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Common Tree Diseases in Rhode Island and How to Prevent Them

June 12, 2023

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Have you recently peered out into your yard and noticed that your red maple doesn’t seem as vibrant as it has been in years past? Perhaps you see powdery growths on the leaves of the tree. Or maybe there are twigs from the tree piling up on one side of the tree. It could even be possible that this deciduous tree isn’t turning colors in the fall as it should. Your tree probably remains sickly looking all year long, and it has you wondering if the tree is still alive. Before you pick up the phone and call a tree company to remove your tree, you may want to have them check to see if it is suffering from a disease. This article explores common tree diseases in Rhode Island and how to treat them. 

common tree diseases in rhode island

Common Tree Diseases in Rhode Island

Trees are a beautiful and helpful part of Rhode Island, and they are also a valuable and aesthetically pleasing part of your yard. Unfortunately, tree disease can make your trees susceptible to collapse. As the disease destroys the root, trunk, and vascular parts of a tree, it leaves it structurally weak, making it more likely to fall during a storm or strong wind. Here are some of the most common tree diseases in Rhode Island. 


This disease typically attacks maples, dogwood, and oaks. It causes visible fungus on the leaves and causes an excess amount of leaves to fall off the branches in late spring. 

Dutch Elm Disease

As the name implies, this disease attacks Dutch elms. It is typically spread by a fungus left behind by bark beetles. 

Phytophthora Root Rot

A disease that attacks the root of trees, this disease is commonly found in beech trees. The disease shows up as cankers on the trunk of the tree. 

Powdery Mildew

This disease usually shows up on the leaves of trees as a fungus that looks like flour. It typically attacks dogwood. 

tree with signs of disease and fungus

Prevention and Treatment

One of the best ways to prevent tree disease is to ensure that trees are getting enough sunlight where they are planted. One of the most common diseases is fungal ones that usually form in the root due to excessive water and shade. Make sure that the areas where your trees are located are aerated and have access to sunlight. Pruning and trimming can help eliminate unnecessary branches and allow trees to get the sunlight they need.

Another way to prevent tree disease is to eliminate excess water on your property. If there are problems with drainage due to grading, you should hire a landscaper to channel water properly off your property when it rains. Additionally, if your gutters are spouting water into your yard near your trees, it may be a good idea to get extenders to redirect the flow of water. 

If your tree is infected, it is a good idea to treat it for the disease it is suffering from. In some cases, a fungicide may be all that’s necessary to treat your tree. It is critical that when treating a tree for disease, you purchase the right treatment, or you could run the risk of causing further damage to the tree. 

a tree removal contractor in RI

Importance of Hiring Tree Care Professionals

When it comes to tree care, it is best to leave this task to a professional arborist. Felling trees or even removing branches can be quite dangerous. Even with the right equipment and protective gear, amateurs can sustain injuries. Besides injuries, improper tree pruning or cutting could also leave the tree structurally unsound, which could result in collapse. 

Unfortunately, trees that collapse onto a home or personal property from unprofessional care may not be protected by insurance. So it is critical that you hire tree care professionals to care for or remove parts or all of your trees. Here are some other tips to keep in mind when hiring tree professionals. 

  • Try to hire professionals with a good reputation. See what types of ratings exist for them on reputable online sites. 
  • Get referrals from friends, family, colleagues, or neighbors. 
  • Choose companies that have several years of experience. 
  • Obtain several written quotes and ask questions about price differences.
  • Don’t always go for the lowest price. Consider the value of the tree care experience.
  • Ask about licensing and insurance. You may be liable for the negligence of tree care professionals if they aren’t properly insured. 

When it comes to hiring a professional, you have full control. Try to ask as many questions as possible to ensure that you are hiring a company that will do a great job and protect your property. 

General FAQs About Tree Diseases

What are the common causes of tree diseases? 

One common cause of tree disease is when fungus near the tree invades the roots of a tree. This type of disease is commonly known as verticillium wilt. If left unchecked, root diseases starve a tree of water or other important nutrients and cause it to die. Unfortunately, such root diseases are so bad that if you plant another tree in the area, it will infect that tree. 

The disease can also be made worse when insects invade the tree since they can spread the disease deeper into the tree. 

Are there some trees that are more susceptible to disease than others?

Yes. Trees such as ash and poplars are very susceptible to disease and pest infestations. Trees that are the most disease resistant include the elm, kousa dogwood, and river birch. 

Can diseased trees be saved? 

Yes. But it depends on the species and the extent of the damage. Tree companies can treat infected trees with tree disease treatments to help eliminate disease and pest infestations. However, if the structural damage to the tree puts it at risk for collapse, a tree professional may recommend removal. 

Maintaining healthy trees on your property is critical. Not only does it protect your home and your valuables from damage, it can also protect you from injury or even death. Although trees are relatively independent, having a tree care specialist inspect them regularly will ensure the longevity of your trees and help protect you from the damage that fallen trees and branches can do. 

Are you ready to get started with a tree care regimen in Rhode Island? The tree experts at Rhode Island Tree Removal can help. Call (401) 496-9496 today to schedule an inspection and get a FREE estimate on any of our world-class tree services. 

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