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A Surprising Way to Keep Your Trees Healthy

Trees are important not just to the ecosystem, but also to us personally. A healthy, attractive tree adds beauty and value to your home, so naturally you want to take care of them.

You might know that watering a tree regularly and trimming it when necessary can help it become established in your lawn. But there’s another important consideration that might surprise you: Have you aerated your soil lately?

Properly aerated soil is actually extremely important not just to your lawn, but also to any trees growing in your yard. Over time, soil can become impacted, which can leave it unhealthy and lacking proper nutrients that plants need to grow. Plus, impacted soil can prevent water from reaching deep into the ground where it can be absorbed by roots. When you water compacted soil, you essentially just splash water onto hardened earth. Not much water actually ends up where it needs to go. And when heavy rain falls on compacted ground, it actually washes away even more nutrients instead of carrying them to the roots of plants that need them.

Over time, trees growing in compacted soil can lack the water and nutrients they need to stay healthy. But luckily, this problem is simple to fix. Two methods of soil aeration are available: Plug aeration and spike aeration. With plug aeration, small plugs of compacted soil are removed to allow oxygen to penetrate into the ground. Spike aeration is what it sounds like; spikes essentially poke holes to create small channels that allow air and moisture into the earth.

Aeration seems like a fairly simple process, but we do suggest that you consult a professional lawn care company about getting the job done correctly. In the meantime, please contact us if you have any further questions about the health of your trees. We can help you assess any problems and recommend any tree trimming or other improvements that should be performed.

5 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Now that spring has arrived, along with those tax refund and stimulus checks, you might be debating a few home improvement projects. Whether you want to sell your home in the near future, or simply enjoy it more yourself, these five projects can boost your curb appeal. Consider them if your main goal is to achieve a prettier front yard and exterior.

Remove or reshape trees. An older, overgrown tree blocks light and makes your front yard look cluttered. And if the tree is in poor health, it quickly becomes an eyesore. Thinning the branches will improve the health of the tree, or you might consider removal for a tree that is too far gone and truly unsightly.

Prune and shape hedges or shrubs. Your landscaping should serve as an accent for your home, not overpower it. Messy and unkempt shrubbery will block windows and detract from your home’s curb appeal. Trim them to the appropriate size, and consider shaping them so that the overall landscape looks more uniformly designed.

Add a walkway. A walkway invites visitors to your front door, and makes for a nice focal point in the yard. You can go as simple or as complicated as you want, choosing from options such as individual stones or pavers, or a professionally designed, designer pebble or brick pathway.

Add a pop of color. A small garden around your mailbox adds cheerful color, and helps your home to stand out.

Spruce up the front porch. Your home’s entryway is one of the first things visitors will notice. Repaint the porch, replace the front door, add a few potted plants, and refresh the patio furniture to make your porch more inviting.

If overgrown shrubs or unhealthy trees are your primary concern, give us a call. We can consult with you and help decide whether tree removal or a simple trim can make your whole front yard look healthier and more attractive.

How to Straighten a Tree

We expect trees to grow in tall and straight, but sometimes things don’t work out the way we pictured them. Weather, sunlight, poor transplantation, and other factors can interfere with how a tree decides to grow, and sometimes you might discover that a sapling is leaning a bit (or a lot) sideways.

A sideways tree is probably not what you wanted for your landscape, and it might interfere by excessively shading other plants in the yard. In some cases the tree can grow toward your house or other structures, and cause problems in the future. Therefore, the time to correct this situation is now. Luckily, we have ways of doing that.

Cabling and bracing. Many arborists argue against cabling or bracing trees, stating that they grow best when left unencumbered. But that’s not always realistic when a tree poses a problem to your landscape or threatens to grow into your house. Cabling or bracing the tree can train it to grow in the correct direction.

If you opt for cabling or bracing the tree, consult with an expert first. This method works best on thinner-stemmed trees, or those with small root balls that have been recently transplanted.

