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Frequently Ask Questions

  • Why Should I Hire An Arborist?

    An arborist is a specialist in the care of individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.

    Services That Arborists Can Provide

    PRUNING

    An arborist can determine the type of pruning necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of trees. These techniques include:

    • eliminating branches that rub each other
    • removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, or windows, or that obstruct streets or sidewalks
    • removing dead or weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay
    • removing diseased or insect-infested limbs
    • creating better structure to lessen wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage
    • training young trees
    • removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions
    • removing branches, or thinning, to increase light penetration
    • improving the shape or silhouette of the tree

    REMOVAL

    Although tree removal is a last resort, there are circumstances when it is necessary. An arborist can help decide whether a tree should be removed. Arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees. Removal is recommended when the tree:

    • is dead or dying
    • is considered irreparably hazardous
    • is causing an obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning
    • is crowding and causing harm to other trees
    • is to be replaced by a more suitable specimen
    • is located in an area where new construction requires removal

    EMERGENCY TREE CARE

    Storms may cause limbs or entire trees to fall, often landing on other trees, homes and other structures, or cars. The weight of storm-damaged trees is great, and they can be dangerous to remove or trim. An arborist can assist in performing the job in a safe manner, while reducing further risk of damage to property.

    PLANTING

    Some arborists plant trees, and most can recommend types of trees that are appropriate for a specific location. The wrong tree in the wrong location could lead to future problems as a result of limited growing space, insects, diseases, or poor growth.

    OTHER SERVICES

    When selecting an arborist:

    • check for membership in professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Such membership demonstrates a willingness on the part of the arborist to stay up to date on the latest techniques and information.
    • check for ISA arborist certification. Certified Arborists are experienced professionals who have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care.
    • ask for proof of insurance and then phone the insurance company if you are not satisfied. A reputable arborist carries personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance. Many home owners have had to pay out large amounts of money for damages caused by uninsured individuals claiming to be tree experts. You could be held responsible for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the job.
    • check for necessary permits and licenses. Some governmental agencies require contractors to apply for permits and/or to apply for a license before they are able to work. Be sure they comply with any provincial or national laws that govern their work.
    • ask for references to find out where the company has done work similar to the work you are requesting. Don’t hesitate to check references or visit other work sites where the company or individual has done tree work. Remember, tree care is a substantial, long-lasting investment; you would not buy a car without a test drive!
    • get more than one estimate, unless you know and are comfortable with the arborist. You may have to pay for the estimates, and it will take more time, but it will be worth the investment.
    • don’t always accept the low bid. You should examine the credentials and the written specifications of the firms that submitted bids and determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill, and professionalism to protect your substantial investment.
    • be wary of individuals who go door to door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too busy to solicit work in this manner. Improper tree care can take many years to correct itself and, in some cases, it can never be corrected. Are you willing to take that risk with your valuable investment?
    • keep in mind that good arborists will perform only accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, using climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed, and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause are unnecessary.
    • get it in writing. Most reputable arborists have their clients sign a contract. Be sure to read the contract carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as:
    • When will the work be started and completed?
    • Who will be responsible for clean-up?
    • Is this the total price?
    • If I would like more to be done, what is your hourly rate?

    What Is a Certified Arborist?

    An arborist by definition is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. ISA arborist certification is a nongovernmental, voluntary process by which individuals can document their base of knowledge. It operates without mandate of law and is an internal, self-regulating device administered by the International Society of Arboriculture. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.

    Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. Certified Arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification. Therefore, they are more likely to be up to date on the latest techniques in arboriculture.

    Be an Informed Consumer

    One of the best methods to use in choosing an arborist is to educate yourself on some of the basic principles of tree care.

  • Does ``Topping`` Hurt Trees?

    Topping is perhaps the most harmful tree pruning practice known. Yet, despite more than 25 years of literature and seminars explaining its harmful effects, topping remains a common practice. This page explains why topping is not an acceptable pruning technique and offers better alternatives.

    What is Topping?

    Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Other names for topping include “heading,” “tipping,” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over.”

    The most common reason given for topping is to reduce the size of a tree. Home owners often feel that their trees have become too large for their property. People fear that tall trees may pose a hazard. Topping, however, is not a viable method of height reduction and certainly does not reduce the hazard. In fact, topping will make a tree more hazardous in the long term.

