In December, 2016, Jeff was accepted as the newest member of the New Haven, Indiana, City Tree Commission.
The New Haven Tree Commission was created in 2011 to protect, create and enhance the natural treescape on public land in New Haven. New Haven was awarded the Tree City USA designation on Arbor Day, 2012. Through planting, pruning and educating the community the Commission works to enhance our natural resources.
Find out more about the NH Tree Commission by following them on facebook.
Recently, I was talking to Jeff about fall tree-care. He mentioned that fertilization is something that can be a benefit to trees in the autumn, but most homeowners tend to think of tree fertilizing as a spring or summer job. So I asked a few more questions!
(Me) Why is fertilization in the fall so important?
(Jeff) Fall fertilization benefits the tree by providing nutrients when the roots are most active. This encourages root growth, even when the tree appears "dormant", and helps the tree to resume growth in the spring. Nutrients are used immediately and are also stored for uptake in the spring.
What does TreeMasters use when you fertilize?
TM uses a slow-release, organic fertilizer that contains a micronutrient package as well as beneficial soil inhabiting bacteria. We also incorporate high concentrations of humates and sea kelp. This product is delivered under pressure which mechanically fractures the subsoils.
Why is this better?
Trees need slow-release fertility. The Humate (Humic acid) adds organic matter to the soil, increases biological activity in the soil (incl. earthworms), stimulates root growth, and improves soil structure. Bottom line - we are changing your soil to more closely imitate rich, natural, undisturbed soil.
What happens to trees if you don’t fertilize them?
Since most trees are in lawns, their tree root zones lack organic matter, because people remove leaves and fallen limbs which nature would recycle. Soil compaction and competition with grass guarantees poorer conditions for root growth. It has been demonstrated that a tree’s roots are about 5 times more dense under mulch than under grass. Homeowners desire turf, but to mulch the entire root zone of their trees is impractical. The alternative is routine fertilization with humates. Without fertilization, many urban trees become more susceptible to problems and are predisposed to injury.
When thinking about creating value in your landscape, think trees! Trees around your home can increase it’s value up to 20%, according to the Management Information Services. In fact, a mature tree can have a value of $1000-$10,000 (Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers)!
Other than their natural beauty, trees provide many values to homeowners:
If you'd like to see the benefits that the trees in your yard are already providing you, you can access www.treebenefits.com. This site will show you how your tree saves you on energy costs, helps you retain storm water, balances your carbon footprint, and more! Check it out!
‘Often in our articles, we use the terms “Arboriculture” and “Urban Forestry”. What is the difference?
Arboriculture is the science of care for an individual tree. It is the focus, action plan and engagements to nurture and, if needed, repair that tree for better vitality and longevity. If there are 5 trees in the yard, 100 trees in a park, or 20 trees in a parking lot, the arboricultural focus and science is still caring for one tree at a time.
Urban Forestry is what its name implies: in man-made settings and sites, the“community of trees” is the focus. It is a management practice which usually doesn’t engage single trees. Often, the term “canopy’ is applied in urban forestry. Just as in a natural woodlands, one can see nearly contiguous leaf coverage, i.e. the canopy, in many urban environments. One primary goal of UF is growing the canopy to cover the streets, parking lots and plazas.
Arboriculture spends a lot of time dealing with what the needs of the tree: massaging the givens that exist to make the tree more viable. There are times where an arborist will ask, “Is this investment viable? Is there good ROI for this tree and its owner?” Most times, however, an arborist will work to save each tree at all cost.
Urban Forestry spends a lot more time in planning, evaluating and assessing the needs of the sites and then establishing trees and tree management to work around and within the site’s limits. Urban Foresters are tasked with balancing the needs of the trees with the planned use and development of the site- the trees are not the primary consideration.
While both arborists and urban foresters talk of “right tree, right place”, arborists have a much broader tolerance for the tree’s long-term future – and often the budget per tree is more expansive. Urban Foresters have shorter time frames, tighter windows and usually few tree choices to fit the demanding sites. Most UF’ers also have constricted budgets, so their per-tree cost must be controlled.