Cabling or bracing a tree should be used for one growing season only, until the its natural root system becomes more established. These systems can damage the bark on the tree, especially when used in excess or for long periods of time, and some trees can become distressed beyond repair when cabling or bracing is used inappropriately.

Uprooting and replanting a tree. In some cases it might be necessary to uproot and replant a tree that is growing sideways. However, several rules must be followed in order to prevent death of the tree. At least one third of the roots must remain planted, and exposed roots must be left alone. Don’t attempt to uproot a tree and replant a tree on your own; consult an expert to ensure that the job can be performed safely and for the best benefit of both the tree and the overall landscape.

In some cases, a tree simply cannot be straightened, especially if the situation has developed over a long period of time. In that case, call us for an estimate on tree removal, and we can offer you an estimate on our services.

Removing Trees Before Installing a Pool

With summer on the way, you might be dreaming of a backyard pool installation. Of course, that could mean that you need to change up the landscape of your yard significantly, either due to absolute necessity or personal preference.

As you plan for your pool installation, check on local building codes. Obviously some trees may need to be removed to make way for the pool itself. But fencing is another common consideration. Most municipalities require fencing and a locking gate around all swimming pools, and some might impose limits upon the proximity of trees to the fence. As you can see, these projects can get a bit complicated.

Beyond necessity and building codes, you might feel tempted to reduce trees in order to control the amount of leaf litter in your future pool. That isn’t a terrible idea, considering the time and cost involved in constantly keeping a pool clean of debris.

On the other hand, you might wish to retain some trees in order to provide a bit of shade. You’d be surprised at the difference tree removal makes to a yard! Taking out just a few can make the area feel scorching hot in the summer. For that reason, you could keep a few trees in your backyard, but trim them regularly to reduce the amount of leaves and debris that they drop into the pool.

If you do need to remove trees in order to install your swimming pool, remember that the stumps and root balls must be excavated as well. In this case a higher stump will be left so that the excavator can more easily remove everything. If you’re simply removing trees in order to make room for a fence, stump grinding can be appropriate in those situations.

Whether you’re considering tree removal or just some trimming to reduce leaf debris, give us a call. We can offer you estimate on this work and make a professional recommendation.

8 Signs Your Tree is Healthy

We talk a lot about recognizing the signs that a tree is unhealthy, needs help, or should be removed for the sake of safety. So let’s switch gears and talk about the signs of a healthy tree. What should you look for, when assessing your trees, and how can you be assured that your trees are doing well?

The trunk is sound. A tree’s trunk should be free of obvious damage, with no loose or peeling bark. You should not spot fungus growing here, either.

Branches are healthy and unbroken. If you notice branches that are obviously dead, this could be a sign of a systemic issue. Broken branches could pose a danger and might attract pests that will later infect the entire tree.

One central leader.  As young trees grow, they should be pruned to have one central leading branch. This creates stability and prevents splitting in the future. Of course, there are some species in which more than one leader is the norm, so consult your tree professional about pruning before committing to the job.

Evidence of growth. Scars on branches can show you where last year’s buds were located, which you can then compare to current buds. While different species grow at different rates, some evidence of growth should be apparent each year.

Full foliage. Your tree should not show bare patches (except, of course, when leaves begin to fall from deciduous trees during autumn). Bare spots can indicate a number of problems, such as pests, disease, lack of water and nutrients, improper pruning, or even pesticide damage.

No evidence of wilting. When leaves and stems lose their rigidity and begin to droop, this can indicate disease, too much or too little sunlight, drought, or even over-watering.

Leaves are the correct color, shape, and size. Take note what the leaves are supposed to look like, and compare with your own tree. Significant variation in leaf appearance (from what is expected) can indicate something is wrong.

Your tree flowers and fruits as expected. Some young fruit trees might not produce for the first few years. Other than that, a tree that does not flower or produce fruit as expected is probably suffering a nutrient imbalance, pests, or something else.

