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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.

What About Trees Around Swimming Pools?

Homeowners often have good reasons for needing to remove a tree from their yards. Sometimes a tree is sickly or diseased, so removing it can save others from the same fate. Or perhaps the tree poses a risk of falling, and hurting people or damaging your home. Occasionally a tree has just become unsightly for one reason or another.

But what about trees around swimming pools? If you’re considering a pool installation, you might wonder if you can plant anything around it. Alternately, you might be considering whether you need to remove trees, either to make room for the pool or to reduce headaches revolving around cleanup.

The main issue to consider is whether a large tree, such as an oak, will eventually grow such an extensive root system that your pool will be damaged. That absolutely can happen with many varieties of larger trees, and you should be careful of planting these varieties near your pool area.

On the other hand, there are other types of trees that make acceptable landscaping near your swimming pool, such as…

Windmill palms. This tropical, hardy evergreen will grow quickly. That can be good news if you’re looking for landscaping options to complement your pool area. It also won’t drop a lot of debris, so you won’t have serious cleanup issues.

Acacias. These evergreens look lovely around a pool, and their roots aren’t drawn to water. So, you won’t have to worry too much about them growing toward your pool as long as you don’t plant the tree too close. Acacias also provide terrific shade, and don’t shed too much.

Spruce or cypress. Because these evergreens grow quickly and provide thick shade, they make a great privacy canopy for your backyard retreat. They also do a great job of blocking noise from neighbors or the road.

These are just some suggestions, but the general idea is that yes, you can plant trees or keep existing ones if you want to install a pool. Just be mindful of their root structures, and how far those tend to grow from the base of the tree, if you want to avoid problems with your pool’s structure. If you do need to remove trees before beginning your project, give us a call and we’ll help you decide which ones need to go.

Tree Trimming Could Save Your Home From Fires

The combination of dry air, high temps, and wind brings “fire season” to California. We all dread it, but it’s a fact of life. Luckily, taking action right now can help to prevent fires from reaching your home. Here’s what you need to know.

What are the greatest risk factors? 

A fire can happen anywhere, but some trees are more susceptible. Scan your yard for the following:

  • Trees with excessive leaf loss or entire branches without leaves
  • Dry, brittle limbs that might be breaking off
  • Frail bark that is dropping from the tree
  • Rot or fungal growth, which weakens trees

These are signs of a dying tree, which poses a greater fire risk than healthier ones. It needs to be removed immediately.

Proper spacing is important, too. 

While dead or dying trees pose the greatest risk, any tree can be susceptible to spreading wildfire. And when they’re packed too closely together, or are growing too close to your home, the risk multiplies. Look for:

  • Proper horizontal spacing; branches from different trees should be at least 10 feet apart from one another, and 10 feet from your home or other structures
  • On a moderate slope, increase that distance to 20 feet
  • On a steep slope, tree limbs should be spaced about 30 feet apart

If limbs are growing closely together, we need to trim them back to reduce the risk of fire quickly spreading. Underbrush and bushes should be thinned, too.

Create defensible space. 

A buffer zone around your home, cleared of thick vegetation, can prevent a fire from overcoming your home. Remove dead or dry vegetation from around the structure, trim back tree branches at least 10 feet from your home, and clear space between bushes, trees, and flammable items. Keep your grass cut to a maximum of four inches, and trim back overgrown tree branches.

The idea is that fires require kindling, and you definitely don’t want an abundance of kindling in your yard or around your home.

Call us, and we’ll make an appointment to come assess your property. If we see areas where tree trimming can prevent spreading wildfires, we can get that job done for you.

Why You Should Never Remove Stumps Yourself

Do-it-yourself (DIY) culture is popular, especially on YouTube, and many DIY projects are completely safe to attempt on your own. Some are even fun! And of course, you can save money by completing necessary chores yourself.

Unfortunately, stump removal is not something most amateurs should attempt. Attempting to DIY your stump issues could be dangerous, for the following reasons…

Roots can extend much farther than you think. When you attempt to remove a stump, you’re going to disturb the roots (and anything they’re attached to). This can translate into damage to underground electrical wires, gas lines, plumbing, a septic tank, and other plants in the yard. Disturbing some of these things can be dangerous, not to mention the expense of repairing them.

The machinery can be tricky. Unless you have experience operating the heavy machinery necessary for stump removal, you could end up in danger without even realizing it. Aside from the danger of operating the equipment itself, the resulting flying debris can hit you or the people around you.

And don’t even think about tying a rope to a pickup truck, and attempting this “old fashioned” method of DIY stump removal! In the best case scenario it just won’t work, but in the worst case scenario you can experience damage to your truck or injury. The rope will be under an incredible amount of tension, and if it breaks, watch out!

It’s probably a lot more work than it looks like. Aside from danger, you might regret a DIY stump removal for another reason. That extensive root system can cause a lot of damage to your yard when it’s pulled up. Many homeowners have gotten halfway through this task and then regretted it, due to the amount of trouble it becomes. You could also end up with an enormous, unsightly hole in your yard, which then becomes an eyesore as you attempt to fill and manage it.

Since DIY stump removal can be dangerous, and an awful lot of trouble, save yourself the time and potential liability. Give us a call about professional stump grinding, and we can help you solve your problem the safe and convenient way.


10 Signs That You Need to Trim Your Tree

Tree trimming can improve the curb appeal of your home, but it’s not all about aesthetics. Properly pruning trees at the right time can keep them healthy, extend their lives, and prevent property damage from falling limbs (or the entire tree). If you notice any of these signs in your trees, they are due for a trim.

Cracking. If you notice more than one crack in a tree, particularly if it’s deep, you need to consult an expert right away. This can be a sign of a weakened tree, that might present a fall hazard, and rot can set into the cracked areas quickly.

