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Palm Tree Rats Pose Health Risk for Californians

By any measurement, rats take first place as the most generally destructive and harmful mammalian pests in California urban areas. They are ideally evolved to coexist with humans in our cities, homes, and landscapes. In many California cities and urban areas, infestations are widespread as a result of easily available and ideal indoor and outdoor habitat; and numerous food sources from garbage to pet food, from birdseed to garden fruits and vegetables.

The most serious problems with rats include disease transmission to people and pets such as leptospirosis and murine typhus, parasite transmission such as fleas and mites, and damage to structures. Rats chewing on electrical wires may be the cause of a significant minority of house fires in Los Angeles and other California cities.

Garden problems caused by rats include infestation of compost bins, waste piles, or wood piles; infestation or nesting in trees, hedges, dense vegetation, and sheds or outbuildings; eating fruits and vegetables, especially citrus, avocados, soft fruits such as apples and stone fruits, nuts, tomatoes, and almost any fruits and vegetables if they are hungry enough; eating garden seeds; and gnawing damage to almost anything from materials in sheds or outbuildings to drip systems and tubing during hot, dry periods when they are in search of water.

Rats may feed on fruits and vegetables at any time of year but they often cause the most persistent problems as garden pests from summer through fall when other food sources may be less abundant. Pest rats do provide one valuable service in the California home garden: they love to eat slugs and snails.

Two species of nonnative rats are the primary pests in California urban areas and urban gardens, the Norway rat, also known as sewer rat, brown rat, or common rat (Rattus norvegicus); and the roof rat, also known as black rat or house rat (Rattus rattus).

Norway rats are the larger of the two species, up to about twice the size of roof rats, with tails that are shorter than total body length from nose to tail. They have a stockier appearance and proportionately smaller ears than roof rats. They burrow near buildings and outbuildings, under woodpiles or trash piles, in garden and landscapes, travel or live in sewers, and infest basements and lower or underground levels of structures. They reach reproductive maturity within several weeks. While ranges and habitats for the two species overlap, Norway rats tend to be the most problematic in coastal California areas and in densely populated, inner-city or downtown areas.

Roof rats are smaller and sleeker, with tails that are as long or longer than their bodies, lighter undersides than Norway rats, and have proportionately larger ears. They live indoors in attics and upper levels of structures, and outdoors in trees and dense vegetation such as tall hedges. They love palm trees with dense skirts or impenetrable layers of fronds, such as Canary Island Date Palms. They reach reproductive maturity in a few months, and tend to be more problematic than Norway rats in inland and suburban areas.

Focus on Positive Activities While You are Social Distancing

There is no doubt that we are in an uncertain and trying time. We all need to take appropriate measures to stay safe.

We’re confident, as are many others, that we will make it through the pandemic and eventually get back to life as normal.

You may be social distancing yourself now and spending most (if not all) of your time at home. This provides you with an opportunity to evaluate the condition of your home and yard and perhaps make some improvements to keep you and your family focused on positive activity!

Are there maintenance items around your home that you’ve been putting off?

  • Garage re-organization?
  • Spring cleaning that you’ve never had time to do?
  • Painting or other projects to brighten up your home?
  • Yard maintenance, tree trimming, or tree removal?
  • Since you’ll be hunkering down at home, why not take care of the nest?

We are able to provide you with a free estimate on your tree care and perform the necessary work while maintaining a safe social distance from you and your family. In fact, we routinely perform jobs without needing to interact with our clients face-to-face.

In most instances we can provide bids same day via a cell phone picture. Simply text a photo of your yard and the needed work and we can quote your job before we ever set foot in your yard!

Our new emergency text line is (951) 514-1407.

We hope to hear from you soon, feel free to call, text, or email if you need assistance or have questions.

Spruce Up Your Home’s Exterior with Tree Trimming

With interest rates dropping, dropping, and dropping some more, you might be considering a move. After all, right now is a terrific time to buy a new home! But of course, you will probably want to sell your current home before doing so.

Or, maybe you’re planning to stay put, but you want to do some spring cleaning and spruce up the yard. Either way, a good tree trimming can boost your home’s curb appeal.

Trimmed trees are healthier trees. Trees must combat weather conditions, pests, diseases and more. And over time, those things can do damage to your tree. Tree trimming on a regular basis can promote healthy growth and rid the tree of damaged or diseased areas. Pruning back overly large branches can also make the tree stronger and better able to withstand weather conditions.

Trimming also makes trees more attractive. Healthier trees are more attractive, in general, so properly caring for your trees over time will help them look their best. But tree trimming also immediately adds value to your yard, by removing unsightly damaged limbs. Pruning your trees also helps them hold a more attractive shape, and increasing air flow between branches cuts back on that unwieldy, overgrown look that trees can get over time.

Tree trimming even makes your yard safer. Damaged or unstable trees pose a falling risk, which can put your property and even lives in jeopardy. Even limbs dropping onto a roof or gutters can damage them. Sometimes insurance does not cover damages caused by trees, because their upkeep is part of expected maintenance. Even when insurance does cover damages, you will be responsible for the deductible. So, keeping your trees trimmed can prevent financial damages as well.

For more information on tree trimming and how it can improve the look of your yard, give us a call. We’ll be happy to give you an estimate on services, and help you keep your trees healthy and happy.

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.


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