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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.

4 Ways to Spot a Dangerous Tree

Many people view trees as giant, gentle spirits that guard our forests and shade our homes. But yes, they can also be dangerous  (not intentionally, of course). Every year, people are hurt or killed by falling trees and branches, and property damages from these incidents can be expensive. Since trees usually give you some clear signs that they are unhealthy or at risk of falling, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect the trees in your yard.

Check the ground around each tree. We know that a tree is supported by its root system, but what happens if the roots are less than healthy? A tree can fall at any time, but an unhealthy foundation makes that more likely. Check the ground where it meets the trunk, and look for fungi (a sign of rotting). Cracked or raised soil around the base of the tree might also indicate a disturbance beneath the surface.

Inspect the trunk. Cracks or cavities in the trunk mean that the entire tree is at risk of splitting. If bark is falling off the trunk in spots, this could indicate that the tree is dying or is under attack by a fungus. In some cases the tree could be saved, but often these signs signal the end of a tree’s natural life. It is becoming frail and is therefore a hazard.

Assess the overall tree. Is it leaning? Are there sections of obvious damage? Can you spot dead branches that seem to be just barely hanging on?

Look up at the canopy. Do you spot dead wood or spots where the branches don’t have leaves? This can be a bad sign.

If you notice anything suspicious going on with your trees, please give us a call. We will come out and inspect them, and help you decide if a diseased or weak tree needs to go (or just needs to be trimmed). It’s always better to remove a risk, than wait and see if it falls on your house, car, or other property.

Tree Trimming Can Aid in Fire Prevention

You might guess that tree trimming can prevent falling limbs and debris, and perhaps spare your home or other structures from damage. But there’s actually another enormous benefit of tree trimming, from both safety and property protection perspectives. Pruning your trees can help to prevent fires, or at least slow their spread.

Some trees are more susceptible to fire, particularly those with:

  • low hanging branches
  • excessive amounts of debris on the ground underneath
  • dry, brittle limbs
  • overgrown branches that are crowded close together

All of those factors basically serve as kindling, helping a small fire to spread and overtake your tree(s). And if that tree is near your home, you could have an even bigger problem.

So, how can tree trimming reduce your risk of a major fire?

Vertical spacing. Branches and vegetation can create a link between the ground and treetops, so that even a small ground fire quickly spreads and overtakes a large area. When we trim trees to reduce this risk, we can remove branches that hang close to the ground, or that hang too closely over nearby shrubs.

Horizontal spacing. When trees become overgrown, their limbs might touch structures such as your house, or the limbs of other trees. Ideally, we would have at least 10 feet of clearance between individual trees’ limbs, and between tree limbs and your home (or garage, tool shed, and so on).  This distance needs to increase with a slope.

A defensible space around your home. In order to discourage the spread of fire close to your home, surround the structure with a “defensible space”. Within about 30 feet of the house, remove all dry and dead vegetation, and trim trees according to the horizontal spacing guidelines above. Within about 100 feet of the home, you should keep grass cut to a maximum of four inches, and create vertical spacing between trees and ground.

A baseline rule is this: Anything that could serve as fuel for a fire should be cleared away from your home, and you should promote sensible spacing between trees with regular tree trimming. For an evaluation of your home’s tree safety, as well as a quote on services, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to take a look.



6 Reasons to Mulch Around Trees

You’re busy, so it makes sense to skip any unnecessary chores. And considering the heat in July, you probably aren’t feeling too keen on extra yard work anyway. So, you might be wondering whether it’s really necessary to mulch around your trees, or is this simply an aesthetic step that you could skip?

Actually, there are several important reasons that mulching around your trees is a good idea.

Mulch reduces erosion and water evaporation. Retaining more water in the soil around your tree’s roots provides more hydration for the tree, and also cuts down on the frequency of necessary watering.

