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3 Ways to Invest in Your Home During Tax Season

When that tax refund check arrives in the spring, you want to use it wisely. If you’re hoping to improve your home’s value or curb appeal, check out these three simple ways to put your tax refund to work.

A new mailbox or front door. One simple update can spruce up the curb appeal of your home, with little investment of time or money. If your mailbox or front door is aging, a replacement can be a wise use of a windfall.

Refresh shrubbery or install a flower bed. Overgrown, unwieldy shrubbery should be trimmed back in the winter or early spring to tidy up your front lawn. A professional can help you with this task, so that you don’t trim too much and damage your shrubs.

Or, a new flower bed around your mailbox, along a sidewalk, or near the front door can add instant appeal without too much upheaval.

Tree trimming. Trimming your trees is one of the easiest ways to spruce up the look of your yard, by getting rid of dead or dying limbs and clearing out overgrowth. Allowing for more air flow between branches will keep your trees healthier while cleaning up the aesthetic of your home’s exterior. Plus, removing unhealthy, brittle parts of trees can prevent the danger and financial expense of storm damage. The last thing you need is falling limbs that damage your home or car, and cost time and money to clean up.

But you always want to address this task in winter or early spring. If you trim trees during their most active growth period (summer) the tree will become stressed and could be damaged.

Give us a call to schedule an estimate soon, and let’s get to work on your tree trimming project during the optimal time of year for both your trees’ health and your budget!

4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Tree Trimming Service

If you’re hiring a tree trimming service, this is no time to skimp on quality or experience. These professionals will be working close to your home, with heavy machinery and other dangerous equipment, so you definitely want to assess their skill and knowledge level. Investigate these four questions as you consider your options.

How much experience do they have? Not only should you consider years of experience, but what kind? Where did your contact get his training and certifications? Does this professional specialize in a particular area of tree care? Can they adequately perform all types of tree service, or do they specialize in just one or two areas?

Check their reputation. The internet has provided us with some of the best word-of-mouth tools ever available. Check Google and Yelp reviews, and scroll websites of any tree trimming service you’re considering. Many will include reviews from satisfied customers. You can also call the Better Business Bureau to check records there.

What type of cleanup is included? One tree trimming service might provide a removal or trimming for what seems like a competitive price, but then you discover cleanup is not included. Other services are more comprehensive, and will leave your yard looking as though nothing ever happened. Choose a company based on the level of service you require, because tree cleanup is not easy!

Is the tree trimming service insured and certified? Ask whether the service is company is certified to perform the necessary services. The most up-to-date training will help to ensure that the job is done safely. But of course, if an accident does occur, you will also want your service provider to carry liability insurance. Ask about that upfront, too.

If you’re looking for a tree trimming service, we will be happy to answer any questions upfront so that you can feel confident and secure about your choice. Just give us a call and we’ll address your concerns and help you decide what type of trimming or removal is right for your situation.

4 Things to Consider When Planting a Tree

Most of our blogs focus on tree trimming or removal, but we can also offer some advice on planting a tree. If you pay attention to these four factors when choosing a new tree to plant, you can set yourself up for easier maintenance or a lower likelihood of needing to remove the tree later. Plus, these tips will simply help you choose a tree that best suits your needs and aesthetic preferences.

What is the purpose of your new tree? Trees serve different purposes, so this is the first question you should ask. Do you hope to shade your home and yard? Are you looking for a purely decorative tree to add curb appeal to the property? If so, do you want something that flowers in the spring, or displays vibrant leaves in the fall? Would you prefer a tree that produces organic fruit, right in your own backyard? These questions can help you narrow your focus.

Can you commit to maintenance, or would you prefer something more “hands off”? All trees can require some work, but some are more demanding than others. A deciduous tree that drops leaves in the fall will also create quite a bit of yard work. An evergreen is more low-maintenance on a regular basis, although overgrowth, breakage, and disease can happen to almost any tree sometimes.