    Topping Stresses Trees

    Topping often removes 50 to 100 percent of the leaf-bearing crown of a tree. Because leaves are the food factories of a tree, removing them can temporarily starve a tree. The severity of the pruning triggers a sort of survival mechanism. The tree activates latent buds, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree needs to put out a new crop of leaves as soon as possible. If a tree does not have the stored energy reserves to do so, it will be seriously weakened and may die.

    A stressed tree is more vulnerable to insect and disease infestations. Large, open pruning wounds expose the sapwood and heartwood to attacks. The tree may lack sufficient energy to chemically defend the wounds against invasion, and some insects are actually attracted to the chemical signals trees release.

    Topping Causes Decay

    The preferred location to make a pruning cut is just beyond the branch collar at the branch’s point of attachment. The tree is biologically equipped to close such a wound, provided the tree is healthy enough and the wound is not too large. Cuts made along a limb between lateral branches create stubs with wounds that the tree may not be able to close. The exposed wood tissues begin to decay. Normally, a tree will “wall off,” or compartmentalize, the decaying tissues, but few trees can defend the multiple severe wounds caused by topping. The decay organisms are given a free path to move down through the branches.

    Topping Can Lead to Sunburn

    Branches within a tree’s crown produce thousands of leaves to absorb sunlight. When the leaves are removed, the remaining branches and trunk are suddenly exposed to high levels of light and heat. The result may be sunburn of the tissues beneath the bark, which can lead to cankers, bark splitting, and death of some branches.

    Topping Creates Hazards

    The survival mechanism that causes a tree to produce multiple shoots below each topping cut comes at great expense to the tree. These shoots develop from buds near the surface of the old branches. Unlike normal branches that develop in a socket of overlapping wood tissues, these new shoots are anchored only in the outermost layers of the parent branches.

    The new shoots grow quickly, as much as 20 feet in one year, in some species. Unfortunately, the shoots are prone to breaking, especially during windy conditions. The irony is that while the goal was to reduce the tree’s height to make it safer, it has been made more hazardous than before.

    Topping Makes Trees Ugly

    The natural branching structure of a tree is a biological wonder. Trees form a variety of shapes and growth habits, all with the same goal of presenting their leaves to the sun. Topping removes the ends of the branches, often leaving ugly stubs. Topping destroys the natural form of a tree.

    Without leaves (up to 6 months of the year in temperate climates), a topped tree appears disfigured and mutilated. With leaves, it is a dense ball of foliage, lacking its simple grace. A tree that has been topped can never fully regain its natural form.

    Topping Is Expensive

    The cost of topping a tree is not limited to what the perpetrator is paid. If the tree survives, it will require pruning again within a few years. It will either need to be reduced again or storm damage will have to be cleaned up. If the tree dies, it will have to be removed.

    Topping is a high-maintenance pruning practice, with some hidden costs. One is the reduction in property value. Healthy, well-maintained trees can add 10 to 20 percent to the value of a property. Disfigured, topped trees are considered an impending expense.

    Another possible cost of topped trees is potential liability. Topped trees are prone to breaking and can be hazardous. Because topping is considered an unacceptable pruning practice, any damage caused by branch failure of a topped tree may lead to a finding of negligence in a court of law.

    Alternatives to Topping

    Sometimes a tree must be reduced in height or spread. Providing clearance for utility lines is an example. There are recommended techniques for doing so. If practical, branches should be removed back to their point of origin. If a branch must be shortened, it should be cut back to a lateral that is large enough to assume the terminal role. A rule of thumb is to cut back to a lateral that is at least one-third the diameter of the limb being removed.

    This method of branch reduction helps to preserve the natural form of the tree. However, if large cuts are involved, the tree may not be able to close over and compartmentalize the wounds. Sometimes the best solution is to remove the tree and replace it with a species that is more appropriate for the site.

    Hiring an Arborist

    Pruning large trees can be dangerous. If pruning involves working above the ground or using power equipment, it is best to hire a professional arborist. Tree Works can determine the type of pruning that is necessary to improve the health, appearance, and safety of your trees. We can provide the services of a trained crew, with all of the required safety equipment and liability insurance.

  • How Do I Avoid Utility Conflicts?

    Determining where to plant a tree is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Many factors should be considered prior to planting. When planning what type of tree to plant, remember to look up and look down to determine where the tree will be located in relation to overhead and underground utility lines.

    Often, we take utility services for granted because they have become a part of our daily lives. For us to enjoy the convenience of reliable, uninterrupted service, distribution systems are required to bring utilities into our homes. These services arrive at our homes through overhead or underground lines.

    Overhead lines can be electric, telephone, or cable television. Underground lines include those three plus water, sewer, and natural gas.