Mulch helps the soil to retain nutrients. By reducing water runoff and erosion, you can retain more nutrients around your tree’s base. Adding a few inches of mulch will help the soil to provide more potassium, nitrogen, and phosporus to the tree.

Mulch keeps the roots cool in the summer and warm in the winter. A more stable temperature leads to a healthier tree. Of course, summer heat is a particular concern here in California.

Mulch reduces weeds. A layer of mulch will reduce weeds by up to 85 percent. You might prefer the look of a less weedy yard, but this also means you won’t need to weedeat close to the base of your tree.

Protect the base of your tree. And on that note, you should avoid weedeating near your tree, because tree trunks can sustain damage from the equipment. Over time, weakened trunks mean a weakened, sickly tree.

Mulch can nearly double your tree’s growth rate. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that healthy, well-nourished and hydrated trees will grow faster – up to almost twice as fast! That can be a big incentive when you’re trying to get a young tree established in your yard.

As you can see, mulching your trees might be yet another household task you need to perform. But once you’ve taken care of this step, you can actually save yourself time on other chores (frequent watering, weedeating, and so on). And of course, a healthy tree is a strong and stable tree, that is less likely to sustain damage over time.




6 Critical Tree Care Tips for Summer

Your trees provide welcome shade during the hot summer months. In return, why not perform a few basic wellness checks to keep them healthy? This brief guide will introduce a few basic tree care tips, but please feel free to call us with more complicated questions.

Check the soil. Many tree health issues begin with the soil. Nutrients, acidity, and other components of your soil will go a long way toward protecting the health of your trees (or creating health problems, as the case may be). Check your soil acidity and adjust according to your tree’s needs, and remember to fertilize regularly. These steps are particularly important for young saplings.

Water your trees. During periods of dry weather, especially when it’s hot outside, your trees will appreciate a thorough watering. During periods of drought, offer your trees about one inch of water every 7 to 10 days. Since it’s better to water deeply just once, rather than offering shallow watering more frequently, this should be easy to fit into your schedule. Just be careful not to over-water if your yard drains poorly.

Mulch your trees. A mulch ring, at least two inches deep, will help to retain moisture and discourage weeds.

Check for pests. You might notice the pests themselves, clinging to leaves and branches, or simply their signs of damage (chewed leaves in most cases). Japanese beetles and bagworm are especially problematic in the summer. If you notice a proliferation of any pest, call a tree expert immediately to prevent further damage.

Read all herbicide labels. Some herbicides that kill weeds can also damage trees. Read labels carefully and use chemicals correctly in your yard.

Address damages right away. If a storm, pest infestation, or some other event damages your trees, address the problem right away. Removing dead or dying limbs can rejuvenate the tree and prevent damage to roofs, cars, and structures in the yard. Call us for professional tree trimming services, and we can help to improve the health of your trees while protecting your property.



What Are Your Trees Trying to Tell You?

When something is wrong, you can communicate your symptoms quickly and efficiently by talking to your doctor. But trees obviously don’t possess the gift of spoken language, so they communicate in other ways. If you’ve noticed any of these changes in your trees’ leaves, they might be attempting to tell you something. Pay attention, and you can preserve their health.

Leaves are turning sooner than expected. We all look forward to the brilliant colors of fall, but if deciduous tree leaves begin to turn yellow, gold, or brown throughout the summer this could be a sign of stress or disease. The culprit could be simple dryness, in which case watering your tree should preserve its lush green leaves. But if your trees are getting enough water and the leaves are still taking on an unexpected hue, this could be a sign of insect infestation or disease. Call a tree expert to diagnose the situation before the damage is permanent, or spreads to more trees in your yard.

The leaves aren’t changing. Sometimes the opposite problem happens, and autumn arrives without the long-anticipated explosion of color. In California this is often due to a long summer, and is not a sign of a serious problem. Your trees just don’t realize that it’s fall yet. But continue watering your trees if the summer has been a hot and dry one.

