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What is Stump Grinding and How Does It Work?

After you’ve removed a tree, you now face the choice of what to do about the stump. You can leave it, pull it up, or grind it. For many homeowners, stump grinding seems to be the middle-ground approach; you get that unsightly stump out of your yard, but without the larger expense of removing the root ball.

So how does it work?

The stump grinding machine removes all of the stump, and the tops of some of the roots. Over time, the rest of the roots break down and decompose underground. So, stump grinding will help you achieve the look of a smooth, uninterrupted lawn, but without the work of pulling up all of the roots.

Stump grinding can take from 15 minutes to several hours, and it all depends on the individual tree. Some trees are more dense than others, and are harder to grind down. The size of the stump matters, too. Larger stumps require more work, even up to a full work day, whereas smaller stumps are often quick jobs.

Either way, the equipment is the same, and we do have to haul it out to your property and set it up. So if you have more than one stump in your yard, we should discuss getting them all done at the same time.

Stump grinding reduces the stump to dust and wood chips, which we can haul away so that you don’t have to deal with a mess.

Overall, stump grinding is usually preferable to removing the root ball, because it leaves your lawn undisturbed. But occasionally, you might experience new shoots coming up from the old roots. In that case you want to deal with those right away.

For more information on stump grinding, give us a call to discuss your project. We can give you an estimate on the work, so that you know what to expect.

Which Trees Are Best for Shade?

Whew! Now that summer is over, we’re enjoying some cooler and more pleasant weather. But you might already be thinking about next year’s warm season. If your yard and outdoor seating areas felt uncomfortably hot this year, perhaps you’ve considered planting some shade trees in the near future. The following options provide the relief you need from fast-growing trees that will fill out and begin to cool things off quickly.

Gingko. Gingkos can grow up to 80 feet tall and 40 feet wide, so they can definitely provide plenty of shade. But the great thing about gingkos is that they pull double duty. Aside from providing relief from the blazing sun, gingkos add unique beauty to your landscape. The leaves turn a brilliant yellow in the fall. But do look for male trees only; female trees produce a messy, smelly fruit that will add hours to your lawn upkeep.

Oaks. At up to 80 feet tall and wide, oak trees are the classic shade tree. Their leaves also turn lovely shades of gold in the fall. Since over 60 varieties of oak are available, be careful to choose one that works best for our climate here in Southern California. And remember that due to their large canopies and heavy branches, you don’t want to plant an oak tree too close to your home. That tiny sapling will become a giant someday!

Maples. Maples are another tree that pull double duty, as both an efficient shade tree and a lovely ornamental addition to your lawn. Some, such as the Japanese maple, turn bright red in the fall. Others even produce flowers. Choose a variety of maple that will grow well in our climate, and keep placement in mind. Your maple won’t branch out quite as extensively as an oak, but some species can still reach up to 70 feet tall.

And of course, remember to maintain your new tree appropriately to prevent broken limbs and disease. Give us a call to discuss proper tree trimming techniques, and we’ll help you to maintain your new shade tree.

Do You Need a Permit to Remove a Tree?

Removing a tree from your property can seem like a simple task. It’s sick, dead, dangerous, in the way of your view, unsightly, or something else that doesn’t suit your preferences as a homeowner. You want it gone. So, you assume that you can just chop it down and haul away the debris, right?

Well, in some cases it works that way. Sometimes homeowners are able to take care of small trees on their own (although we still recommend that you seek an expert’s input for safety reasons). And in many cases a larger tree can be taken down by a professional, with relatively little fuss. But in some circumstances, there is one important step to address first: You, or your professional tree service, might need permission to cut down that tree.

The most important rule to remember is that trees within a certain distance of power lines must be assessed by the power company. For both safety and legal reasons, always double check for the presence of power lines in the vicinity of any tree that you wish to remove. When in doubt, give us a call and we can determine whether this complication exists in your case. The power company must be notified of trees that have fallen, or are at risk of falling, onto one of their lines.

Otherwise, certain local restrictions might impact your ability to remove a tree. Some cities require a permit or restrict your ability to remove certain “heritage trees” or protected species of oaks. Some cities require a permit for removal of trees over a certain size, and still other municipalities might require a permit for any tree work! When it doubt, it is always best to call your city’s permitting office and inquire about this issue before performing any tree cutting. Otherwise you could risk a fine.

Of course, the most straightforward way to address this issue is to simply call in the experts. We can give you an estimate on safely removing your problem tree, and inform you as to any local restrictions on tree removal.


6 Reasons to Remove Dying Trees ASAP

You’ve noticed a tree in your yard is dying or dead, and it’s a little bit sad… But you aren’t sure if you should remove it, or it can be left alone for a while. The answer is that no, unfortunately you should not leave a dead or dying tree in place. It can be a bit inconvenient to address this problem, but it’s much better than handling some of the potential consequences of leaving it alone.

You should remove a dead or dying tree for the following six reasons…

Dead branches can fall. At any moment, dried-out dead branches can snap off and fall. They can land on cars, your roof, or even people, making them incredibly dangerous to both property and lives.

The entire tree could fall. Dead trees dry out and become brittle, and can easily topple in even moderate wind. Sometimes they come down at unexpected moments, and it can be difficult to predict where they will fall. This means danger to both your home and anyone nearby.

Power lines could be damaged. If a dead tree falls onto a power line, this creates a major hazard. Plus, the power company must come out to remove the tree. You won’t be able to safely handle this yourself.

Insurance might not cover damages. Some homeowners insurance policies might exclude coverage of damage from fallen trees. Check your policy to be sure.

Pests become a problem. Termites and other pests love to take up residence in dead trees. From there, they might spread to other trees or even your home.

They’re just plain unattractive. And of course, a dead tree really detracts from your otherwise lovely landscape. Your property value could suffer, too.

If you have a dead or dying tree in your yard, give us a call. We’ll perform an estimate for you, and help you to decide whether the tree needs to come down soon.

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.



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