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Stop! Don’t Trim That Cracked Tree!

Let’s say you’ve walked out into your yard, discovered a tree with a large crack, and realized it poses a danger of falling the wrong way or you simply find it unsightly. You decide to remove it or trim off the damaged part yourself… What could go wrong? Well, actually, plenty could go wrong! Cracked trees can be incredibly dangerous, and we don’t recommend that you attempt to remedy the situation yourself.

Cracks can result from disease over time, or one-time damage from a storm or some other event. You might discover cracks in the trunk of the tree, or simply on a limb or two.

Once cracked, the trees poses a major risk of falling. Even just a limb can do damage to anything underneath it, or injure a person who happens to be nearby. And no, the fall might not happen only during a rainstorm. Cracks indicate a weakened tree, and it could fall at any time – even on a completely calm, sunny day.

Aside from falling, cracked trees pose another significant danger. Anyone who attempts to trim these trees will face a large, heavy object that is essentially wound up like a spring. Because of the weight of the tree and the internal damage, the tree is already under significant tension. Often it can be difficult to gauge how much tension! And once you begin cutting into that tree, whether the crack is located within the trunk or limbs, you could suddenly release that tension… And the tree or limbs could be flung in any direction.

That’s why it’s best to contact a certified tree trimming company to deal with these situations. We have the training to assess your damaged tree, determine the type and extent of damage, and predict its likely path if that tension is released. We can trim the tree safely, and protect you and your property from the potential injury of damage that can result from handling these dangerous jobs yourself.

Are My Trees Getting Enough Water?

We’ve been experiencing some pretty dry conditions lately, and many of you might be wondering whether your trees are getting enough water. The answer can depend upon a few different factors, but here’s what you need to know.

Age matters. If you’ve recently planted a young sapling within the past year or two (or three) it will need more regular watering than an older, more established tree. This is because the roots have yet to grow deeply down into the soil, and therefore cannot tap into moisture that is held deep within the ground. Older trees can access much more extensive areas, and therefore moisture, than younger trees that have yet to build up a solid root system.

The conclusion: If your tree is young, you need to water it regularly, especially during times of drought.

How does your tree look? You can simply take a look at your trees and get an idea of how they’re doing under these dry conditions. If the leaves are wilting, drying, discolored, or curling up at the edges, your tree is dehydrated. Water it deeply, observe it for a day or two, and then repeat if the appearance does not improve.

Check the soil. Dig down about seven inches at the base of your tree, and check the soil. If it’s loose and crumbly, the soil is probably too dry. If it easily rolls into a damp ball, things are probably going okay. But soil that is sopping wet and muddy can be too wet over time. That’s not a problem you’re likely to experience right now!

If you do determine that your trees need water, run the sprinklers for 20 minutes or so. Remember that mulching underneath trees can help the soil retain moisture, and protect them from extreme heat and drought.

If you have any other questions about tree care, give us a call. We can help you decide when trees need trimming or other maintenance.

Trimming Your Own Trees? Follow These 5 Safety Tips

For a variety of reasons, tree trimming is sometimes necessary. Whether you’re cleaning up cluttered limbs to allow more air flow, or removing damaged limbs that are at risk of falling, take these steps to do the job safely.

Never work close to power lines. If the tree or any of its limbs are at risk of falling onto a power line, don’t even get started. Call a professional for assistance. If a damaged limb is at imminent risk of falling onto a power line, call the electric company now.

Use the right safety equipment. Even if you think it’s just a simple job, protect your head from the possibility of blows from falling limbs. Use appropriate eye and ear protection, and protect your hands with gloves. If you’re using power equipment, make sure you’ve been properly trained for using these items. One mistake can be costly. And, never climb onto rickety ladders and attempt to use any power equipment or sharp objects overhead. The risk of falling is just too great.

Survey the risks. Tree trimming can involve a lot of unplanned variables, but taking your time to identify possible risks can help. If the tree is split anywhere, don’t attempt to trim it yourself. Split parts of trees are often under pressure, like a spring, and can pop back in unexpected directions as you cut. Also, try to predict where your cuttings will fall. Will they take down other limbs on their way down, or damage nearby property? Sometimes limbs don’t fall in exactly they direction you would expect.

