Ask The Expert: Arbor Day

Arbor Day is an annual holiday in which people are encouraged to plant trees. The concept of a day to recognize the importance of planting trees is actually something that is recognized as a national holiday in various countries around the world. Trees play an important role in the environment as they filter out CO2 and help generate clean air. This is increasingly important as urban areas continue to expand and contribute to greater air pollution.

Trees and shrubs are also an important investment for homeowners, as they also add to a property’s landscaping appeal and can increase home values. What many homeowners do not realize, however, is that trees and shrubs are also one of their largest, uninsured investments. The loss of established trees and shrubs can cost thousands of dollars to replace. That is why we offer tree & shrub care services to our customers. In order to ensure we are providing the best care and service possible, Eastern Turf Maintenance employs specially trained horticulturalists that are responsible for making sure that the trees and shrubs that enhance customer properties thrive.

In honor of Arbor Day, we decided to ask horticultural expert and ETM team member, Emma Rider for a few tips that we could pass onto homeowners.

Ask The Expert: Emma Rider, Horticulturist

photo of Eastern Turf Maintenance horticulturist examining tree.

Where did you pursue your education?
I received a Bachelors of Science in Horticultural Science and a minor in Agriculture Extension Education from
NC State.

What made you decide to follow a career in horticulture?
My mom, dad, and step-parents all have deep roots in agriculture and horticulture, so from a young age, I was digging in the soil on our family farms. You could say that a passion for horticulture is in my family’s genes. I knew, from an early age, that I wanted to carry on that legacy of providing nourishment and beauty for the earth and the people on it.

Do you have a favorite plant or tree? If so, what is it?
This is a tough question. It changes daily! I would have to say Quercus virginiana, the Southern Live Oak. They are so fun to climb and overall I just think they are a majestic tree. (If you’re ever visiting Charleston, SC I highly suggest visiting the Angel Oak – a Southern Live Oak that is nearly 500 years old!)

Arbor Day is all about planting trees. If homeowners were going to invest in a new tree or trees to plant on their lot, which varieties would you recommend?
It completely depends on the location of the tree, the amount of sun, the amount of space, and many other factors. I would always suggest trying to plant native trees though! If you are looking for a nice flower show in the spring, Flowering Dogwood and Eastern Redbud are beautiful options! Serviceberries produce beautiful burgundy berries that our native wildlife love to feast on! If you have a lot of space, Tulip Poplar trees are one of the tallest native options and many different Oaks provide wonderful shade!

What are some of the most common diseases and pests you see on trees and shrubs locally?
Powdery mildew on Dogwoods, Scale on maples and camellias, whiteflies on gardenias, and aphids on crape myrtles. All of which are treatable with the ETM tree and shrub program!
What tips do you have for homeowners for caring for their trees and shrubs (beyond hiring ETM to treat them)?
Skip the round-up in the garden beds! Instead just pull a few weeds every time you walk past your gardens, that way it doesn’t seem so overwhelming! It is very easy to over-apply a weed killer if you are doing it yourself and you can easily damage the root system of your shrubs. Aside from hedges and topiaries, try to allow your trees and shrubs to grow into their natural shape. Light, corrective pruning to maintain size is great, but shrubs will always be happier and healthier when you let them do their thing!




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