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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.

Watch Out for This Pest Invading California

If you’re a property owner in California, particularly one who cares about the health of their trees, you need to pay attention to this: A particularly stubborn species of beetle has invaded, and is devastating trees throughout the state.

It’s called the shot hole borer, and it does pretty much what it’s name implies. The non-native beetle bores into trees to create galleries, where they eat and lay their eggs. Since they can bore fairly deep into a tree, this damage prevents water and nutrients from moving effectively throughout the entire plant. And in the case of the shot hole borer, a secondary fungal infection often accompanies them. If the nutrient disruption doesn’t kill the tree, this pathogenic fungus usually does.

Trees are actually harmed even more than smaller plants, because many smaller plants don’t succumb to the fungus. And because trees provide the correct breeding ground for shot hole borers, colonies of the insect can successfully reproduce in one tree and then move to the next. If you find shot hole borers in one tree within your yard, you’re probably going to start seeing a lot more of them in more of your trees. That’s why it is so important to act quickly if you see signs of this activity.

Many of our native California trees are particularly susceptible to this destructive activity, such as:

  • Englemann oaks
  • Sycamores
  • Box elders
  • Blue palo verde
  • Big-leaf maples

Other oak and maple species can also become infested with shot hole borers, along with avocado trees, acacia trees, and many others. These species are all quite common within California, so it’s easy to see how these invasive beetles are doing so much damage.

If you witness small, round holes in the trunks of your trees, it’s time to take action. Management options for shot hole borers are unclear at this time, as scientists scurry to devise a solution. For now, heavily infested trees should be removed so that the insect’s reproductive efforts don’t spread to nearby trees in your yard.

If you suspect you should remove an infested tree, give us a call for an evaluation. We can help you decide upon the best course of action to save the other trees in your yard.



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.



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