Ask the Expert text
How to Care for Trees and Shrubs
Illustration of William Kuntz
Illustration: Joel Kimmel

" "Hundreds of trees dotting Bucknell’s campus are silent witnesses as generations of students come and go. But even these gentle giants are under someone’s careful eye. Arborist William Kuntz has tended Bucknell’s glorious canopy since 2003. Every tree, from the skinniest sapling to the majestic white oaks over the Grove, gets attention right on schedule. And if you ask Kuntz, this familiarity is the key to healthy trees and shrubs.

Question 1: How do you maintain trees and shrubs?
Educate yourself so you know what you’re looking at and what you’re looking for. Walk around your yard and assess trees and shrubs so when there’s a change, you’ll know something isn’t right. Recognizing the problem is the first thing.
Question 2: Which pests pose the greatest threat?
On campus, we’ve been fighting the emerald ash borer that has destroyed most of the ash trees in the East. We’ve also had a lot of hemlock losses, and we lost a lot of elms to Dutch elm disease. As the environment changes, we get new pests and diseases, and the trees can suffer.
Question 3: Which should we guard against?
The Spotted Lanternfly is the next battle. It isn’t on campus yet, so there isn’t much we can do now. But if you do see one, it should be removed, and the local extension agency should be notified so they know these pests are in your area.
Question 4: What's the best beginner's tree?
There are so many variables, I couldn’t choose one. My best advice is to plant the proper tree in the proper location. Do a little research and buy a healthy plant — not necessarily a cheap plant, but a healthy one.
Question 5: How can I create a trendy yard?
We’re finding we created a lot of our own problems by introducing invasive species years ago. They adapt and overtake an area, and then our native plants can’t grow. So the trend now is going back to planting what’s natural to the area. So plant some nice specimens, but also a lot of native species.