    The location of these lines should have a direct impact on your tree and planting site selection. The ultimate mature height of a tree to be planted must be within the available overhead growing space. Just as important, the soil area must be large enough to accommodate the particular rooting habits and ultimate trunk diameter of the tree. Proper tree and site selection provide trouble-free beauty and pleasure for years to come.

    Overhead Lines

    Overhead utility lines are the easiest to see and probably the ones we take most for granted. Although these lines look harmless enough, they can be extremely dangerous. Planting tall-growing trees under and near these lines eventually requires your utility to prune them to maintain safe clearance from the wires. This pruning may result in the tree having an unnatural appearance. Periodic pruning can also lead to a shortened life span for the tree. Trees that must be pruned away from power lines are under greater stress and are more susceptible to insects and disease. Small, immature trees planted today can become problem trees in the future.

    Tall-growing trees near overhead lines can cause service interruptions when trees contact wires. Children or adults climbing in these trees can be severely injured or even killed if they come in contact with the wires. Proper selection and placement of trees in and around overhead utilities can eliminate potential public safety hazards, reduce expenses for utilities and their rate payers, and improve the appearance of landscapes.

    Underground Lines

    Trees are much more than just what you see overhead. Many times, the root area is larger than the branch spread above ground. Much of the utility service provided today runs below ground. Tree roots and underground lines often coexist without problems. However, trees planted near underground lines could have their roots damaged if the lines need to be dug up for repairs.

    The biggest danger to underground lines occurs during planting. Before you plant, make sure that you are aware of the location of any underground utilities. To be certain that you do not accidentally dig into any lines and risk serious injury or a costly service interruption, call your utility company or utility protection service first. Never assume that these utility lines are buried deeper than you plan to dig. In some cases, utility lines are very close to the surface.

    Proper Places for Trees Around Homes

    TALL ZONE

    Trees that grow as tall as 60 feet (20 meters) can be used in the area known as the tall zone; however, you should consider your neighbor’s view or their existing plantings of flower beds and/or trees.

    Plant large trees at least 35 feet (11 meters) away from the house for proper root development and to minimize damage to the house or building. These large-growing trees are also recommended for streets without overhead restrictions.

    Street planting sites must also have wide planting areas or medians [greater than 8 feet (3 meters)] that allow for a large root system, trunk diameter, and root flare.

    Large trees are also recommended for parks, meadows, or other open areas where their large size, both above and below ground, will not be restricted, cause damage, or become a liability.

    MEDIUM ZONE

    Trees that grow up to 40 feet (12 meters) tall can be used to decorate or frame your house or provide a parklike setting. Select your trees first, then plant shrubs to complement the trees. Medium-sized trees are also recommended for planting anywhere the available above and below ground growing space will allow them to reach a mature height of 30 to 40 feet (10 to 12 meters). Appropriate soil spaces are wide planting areas or medians [4 to 8 feet (1 to 3 meters) wide], large planting squares [8 feet (3 meters) square or greater], and other open areas of similar size or larger.

    LOW ZONE

    This zone extends 15 feet (4.5 meters) on either side of the wires. Trees with a mature height of less than 20 feet (6 meters) may be planted anywhere within this zone, including street tree plantings under utility lines. Such trees are also recommended when the growing space is limited. These trees are appropriate as well for narrow planting areas [less than 4 feet (1 meter) wide]; planting squares or circles surrounded by concrete; large, raised planting containers; or other locations where underground space for roots will not support tall- or medium-zone trees.

    Some Further Suggestions

    Plant evergreen trees to serve as windbreaks on the west or north side of the house, approximately 50 feet (15 meters) or more from the house. Plant deciduous trees (those that drop their leaves in the fall) on the south and/or west side of the house to cool in the summer and allow sun to enter the house in the winter.

    Right Tree—Right Place

    Planning before planting can help ensure that the right tree is planted in the right place. Proper tree selection and placement enhance your property value and prevent costly maintenance trimming and damage to your home. If you have any more questions, please contact one of our ISA Certified Arborists.

  • What Is The Best Way To Plant A Tree?

    Think of the tree you just purchased as a lifetime investment. How well your tree, and investment, grows depends on the type of tree and location you select for planting, the care you provide when the tree is planted, and follow-up care the tree receives after planting.