Crisscrossing branches. When branches grow too closely together, the bark can be damaged and the interior of the branch can be exposed. This can lead to decay if nothing is done.

Sections of dead wood. This might indicate that the tree is dying, and becoming a hazard.

Broken branches. Branches can break for a variety of reasons, but these injuries can lead to further weakening of the tree if it is not pruned appropriately.

Dense greenery. When the branches are so overgrown that it becomes difficult to see through the tree, it desperately needs a pruning. Not only is the tree prone to damage at this point; a good trimming can improve air flow and keep your tree healthy.

Tree canker. If you notice a spot where bark is missing, or where the tree appears sunken, you’re probably looking at a canker. Left untreated, this will lead to decay that can kill the tree.

Branches where they shouldn’t be. Branches that are touching electrical lines obviously need to be trimmed back, so that they don’t fall and create a serious hazard or power outage. Those that are touching your house should be trimmed back, too, to prevent damage to your home’s roof, siding, and windows.

A dead leader branch. The main branches of your tree (extending from the trunk) will compete with one another. If one dies, it should be removed to maintain the tree’s health.

The tree is misshapen. Sometimes trees just grow in an unappealing or abnormal shape. Trimming them can add aesthetic appeal to your yard.

The tree is overgrown. When trees grow too far horizontally, gravity will eventually take its toll. To avoid breaking, falling branches and potential damages, trim back any trees that have grown too far outward.

If you have any questions about these signs a tree needs to be trimmed, just give us a call. We can take a look at your trees and help you decide whether a trim is in order, to protect your safety and the curb appeal of your home.


Signs of Drought Stress in Trees

We tend to experience droughts in our area, every few years or so. Luckily we aren’t confronting that situation at the moment, but we’ve just seen the end of a long drought which could return at any time. So it’s always good to know the signs of drought stress in trees, and to learn what you can do about it. This is one of the most common problems in trees, but also one of the most preventable.

If you observe the following symptoms in a tree, drought stress might be to blame:

  • Wilting of the leaves, which usually starts at the top of the tree
  • Leaves turn yellow when they aren’t supposed to (chlorosis)
  • The canopy begins to thin
  • Leaves turn brown starting at the outside, moving inward (marginal necrosis)

Many homeowners believe that since they’ve installed a state-of-the-art irrigation system in their yard, their trees couldn’t possibly experience drought stress. But actually, this isn’t always true. While regular watering is likely to help to some degree, trees in irrigated yards can still experience drought stress, and here’s why:

The system is optimized for grass maintenance. Less than twenty minutes of water release each day might be sufficient for some lawns. However, watering for this length of time is likely to saturate only about the top inch of soil. That’s not long enough to water deep to a tree’s roots.

The system might not even cover your tree. Depending upon the design of your irrigation system, there might not be a discharge head close enough to each tree.

The system can malfunction. Even if it has worked well in the past, sudden signs of drought stress in a tree could be a warning that your irrigation system needs repair. It might be as simple as a clog or disconnected line somewhere.

You’re over-watering. Oddly enough, the signs of over-watering can actually mimic drought stress. If you’re running the irrigation system more than usual lately, and you begin to notice signs of drought stress, you might actually need to reduce your system’s watering time.

Okay, so that last tip might seem a bit confusing. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going on with your tree(s), give us a call. We can take a look, assess damages, and help you decide how to proceed. Hopefully, together we can save your tree.

Signs of Iron Deficiency in Trees

Sometimes, unfortunate circumstances such as disease or damage make tree removal an inevitability. But in many cases homeowners want to save their trees by watching for signs of something going wrong, and treating the problem promptly. Iron deficiency, or chlorosis, is one condition that can be reversed if you spot the signs early enough.

What causes iron deficiency? Iron deficiency is common when soils are alkaline (pH above 7), which is common in the western half of the country. Even when the soil contains plenty of iron, the alkalinity can make the nutrient insoluble and therefore unavailable for the tree’s use. When soils are compacted due to foot traffic or poor drainage, the resulting low oxygen conditions can make the problem even worse.

Which species of tree are prone to iron deficiency? Iron deficiency can strike many types of trees, but we see it most commonly in:

  • Silver maples
  • Red maples and hybrids
  • Pin oaks
  • River birch

Iron deficiency is less common, but can still occur, in:

  • Cottonwood
  • Bald cypress
  • Sweet gum
  • Eastern white pine
  • Swamp white oak

How do you spot iron deficiency? If you spot the following signs in your trees, iron deficiency would be a prime suspect:

  • Leaves turn light green or yellow in early summer
  • Leaves feature dark green veins
  • Leaves turn brown on the edges
  • Leaves fall off after turning brown (before expected in the fall)
  • Limbs begin to die

What happens to trees when they become iron deficient? In short, it kills them. Trees need chlorophyll in order to produce energy and survive. Iron deficiency disrupts this process, and can eventually kill the tree. In the meantime, a sick and malnourished tree is also prone to other types of disease and pests.

What can you do about iron deficiency in trees? Consulting a tree expert is key, to determine the exact methods that will work for your situation. In general, iron deficiency can be combated with the following strategies:

  • Watering during dry spells (but not over-watering, which is also problematic)
  • Mulching two inches deep or less, while avoiding “mulch volcanoes”
  • Amending the soil (but no, simply adding iron often won’t work, because the alkalinity is the real problem)
  • Avoiding fertilization with nitrogen or phosphate

And of course, give us a call if you suspect your tree is suffering from iron deficiency. In its weakened state, it poses a fall hazard. Even if the deficiency can be reversed, we should remove dead limbs to reduce the risk of damage to property and improve the appearance of the tree.


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