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.
As we have been discussing, tree growth is impacted and controlled by three general factors:
Nutrition quality/defects, which we’ll be discussing in this post.
Though Site Impacts and Nutrition quality/defects are linked, we’re discussing them separately because our experience shows that tree fertilization is either ignored or overdone. Both have consequences that produce negatives in a tree… and these negatives result in corrective pruning.
In urban and suburban landscapes, infertile soils and plant densities create stresses. Add irrigation to the mix, and many landscape are nutrient deficient. Many times, tree owners recognize the problem of deficient soils and attempt to create a solution without knowing proper fertilization methods.
Often, homeowners or site managers practice direct “hand full of fertilizer” methodology… without thought to dosage or composition. This can cause more harm the benefit: Excessive nitrogen, for example, will stimulate long leggy growth; toxic amounts will kill leaves, twigs and often whole sections of plants. Whether too much fertilizer or too little, the responses of the trees will demand corrective pruning.
Woody plants (like trees) grow best in a slow release, year-long nutrient exposure. This will insure that your trees grow as intended. Pruning will then be needed only to remove natural deadwood, crossing or interfering branches, or to free up window views or walkways.
So – Long story short: proper fertilization not only keeps your trees healthy, it promotes proper growth which reduces pruning costs! Spring is the perfect time to create a tree-care plan, so give us a call and we’ll make sure you’re making a better future for YOUR trees!
Tree growth is impacted and controlled by three general factors:
Site impacts, which we’ll discuss in this post;
In the first installment of “Extreme Trees: Corrective Pruning”, we discussed the internal directive of trees to direct and limit a tree’s vitality, quality, and size. Just as genetics drives a tree’s behavior, so, too, do outside influences disturb or enhance the growth.
Planting sunny-site plants in shade spaces or shade-loving plants in full sun almost always guarantees pruning as the plants struggle. In both situations, the leggy, thin growth produced in shaded sites or the scorched, damaged of the sunny, hot sites mean pruning will be necessary. Unfortunately, this is a short-term fix and for most plants in these conditions, removal will be required eventually.
We have now discussed some reasons for necessary pruning. There are also methods of decorative pruning. Pollarding, for example, is an interesting European pruning style where the tree’s shape is determined at a very young age. All the annual growth is pruned off in the desired configuration. Each year, all new sprouts are pruned off. Each cut will produce two sprouts, and the pruning point will swell with responsive tissue, creating a “club”. Each year, the “club” will send out dozens of sprouts several feet long, which are then pruned off to reveal desired architecture. The pollard planting seen by most Americans is the grouping of London Plane trees at the American pavilion at Epcot Center in Disney World:
Topiary is a cultural practice where a shrub or tree is ‘sheared’ to form geometric shapes or animal figures. Again the intense and expensive practice requires planning and many prunings a year to create and hold the shape. Unlike pollarding which build its form on the plants natural structure, topiary works without regard to the plant’s predisposition, and survives by the pruner’s will. This highly skilled practice has application in Midwest homesteads. However, they require repetitive treatments, intensity of will and are high cost. At the very extreme, is Japanese Bonsai, which require at minimum monthly pruning cycles. Once you have decided to prune your plants in a creative manner, the issue simply becomes one of investment.
Trees require pruning for a variety of reasons. In most yards, the primary directive for pruning is space or location, although homeowners and site managers also prune for aesthetic purposes. Talk to an arborist as you’re making your decisions to plant ANY tree to insure that you have the right plant in the right location, and to establish a plan to help you maintain your vision.
Tree growth is impacted and controlled by three general factors:
Genetic predetermination, which we’ll discuss in this post;
When we buy new trees, we often make our choice based upon genetic selection: flowers, colors, shape, bark interest. We also select trees for size, shape and shade density. All these and much more are genetic characteristics, “guaranteed ” by the nurseryman. Often, however, we ignore the full spectrum of the tree’s gene pool. For example, a person might pick a tree because it is fast growing, but ignore its shorter life span or its potential for storm damage.
One common genetic characteristic which requires corrective pruning is a “round headed” tree planted in a too small of space or planted too close to buildings, driveways or walkways. This situation is common and one must “fight the genetics” with corrective pruning so the selected tree can fit into the space.
