Your Guide to Oak Wilt & How to Defend Against It

Strength, beauty, longevity. These are the types of positive attributes often used to describe oak trees. Yet, like other trees, the unique qualities of oaks are paired with unique susceptibilities — an example of which is oak wilt.

What Is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt (or Bretziella fagacearum) is a fungal disease that infects the vascular system of oak trees, and — as the name suggests — causes leaves to wilt, become discolored and eventually die.

The roots of this disease can be connected to one of three transmission methods:

  • Insect transmission: Beetles and other insects feed on the fungal spores on infected trees and carry these spores to healthy trees.
  • Root graft transmission: As the roots of two oak trees meet and merge together, the disease can move from infected trees to healthy ones.
  • Firewood transmission: When firewood is moved from an infected tree to a new area, the fungal disease spreads.


Among the oak species, red oak trees are most susceptible to oak wilt, often dying within 1-2 months of being infected. This can be attributed back to the fact that they are often the site of fungal spores, and their symptoms are not always as apparent as in other oak species.

While oak wilt was first recognized as a harmful disease in 1944 in Wisconsin, it has now been confirmed in 24 states across the U.S. — one of which is Michigan. On a statewide scale, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has identified oak wilt in 61 Michigan counties.

How to Put a Stop to Oak Wilt Before It Appears

With the majority of red oaks unable to recover from oak wilt, the need for proactive measures is clear. Here are some simple yet effective ways to prevent the spread of this damaging disease.

Prune Your Trees in the Winter

Trimming away weak or dead branches from trees — otherwise known as pruning — is one of the most effective ways to keep them strong and healthy. Like other trees, oak trees should be pruned in the winter months. Not only is it easier to identify branch patterns during this time, but there is also less insect activity and subsequent infections to worry about.

In the case of sap beetles, these insects are most likely present between mid-April and mid-July. (Note that some types of beetles can be active during the summer and into the early fall.) These are the times when the risk for infection is highest, and thus pruning should be avoided.

Keep Firewood in One Place

Firewood can be moved many miles from its original location, whether it’s to a vacation property or a campsite. With this transport comes an assumed risk that the firewood may carry a disease that can harm subsequent trees.

If trees infected with oak wilt are cut and used to make firewood, make sure it remains in one area to avoid transmission to healthy trees. A tarp with no holes should cover to firewood so as to prevent beetles from feeding on the sap of the wood and picking up fungal spores.

Safari Tree’s Tree Care Program Can Help

At Safari Tree, we recognize that trees have unique needs and face unique threats. That’s why we’ve developed a comprehensive care program that ensures trees can effectively resist and recover from any number of health issues (oak wilt included).

If you’re a Michigan homeowner in the market for tree care, we encourage you to reach out to the Safari Tree team and request a free quote.

Safari Tree Offers Spring Tree Care Tips

Even with your trees and plants still covered in snow, it is never too early to begin thinking about the coming spring and warmer months and start preparing your property for the growing season. Here at Safari Tree, our lead Tree Manager and Certified Arborist, Erik Hutson, has some simple tips on how to ensure that your trees and shrubs transition from the cold to the warm.

With the holiday season over, it is important that if you decorated your trees and shrubs with holiday string lights that you remove them and any other form of decorations from the plants. As trees continue to grow each year, having lights wrapped around the trunk and/or limbs could potentially impact the health of the tree by constricting the limbs from developing.

If you prepared your plants prior to the winter months by wrapping or covering them with burlap or other protective materials in anticipation of the harsh Michigan winter elements, it is important to make sure that once the temperatures are no longer at freezing levels, you are removing the coverings. By waiting to remove the coverings could compromise the health and stunt the growth process of the plants.

Once the snow begins to melt away, make time on the weekends to rake and remove any and all debris, leaves, and fruit that may have dropped over the winter months. Leaving them unattended can lead to the potential germination and spread of diseases that can overwinter in the debris – for example, tip blight and apple scab.

In addition to removing the debris under the tree, it is important to add mulch around the base of each tree on your property as this will help in protecting the tree trunks and its roots from any damage. The mulch is more to protect from the damage it may sustain and will still be present the following fall/winter and will continue to protect the trees root zone at that time. We recommend no more than 3” of mulch around the base, but make sure to keep the bark from the trunk as the bark can and will withhold moisture which can cause tree rot.

It is also important to prepare your plants for the growing season by applying a light round of fertilizer, as the fertilizer will give the plants the needed help with the transition from the cold weather to the warmer weather.

Finally, we recommend that in the early spring to prune out the dead limbs of the trees and the best time to do so is when the trees are still dormant. However, if you are not sure what branches are dead or alive, as the trees are budding, you should be able to discern between which limbs are coming out of dormancy and which are not.

