Advice Needed: Birch Trees
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    Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    So I moved into my current house about a year ago, and really now just starting to get the lawn and trees in order. About a month ago we noticed that one of the 6 Birch trees in the front were pretty much dead (no leaves, branches snap off by bending them slightly), and so we cut it down. After looking at the other trees, it appears that more of them may not be healthy and could be dieing.

    I was told (I didn't see it), that the dead tree was completely covered with bugs after we noticed it was dead. After looking online at some pages on tree care, I saw that my some of my trees look similar to those that have been infested with the Bronze Birch Borer. So, my question is: Is there a problem with such insects in Iowa? and should I contact a tree service to do something about it?

    I would like to keep these trees and not have to cut them down and put new ones in.



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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Quote Originally Posted by CompCy View Post
    So I moved into my current house about a year ago, and really now just starting to get the lawn and trees in order. About a month ago we noticed that one of the 6 Birch trees in the front were pretty much dead (no leaves, branches snap off by bending them slightly), and so we cut it down. After looking at the other trees, it appears that more of them may not be healthy and could be dieing.

    I was told (I didn't see it), that the dead tree was completely covered with bugs after we noticed it was dead. After looking online at some pages on tree care, I saw that my some of my trees look similar to those that have been infested with the Bronze Birch Borer. So, my question is: Is there a problem with such insects in Iowa? and should I contact a tree service to do something about it?

    I would like to keep these trees and not have to cut them down and put new ones in.
    I live in a 25 year old neighborhood, and many of the river birch trees around here are dying too. They'll look ok one year, and then come out really scabby looking (few leaves) the next. I'd say easily a half dozen have bit the dust in the past 2-3 years.

    It could be a combination of things. For starters, birch trees are not long-lived, even in perfect growing conditions. (live fast, die young)

    But, perfect growing conditions are not what we have in IA for the river birch.

    They suffer from the same thing that pin oaks suffer from in Iowa - chlorosis - which is lack of iron in our alkaline soils.

    Yes, we have birch borers too. That could be what is killing your trees.

    They also don't do well when it is too hot, too wet, too dry, etc.

    Plus the river birch is a nuisance tree, IMO. Dropping little limbs all the time, seed pods and other stuff several times a year.

    Bottom-line: Don't spend money to keep these things going. Plant a nice sugar maple (non-hybrid) or some other slow-growing nice looking trees.



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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Quote Originally Posted by CyPride View Post
    Bottom-line: Don't spend money to keep these things going. Plant a nice sugar maple (non-hybrid) or some other slow-growing nice looking trees.
    But not ash.



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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Quote Originally Posted by CompCy View Post
    So I moved into my current house about a year ago, and really now just starting to get the lawn and trees in order. About a month ago we noticed that one of the 6 Birch trees in the front were pretty much dead (no leaves, branches snap off by bending them slightly), and so we cut it down. After looking at the other trees, it appears that more of them may not be healthy and could be dieing.

    I was told (I didn't see it), that the dead tree was completely covered with bugs after we noticed it was dead. After looking online at some pages on tree care, I saw that my some of my trees look similar to those that have been infested with the Bronze Birch Borer. So, my question is: Is there a problem with such insects in Iowa? and should I contact a tree service to do something about it?

    I would like to keep these trees and not have to cut them down and put new ones in.
    I live in Omaha and in my 13 year old neighborhood all the river birches are dying. This is not their natural habitat. I have no idea why nurseries sell them around here. I suppose so they die and then they can sell more.



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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Excellent call on the bronze birch borer. Yes - it's in Iowa and doing quite well. Take note that it's a pest that moves in AFTER the tree was already stressed. So, the bronze birch borer didn't move in and commandeer a totally healthy trees - other issues started the tree's decline, the borer is just there to help finish it off faster.

    I agree - don't bother treating.

    Plant something NATIVE. And it should go without saying... of course (!) don't plant ash. And for that matter, most all of our urban areas are positively loaded with maple. When we have a landscape dominated by one, or a few, species, it's nothing but trouble because they can all go down fast & hard when a new pest moves in.

    Jeff Iles at ISU has a great list of shade trees for Iowa. You still need to consider the site (set or dry, etc. etc.)

    And one more piece of advice ... don't march down to your local box store and buy what's on clearance. Frequently these trees were raised hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from Iowa and they're not cut out for our winters. Shipping long distances takes it toll. The old adage that you get what you pay for is really true!

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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Hell, I do not see too many spruce or pine trees around Iowa anymore. I saw a ton of them in CR, but now that I've moved to Ames, and now another town closer to Des Moines, I don't think I've seen hardly any. Give me a spruce tree. They are beautiful in the winter when they have a bit of snow on them.

    Maybe an elm tree would be good? Some upright arborvitaes might work too.


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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    My friend who is a landscaper drills holes in her river birches and puts in some kind of iron stick -- which you can purchase anywhere which sells lawn and garden supplies. Evidently these trees don't get enough iron here in Iowa. I don't know if they will bring a seemingly dead tree, but I have seen what a difference it makes with the color of the leaves. They are yellowish before she starts the treatment and green up when the iron gets into its system.



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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Thats sad. I love Birch trees.



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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyrocks View Post
    My friend who is a landscaper drills holes in her river birches and puts in some kind of iron stick -- which you can purchase anywhere which sells lawn and garden supplies. Evidently these trees don't get enough iron here in Iowa. I don't know if they will bring a seemingly dead tree, but I have seen what a difference it makes with the color of the leaves. They are yellowish before she starts the treatment and green up when the iron gets into its system.


    Wow, thats nuts. I would have never thought of that. The ones around Sioux City seem to grow well, but maybe there is alot of iron in the loess soil here.



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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyrocks View Post
    My friend who is a landscaper drills holes in her river birches and puts in some kind of iron stick -- which you can purchase anywhere which sells lawn and garden supplies. Evidently these trees don't get enough iron here in Iowa. I don't know if they will bring a seemingly dead tree, but I have seen what a difference it makes with the color of the leaves. They are yellowish before she starts the treatment and green up when the iron gets into its system.
    The cheaper way to do that is to just hammer in iron nails.

    However the even cheaper solution is to not buy Birches as their life span is not as long as other trees.


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    Re: Advice Needed: Birch Trees

    ISU Extension publicationS
    Community Tree Planting and Care Guide (doesn't include types of trees)
    http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pub...ons/PM1591.pdf

    Iowa's Trees http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pub...ons/IAN304.pdf

    Low-growing Trees for Urban and Rural Iowa http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pub...ns/PM1429D.pdf

    Jeff Iles e-mail iles@iastate.edu He's horticulture dept. head at ISU.



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