    Planting the Tree

    The ideal time to plant trees and shrubs is during the dormant season – in the fall after leaf drop or early spring before budbreak. Weather conditions are cool and allow plants to establish roots in the new location before spring rains and summer heat stimulate new top growth. However, trees properly cared for in the nursery or garden center, and given the appropriate care during transport to prevent damage, can be planted throughout the growing season. In tropical and subtropical climates where trees grow year round, any time is a good time to plant a tree, provided that sufficient water is available. In either situation, proper handling during planting is essential to ensure a healthy future for new trees and shrubs. Before you begin planting your tree, be sure you have had all underground utilities located prior to digging.

    If the tree you are planting is balled or bare root, it is important to understand that its root system has been reduced by 90 to 95 percent of its original size during transplanting. As a result of the trauma caused by the digging process, trees commonly exhibit what is known as transplant shock. Containerized trees may also experience transplant shock, particularly if they have circling roots that must be cut. Transplant shock is indicated by slow growth and reduced vigor following transplanting. Proper site preparation before and during planting coupled with good follow-up care reduces the amount of time the plant experiences transplant shock and allows the tree to quickly establish in its new location. Carefully follow nine simple steps, and you can significantly reduce the stress placed on the plant at the time of planting.

    Dig a shallow, broad planting hole

    Make the hole wide, as much as three times the diameter of the root ball but only as deep as the root ball. It is important to make the hole wide because the roots on the newly establishing tree must push through surrounding soil in order to establish. On most planting sites in new developments, the existing soils have been compacted and are unsuitable for healthy root growth. Breaking up the soil in a large area around the tree provides the newly emerging roots room to expand into loose soil to hasten establishment.

    Identify the trunk flare

    The trunk flare is where the roots spread at the base of the tree. This point should be partially visible after the tree has been planted. If the trunk flare is not partially visible, you may have to remove some soil from the top of the root ball. Find it so you can determine how deep the hole needs to be for proper planting.

    Remove tree container for containerized trees

    Carefully cutting down the sides of the container may make this easier. Inspect the root ball for circling roots and cut or remove them. Expose the trunk flare, if necessary.

    Place the tree at the proper height

    Before placing the tree in the hole, check to see that the hole has been dug to the proper depth—and no more. The majority of the roots on the newly planted tree will develop in the top 12 inches of soil. If the tree is planted too deeply, new roots will have difficulty developing because of a lack of oxygen. It is better to plant the tree a little high, 2 to 3 inches above the base of the trunk flare, than to plant it at or below the original growing level. This planting level will allow for some settling. To avoid damage when setting the tree in the hole, always lift the tree by the root ball and never by the trunk.

    Straighten the tree in the hole

    Before you begin backfilling, have someone view the tree from several directions to confirm that the tree is straight. Once you begin backfilling, it is difficult to reposition the tree.

    Fill the hole gently but firmly

    Fill the hole about one-third full and gently but firmly pack the soil around the base of the root ball. Then, if the root ball is wrapped, cut and remove any fabric, plastic, string, and wire from around the trunk and root ball to facilitate growth (see diagram). Be careful not to damage the trunk or roots in the process.

    Fill the remainder of the hole, taking care to firmly pack soil to eliminate air pockets that may cause roots to dry out. To avoid this problem, add the soil a few inches at a time and settle with water. Continue this process until the hole is filled and the tree is firmly planted. It is not recommended to apply fertilizer at the time of planting.

    Stake the tree, if necessary

    If the tree is grown and dug properly at the nursery, staking for support will not be necessary in most home landscape situations. Studies have shown that trees establish more quickly and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they are not staked at the time of planting. However, protective staking may be required on sites where lawn mower damage, vandalism, or windy conditions are concerns. If staking is necessary for support, there are three methods to choose among: staking, guying, and ball stabilizing. One of the most common methods is staking. With this method, two stakes used in conjunction with a wide, flexible tie material on the lower half of the tree will hold the tree upright, provide flexibility, and minimize injury to the trunk. Remove support staking and ties after the first year of growth.

    Mulch the base of the tree

    Mulch is simply organic matter applied to the area at the base of the tree. It acts as a blanket to hold moisture, it moderates soil temperature extremes, and it reduces competition from grass and weeds. Some good choices are leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, or composted wood chips. A 2- to 4-inch layer is ideal. More than 4 inches may cause a problem with oxygen and moisture levels. When placing mulch, be sure that the actual trunk of the tree is not covered. Doing so may cause decay of the living bark at the base of the tree. A mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches wide at the base of the tree, is sufficient to avoid moist bark conditions and prevent decay.

    Provide follow-up care

    Keep the soil moist but not soaked; overwatering causes leaves to turn yellow or fall off. Water trees at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot weather. When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less-frequent watering.

