Evergreen tree

Asked January 13, 2020, 2:01 PM EST

Concerned about the health of an evergreen tree in my back yard. Noticed a nylon rope partially grown into the base of the tree. After my attempt to remove the rope a growth appeared. I'm concerned the tree's health is in decline. What can/should I do to address the growth and improve the health of the tree if possible. Picture attached.

St. Clair County Michigan trees and shrubs

7 Responses

Hi, there,
Thank you for contacting "Ask an Expert."
The growth is sap that the tree produced to close the wound from the nylon rope. It should cause not reason for concern. Please don't remove it, but you can touch it to be sure that it is indeed sap.
If the tree was damaged from the rope, you would begin to see signs of the tree turning brown near the top of the tree. So, keep an eye on the foliage next spring when the water and nutrients are being actively transported again to determine if there is an issue. Do you fertilize your lawn regularly? If yes, then the tree also gets fertilized, and I would just recommend that the tree is watered regularly in times of 2-3 weeks without rain (again, if you have a lawn sprinkler system, that should be enough water).
We don't recommend painting wounds to cover them anymore. Science has found that trees will recover more efficiently from a wound that is left open to the air.
I am optimistic from the picture you attached. Please feel free to contact me by replying to this thread or directly using the information below if you have any additional questions, or if things begin to change with the tree's foliage in the spring.
Thank you,
Julie

Thanks, Julie, for your rapid response and informative and encouraging answer. The tree is at least 25 years old and appeared to be losing needles this past summer looking a bit less full than four other similar evergreens in its locale. Our lawn does have an in-ground sprinkler with spring and fall fertilization, usually. I'm better with irrigation but try not to overdo it.
Two more questions, lawn in the backyard, where the tree in question is located receives a good amount of shade. I've notice the grass has very shallow roots and can easily be pulled out in large clumps with little effort. I keep the grass height at 2+ inches and try to keep the cut amount to no more than 1/3 of the grass length. How does one ensure the grass roots deepen allowing turf to firm up. Front lawn has the opposite challenge, all sun with thatch build up. Growing up, we would burn the lawn in the spring. Not a very acceptable practice today especially where we reside.
Last question, we have a crap apple tree in the front getting plenty of sun but appears to have been hit with a fungus. Leaves turn brown mid summer and drop due possibly to a fungus. We had a tree service clear the inside and shape the tree. What is best practice when applying a fungicide and do you agree with my prognosis?

Thanks,
Tom

Hi Tom,
If the tree is losing needles all over the tree, especially the older needles on the inside of the tree, then the wound is not causing the needle loss. I would expect needles at the top of the tree to be most effected by the nylon rope wound. If it is losing the interior needles, it may have needlecast disease, which is fungal in nature.
Here is more information on needlecase:
https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/rhizosphaera-needle-cast
The grass under the tree is might have trouble growing due to the acidic conditions created by the tree in addition to the shade. I'm not sure I would try to amend that as it may create undesirable growing conditions for the tree. Perhaps a grass mix that is shade and acidic tolerant? Perhaps a lawn care company could recommend a species suitable? My apologies, grasses are not my expertise. You could always submit a new question about that to "Ask an Expert" and the question handlers will forward to the right person.
Lastly, the crab apple tree. Yes, brown spots (or yellow spots that turn brown) are likely fungal in origin. Here is an article on it - does it sound like the same symptoms? https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/why_is_my_crabapple_tree_losing_leaves
The article describes proper fungicide use to prevent the fungus from affecting the current year's growth.
I hope that helps! Again, feel free to follow up for more information!
Thank you,
Julie

Thanks, Julie, for you response. No worries regarding the grass, greater concern is for the 4 evergreens. I've added pictures of the tree with the wound, lower and upper as well as a lower picture of it's neighbor.

Based on your comments, bottoms clearly look worse than the tops. Hoping I haven't waited too long. Not sure of next steps.

Thanks again for your help,
Tom

Hi Tom,
It looks like needlecast. With the wet weather we've had the past couple of spring/fall seasons, many trees are being affected by this fungal disease. Here is the link to the bulletin again.
https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/rhizosphaera-needle-cast
Generally, needlecast sets in when air flow is limited through the branches. So, trimming the bottom (affected) branches out will be a good thing. The needles that have fallen off will not re-grow on the tree. However, you can keep the new growth from being affected by having the new growth sprayed with a fungicide. The trees look fairly tall, so you might have to hire someone to do that. To be effective, the fungicide should be applied as the new growth needles are expanding in the spring; another application should occur just after the needles are fully flushed. The tree generally does not die from the disease, but will look a bit tattered if continued needle loss occurs.
Unfortunately, this is common with blue spruce. They are beautiful trees, and are meant to grow in somewhat dryer conditions than we have in Michigan.
I hope that helps. Feel free to keep the conversation going if you have more questions.
Thanks, Tom!
-Julie

Thanks, Julie, I do appreciate your insights. It's on my spring project list. Lastly, do you have any info on proper pruning of a crab apple tree? Ours is quite large and sprawling despite pruning about one year ago.

Kind regards,
Tom

Hi Tom,
The University of Minnesota Extension has a good website that includes information about pruning a crab apple tree, which is very similar to pruning an apple tree (which is mentioned at the bottom of this website).
https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/pruning-trees-and-shrubs
Also, the University of Maine has this video online that provides excellent instruction:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feeVCNvGd2s&list=FL4u5GnU7xop2YBsYVL7d0ag&app=desktop

As always, feel free to write back if you have any further questions.
Thanks, Tom!
-Julie