If your trees check out, that means you’re doing a great job taking care of them. But if you do suspect something is wrong, call an expert right away. In many cases a few adjustments can help your tree to regain its health, and prevent a loss.

 

Tree Trimming: Which Branches Need to Be Removed?

As with any other part of owning property, maintaining your trees is simply part of protecting the beauty and value of your home. But because your trees change gradually over time, it can be difficult for the average homeowner to spot what needs to be done with regard to tree trimming. At what point do your tree’s branches need to be trimmed? Which ones, and why?

Of course, for those of us in the tree trimming business, answering these questions has become second nature. With a quick glance at a tree, we can often spot the problems, which usually fall into one of three categories: Branches are overgrown and crowded, they’re broken and unappealing or dangerous, or the tree has become diseased. Sometimes more than one factor is present.

Overgrown and crowded branches need to be thinned, to allow more light to penetrate into the crown of the tree. Thinning these branches can also improve air circulation and keep your tree more healthy. Sometimes, overgrown branches can become too long and brittle, and pose a risk of breaking (and possibly falling). And if those branches are touching your home or overhanging it, they become a risk to the structure as well.

If branches have already broken, the tree might look uneven and unsightly. Those that are halfway broken and dangling will fall at some point, and could pose a danger. And if one side of the tree is badly damaged, the whole thing might be off-balance and more likely to fall at some point.

Finally, a tree that is beginning to show signs of disease will often respond to some regenerative pruning. Tree trimming can remove diseased branches so that a disease does not spread throughout the whole tree, or to nearby trees. Allowing more air to circulate will also improve the health of the tree. If we take this step early enough, we can often save the tree.

If you haven’t had your trees assessed recently, now is the time to do so. Give us a call, and we’ll help you decide if your trees’ health could be improved, or your property protected, by a simple trim of the branches.

What to Do About Broken Branches

Broken tree branches are a normal occurrence, due to wind, disease, overgrowth, snow and ice, or other natural events. But when a major limb breaks off and falls, you might soon face some decisions regarding tree trimming or removal.

First, start the cleanup. Look up. Are there more broken pieces of the branch, dangling and ready to fall? Are any branches touching power lines? In the event of a dangerous situation, call in the experts immediately. Otherwise, you can begin the cleanup process. If you’re not extremely comfortable using a chainsaw, and don’t have the right protective equipment, consider using hand tools or calling a professional to cut up large limbs.

Check out the “wound”. Did the branch break off cleanly from the trunk, or are pieces left hanging? Is the trunk damaged? Ripped bark can be repaired by using a knife to smooth the wound’s edges. Doing this can help to prevent further decay from setting in.

Note: If climbing will be necessary to perform this chore, use all necessary safety precautions or call a tree trimming company for help.

Address severe damages. If the trunk split deeply where the branch detached, the entire tree could be weakened. Another common situation is that trees become unbalanced, with heavy limbs all on one side. If the tree has become a danger of falling, especially onto your house, the whole thing might need to be removed. Don’t attempt this task yourself, especially if the tree is a large one. A damaged tree can be particularly difficult to remove, and poses a danger if you don’t possess the right equipment and expertise.

Address aesthetics. If the tree can be saved, you might still find its new shape unappealing. Call us to discuss tree trimming services, and we can help you re-shape the tree.

 

What to Do With That Ugly Old Stump

For most situations, a tree removal is an inevitable part of home ownership. Trees get sick and die, and must be removed when they become a danger. Problem is, they leave an unsightly stump in your yard when the job is done. If you’re wondering what to do with that ugly old stump, here are a few common courses of action. Some are more advisable than others.

Leave it there. Some homeowners simply leave the stump in their yard, and let nature take its course. This isn’t the best plan for a few good reasons. Eventually the stump will begin to rot, and attract pests and encourage the spread of certain tree diseases. You could be placing other trees at risk, or even your home if the rotting wood attracts a termite swarm.