    Other follow-up care may include minor pruning of branches damaged during the planting process. Prune sparingly immediately after planting and wait to begin necessary corrective pruning until after a full season of growth in the new location.

    After you’ve completed these nine simple steps, further routine care and favorable weather conditions will ensure that your new tree or shrub will grow and thrive. A valuable asset to any landscape, trees provide a long- lasting source of beauty and enjoyment for people of all ages. When questions arise about the care of your tree, be sure to consult our ISA Certified Arborists .

    The PHC Alternative

    Maintaining mature landscapes is a complicated undertaking. You may wish to consider our professional Plant Health Care (PHC) maintenance program, which we now offer to our customers. A PHC program is designed to maintain plant vigor and should initially include inspections to detect and treat any existing problems that could be damaging or fatal. Thereafter, regular inspections and preventive maintenance will ensure plant health and beauty.

  • What Are The Benefits of Trees?

    Most trees and shrubs in cities or communities are planted to provide beauty or shade. These are two excellent reasons for their use. Woody plants also serve many other purposes, and it often is helpful to consider these other functions when selecting a tree or shrub for the landscape. The benefits of trees can be grouped into social, communal, environmental, and economic categories.

    Social Benefits

    We like trees around us because they make life more pleasant. Most of us respond to the presence of trees beyond simply observing their beauty. We feel serene, peaceful, restful, and tranquil in a grove of trees. We are “at home” there. Hospital patients have been shown to recover from surgery more quickly when their hospital room offered a view of trees. The strong ties between people and trees are most evident in the resistance of community residents to removing trees to widen streets. Or we note the heroic efforts of individuals and organizations to save particularly large or historic trees in a community.

    The stature, strength, and endurance of trees give them a cathedral-like quality. Because of their potential for long life, trees frequently are planted as living memorials. We often become personally attached to trees that we or those we love have planted.

    Communal Benefits

    Even though trees may be private property, their size often makes them part of the community as well. Because trees occupy considerable space, planning is required if both you and your neighbors are to benefit. With proper selection and maintenance, trees can enhance and function on one property without infringing on the rights and privileges of neighbors.

    City trees often serve several architectural and engineering functions. They provide privacy, emphasize views, or screen out objectionable views. They reduce glare and reflection. They direct pedestrian traffic. They provide background to and soften, complement, or enhance architecture.

    Environmental Benefits

    Trees alter the environment in which we live by moderating climate, improving air quality, conserving water, and harboring wildlife. Climate control is obtained by moderating the effects of sun, wind, and rain. Radiant energy from the sun is absorbed or deflected by leaves on deciduous trees in the summer and is only filtered by branches of deciduous trees in winter. We are cooler when we stand in the shade of trees and are not exposed to direct sunlight. In winter, we value the sun’s radiant energy. Therefore, we should plant only small or deciduous trees on the south side of homes.

    Wind speed and direction can be affected by trees. The more compact the foliage on the tree or group of trees, the greater the influence of the windbreak. The downward fall of rain, sleet, and hail is initially absorbed or deflected by trees, which provides some protection for people, pets, and buildings. Trees intercept water, store some of it, and reduce storm runoff and the possibility of flooding.

    Dew and frost are less common under trees because less radiant energy is released from the soil in those areas at night.

    Temperature in the vicinity of trees is cooler than that away from trees. The larger the tree, the greater the cooling. By using trees in the cities, we are able to moderate the heat-island effect caused by pavement and buildings in commercial areas.

    Air quality can be improved through the use of trees, shrubs, and turf. Leaves filter the air we breathe by removing dust and other particulates. Rain then washes the pollutants to the ground. Leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form carbohydrates that are used in the plant’s structure and function. In this process, leaves also absorb other air pollutants – such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide – and give off oxygen.

    By planting trees and shrubs, we return to a more natural, less artificial environment. Birds and other wildlife are attracted to the area. The natural cycles of plant growth, reproduction, and decomposition are again present, both above and below ground. Natural harmony is restored to the urban environment.

    Economic Benefits

    Individual trees and shrubs have value, but the variability of species, size, condition, and function makes determining their economic value difficult. The economic benefits of trees can be both direct and indirect.

    Direct economic benefits are usually associated with energy costs. Air- conditioning costs are lower in a tree-shaded home. Heating costs are reduced when a home has a windbreak. Trees increase in value from the time they are planted until they mature. Trees are a wise investment of funds because landscaped homes are more valuable than nonlandscaped homes. The savings in energy costs and the increase in property value directly benefit each home owner.

