As the story goes, Jim Mauget got the idea of injecting trees with chemicals to improve their health while being hooked up to an IV following surgery. But it took 15 years before Mauget, a chemical supplier, partnered with Dale Dodds, an engineer, to develop and launch the first commercial tree trunk injection system. In 1970, just six years later, Mauget died of a massive heart attack, leaving Dodds and, eventually, his family members to build the J.J. Mauget Company and solidify trunk injection as a recognized and valuable tree health care service.

Today, trunk injections, involving making tiny holes into the vascular systems of trees, are an accepted practice in the tree services industry. They effectively protect and improve tree health, and save thousands of at-risk trees annually. Tree care companies embrace them and an increasing number of turf care and landscape management companies are now, also, adding them to their service portfolios.

While the prime trunk injection season ends for most of the United States in the late fall, there’s no better time than early winter for those of you in landscape and lawn care industries to investigate the service. It is definitely a service that can benefit and protect your clients’ valuable (and perhaps irreplaceable) trees.

Fortunately, you can access the resources of three well-established and reputable companies supplying systems and products to the industry. The following companies offer insecticides, antibiotics, fertilizers, fungicides and combination products for trees.The companies and their websites that offer a wealth of valuable information are:

That tree injection treatments work is now well researched and well established within the tree care industry. Arborjet reports that during 2012, trunk injection treatments (using its systems) saved the United States economy more than $714 million — $612 in tree removal/replacement costs and $102 million in stormwater runoff property value. The company reported treatments on 850,000 trees in 2012 alone. These were trees being threatened by insect pests, diseases or trees suffering from malnutrition, the company claimed.

“As an environmentally responsible treatment, trunk injections cost significantly less than removing and replacing mature trees, and help preserve the environmental, economic and aesthetic benefits trees bring to us all,” said Russ Davis, president and COO of Arborjet.

In recent years trunk injections have become the main treatment weapon against wood-boring insects. The arrival of the hitchhiking emerald ash borer (EAB) to southeastern Michigan in 2002 and its rapid spread is wreaking havoc on urban forests throughout the U.S. Midwest. The EAB has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees and continues to spread across the eastern United States and Canada. Research is showing that trunk injections into healthy ash trees can protect them against the EAB. Furthermore, considering the cost of removing trees, even trunk injections every two or three years are proving to be cost-effective, claims Arborjet.

But, EAB is just one of many tree insect pests that can be controlled by trunk injections of insecticides. Tree diseases using fungicides are often controlled in the same way. Insecticides, fungicides and tree nutritional products can be injected into trees’ vascular systems. When they are injected within 12 inches of the ground, they quickly move to where they can do the most good. No product is placed in the air or in the soil during treatments.

Does the effectiveness of and the relative ease of administering trunk injections mean that just about anybody can or should be providing the service? Of course not. For one thing, the use of chemical tree care products requires training and a proper applicator’s license. For another, even done with care, trunk injections wound trees. Trunk injection methods include drilling or poking holes of some size in tree trunks or, when possible, their root flare tissue. (For the record, ArborSystems claims that its Wedgle Direct-Inject tree injection unit is “the only no-drill tree trunk injection method” that is easy, fast, proven effective and tree-friendly.)

And what should be obvious: it takes training and an experienced eye to recognize the specific stressors that are affecting trees. Stressors can include environmental conditions, nutrient deficiencies, insects and/or diseases. Solving customers’ tree care issues starts with proper diagnosis and then determining and administering the most appropriate and cost-effective treatment to solve these issues.

The lawn care or landscape company owner considering adding tree care services to their service portfolios can gain a lot of valuable information on the websites of the three trunk injection companies most active in the industry — Aborjet, ArborSystems and J.J. Mauget. Given the value of healthy trees to your clients’ landscapes, you should consider adding tree care services to your company.