Dig it up. Believe it or not, some stumps can be dug or pulled out of the ground. This is only the case when a young tree has died or been removed, because they haven’t yet established an extensive root system. However, for species with fast-spreading roots, or older trees, digging out the stump can be impossible – or at least wreck your yard if you try.

Burn it. Some people choose to burn old stumps, but this method can be risky for obvious reasons. Fires can quickly get out of control and put your home at risk, especially during dry weather. And in some municipalities you could violate the law.

Grind it down. Stump grinding is the best course of actions for more mature trees with extensive root systems. However, we want to caution you that stump grinding can be dangerous work, and it’s not something you want to attempt alone or without the right training.

If you have an unsightly stump in your yard, give us a call to discuss your options. In most cases stump grinding is the way to go, and we will leave your yard looking like the stump was never there!

4 Tree Trimming Mistakes to Avoid

The DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality is admirable, but can sometimes backfire. While most lawn and garden chores can be successfully completed by the average homeowner, we wanted to caution you about potential tree trimming mistakes. Trees require a bit more finesse than many other home maintenance chores, because the results of a mistake can range from unsightly to expensive and even to dangerous. Most tree trimming mistakes fall into these following categories, which we definitely recommend that you avoid.

Using the wrong tools. If you don’t have just the right tools for the job, results can turn out unattractive or even unhealthy for the tree. Rough or jagged cuts, from dull blades, can do more damage than good. Even something as simple as failing to properly clean tools between jobs can spread diseases from one tree to another.

Topping your tree. Simply put, topping a tree is something that an amateur should never attempt. Not only are climbing jobs inherently dangerous; topping can result in unexpected results. Often this technique will stimulate secondary growth with a weaker structure, and the result is an unattractive tree that poses a risk of splitting and falling in the future.

Improper technique. Tree trimming involves more precision than simply removing cluttered branches. Without the right technique, you tree can end up with an odd shape, unsightly scars, or water sprouts.

Unsafe practices. Without the right equipment and training, homeowners who attempt DIY tree trimming can experience unexpected falls and other mishaps. Damage to cars and buildings is the least of your worries; amateurs are sometimes injured and killed by falling limbs. And whatever you do, never attempt a complete tree removal on your own. Trees often do not fall the way bystanders believed they will.

We certainly don’t want to discourage a can-do attitude. But unless you’re dealing with the smallest of trees under the safest of circumstances, the best thing you can do is pick up the phone and call us. We will assess your tree trimming job and help you determine the safest and wisest way to proceed.

3 Reasons to Trim Your Tree in the Cool Season

When you think of doing work in the yard, you usually don’t picture yourself doing it in late fall or winter. But actually, that’s just the right time for certain tasks.

You might already know that trimming trees regularly can promote healthier growth, keep them looking nicer, and reduce the risk of breakage or falls (and damage to your home). But you might not have realized that late fall or winter is the best time to perform this type of maintenance, for three main reasons…

Lower risk of damage from pests. Trimming trees leaves them with a “wound”. And while these wounds do heal, they can be vulnerable to certain problems in the meantime. If you trim trees in the hot summer months when more pests are present, you’re practically inviting them to infect your trees. That’s why we usually recommend tree trimming in the cooler months, when certain pests are dead or dormant. If they’re not lurking around, they’re less likely to infect vulnerable spots on trees and cause a problem.

It’s easier to trim them now. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall, so as we head into winter they’re looking “naked”. This helps us to spot which areas need to be removed or trimmed back, and you can get a good look at the tree’s structure. When leaves grow back in the spring, you’ll enjoy a nicely shaped, symmetrical tree with plenty of air flow to allow for optimal health.

Trimming trees now will accelerate growth in the spring. Trim your trees during their dormant season, so that they aren’t stressed by trying to both grow and heal at the same time. Your trees will enjoy a nice rush of growth when spring arrives, after their wounds have healed slowly over winter.

It’s easy to see why late fall or winter are the best times to trim trees. But if you have any other questions about the process, or what is right for your particular situation, give us a call. We’ll take a look and then advise you on how to proceed with trimming your trees.

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