Assess the tree for disease. Diseased trees are often weakened, and trimming them can result in unexpected consequences.

Clearly mark your job area. Everyone in the vicinity should understand that work is going on overhead, and steer clear.

Call a pro. Many tree trimming jobs are just too risky for the average homeowner to attempt alone. Call in the professionals, and we’ll get the job done quickly and safely.

What Are the Different Types of Tree Trimming?

Trimming trees is what we do, but homeowners need the job done for a variety of reasons. In most cases, the job falls into one of the following five categories:

Damage. Trees that show damage, either from storms or a disease that was left untreated, can sometimes be less than attractive. Broken limbs alter the symmetry of the tree, and can also pose a risk of falling. Injuries or damaged property can be the result. Often, tree trimming is performed for safety and aesthetic reasons due to prior damage.

Disease. A diseased tree, when caught early in the progression of the disease, can often be saved. Sometimes this might mean removing diseased parts of the tree, before the disease spreads to the rest of it (and even to other nearby trees).

Overcrowding/overgrowth. Sometimes a tree simply grows too many limbs and they become tangled and crowded. In this case oxygen might be restricted, leading to ill health. Even if the tree remains healthy, the overcrowded limbs are less than attractive. Many homeowners want to trim out some of the excess growth, so that their tree is both healthier and more attractive. We can also achieve a more pleasing shape this way.

Structural abnormality. Sometimes that overcrowding or overgrowth can contribute to an unstable tree overall. If too much growth occurs at the top or to one side, your tree could be at risk of falling (especially during high winds).

Proximity. A tree’s limbs can simply grow too long, and begin to encroach upon your house or other structures. If this is the case, tree trimming will restore a more pleasing shape and prevent damages to your property.

If you have a tree that seems unsightly, sickly, or unsafe in any way, give us a call. We can evaluate the tree and determine which type of tree trimming services are warranted in your situation.

Should You Grind that Stump or Have It Removed?

If you’ve had to remove a tree, you now have one decision left to make. What are you going to do with the leftover stump?

Yes, some people choose to just leave the stump there. But tree stumps can be eyesores in the yard. You might also wish to do something else with that space, and you might get sick of tripping over the old stump. And maybe you simply get tired of maneuvering your lawnmower around it. There are plenty of good reasons to get rid of an old tree stump, and not many reasons to keep one.

So now you face a choice. Should you opt for a stump grinding service? Or should you have the stump pulled out and removed entirely?

Stump grinding involves the use of a powerful machine that grinds the stump down to be level with the ground around it. The roots are left in place, and while they should decay over time, the process can take years. In the meantime you might experience new shoots coming up, or the presence of excess fungus (mushrooms) in the area.

On the other hand, there are plenty of good reasons to opt for stump grinding. It’s quick, more economical than complete stump removal, and you’re left with a “clean slate” to use as you please. Stump grinding won’t disturb the yard around the stump, and you can even use the leftover wood chips as mulch.

Stump removal, sometimes called “stump pulling” is a much more invasive and messy process. The entire stump and quite a bit of the tree’s roots will be yanked out of the ground with great force, leaving a significant hole in your yard. It’s much more costly, but it does completely eliminate the old stump and roots so that you don’t have to worry about regrowth and fungal issues.

Ultimately the choice comes down to your individual preferences. If you’re researching your tree removal, stump grinding, and stump removal options, give us a call. We can offer you an expert opinion on all of your options, so that you can choose the one that works best for your situation.

Taking Care of Your Tree’s Roots

We focus a lot on tree trimming within our blogs, and for good reason. After all, that’s what we do! But every part of a tree must remain healthy in order for the whole tree to thrive. So this week, let’s switch gears and talk about your tree’s roots.

The roots of a tree hold it in place within the soil; strong roots mean a strong tree that is less likely to suffer damage. But of course, the primary function of a tree’s root system is to feed the tree. Roots absorb water and nutrients from the ground, and allow the tree to grow and flourish. Just as you need the proper amount of hydration and nutrients from your diet, so does a tree.