Consider the climate. In a drier climate, do you want to commit yourself to watering your young tree regularly? Or would you prefer a variety that is more drought tolerant from the start?

How much room do you have? You don’t want to over-plant your yard, and end up with a giant whose roots disrupt sidewalks, driveways, or patios. You also want to avoid planting anything too close to the house, if limbs are likely to reach the structure or hang over the roof. Pay attention, also, to the location of power lines.

If you carefully consider these questions when planting a tree, you might be able to avoid the need for maintenance for many years. But if you do need help with tree trimming, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

 

4 Reasons to Consider Professional Stump Removal

Even though we hate to see them go, sometimes a tree must be cut down. This can leave an unsightly stump, and now you’re not sure what to do with it. Or perhaps you’ve purchased a property with an otherwise beautiful yard, but a few stumps are in the way. Whatever the reason, professional stump removal can be the answer to your problems, for a few different reasons…

Prevent regrowth. Many tree species will simply regrow at the sight of the old stump. If you were hoping to use that space for something else, or you want to prevent the same problem from recurring, you will need to have the stump removed quickly. Some species will begin regrowing within a matter of months.

Ward off pests. An old, rotting stump can make the perfect home for problem insects who are looking for a new place to live. In particular, old stumps can invite termites, and you don’t want those getting comfortable in your yard.

Free up space. By removing existing stumps, you can free up room for tag football, a homemade volleyball court, a swingset, or a swimming pool. Really, the possibilities are endless. And of course, giving yourself a blank canvas means you can install new landscaping features or a garden if you prefer.

They’re just plain unsightly. Most people simply don’t find old stumps to be very attractive. Professional stump removal can make your lawn more beautiful, boost your home’s curb appeal, and potentially make it more appealing to buyers when you’re ready to sell.

Stump removal isn’t nearly as invasive as you might think. But because the equipment required to remove stumps can be difficult and dangerous to operate, we definitely recommend that you consider hiring a professional to do the job. Give us a call about your project, and we can offer more information  on our process along with an estimate for the job.

The One Time You Should Never Trim a Tree

We frequently discuss all of the situations in which tree trimming is not only desirable, but necessary. But there are also times that you should not attempt to cut branches or alter a tree in anyway. And here is the most important instance of all: Don’t trim trees that are growing near power lines!

Sure, you mean well. The tree is overgrown, and perhaps it needs a trim for either health or aesthetic reasons. More importantly, you’re worried about falling limbs taking out a power line on its way down. So you’re right to assume that trimming the tree now can prevent a power outage and dangerous situation later, like during a storm.

But here’s the problem: When you trim that tree, things won’t always go as planned. And you could very well cause the situation that you’re hoping to prevent! Not only could you drop a limb on that power line; someone could get hurt. And your utility company might not be too pleased about the situation, either. In some places, it’s actually illegal to trim trees near power lines.

In the event that a falling limb triggers a power outage, you might not be the only one affected. Your entire street could lose power, or perhaps even the neighborhood. Not only is this an inconvenience for everyone; occasionally, those who depend upon electricity to power medical devices could be endangered by an outage. And of course, there is always the danger of fire. Your home, as well as others, could be affected.

You should contact your utility company if you’re concerned about an imminent threat to a power line, such as a loose and dangling limb that is about to fall. Otherwise, this is a maintenance issue that can be addressed in coming days.

If you have an overgrown tree near a power line, don’t attempt tree trimming yourself. Give us a call, and we’ll come out to give you a professional estimate of the services needed.

 

December is Tree Trimming Season

Now that the weather has cooled down and trees are entering their dormant period, it’s time to perform any necessary tree trimming. At this time you can trim trees with the least risk of causing them harm, but you should still follow some basic protocol to protect your trees’ health.

Consider the size of branches you want to remove. Anything less than five centimeters in diameter can usually be safely removed. Those between five and ten centimeters should be carefully considered, and only removed when necessary. If a branch is over ten centimeters in diameter, you need a really good reason to justify removing it. Removing branches this large can significantly weaken the tree, and of course larger, heavier branches might not always fall the way you hope. This is a job for professionals.