    The indirect economic benefits of trees are even greater. These benefits are available to the community or region. Lowered electricity bills are paid by customers when power companies are able to use less water in their cooling towers, build fewer new facilities to meet peak demands, use reduced amounts of fossil fuel in their furnaces, and use fewer measures to control air pollution. Communities also can save money if fewer facilities must be built to control storm water in the region. To the individual, these savings are small, but to the community, reductions in these expenses are often in the thousands of dollars.

    Trees Require an Investment

    Trees provide numerous aesthetic and economic benefits but also incur some costs. You need to be aware that an investment is required for your trees to provide the benefits that you desire. The biggest cost of trees and shrubs occurs when they are purchased and planted. Initial care almost always includes some watering.

    To function well in the landscape, trees require maintenance.Corrective pruning and mulching gives trees a good start. Shade trees, however, quickly grow to a size that may require the services of a professional arborist. Tree Works has the knowledge and equipment needed to prune, spray, fertilize, and otherwise maintain a large tree.

    The PHC Alternative

    Maintaining mature landscapes is a complicated undertaking. You may wish to consider our professional plant health care (PHC) maintenance program. The program is designed to maintain plant vigor and initially should include inspections to detect and treat any existing problems that could be damaging or fatal. Thereafter, regular inspections and preventive maintenance help ensure plant health and beauty.

  • What Are My Trees Worth?

    Almost everyone knows that trees and other living plants are valuable. They beautify our surroundings, purify our air, act as sound barriers, manufacture precious oxygen, and help us save energy through their cooling shade in summer and their wind reduction in winter.

    Many people don’t realize, however, that plants have a dollar value of their own that can be measured by competent plant appraisers.

    If your trees or shrubs are damaged or destroyed, you may be able to recapture your loss through an insurance claim or even as a deduction from your income tax.

    Some Practical Advice

    Here is some practical advice that may help you find out what your trees and plants are worth (a process known as valuation).

    Planning for Highest Value

    Tree Works can help you plan, develop, install, and care for all of your trees and plants so that each of them will be worth more to you.

    How Your Trees and Shrubs Are Valuated

    Tree Works has developed a set of guidelines for the valuation. Such guidelines have been widely adopted in the field and are recognized by insurance companies, the courts, and, in some cases, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

    What to Do If You Suffer Loss or Damage to Your Landscape Plants

    A casualty loss is defined roughly as “… a loss resulting from an identifiable event of sudden, unexpected, or unusual nature.” This definition can include such events as vehicular accidents, storms, floods, lightning, vandalism, or even air and soil pollution.

    If you suffer damage to trees or landscaping from any type of casualty, first consult your home owner’s insurance policy to determine the amount and kind of coverage. Contact the insurance company to have an appraisal made by Tree Works. We are experienced in plant appraisal. Have the appraisal made right after your loss or damage.

    Tree Works can accomplish many things for you. We can see things you might miss, help correct damage, and prescribe remedies you may be able to do yourself. We can establish the amount of your loss in financial terms, including the cost of removing debris and making repairs as well as replacements. All of these steps are wise investments and well worth the cost you may incur for the inspection.

    Four Factors in Professional Valuation of Trees and Other Plants

    Size

    Sometimes the size and age of a tree are such that it cannot be replaced. Trees that are too large to be replaced can be assessed by us with a specialized appraisal formula.

    Species or classification

    Trees that are hardy, durable, highly adaptable, and free from objectionable characteristics are most valuable. They require less maintenance; they have sturdy, well-shaped branches, and pleasing foliage. Tree values vary according to the region, the “hardiness” zone, including provincial and local conditions. If you are not familiar with these variables, be sure to contact us for advice.

    Condition

    Tree Works will also consider the condition of the plant. Obviously, a healthy, well-maintained plant has a higher value. Roots, trunk, branches, and buds need to be inspected.

    Location

    Functional considerations are important. A tree in your yard may be worth more than one growing in the woods. A tree standing alone often has a higher value than one in a group. A tree near your house or one that is a focal point in your landscape tends to have more value. The site, placement, and contribution of a tree to the overall landscape help determine the overall value of the plant attributable to location.

    All of these factors can be measured in dollars and cents. They can determine the value of a tree, specimen shrubs, or evergreens, whether for insurance purposes, court testimony in lawsuits, or possibly even tax deductions.

    Checklist

    These steps should be taken before and after any casualty loss to your trees and landscape. Taking them can improve the value of your investment in nature’s green, growing gifts and prevent financial loss should they be damaged or destroyed.

