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.
‘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.
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.
“The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” —U.S. Department of Agriculture
“A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” —Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
“In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.” —Dr. Roger S. Ulrich Texas A&M University
Many people have lost trees over the last 12 months (or will be removing them this year) because of the extreme weather of 2012 or because of the Emerald Ash Borer. Are those trees worth replacing? I think the question to ask yourself is really, “Are these trees worth replacing TO ME?” What is the value that you’re getting from the trees? Beauty? Shade? Energy savings? Property value?
If you’ve been reading some of our previous postings, you’ll know we’ve been talking about pruning lately. In our experience, a lot of pruning comes from installing the wrong tree or from planting the right tree in the wrong place. As you’re considering trees, please consider the genetics of the tree (How tall does it get? Do the branches tend to grow up or out? Is this tree a single stem or a multi-stem tree?) and also what the location provides (Is this a sunny or a shady spot? Is it near a building or a sidewalk? Does it tend to flood or be dry? What is the soil composition?) Not every tree does well in every spot. We want you to enjoy your tree for years to come and not be fighting location or genetics. Give us a call if you have questions about tree replacement! We want to make a better future for your trees!
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!
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. TreeMasters provides tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.