Prune branches when they are young, if possible. They will be much easier to manage, and the risk of scarring is lower.

Trim branches with weak, narrow, and/or V-shaped angles. Keep branches with strong, U-shaped angles.

Keep live branches on at least two-thirds of a tree’s height. You don’t want to remove too many branches near the bottom of the tree. This can cause it to become top heavy and weak.

Trim at the appropriate length. Don’t cut into the branch collar, which can damage the tree, and avoid leaving a large stub.

Wear appropriate safety gear. As you perform tree trimming work, wear all appropriate safety gear for the job. A hard hat is a must, because branches don’t always fall the way you expect.

Leave crown reduction and climbing work to the pros. Crown reduction can be a tricky business. If you remove too much, you will seriously weaken the tree and could cause a falling hazard. And of course, any activities that involve climbing and chainsaws or sharp objects should definitely be left up to professionals!

If you need help with your tree trimming, or a consultation to determine which of your trees need work, give us a call. We can provide an estimate on services and help you get the job done professionally and safely.

What To Do if a Tree Damages Your Home

If you’ve maintained your trees, monitored them for diseases and weakness, and trimmed them when necessary, it’s unlikely that a large limb (or a whole tree) will fall onto your home. But because it can happen to anyone, keep this checklist handy just in case. If a tree does damage your home, you’ll know how to proceed.

Get out of the house. Avoiding the area of the home where the tree fell, exit your home calmly and stay out until professionals have assessed the situation. In some cases the structure will be weakened, and the tree could continue falling through. Staying out of the home will prevent injuries.

If electric lines are involved, call 911. Downed power lines are a major fire and electrocution hazard, so you need to notify the appropriate authorities right away.

Then, call your electric company. The electric company will send someone out to turn off power to your home, and repair the lines.

Turn off your gas service and call the gas company. You can skip this step if only a limb fell. But if an entire tree was uprooted, it could have damaged a gas line.

Take photos. Take photos of the damaged areas, but only enter the home after it has been declared safe to do so. For photos of the roof, ask your roofing professional to take care of that step. There is no need to endanger yourself by attempting to climb onto the roof to document the damage. You don’t want to proceed with tree removal until you’re certain that all necessary evidence has been collected.

Call your homeowner’s insurance company. They can tell you  how to proceed with filing a claim. Follow their instructions precisely, to prevent unnecessary delays.

Call a professional tree removal service. We can help you get the tree off of your home, and dispose of it safely. After this step is completed, you might need to consult with a building contractor if your home has sustained structural damage.

What About Trees Around Swimming Pools?

Homeowners often have good reasons for needing to remove a tree from their yards. Sometimes a tree is sickly or diseased, so removing it can save others from the same fate. Or perhaps the tree poses a risk of falling, and hurting people or damaging your home. Occasionally a tree has just become unsightly for one reason or another.

But what about trees around swimming pools? If you’re considering a pool installation, you might wonder if you can plant anything around it. Alternately, you might be considering whether you need to remove trees, either to make room for the pool or to reduce headaches revolving around cleanup.

The main issue to consider is whether a large tree, such as an oak, will eventually grow such an extensive root system that your pool will be damaged. That absolutely can happen with many varieties of larger trees, and you should be careful of planting these varieties near your pool area.

On the other hand, there are other types of trees that make acceptable landscaping near your swimming pool, such as…

Windmill palms. This tropical, hardy evergreen will grow quickly. That can be good news if you’re looking for landscaping options to complement your pool area. It also won’t drop a lot of debris, so you won’t have serious cleanup issues.

Acacias. These evergreens look lovely around a pool, and their roots aren’t drawn to water. So, you won’t have to worry too much about them growing toward your pool as long as you don’t plant the tree too close. Acacias also provide terrific shade, and don’t shed too much.