While due to the current weather conditions, all you want to do is sit in front of the fire, it is definitely not too early to start thinking about the coming spring and how to prepare your property to come back healthy, green and lush. Safari Tree offers a comprehensive 7-step tree healthcare program for customers in Southeastern Michigan. For more information on tree and shrub health care, contact Safari Tree at 844-500-8733.

Celebrating National Arbor Day

National Arbor Day connects more deeply with us here are Safari Tree beyond just our combined love and care for trees – the person responsible for the idea of National Arbor Day originated from Detroit, Michigan back in 1854 by the name of Julius Sterling Morton.  He was one of the many pioneers that made their way across the Midwest, moving into the Nebraska Territory.  Both he and his wife were nature lovers and they surround their newfound home in Nebraska with trees, plants and shrubs.  

This month, April 28th marks the 145th year of celebrating the importance of trees in our environment, in our lives as well as promoting tree planting and care.  All fifty states, Puerto Rico and some US territories have passed legislation adopting Arbor day, and throughout the world, many countries are also celebrating the planting of trees, caring for them and learning their value.  

The Arbor Day Foundation is one of the world’s largest nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to planting trees and each year the Foundation plants and distributes more than 10 million trees.  The Foundation is also focused on helping to preserve rain forest land through the Rain Forest Rescue program, and so far more than 48,000 acres of rain forest land have been preserved through their efforts.

So take a moment tomorrow to either plant a new tree or look at what you need to do to care for the trees you have on your property in honor of such a grand celebration that recognizes the value trees bring to our lives, to our environment, to our future.

For more information about the Arbor Day Foundation, please visit  

“The cultivation of flowers and trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man, and for one, I wish to see this culture become universal.” – Julius Sterling Morton

From Our Certified Arborist: Tree Fungus

If you are concerned about tree fungus harming the trees on your property, now is a good time to act before fungal infection sets in. Safari Tree’s own certified arborist has some important things to say on this subject.

From our Certified Arborist, Tree Manager, Erik Hutson:

Hello everyone,

Crab trees have begun to bud and bloom. It’s time to begin our Tree Fungicide spray applications for these trees. I just wanted to send out some info so everyone knows why we do what we do.

Tree fungus is most active in the spring. The proper time to apply tree fungus treatment is when the buds form and begin to break. This treats the tree as the new growth emerges and protects it from becoming infected.

Tree fungus active in spring.

Our program for this is generally 3 applications and the start time is weather dependent.  In our case this year we are ready to begin this now. We do these applications roughly 10-20 day apart. This provides the best protection for the whole leaf out period.

This program is for deciduous trees only, (trees with leaves). We are NOT spraying evergreens for needle blight yet. This is because most evergreen buds will not begin to swell and break until mid-May.

This program is focused on specific trees with a specific issues. For this reason, the tree fungus treatment is more thorough. The amount of product applied is much heavier than our standard tree care application because there is a known, present issue we are treating. Most of these tree fungus treatments are done for Apple Scab, but we also have some customers being treated for some forms of leaf spot & cedar apple rust.

Contact Safari Tree to request your FREE estimate today and protect these valuable assets on your property.

Cold Weather Impact to Trees

certificationNot only are we all ready for spring and warm weather, but so are the trees and plants surrounding your property. With the recent snowfall and the cold temperatures that followed, the weather is definitely having a negative impact on your trees and shrubs new growth efforts. A few weeks ago, we experienced some nice, warmer weather, and you may have noticed that many of your trees had new buds beginning to swell. Unfortunately, with the recent down turn in weather, the snow and cold will more than likely kill these new buds.

Now more than ever, it is important and extremely beneficial to your trees and shrubs by having fertilizer applications sprayed to help replenish some of the lost nutrients spent when pushing out buds that did not survive the cold.

Also, you may notice that while your tree color looks normal, but you have less than average foliation this spring, it is more than likely that the changing weather conditions were a main contributing factor.

It is not too late to sign up for a tree and shrub healthcare program, so contact Safari Tree today and request a free estimate so that we can help protect the valuable assets on your property.

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Common Tree Diseases in Michigan

Tree and shrub healthcare is vital to ensuring that these valuable assets on your property remain healthy and vibrant throughout the growing season. However, there may be times when the health of your trees are compromised by an affliction that if left untreated, could lead to not only your trees dying, but possibly spreading that infection onto the other plants.

Below is a short list of the more common tree and shrub diseases found here in Michigan. If you feel that your trees and shrubs may be exhibiting signs of one or more of the issues, one of our Certified Arborists can come out and properly diagnose as well as provide you with a custom treatment plan to regain the health of your trees and shrubs.

