Minnesota Department of Natural Resources field staff, resource managers and the DNR Information Center staff answer many questions every day about natural resources topics. Here is one of them:
Q. It appears to be that time of year for tree diseases to surface. Is there anything homeowners can do to protect their trees from diseases and possible mortality, regardless of tree species?
A. There are a number of things homeowners can do to help keep their trees healthy. Since many areas of the state are experiencing drought, a good place to start is watering the trees. Lack of water predisposes drought-stressed trees to insects and pathogens that can attack. Wherever possible, homeowners should give their trees about one inch of water each week.
In addition to watering, organic mulch, two-to-three inches deep and spread out three to eight feet from the trunk, will guard against lawn mower injury and keep roots moist. Homeowners should also avoid using weed and feed fertilizer products, which contain herbicide. While the product makes lawns look good, it does kill tree roots. Picking up and properly disposing of fallen leaves and tree branches can help prevent the spread of tree diseases now and next spring. For more information go to DNR’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/treecare/index.html 
— Jana Albers, DNR forest health specialist
For more information, call the DNR information line at 296-6157 or go to the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us .