Spruce or cypress. Because these evergreens grow quickly and provide thick shade, they make a great privacy canopy for your backyard retreat. They also do a great job of blocking noise from neighbors or the road.

These are just some suggestions, but the general idea is that yes, you can plant trees or keep existing ones if you want to install a pool. Just be mindful of their root structures, and how far those tend to grow from the base of the tree, if you want to avoid problems with your pool’s structure. If you do need to remove trees before beginning your project, give us a call and we’ll help you decide which ones need to go.

Tree Trimming Could Save Your Home From Fires

The combination of dry air, high temps, and wind brings “fire season” to California. We all dread it, but it’s a fact of life. Luckily, taking action right now can help to prevent fires from reaching your home. Here’s what you need to know.

What are the greatest risk factors? 

A fire can happen anywhere, but some trees are more susceptible. Scan your yard for the following:

  • Trees with excessive leaf loss or entire branches without leaves
  • Dry, brittle limbs that might be breaking off
  • Frail bark that is dropping from the tree
  • Rot or fungal growth, which weakens trees

These are signs of a dying tree, which poses a greater fire risk than healthier ones. It needs to be removed immediately.

Proper spacing is important, too. 

While dead or dying trees pose the greatest risk, any tree can be susceptible to spreading wildfire. And when they’re packed too closely together, or are growing too close to your home, the risk multiplies. Look for:

  • Proper horizontal spacing; branches from different trees should be at least 10 feet apart from one another, and 10 feet from your home or other structures
  • On a moderate slope, increase that distance to 20 feet
  • On a steep slope, tree limbs should be spaced about 30 feet apart

If limbs are growing closely together, we need to trim them back to reduce the risk of fire quickly spreading. Underbrush and bushes should be thinned, too.

Create defensible space. 

A buffer zone around your home, cleared of thick vegetation, can prevent a fire from overcoming your home. Remove dead or dry vegetation from around the structure, trim back tree branches at least 10 feet from your home, and clear space between bushes, trees, and flammable items. Keep your grass cut to a maximum of four inches, and trim back overgrown tree branches.

The idea is that fires require kindling, and you definitely don’t want an abundance of kindling in your yard or around your home.

Call us, and we’ll make an appointment to come assess your property. If we see areas where tree trimming can prevent spreading wildfires, we can get that job done for you.

Why You Should Never Remove Stumps Yourself

Do-it-yourself (DIY) culture is popular, especially on YouTube, and many DIY projects are completely safe to attempt on your own. Some are even fun! And of course, you can save money by completing necessary chores yourself.

Unfortunately, stump removal is not something most amateurs should attempt. Attempting to DIY your stump issues could be dangerous, for the following reasons…

Roots can extend much farther than you think. When you attempt to remove a stump, you’re going to disturb the roots (and anything they’re attached to). This can translate into damage to underground electrical wires, gas lines, plumbing, a septic tank, and other plants in the yard. Disturbing some of these things can be dangerous, not to mention the expense of repairing them.

The machinery can be tricky. Unless you have experience operating the heavy machinery necessary for stump removal, you could end up in danger without even realizing it. Aside from the danger of operating the equipment itself, the resulting flying debris can hit you or the people around you.

And don’t even think about tying a rope to a pickup truck, and attempting this “old fashioned” method of DIY stump removal! In the best case scenario it just won’t work, but in the worst case scenario you can experience damage to your truck or injury. The rope will be under an incredible amount of tension, and if it breaks, watch out!

It’s probably a lot more work than it looks like. Aside from danger, you might regret a DIY stump removal for another reason. That extensive root system can cause a lot of damage to your yard when it’s pulled up. Many homeowners have gotten halfway through this task and then regretted it, due to the amount of trouble it becomes. You could also end up with an enormous, unsightly hole in your yard, which then becomes an eyesore as you attempt to fill and manage it.

Since DIY stump removal can be dangerous, and an awful lot of trouble, save yourself the time and potential liability. Give us a call about professional stump grinding, and we can help you solve your problem the safe and convenient way.

 

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