    • Plan your landscaping for both beauty and functional value.
    • Protect and preserve to maintain value.
    • Take pictures of trees and other landscape plants now while they are healthy and vigorous. Pictures make “before and after” comparisons easier and expedite the processing of insurance claims or deductions for losses on tax forms.
    • Check your insurance. In most cases, the amount of an allowable claim for any one tree or shrub is a maximum of $500.
    • For insurance, legal, and tax purposes, keep accurate records of your landscape and real estate appraisals on any losses.
    • Consult us at every stage in the life cycle of your landscape (planning, planting, care) to make sure you do not suffer needless financial loss when a casualty strikes.
  • Which Trees Should I Select?

    Tree selection is one of the most important investment decisions a homeowner makes when landscaping a new home or replacing a tree lost to damage or disease. Considering that most trees have the potential to outlive the people who plant them, the impact of this decision is one that can influence a lifetime. Match the tree to the site, and both lives will benefit.

    One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “Which kind of tree do you think I should plant?” Before this question can be answered, a number of factors need to be considered. Think about the following questions:

    • Why is the tree being planted? Do you want the tree to provide shade, fruit, or seasonal color, or act as a windbreak or screen? Maybe more than one reason?
    • What is the size and location of the planting site? Does the space lend itself to a large, medium, or small tree? Are there overhead or belowground wires or utilities in the vicinity? Do you need to consider clearance for sidewalks, patios, or driveways? Are there other trees in the area? Are there barriers to future root growth, such as building foundations?
    • Which type of soil conditions exist? Is the soil deep, fertile, and well drained, or is it shallow, compacted, and infertile?
    • Which type of maintenance are you willing to provide? Do you have time to water, fertilize, and prune the newly planted tree until it is established, or will you be relying on our tree service for assistance?

    Asking and answering these and other questions before selecting a tree will help you choose the “right tree for the right place.”

    TREE FUNCTION

    Trees make our surroundings more pleasant. Properly placed and cared for, trees increase the value of our real estate. A large shade tree provides relief from summer’s heat and, when properly placed, can reduce summer cooling costs. An ornamental tree provides beautiful flowers, leaves, bark, or fruit. Evergreens with dense, persistent leaves can be used to provide a windbreak or a screen for privacy. A tree that drops its leaves in the fall allows the sun to warm a house in the winter. A tree or shrub that produces fruit can provide food for the owner and/or attract birds and wildlife into your home landscape. Street trees decrease the glare from pavement, reduce runoff, filter out pollutants, and add oxygen to the air we breath. Street trees also improve the overall appearance and quality of life in a city or neighborhood.

    FORM AND SIZE

    A basic principle of modern architecture is “form follows function.” This is a good rule to remember when selecting a tree. Selecting the right form (shape) to complement the desired function (what you want the tree to do) can significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase the tree’s value in the landscape. When making a selection about form, also consider mature tree size. Trees grow in a variety of sizes and shapes, as shown below. They can vary in height from several inches to several hundred feet. Select a form and size that will fit the planting space provided.

    Depending on your site restrictions, you can choose from among hundreds of combinations of form and size. You may choose a small-spreading tree in a location with overhead utility lines. You may select a narrow, columnar form to provide a screen between two buildings. You may choose large, vase-shaped trees to create an arbor over a driveway or city street. You may even determine that the site just does not have enough space for a tree of any kind.

    SITE CONDITIONS

    Selecting a tree that will thrive in a given set of site conditions is the key to long-term tree survival. The following is a list of the major site conditions to consider before selecting a tree for planting:

    • soil conditions
    • exposure (sun and wind)
    • human activity
    • drainage
    • space constraints
    • hardiness zone

    SOIL CONDITIONS

    The amount and quality of soil present in your yard can limit planting success. In urban sites, the topsoil often has been disturbed and frequently is shallow, compacted, and subject to drought. Under these conditions, trees are continuously under stress. For species that are not able to handle these types of conditions, proper maintenance designed to reduce stress is necessary to ensure adequate growth and survival. Tree Works will, for a minor charge, take soil samples from your yard to test for fertility, salinity, and pH (alkalinity or acidity). The tests will be returned with recommendations on ways to improve poor soil conditions with fertilizers or soil amendments (sand, compost, or manure) and will also help determine the recommend tree species that will do well in the soils found on your site.

