Trees Not Dropping Their Leaves?

We have been receiving calls and emails from clients asking why their trees seem to be hanging on to brown, dried out leaves. In some instances, as you can see in the photo, some trees are still ‘in color’. It’s November 20th folks.

The photo shows approximately 15 trees both large and small. Only two of the trees, one on the top left and one in the background have lost their leaves. All of the others are surprisingly still in color and/or retaining brown leaves.

The trees in the photo happen to belong to myself, Craig Casino, owner of Tree Green. I have lived on this property over 30 years and have never seen this occur to this extent before. Usually by Thanksgiving 99% of all leaves are on the ground. This year that will not be the case for many trees, not even close.

What causes this situation and does it indicate a problem?

There is a name for this occurrence…Marcescence. While marcescence is a normal occurrence for Beech trees it also occasionally occurs in different varieties of Oak, Pear and Ironwood on a more frequent basis. What’s different about this year is that it is occurring on Maples and many other varieties of trees. And, it’s not limited to trees. Certain bushes are doing the same thing.

I could go into a long, detailed explanation on a leaf’s ‘abscission layer’ which ‘unglues’ the leaf from the tree but that isn’t really necessary. All that is truly known is that early cold and frost (which we certainly saw this year) can interfere with this normal process and create the leaf retention occurrence that we are seeing now. No one has ever been able to figure out what a trees purpose for doing this actually is. Experts seem to agree however that this does not indicate any particular stress or weakness within the tree.

What to expect now?

If you have a tree or trees doing this, leaves may finally sporadically disengage from the tree throughout the Winter. Many leaves will remain on the tree all Winter long and into the Spring and not fall until a new flush of fresh growth ‘unglues’ them and pushes them from the tree. This will obviously create extra Spring cleanup.

As always we try to keep you informed as to what we are seeing and answer questions that you might be curious about.

We hope you have a wonderful upcoming holiday season with family and friends.

Get Your Trees Ready for the Polar Coaster

Although we are just barely at the tail end of Summer, we’re already being reminded of snowier and colder days ahead. According to the experts, the Great Lakes Region is in for a wild ride this Winter! One meteorologist dared to call it a ‘Polar Coaster’ indicating a wild ride of temperature extremes.

Last Winter, many of you lost Boxwoods, Japanese Maples, Burning Bushes and Dogwoods. Unfortunately, we could go on. It seems like everyone’s property we visited this year lost at least a tree or line of shrubs due to last Winter’s polar vortex. All of that devastation was due to a single, three-day period where the temperatures dipped to a staggering 20-30º below zero with wind chills as low as 40-50º below zero. If it happens again in back to back years, especially with temperatures bouncing between extreme highs and lows which is even more consequential, trees that were stressed last Winter and showed only slight damage in 2019 may ultimately succumb this Winter. Trees you may not even realize are stressed right now may suffer noticeable damage in 2020, or worse.

Trees suffering from ‘Fire Blight’ (small dead leaves and limbs on Pear, Crabs and other varieties) or Botryosphaeria Canker (individual larger dead limbs with curling bark on many varieties of trees), both prevalent, do not need the added stress of a harsh winter.

A high percentage of our clients have their trees professionally fertilized in the Fall. Many have this service performed both Spring and Fall but feeding once a year is crucial in our opinion. Proper fertilization prepares trees for a harsh Winter as well as the following growing season. We perform this service with high pressure, underground feeding probes which delivers twenty-two (22) beneficial minerals, nutrients and amino acids to tree roots for your most valuable trees to make them as strong as possible. Your trees will thank you for it.

If you are already feeding your trees you are doing the best possible thing you can do for them. If not, you might want to consider having us quote root fertilization, at the very least for trees that are of extreme value to your property.

Have a great Fall and enjoy it while it lasts!


Quite often we see trees or shrubs with limbs tied together with rope or wire. Tying with rope or wire should only be considered a temporary fix (a month or so) until you can perform what we suggest below.

We will see trees and bushes tied with rope or wire that homeowners then forget to remove. Over time it will cut into the branching and ends up killing the plant they were trying to save.

tree cable with eyeboltsThis photo shows the correct way to draw limbs together and secure them. It is far better to actually sink eyebolts directly into the limbs and wire the eyebolts together. In doing so they can be left there indefinitely for future support. This photo example was performed on Arborvitae.

For tree limbs, you can actually drill all the way through the limbs and put a washer and nut on the outside end of the eyebolts or even send a threaded rod (available at hardware stores) through the branches and connect the ends with washers and nuts.  For bigger trees with big splits, hire a reputable tree company that can offer ‘cable bracing’ or ‘bolting.

tree cablingThis photo is of a 250 year old Oak on our owner’s property. The 20 inch diameter limb section on the left split vertically over 12 feet down the trunk. The open air gap between the branch section and the trunk was 8 inches wide and the slightest wind kept widening the split. The tree was ‘bolted’ with two half inch diameter hardened lengths of threaded steel rods (red arrows). The branch was ‘drawn’ back toward the trunk during the process and has now held for 30 years, saving the tree.

If you need bushes or small trees secured you will have to find someone handy in your family to perform the work. If you have a large tree you can call our office for a recommendation of a company who can help you.  We hope you found this educational and helpful!