Arborists believe and act on the premise that all trees can have generational values, i.e. 50 years + on site. Many of the sites with which Urban Foresters work actually prohibit longevity and so they plan for a rate of attrition which will prescribe the removal and replacement of trees routinely. Often for every one hundred trees planted in an urban forestry project, or for every thousand trees in a city-scape, less than 50% will be still viable in 25 years. Few will every become 50 years old.
As consultants, we practice in both arenas. Goals statements are therefore critical for the proper plan and to achieve the desired outcomes. Nearly every day, TreeMasters serves clients as tree management specialists, as tree evaluators, as tree doctors, and sometimes tree morticians!
You can contact us any time to talk about your trees or your site.
Jeff often says that Autumn and Winter are the best time to prune trees. Many people don't understand why that is, so I sat down with Jeff to make him answer some questions about seasonal pruning.
When is the best time to prune trees and shrubs?
Most pruning can be done any time of the year, but winter is the ideal time to prune your trees and shrubs.
Why is that?
With the absence of leaves, the structure of the tree can more easily be seen, allowing us to quickly tell where to make the pruning cuts. An arborist can also readily identify tree defects such as dead and broken limbs, cracks, crossing/rubbing branches, etc. Also, pathogens or insects are rarely an issue with pruning cuts. If there is any concern of infection however, pruning during winter can assure that an infection does not occur.
How can you accurately prune a tree when you can’t see any leaves?
We can tell the difference between live and dead limbs when there are no leaves. An arborist can tell this by the presence or absence of buds on the limbs as well as coloration. Most of the dead wood is very obvious due to the difference in color and texture of the bark.
Will your equipment destroy my grass or other plants?
In sensitive locations that may require access with equipment, we can often gain access more easily when the ground is frozen. There is also reduced concern for damage to annual and perennial plantings. Most often, however, our crews consist of one or more professional climbers that are able to perform all aerial work without the need for trucks or other heavy equipment that might otherwise damage the lawn.
What should I do if I have trees that need to be removed?
Winter removals should be scheduled early to make sure the site is prepped for early spring replanting. TreeMasters will help you find the perfect tree to fit your needs.
I hope that this post answered a lot of your questions! If you still have questions about YOUR specific trees, please call the office and we'll help you make a plan designed for your landscape.
Green Week has passed for this year, and Arbor Day is but a memory. But to many people, remaining eco-friendly is more than something we do for a couple weeks a year. We do it because we have a passion for doing what's right, for protecting what's been given to us. And being environmentally responsible is easy to do when we make even small changes in our everyday routines - Using canvas bags at the grocery store, rather than paper or plastic. Replacing your shower head with a water-saving one. And including healthy, vital trees on your property.
Trees that are healthy benefit the environment in many ways. Shade trees reduce cooling costs in the summer by up to 50% by shading the windows and the walls of your home (American Public Power Association). In the winter, trees that are properly placed around buildings can reduce the energy needed for heating by 20%-50% (USDA Forest Service). Trees can sequester enormous amounts of carbon while releasing new oxygen into the air... this will reduce the carbon footprint of your home (A Yellow Poplar will sock away an impressive 137.26 pounds of carbon a year!). According to the United States Forest Service, the best trees for carbon sequestration are those with large trunk diameters and dense wood. It also helps if the trees sport leaves in lieu of needles, so choose a hardwood over a conifer. Choosing the right tree for your property is often challenging and can require a lot of research and knowledge. We'll help you create a tree-care plan that will save you on energy costs and carbon usage.