Multi-stemmed and low-crotched trees, too, always widen as they grow. Birch, Hawthorns, Crabapples and Magnolias are several common landscape trees where corrective pruning will be required if planted too close to structures and passageways.
Top pruning is required when trees grow upon to wires, rooflines or block views.
Shade density is often a characteristic where corrective pruning is sought; however, this seldom can be done to the satisfaction of situation and without harm to the tree’s future. Concurrently, topping trees can never be justified. It is not corrective pruning; it is “tree butchery”, with only negative consequences to follow.
Fighting genetic shape and density in trees is possible with trained and knowledgeable hands, but far too often, well meaning but unskilled pruners make matters worse and shorten the life of the tree. Therefore, contacting a skilled arborist is necessary to protect your trees and your living spaces.
What's the difference between an Arborist and a tree-care worker? That's a pretty common question. It's so common, in fact, that the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) has answered that question on its website:
Arborists are trained professionals that are knowledgeable and equipped to provide proper tree care. They are specially trained to provide a variety to services to maintain trees. ISA Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through at least three years of experience and have passed a comprehensive examination. They are also required to continue their education in order to maintain their certification, ensuring their knowledge is updated on the latest arboriculture techniques. ISA Arborist Certification is a non-governmental voluntary process that operates without mandate of law. It is an internal self-regulating device administered by the International Society of Arboriculture, and therefore, cannot guarantee or assure the quality of performance. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.
I asked Jeff what his definition of the differences are, and his answer was considerably shorter!
The ability to know and use science is what separates an Arborist from a tree care worker.
In short, Arborists have more training and are more rigorously tested. They are assessed regularly and are required to maintain their certification with ongoing training. Choosing an Arborist means you're getting better quality service!
Here at TreeMasters, our resident Tree Doctor, Jeff, is a registered consulting Arborist! When you work with TreeMasters, you know that you're getting the best advice and the best tree-care. We're making a better future for YOUR trees!
A few thoughts from Jeff for today:
Considering the weather we’ve had this summer, there are a couple facts we would like to present:
TreeMasters, Inc. is in the business of making a better future for your trees, and so in that spirit, we give this reminder: Please remember to water your trees! Particularly if they are new in your yard. Trees need, on average, about an INCH of water per week. And we don’t mean watering by dragging your hose to the base of your trees and putting it on a slow trickle. Use your garden sprinkler and plan to wet the entire root system of your trees. Place a cup on the ground in the watering zone. When you see an inch of water in the cup, you know you’ve got enough water.
If you have any questions about your trees, please call us and we’ll come take a look!
Here in Indiana, we're having an extremely early spring. Right now, we're about three weeks ahead of schedule, with temps in the 70's and even into the low 80's. We've broken temperature records for about 8 days in a row now.
The other day, one of our employees noticed that some of the trees in the area are in full flower while others are still completely dormant. Have you noticed this, too? We thought we'd explain some of the reasons behind this phenomenon.
What we are experiencing with this uneven blooming is primarily caused by the early spring. While some plants respond to temperature, others do not. The three main directors of tree response are:
One thing of note: Even though the air and soil temperatures are extremely warm for this time of year, it would be foolish to forget to consider the last frost date. In our area, we'll still be in danger of hard frosts until May 12th. Don't look outside, think warm and plant your tomatoes quite yet. They would be destroyed by a frost. Two years ago, we had a very warm March but an unexpectedly cold April. We could still experience winter weather this year! Protect your seedlings inside for a few more weeks.
As far as the flowers on your fruit trees, if the frost destroys the flowers AFTER they have been pollinated, no real harm will have been done, because the frost won't harm the fruit much. However, IF the frost comes before the bees reach your trees, the flowers will be destroyed and that will mean less fruit this year. Encourage your bees!
As always, if you have questions about your trees, contact us at the office! We're passionate about trees and we'd be happy to come take a look at yours.
How do you get a tree to play its song? If you're Bartholomäus Traubeck, you custom-build a record player that is able to play a cross-section of a tree trunk. This player interprets and translates the rings of the tree into a hauntingly beautiful piece of music... different for each section that is placed in the player. You can listen in and view the video below.
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.