Leaves are falling in late summer. Yes, we expect certain trees to lose their leaves in the fall. But if those leaves begin to drop sooner than October or November, it doesn’t mean that autumn is arriving sooner. In many cases this happens because your trees are suffering from a long, dry summer (usually those that prefer a cooler, more Northern climate). If you begin to notice these signs of stress in late summer or early fall, watering the tree will help to keep it healthy.

Much of the time, the problems communicated by a tree’s leaves are simple and easy to remedy. But if you suspect a tree is dying, it could become a hazard quite quickly. Give us a call to discuss whether tree trimming services can help with your situation, or if you might need to remove the tree entirely to keep your home and family safe.

4 Tips on Choosing a Tree Trimming Service

Your yard, and everything in it, provides important aesthetic and monetary value to your home. It’s no wonder most homeowners pay considerable attention to their landscapes, and want them to look their best. Beyond that more obvious fact, your trees in particular can also become a safety hazard or a risk to your home’s structure. Naturally, you want to carefully screen any tree service before hiring them, both to protect your investment and to quite literally protect yourself!

But how exactly do you choose a professional tree trimming service? Because the work requires not only knowledge of trees, but also a certain level of skill and expertise, we urge you to carefully select your service before beginning any trimming or removal work.

Ask about insurance. Occasionally, tree trimming and removal work can become dangerous, especially when trees don’t fall exactly as planned. While experience almost always prevents these situations from happening, you definitely want to hire a tree service that carries the appropriate insurance just in case something does go awry.

Ask about credentials. Anyone with a chainsaw can knock on your door and offer to remove a tree for you. Yikes! While the deal might sound good with regard to upfront pricing, the cost of damage to your home or other trees can quickly grow to thousands of dollars. Ask your potential tree trimming service about credentials their employees possess, which indicate appropriate knowledge and training.

Check reviews. Check the tree company’s website, look them up on Yelp, or call the Better Business Bureau and inquire about them. A reputable company will be able to provide references from happy customers.

Ask for a written estimate. Verbal agreements can be difficult to enforce, and might change unexpectedly. Ask for an itemized written estimate of all tree trimming services to be performed, including clean-up work, so that there are no surprises. A professional tree trimming company won’t have any problem with providing this.

If you have questions on the above topics, or anything else regarding your trees’ health and upkeep, please give us a call. We’re always happy to discuss any issues with you, and will give you a fair and honest estimate of any tree work that you need performed on your property.


Can Tree Trimming Increase Your Home’s Value?

We all take pride in our homes, wanting to keep them looking nice while also protecting our monetary investment. That’s why many of us spend a considerable amount of time, and sometimes money, upgrading the interior and installing attractive flower beds and shrubs outside. But don’t forget about the health of your trees! Regular care and maintenance of your trees will also contribute to your home’s overall value, in several important ways.

Prevent damage. Preventing costly damages is the most obvious way that regular tree trimming and health checks can benefit your home. Dead or dying trees are at risk of falling, and this can lead to damages that must be repaired. And of course, if left unchecked, some diseases will spread to other trees and create an even bigger problem. You also want to keep limbs trimmed back, away from your home, to discourage pests from taking up residence in your attic, eaves, and walls.

Curb appeal. Obviously, increasing your curb appeal will help your home to look more attractive to potential buyers. Even if you don’t have plans to sell your home in the near future, regular maintenance now will prevent large and costly problems later, when you do want to sell.

Cost of upkeep. Most potential buyers understand the above issues, and are aware of the potential costs associated with sick or unstable trees, and damages to the home. And of course, they are also aware of the amount of work required to renovate a yard that has not been well maintained for many years.

If you have questions about the health and safety of your trees, or simply wish to improve the aesthetic value of your home, give us a call. We can offer our expert advice on tree trimming and removal, cleanup of fallen trees, or stump grinding, so that your home retains its curb appeal and monetary value for years to come.


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