  1. Anthracnose – a common leaf disease caused by fungi and often found on trees and shrubs in cool and/or moist environments. Infected trees and shrubs develop dark, water soaked spots on the stems, leaves and/or fruit and is often misdiagnosed as oak wilt.
  2. Apple Scab – a serious disease of apples and ornamental crabapples, apple scab affects both the leaves and the fruit. A fungal disease, it forms a pale yellow or olive-green spots on the top of the leaves. Darker spots may show up on the lower parts of the plant and the more infected your trees become, the leaves become twisted and may start falling in early summer.
  3. Black Knot – another known fungus disease that mainly affects plum and cherry trees, though it can infect other fruit trees, such as apricots and peaches. This disease is fairly easy to diagnose because of the obvious black gall found on the stems and branches of the trees. It appears rough and bumpy, and often is wrapped around the branch completely, and can be as short as an inch to almost 12 inches in length.
  4. Leaf Spot – used to describe a variety of plant diseases, most leaf spots are caused by a fungal infection, but there are some that are caused by bacterial infection. Visually, leaf spots are typically brown, but depending on the advanced nature of the fungus, the spots could also be tan or black. Leaves infected with leaf spot will yellow and eventually drop prematurely, leading to potential issues with spreading the infection to your other trees and shrubs in the area if not treated properly.
  5. Rust – common rust is another fungal disease that attacks not only your plants but also your lawn. It is more often found on mature plants, primarily on the leaves, but can also be found sometimes on steams, flowers and even fruit. Signs that you may have rust are yellow or white spots showing up on the upper leaves of a plant and/or reddish to orange pustules-like swellings on the underside of the leaves. This disease is easily spread through the spores via wind, rain or any contact to the infected leaves that can release the infected spores into the air and travel to surrounding plants.

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Hiring a Certified Arborist

Trees on your property not only enhance the environment but also add increased value to your property. It is important that these valuable assets are properly maintained and cared for, which can lead to substantial returns in the long run.

An arborist is a person trained in the art and science of planting, caring and maintaining trees and are knowledgeable in what makes a healthy tree and how to sustain that health. Arborists are also trained to diagnose issues with trees, such as diseases, insect infestations, root health and how to properly treat these issues in their care for the overall health of the trees.

A certified arborist is a person that has achieved a level of knowledge through years of experience along with passing a comprehensive exam developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. Certified arborists must also continue their education in order to maintain their certification, allowing them to be up to date on the latest treatments in tree care.

Proper care and maintenance of the trees on your property is vital, as without the needed maintenance, trees showing a lack of care and health can lead to serious liabilities to you as the homeowner. Pruning, or even removal of a dying tree can be costly as well as unsightly.

At Safari Tree, we have on staff several Certified arborists that have years of experience in managing and maintaining tree healthcare. For more information on how Safari Tree can help you protect these valued assets on your property, visit us at

New Safari Tree Trucks

Hitting the road in 2015


Fresh off the line, check out the brand new Safari Tree Trucks! At Lush Lawn we are super excited for all the new equipment that our friends over at Safari Tree are getting for their debut season.

Look at this awesome truck. Safari Tree’s field manager Erik Hutson was responsible for the design of the truck, putting together a wonderfully efficient setup that will help all of the Safari Tree technicians do outstanding service for their customers.

Remember Lush Lawn customers, don’t be alarmed when you see these sweet orange trucks roll up to your house. It’s the same great tree service you’ve been used to, but better than ever!

It’s nice to finally see some grass! See you soon 🙂

– Collin

Our newest Arborist – Kevin Martindale!


Congratulations Safari Tree’s newest Arborist,

Kevin Martindale!!Kevin Martindale successfully completed his arbor certification test and is now a certified arborist! He  has been with Lush Lawn for 7 years and has been a great addition to the team holding a variety of positions within the company. In recent years he has dedicated himself to the tree service side of our business and has done an excellent job! With Lush Lawn’s tree division now taking on its very own name and identity (Safari Tree), Kevin can apply his hard work and certified arbor knowledge to making Safari Tree the best tree service company out there! We’re all very proud of you Kevin, great work!

Brand New Certified Arborist

Erik Is Now a Certified Arborist

We are so happy to share with you some great news: our very own tree technician Erik Hutson, is now a certified arborist. We already knew about Erik’s love and knowledge on trees, and this certification makes it official! Lush Lawn now has two awesome certified arborists on its staff – Erik and Travis – who are willing and able to handle the needs of your trees.

Certified arborist

Congratulations Erik, we are very proud of you!