A tree’s roots remain shallow in most cases, at only 6 to 12 inches underground. But they spread far from the base of the tree, usually beyond the canopy. However, when we talk about caring for your tree’s roots, we’re mostly talking about the area around the base of the tree, extending outward a few feet.

So, how do you keep your tree’s roots healthy?

Mulch around the base of the tree. Apply a layer of mulch, several inches thick, around the base of the tree every spring. This will help to retain moisture in the soil and provide valuable nutrients.

Water your tree regularly. This is especially important in areas that receive lower amounts of rainfall, and for young trees that have yet to establish an extensive root system.

Allow oxygen to the roots. This advice might seem to run counter to the above tip. But too much water or compacted soil and mulch can be a bad thing. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, so that oxygen can penetrate to the roots of your tree. Overwatering is just as harmful and underwatering.

Try not to cut a tree’s roots. At times you will need to dig in your yard to perform landscaping tasks. But cutting into a tree’s root system can leave it vulnerable to disease and pests. If too many roots are damaged, the tree can become stressed, stop growing, or even die.

We hope these tips help you to keep your tree’s root system healthy. But even healthy trees need regular tree trimming in order to continue thriving. Give us a call if your tree begins to look overgrown, shaggy, misshapen, or unhealthy, and we’ll help you decide what to do next.


Why Isn’t My Tree Blooming?

Each spring, you look forward to a burst of color from flowering trees around your neighborhood. So now that summer has arrived, you might be wondering why one of your trees didn’t bloom, or why the blooms were sparse and lackluster this year. You waited, and waited, and waited… And now you’re realizing that something went wrong. Why didn’t your tree bloom?

There are a number of reasons that this can happen, but here are some of the more common ones:

  1. It’s an alternate bearing tree. Some fruit trees bloom heavily and then produce massive quantities of fruit, but then take a break the following year. If this is the case, you should see an abundance of blooms next year (assuming nothing else is wrong).
  2. The tree simply isn’t old enough. Did you plant it within the past few years and it just hasn’t bloomed yet? Maturity is likely to be the culprit here. If we can rule out other problems, you probably just need to wait another year or two.
  3. The tree didn’t receive sufficient water. This is especially true of younger trees that haven’t developed extensive root systems yet. You might need to adjust your watering schedule.
  4. Your soil is deficient in certain nutrients. Have you fertilized your trees appropriately?
  5. Your tree doesn’t receive enough sunlight. Is it shaded out by another, larger tree? Tree trimming can allow more light into your yard, so that it can reach smaller trees, your garden beds, and so on.
  6. You pruned the tree at the wrong time. Did you prune your flowering tree in late winter or early spring? If you removed branches that contain the buds that will become flowers, then it’s easy to see why you didn’t get any blooms. Contact us about correct tree trimming techniques and timing, so that we can help you avoid this problem next year.

After checking out that list, can you identify the problem with your flowering trees? If not, give us a call. We’ll be happy to take a look and recommend the right tree trimming services to suit your needs.

Helpful Palm Tree Terminology

From time to time, your palm trees will need trimming. But because palm tree terminology can be a bit different from other trees, we want you to understand what we’re talking about when we come out to assess your trees! Check this guide to learn all the terms commonly used for palm trees.

Fronds: These are the leaves that grow from the crown of the plant. There are different styles of fronds, such as pinnate, bipinnate, and palmate. Depending upon the type of palm tree, they can range from green to brownish-green, and vary in thickness.

Petiole: This is the stem of the palm frond, between the leaf sheath and the leaflets.

Leaflet: Fronds are separated into leaflets attached to a stem. Leaflets are often V-shaped, and can be upright or inverted.

Sheaths: These are the structures closest to the tree’s trunk, which holds the leaf to the trunk.

Spathe: This is a large, woody bract that covers the flowering part of the palm tree.

Fruit bunch: Every three years, an oil palm trees bear fresh fruit bunches. These are harvested to make palm oil.

