Is it worth treating our trees? Pin Oaks, River Birch, and Elms...

Asked June 10, 2018, 5:47 PM EDT

Hi, I am Landscaping Committee chair for a 49-unit neighborhood in Kensington. We've recently been advised by a contractor (Sav-A-Tree) that we should treat 2 pin oak trees and several birch trees (see photos) that are struggling. Treatment would be with ArborKelp plus something else unspecified. It's not inexpensive, and we are considering letting nature take its course and replacing these trees--which would be terrible since the existing trees are so large, but we are reluctant to invest in treatments that might not prolong the life of the trees for very long. We also have several elm trees that they say should be injected every other year. Any advice would be most welcome. Thanks in advance.
Strathmore Place HOA

Montgomery County Maryland

4 Responses

We viewed your photos and saw some thinning and crown dieback. Here is some information.
Pin oaks - it is normal for them to lose their lower branches. Eventually they will probably get bacterial leaf scorch. Here is more about it. There is no treatment.

Elms are most likely to struggle due to root competition and/or poor growing conditions.

No Biokelp or biostimulant treatment is recommended. You may want to talk to the company about pruning dead wood and/or soil compaction relief.


Thanks so much.
How about the birch trees? They are magnificent but are about 35 years old, I believe. Some are thinning at the top and we recently had to take down several others that were smaller but in worse shape. Is any treatment helpful in extending their lives for more than a year or two?
BTW, the company that does our pruning says that the elms are really not in bad shape and that treatment every other year by Sav-a-Tree would help to avoid the very high costs of taking down these elms (and also lose their screening protection). I neglected to send you the photos of the elms, so see attached, just in case. Thanks!

We viewed the photos. No treatment is recommended for any of the trees other than pruning or soil compaction relief, if needed. It is up to you if you want to use other treatments.


Thanks again. We'll go with your advice....