Most people have trees on their property that are already functioning to some extent, but larger, more-vital trees do a better job of absorbing carbon than small unhealthy trees do. TreeMasters has been making a better future for trees for over 20 years, so contact us to make a plan that will ensure that your trees are the best they can be. Even the strongest of trees are doomed to die someday, and in doing so, spew their carbon back into the atmosphere. It's best to consider keeping the carbon in place (maybe by turning them into lumber or mulch) rather than allowing them to decline and decay. It's hard to make decisions about what's best for your trees: how to help them grow in vitality and vigor, how to protect them from disease and insect infestations, whether or not a tree has a future; we can help you make those choices and then we'll help you create a strategy that works best for you, your property and the environment. Call us today!
Remember the hoopla about the EAB (Emerald Ash Borer)? It was certainly justified hoopla, because that bug wreaked havoc in our area. The city of Fort Wayne has lost about 15 THOUSAND street trees and twice that in the parks and recreational areas. Lost trees in residential areas number into the hundred thousands. The EAB absolutely decimated Ash trees in our urban forest. Because we forecasted warnings early, however, some of our customers were able to save the Ash Trees in their yards. As the impact of this bug wains in our area, these trees will continue to flourish and provide beauty for their owners. That just goes to show that the axiom, “forewarned is forearmed” is true in tree-care!
The next bug we’re watching is the ALB (Asian Longhorned Beetle). If you receive our newsletter, you’ve already gotten an initial warning about this new pest, and you can find out more information throughout our website. Where the EAB attacked only Ash trees, the ALB is poised to make an even greater impact because its preferences are more diverse. Trees susceptible to the ALB include:
There are a few other, rarer, host trees, too, such as:
If you have any of these trees on your property, you should start looking around for the ALB. When doing a tree-check, you’ll want to look for the beetles themselves as well as the entrance and exit holes. We have included some pictures here so you know what you’re looking for.
“For every tree killed by a bug, 10 more are killed by people.”
If you spend time with arborists, you’re likely to hear some version of this phrase repeated, just based on their experience. When Jeff mentioned it to me, I had a hard time believing it, so I asked him to give me some examples of the ‘wrongs’ he’s seen.
So. What should you do to give your tree the best chance of long-term vitality? Choose the right tree for Northern Indiana. Make sure that it has plenty of space to “branch out” and plan for root expansion. Dig a hole bigger than you’d think you need and fill with good soil. Avoiding Jeff’s list of ‘wrongs’ will help your trees have a happy, healthy life so that you can enjoy them for decades to come!
You can read some tree suggestions and other factors to consider here.
If you have been reading our newsletter, you know that we promised you a couple bonuses! First, you want to see that picture of the healthy Ash tree in living color. Here it is:
Secondly, you may have wanted to see some more pictures of that tree from Kosiusko that had been struck by lightning. You can check out the article about lightning protection that we just posted.
Holy electrons, Robin! That’s some extreme lightning damage! This picture was taken on a lakefront home in Kosiusko County. The damage is clearly extensive, and after we evaluated it, there was no choice other than to remove it. The lightning struck at the top (point 1) and exited through the ground near the sidewalk. When the storm potential is great enough between the ground and cloud to create a current, lightning utilizes the tree as a conduit. Since the storm can contain both positively and negatively charged clouds, the direction of the current can differ (although the plasma – the lightning that we see – is always from cloud to ground). Lightning tends to pass through trees because the water in the tree is more conducive to electricity than the air is. The electrical charge instantaneously vaporizes the sap to steam. The extent of the damages on a lightning-struck tree depends on the season, the moisture on the bark of the tree, the moisture inside tree cavities and anomalies within the tree’s structure. It can be pretty significant (see point 2). The best way to protect your trees from lightning is the same way you protect your house: Install a lightning rod system. The metal rod is an even better conductor than the water in the tree, so it guides the charge down into the ground, protecting your tree.
This video does a good job and illustrating how a lightning protection system works to divert the electric charge through your tree.
The charge and the vaporization of moisture within the wood and surrounding soils and concrete created an explosion that shattered the buttress root, produced a hole at the base of the tree (see arrow 3) and destroyed the concrete walkway (see arrow 4). It appears that the grounding of the tree was heightened by the roots contacting the rebar in the concrete.
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It services tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.