Bulb, or pup: Like many varieties of flowers, palm trees have bulbs (also called pups). The bulbs form a cluster around the base of the palm tree and and stems grow from each bulb. These are commonly associated with the short, shrub-like Sago palms.

If you learn these palm tree terms, we can better communicate when you call us regarding any problems. And if your palm trees do need any work, we can much better explain our process to you.

On that note, give us a call if you notice anything unusual about your palm trees. We will assess their health and offer a quote on our services if trimming or other procedures are necessary.



The Dangers of Hiring an Unlicensed Tree Trimmer

Everyone likes to get a good deal, especially these days. But because your home is your biggest investment, and because some types of maintenance work can actually be dangerous, we wanted to caution you about hiring unlicensed tree trimming individuals to perform this work on your property.

Often these handymen perform a variety of services, and appear to offer lower prices on them. But that’s because they’ve avoided getting licensed by the state… And that might mean they haven’t been properly educated and trained. Unfortunately, that “lower” price could end up being much higher in the end, due to the cost of fixing mistakes or replacing damaged trees.

And, in the absolute worst case scenarios, a limb or entire tree could come down on your house, garage, car, or some other important structure. Someone could get injured, too. Aside from the obvious distress of that situation, you could be looking at a costly claim on your homeowners insurance. In many cases, homeowners insurance policies won’t even cover injuries and damages that occur when you’ve hired an unlicensed contractor, which can leave you vulnerable to a personal lawsuit.

And yes, those scenarios do happen more often than you might think!

So, when does a tree trimming worker need to be licensed? In the state of California, trimming any tree taller than 15 feet will require a license. Contractors are also required to cover their crews with workers compensation insurance, and provide appropriate safety gear and tools.

Homeowners should always obtain a written bid and contract before allowing any tree trimming company to perform work on their property. And, you should check with the state Contractor’s License Board to verify that a particular company is indeed licensed and insured to do the work safely and within requirements of the law.

Give us a call if you have questions about tree trimming work on your property. We are fully licensed and insured, and will be happy to answer any questions that you might have regarding the process.


Caring for Your Palm Tree

Palm trees seem like an obvious choice for landscaping here in southern California. But any tree, even one that commonly does well in your area, needs the right care in order to truly thrive. If you’ve planted a palm tree in your yard or are considering one, here’s what you need to know.

Choosing the right type palm tree. Most people don’t realize that there are a number of different varieties of palm trees, and they don’t all have the same needs. If you’ve “inherited” a palm tree that was already planted in your yard, we hope that the previous owner chose it carefully. Otherwise, pay close attention to each variety’s need for sunlight, shade, temperature, and so on, and choose one that suits your yard.

Provide the right type of soil. Some varieties of palm can do well in either acidic or alkaline soil. Others are more finicky. If your soil isn’t just right for the variety that you choose, you can always amend it. And whatever you do, provide good drainage. All varieties of this tree need well draining soil.

Provide the right moisture. Again, different varieties of palm have different needs with regard to watering. Find out what type of palm you have, and water it according to its needs. Some need deep but occasional watering, while others need water just about every day. If choosing a palm for a low-water landscape, go for a desert variety but be prepared to water it deeply about once per week. If you decide upon a grouping of different palm trees, just make sure they have similar water needs.

Brace your palm tree. Bracing works better for young palm trees than staking. You will need to brace the tree for about a year or so, until it has developed strong enough roots that it can withstand wind.

Fertilize your palm tree. If you’ve just planted a new palm tree, wait a few weeks before applying fertilizer. Established palm trees need fertilizer that contains two parts nitrogen, one part phosphorus, one part magnesium, and three parts potassium, four times per year.

Prune your palm tree. When old fronds turn completely brown, remove them from the tree. Cut as close to the trunk as possible with a sharp pruning tool, and clean your tool with rubbing alcohol in between trees to reduce the spread of diseases.

If your palm tree has grown tall, you will either need a pole saw or climbing gear to trim dead fronds. Or, you can hire a professional tree trimming service. Give us a call, and we’ll help you keep your palm trees healthy and beautiful.


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