“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!
If you've been following along with the blog lately, you'll remember that we've been running a series on extreme soils. Here is what we've established so far:
1.) Water-logged soils inhibit root respiration in low oxygenated/anaerobic soils, increase nutrient dilution and can kill micro-flora and fauna.
2.) Soil temperatures over 90°F will kill roots! Dead roots kill trees.
3.) Desiccated (extremely dry) soils will kill roots. Again, dead roots kill trees.
Today, we want to discuss the idea of tree engineering. Even though we don't tend to think of trees as engineered structures, they are! Just like any other structure, healthy trees use good materials arranged in a way that utilizes strength and flexibility to create the best advantage. In fact, wood probably has some of the best engineering properties available. It's both strong and flexible, it's light and yet tough. Trees have to be able to able to stand up all day long (and all night, too!); they have to bend without breaking in severe wind and storms. A tree must be strong, but not brittle; it can't shatter if it's damaged. A tree has to do all of those things and not buckle under its own weight. What human-engineered structure can do all of those things as successfully as a tree? Buildings that come close attempt to follow a tree's example.
The interior of a tree is composed of tiny cells and tubes which form the tree's transport system. Tubes called "xylem" bring water and nutrients up from the roots. Tubes called "phloem" bring sugar (energy) and oxygen from the leaves down through the tree. In fact, about 90% of the tree's structure is composed of these tubes. The xylem and phloem also help contribute to the strength of the tree because they run in the same direction as the tree's fibers.
So: Trees are wood structures which are built of tubes. In this process there is flux and responses depending on conditions. Drought is most often seen as an agent of wilting, or “burnt leaves”. Concerning the structural risks caused by drought, Wilt shows that the plant is not manufacturing sugars. There is no transport up the xylem, and therefore there is no transport down the phloem. Leaves don't get the water they need to produce sugar; roots do not get the sugar and oxygen they need to live. So in dry periods, roots die due both to direct desiccation and starvation.
While there are natural annual ebbs and flows in root growth, a summer like ours is catastrophic for the root mass of trees and shrubs. This lost mass will impact the next year’s growth, but it can create near-term hazards if the tree is already weak, or had roots cut by construction. Often, when evergreens “flip” out of the ground, it is due to loss of root mass. The tops are the same size, but the “anchor” has become much smaller, and the ‘release”.
Diminished water stops the formation of wood in the tops of trees, too. Branches may have enough strength to grow leaves and twigs, but not the additional wood in the limbs. It there are wounds, rots or hollows, the tree can not add enough wood to balance the additional growth at the ends and the branches will break. Likewise, leader wood and trunk can be compromised in the short- and long-term by lack of water.
As with most situations in horticulture, the axiom, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is descriptive and directive of the drought scenario in the landscape. Proper care will produce vigorous plant can fight off environmental effects and not just survive, but thrive. Because a tree can look healthy but be structurally unstable, it is necessary to contact an arborist to have a structural assessment done. On healthy trees, this could be done as infrequently as once every 5-7 years. Trees that are currently undergoing care should have regular assessments included in their care plans.
Do you have questions? You can leave it in the comments or contact us!
If you've been following along with our blog recently, you will remember that dry soils kill roots. What's the solution? Fall fertilization! TreeMasters Arborist, Jeff Ling, recently sat down with me to answer some questions about fall fertilization:
(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. Any nutrients that are not used are immediately stored or taken up in the spring as well.
What does TreeMasters use when you fertilize?
TM uses a low-nitrogen, organic fertilizer that contains a micronutrient package as well as beneficial soil inhabiting bacteria. We also incorporate high concentrations of humates and sea kelp.
Why is this better?
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.
With this summer being so dry, should I still fertilize?
Dry Summer, yes still fertilize. Drought causes death of tree roots. Fertilization causes growth of tree roots. Do it!
What happens to trees if you don’t fertilize them?
