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Getting Life Into Conifers

Discussion in 'Nurseries and Growers' started by ProMac1K, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. ProMac1K

    ProMac1K LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Has anyone had any luck putting some color and life back into conifers with a certain fertilizer or mulch treatment? I'm going to be working with some Austrian Pine and Norway Spruce in a tree line that are starting to show some discolor. What are signs of some sort of infest? Any suggestions?

    Thanks :waving:
  2. Ford850

    Ford850 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    I've used a light topcoat of Hollytone and had good results on some spruce, fir and pines. Those that were slightly yellow darkened up, and they all appeared healthier after one year. I spread a light topcoat and then scratched it into the surface before a rain in early sping. They looked so good, I've repeated this for the past 3 years.
  3. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    Smokey08, have you done a soil test in and around these trees, to determine the soil pH...and maybe other nutrient deficiencies ??
    That's the first step.

    Around here in S.W. Ohio and in my own yard, the soil pH is high, and the readings aroung my four 6' Alberta Spruces in the front yard were 7.8 when I had it tested (relatively alkaline).
    Spruces, as well as most other evergreens, including pines, hemlocks, hollies, rhododendrons, azeleas, boxwood, etc all prefer the soil to be more on the acid side....which would be a "lower" pH.

    So in order to accomplish this, I had to purchase split-pea sulfur from a wholesale grain market (but you could try a larger garden store too).
    After about 2 years of gradual intermittent/B] applications...the pH around these spruces is now about 6.3...which is about right.

    Holly-tone will work too.
    It just is much more expensive to do it this way, as it is a "retail oriented" product.
    It has a nice menu of organic acidifiers like cottonseed meal in it, and blood meal, and some fert value I believe.

    But get a soil sample 1st.

    Infestation signs:

    Do any of the needles of the Austrian pine have little white specks on them, especially closer to the ground ?

    Pulling the branches apart and looking inside...at the actual trunks of the trees...can you maybe see any funky-looking greyish-white fungus growing up and down the trunk ?

    Do these areas commonly have issues with standing water ?
  4. OP

    ProMac1K LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Thanks for the replies.

    Thanks for the tip on using some Hollytone. I'll do some research on that tonight....am new to it.

    The tree line is on a west, slightly-downward slope. The soil around that area that is farmed is a sandy loam I believe. The branches, bark, and needles look in good shape, except for the "burnt" areas. Never any standing water in the area. The trees were nursed with water when they were younger, but haven't had any attention whatsoever, other than some mowing and trimming around them. How many areas would someone have to check when doing soil samples? The tree line is about 50 trees long. Also where's the best place to get the equipment needed?

    I'll post some pics here of a good pine, one of the tough pines, and then a closeup of some branches. See what you think. ;) :laugh:




  5. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

  6. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    Lawn and landscape pros buy stainless steel soil probes all the time for about, I dunno, $15-$20 or so.
    If you're not in the 'biz'...don't worry about getting one.

    Just use a clean shovel, and choose maybe 5 to 6 random spots up and down your 50' tree line.
    Dig down about 4" to 5" in each spot, and as you do take a knife and "cut" a vertical cross-section out from what you've got on your shovel.
    Each cross-section should maybe be about as wide as a carrot.
    Put them all in a clean plastic bag together...but DON'T "crumple" the clumps up !!!

    Now....where to have the soil tested accurately (in your area) ?!?

    Good question.
    Maybe someone else from your general area can help here.

    I send all my samples out to CLC Labs in Westerville OH...but I'm sure there's a more efficient location for you closer to home.
  7. OP

    ProMac1K LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Wow, that looks so similar it's scary?

    What would be your opinion on treatment? Is it a seasonal disease that will come/go and be treated, or should the soil be checked, then either treat them or fell and replant? The idea of transplanting the healthy trees to a different location has came up. Would you think they would survive?

    Nope, i'm not in the business yet. Just a novice/enthusiast/farmer...... Actually enrolled this winter to start a college degree next fall for Environmental Science. When it originally came the time for me to take college courses yrs ago, I was going to go for Soil & Water Conservation, but the tech campus dropped the course due to lack of funds. Maybe this degree will give me a broader range of education.

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