our community, employees, and trees.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tree Wizard at the Midwest ISA Conference

Two of our certified arborists - Don and Mariah - have traveled to Overland Park, Kansas to attend the International Society of Arboriculture Conference and Trade Show! 
They attended the talk by Dr. Kathleen Wolf about public perceptions and values for the urban forest. She shared some interesting research about the benefits trees provide for the community that people may not be as aware of, such as:

Improving Depression symptoms
Healthier birthweight of newborns
Crime Reduction 
Cognitive and attention restoration
Anxiety and mood improvement
Immune system improvement
Cardiovascular health
Lower blood pressure

For more information about this research, please visit this website, which provides a comprehensive review and the citations of the research:

Tree Wizard is looking forward to learning the new information that we can bring back to our community!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Tree Wizard's Newest Certified Arborist!

We are proud to announce that Tree Wizard now has its fourth ISA certified Arborist! Congratulations to Mike McCrosky for passing his Arborist certification exam, we are all so grateful and proud of all your hard work and skill!