Since most trees that are taken care of are in lawns, most soils and tree roots are lacking organic matter because people remove leaves and fallen limbs - the source of organic matter. Add soil compaction, lack of organic matter, competition with grass, etc. and you have extremely poor conditions for root growth (grass roots release a chemical that actually suppresses tree root growth, and if you have a lawn...you have soil compaction). It has been demonstrated that a tree’s roots are about 5 times more dense under mulch than under grass. Since most people are not willing to mulch the entire root zone of their trees, the next best thing is to fertilize using large amounts of organic matter. Without fertilization, many urban trees become more susceptible to other problems and are predisposed to injury by insects, diseases, etc. Often, growth is very slow and urban trees sit in the lawn... stagnant.
If your trees aren't looking their best, make an appointment with our 'Tree Doc'! He'll make them look and feel better!
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!
It has been astounding to drive around the city and view the destruction that was caused by this brief storm - only lasting for about a half hour. Unfortunately, in our surveys of the trees around town, it looks like about 80% of damage was predictable: the trees had pre-existing conditions that could have been treated, preventing most of the damage. This is why regular inspections are necessary!
Jeff, our resident arborist, says that out of about 250,000 trees in Fort Wayne, 5-10% of them were destroyed in the storms. Even if your tree wasn't completely demolished, it may have damage that you can't see. Arborists have many diagnostic tests that they use to determine the health and viability of trees. Protecting your home and family is important, so you should have your trees inspected on a regular basis (at least once every 5 years if you don't have any pre-existing conditions).
If you're considering planting a tree beneath or around power lines, I&M has created a handy little page to show the guidelines of planting around power lines. Of course, not every tree on the list will be ideal for your yard, so you should contact us before you plant anything!
If you don't have to be concerned about a power line that runs near your home, you can concentrate purely on aesthetics and benefits! The process takes some time:
All of these factors must be determined before selecting the perfect tree for your yard! Picking out the right tree is complicated, which is why we're here to help! Jeff says that at any given time, there are 300-400 trees available on the market: Don't get overwhelmed, just give us a call and we'd be happy to come look at your house and provide you with the perfect options for your home.
We're making a better future for your trees!
Yesterday on the news, I heard the weatherman say that Northern Indiana is currently in a rain deficit of about six and a half inches since the beginning of the year. He also said that every day without rain will increase the deficit by about .15 inches... which means about an inch a week. Next week: 7.5 inches. The following: 8.5 inches. Nearly TEN inches of rain deficit by July 4th, assuming that this weather pattern follows. I sat down and talked with Jeff (our resident tree-expert) about the drought conditions. Here's what he had to say:
(Me) What happens to a tree in a period of drought?
(JEFF) It depends on the species, but all trees react to drought with no growth or loss of tissues, particularly roots.
Does this type of weather make them susceptible to insects or diseases?
Many boring insects (like the Emerald Ash Borer - EAB) attack water stressed trees. This weather is ideal if you're a borer! (Me: Insert joke about boring insects here! haha.)
Are there some trees that I should be more worried about?
Dogwoods, Japanese maples, flowering cherries, and birches need extra water in times of drought. If Ash trees are being treated for EAB, they must be watered. Also maples should have water each week. ALL small/newly planted trees need weekly irrigation.
How much water do my trees need? Should I water them every day?
The rule is 1 inch of water each week over the whole root zone AT ONE TIME. This does not mean laying the hose down with a trickle. It means a sprinkler head spreading as broadly as possible. This one soaking can be "gauged" by placing a bowl or cup under the tree. As the sprinkle delivers the water, the cup fills. 1" in the cup = 1 " over the tree roots.
Is there anything else I can do to protect my trees during this dry season?
Watch your trees and report any problems. Many trees yellow in drought. For most, this is caused by micro-nutrient deficiency aggravated by drought, but only a professional can know for sure.
What else would you like our readers to know?
So the main point to remember is WATER, WATER, WATER your trees throughout this dry weather. And just like with your family, never self-diagnose problems with your trees. Call us and let us take a look at them for you. We always give free estimates and we really desire to help you. We want to make a better future for all 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. It services tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.