Weed and Tree Disease Identification: What You Need to Know for a Healthy Landscape 

You take pride in your lawn; understandably, you want to protect it — and your investment. Weeds and diseases can wreak havoc in your yard, not only ruining the aesthetic you worked hard to achieve, but impacting the underlying health of your environment.  

Some basic weed and tree disease identification skills can help you maintain a thriving lawn and keep your landscape in top shape.  

Why Waging War with Weeds and Disease Is Important 

What harm does a simple little weed do? Just pull it up, and go about your day. If only it were that easy! Generally, weeds are defined as plants that provide no value in terms of food, nutrients, or visual appeal. Think of them like an uninvited house guest who’s been crashing on your couch all summer: they don’t work, contribute, or do much of anything other than run up your grocery bill. The same is true of weeds; they don’t do anything to benefit your lawn, but they do create a number of headaches: 

  • They compete with your plants for water, nutrients, and light. This can rob your desired plants (e.g. grass) of nitrogen, potassium, and other essentials of healthy growth.  
  • Weeds also compete for space and can overtake your plants, spreading to other areas. 
  • They can be parasites. Some weed varieties attach themselves to the roots or stems of desired plants and suck out nutrients. 
  • They can leave plants vulnerable to disease and infection. 

Tree diseases are another big concern; these can affect not only the trees on your property but those in surrounding areas. For example, Oak Wilt, a fungal disease, destroys thousands of trees across the country each year; the Midwest has been hit especially hard in recent years. Oak Wilt can also spread farther and wider through the transport of infected firewood.  

Once tree diseases take root, so to speak, they are exceptionally difficult to treat. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms so you can take action; it’s even more critical to learn how to prevent disease. (We’ll talk more about that in a moment.) 

Weed and Tree Disease Identification 101 

Let’s look at some common weeds we see here in Central Indiana. Grassy weeds can be difficult to identify because they look like… well, grass. They typically have round, hollow stems, and alternating leaf blades that shoot off of each side. We often find the following creeping up on lawns: 

  • Crabgrass 
  • Course Fescue 
  • Goosegrass 
  • Foxtail 
  • Dallisgrass 
  • Barnyard Grass 

Broadleaf weeds have wide leaves. You’ll see a main vein that runs through the center with smaller veins branching off, and they may have a single flower or a cluster of blooms. Common invaders: 

  • Dandelions 
  • Ground Ivy 
  • Clover 
  • Thistle  
  • Wild Violet 
  • Nutsedge 
  • Plantains  
  • Spurge  
  • Chickweed 

Again, as weeds, by definition, do not add value to your lawn/landscape and can impact its health, it is important to be proactive. In the case of grassy weeds, a pre-emergent treatment is often most effective. For broadleaf weeds, a specialized (and safe) herbicide is typically recommended. Some varieties will need multiple applications. 

The best way to deal with invasive weeds is to sit back and relax. GreenImage’s experienced team can identify weeds — and the most effective methods for controlling/eliminating them. 

Tree Diseases: Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention 

Battling crabgrass may be a nuisance, but tree disease is serious business as it can ravage entire yards, communities, and wide swaths of forested land. In our neck of the woods, we see: 

  • Anthracnose 
  • Powdery Mildew  
  • Cankers 
  • Sudden Oak Death 
  • Oak Wilt  
  • Crown Gall 
  • Boxwood Blight 

We also see a lot of problems caused by tree pests like: 

  • Emerald Ash Borer 
  • Spongy Moth (formerly known as Gypsy Moth) 
  • Tent Caterpillar 
  • Bag Worms 
  • Aphids 

Some signs to watch for: 

  • Changes in the bark. You may see cracking or peeling of the bark, or it may become spongy or brittle. Look for color changes too: white or black spots can signal dangerous fungal growth. 
  • Changes in foliage growth. If your once lush, green tree is producing fewer or no leaves or if they are brown or discolored, it can be a sign it has died. Also, if you see “holes” in the leaves, you may have a leaf beetle problem. 
  • Changes in foliage color. You may see spots or mottling on the leaves, or branches with red, brown, or yellow leaves. This could mean that the tree isn’t getting sufficient nutrients, water, or sunlight. 
  • Fungal disease. Look for mushrooms and polypores (i.e. shelf fungi). 
  • Pest infestation. Diseased trees  may have signs of pest infestation, such as wood shavings, mud tubes, termite nests, a hollow trunk, leaking sap, calluses and cracked bark, peeling bark, or swelling.  
  • Changes to the soil. Look at the soil surrounding the tree. Is it dry? Cracked? Waterlogged? Compressed? This can signal health issues with the tree. 

If you see signs of tree disease, call GreenImage immediately. If possible, we will save the tree. If it is already too far gone, we will take steps to keep the disease from spreading to surrounding trees.  

Treating tree disease is difficult; it is easier to prevent it. For example, it is common to bring in infected trees straight from the nursery. We know what to look for and, when installing a landscape, ensure that the plants are healthy and installed properly. Other steps include properly cleaning tools, replacing at-risk species or planting less vulnerable varieties, professional and strategic pruning, annual inspections, etc.. 

Win the Battle with GreenImage 

We are your local weed and tree disease identification experts. GreenImage has the knowledge, insight, and experience necessary to prevent, treat, and control the uninvited guests on your lawn and property. Let’s kick them “off the couch” so you can enjoy a beautiful yard, year-round.  

Contact GreenImage to learn more about our comprehensive weed control services and custom maintenance plans.