    EXPOSURE

    The amount of sunlight available will affect tree and shrub species selection for a particular location. Most woody plants require full sunlight for proper growth and flower bloom. Some do well in light shade, but few tree species perform well in dense shade. Exposure to wind is also a consideration. Wind can dry out soils, causing drought conditions and damage to branches and leaves during storms, and can actually uproot newly planted trees that have not had an opportunity to establish root systems. Special maintenance, such as staking or more frequent watering, may be needed to establish young trees on windy sites.

    HUMAN ACTIVITY

    This aspect of tree selection is often overlooked. The reality of the situation is that the top five causes of tree death are the result of things people do: soil compaction, underwatering, overwatering, vandalism, and the number one cause – planting the wrong tree – account for more tree deaths than all insect and disease-related tree deaths combined.

    DRAINAGE

    Tree roots require oxygen to develop and thrive. Poor drainage can remove the oxygen available to the roots from the soil and kill the tree. Before planting, dig some test holes 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep in the areas you are considering planting trees. Fill the holes with water and time how long it takes for the water to drain away. If it takes more than 6 hours, you may have a drainage problem. If so, contact us for recommendations on how to correct the problem, or choose a different site.

    SPACE CONSTRAINTS

    Many different factors can limit the planting space available to the tree: overhead or underground utilities, pavement, buildings, other trees, visibility. The list goes on and on. Make sure there is adequate room for the tree you select to grow to maturity, both above and below ground.

    HARDINESS

    Hardiness is the plant’s ability to survive in the extreme temperatures of the particular geographic region in which you are planting the tree. Plants can be cold hardy, heat tolerant, or both. Most plant reference books provide a map of hardiness zone ranges. Before you make your final decision, make sure the plant you have selected is “hardy” enough for our region.

    PEST PROBLEMS

    Insect and disease organisms affect almost every tree and shrub species. Every plant has its particular pest problems, and the severity varies geographically. These pests may or may not be life threatening to the plant. You should select plants resistant to pest problems for our area. Tree Works can advise you on information relevant to problem species for our region.

    SPECIES SELECTION

    Personal preferences play a major role in the selection process. Now that your homework is done, you are ready to select a species for the planting site you have chosen. Make sure you use the information you have gathered about your site conditions, and balance it with the aesthetic decisions you make related to your personal preferences.

    The species must be suitable for our geographic region (hardy), tolerant to the moisture and drainage conditions of your soil, be resistant to pests common to our area, and have the right form and size for the site and function you have envisioned.

    Remember, the beautiful picture of a tree you looked at in a magazine or book was taken of a specimen that is growing vigorously because it was planted in the right place. If your site conditions tell you the species you selected will not do well under those conditions, do not be disappointed when the tree does not perform in the same way.

    If you are having difficulty answering any of these questions on your own, contact us for assistance. We will help you to plant the “right tree in the right place.” It is better to get a us involved early and help you make the right decision than to call later to ask if you made the wrong decision.

  • Why Should I Buy A High Quality Tree?

    When you buy a high-quality tree, plant it correctly, and treat it properly, you and your tree will benefit greatly in many ways for many years.

    When you buy a low-quality tree, you and your tree will have many costly problems even if you take great care in planting and maintenance.

    What Determines Tree Quality?

    A high-quality tree has:

    • enough sound roots to support healthy growth.
    • a trunk free of mechanical wounds and wounds from incorrect pruning. drained, or is it shallow, compacted, and infertile?
    • a strong form with well-spaced, firmly attached branches.

    A low-quality tree has:

    • crushed or circling roots in a small root ball or small container.
    • a trunk with wounds from mechanical impacts or incorrect pruning.
    • a weak form in which multiple stems squeeze against each other or branches squeeze against the trunk.

    Any of these problems alone or in combination with the others will greatly reduce the tree’s chances for a long, attractive, healthy, and productive life.

    When buying a tree, inspect it carefully to make certain it does not have problems with roots, injuries, or form. Remember the acronym RIF; it will help you remember roots, injuries, and form.

    Here are some details on potential problems and some other considerations that you should be aware of when buying a tree.

    Root Problems

    Roots on trees for sale are available as one of three types:

    • bare root: no soil; usually on small trees
    • root balled: roots in soil held in place by burlap or some other fabric; the root ball may be in a wire basket
    • container grown: roots and soil in a container

    BARE-ROOT STOCK

    Bare roots should not be crushed or torn. The ends of the roots should be clean cut. If a few roots are crushed, re-cut them to remove the injured portions. Use sharp tools. Make straight cuts. Do not paint the ends. The cuts should be made immediately before planting and watering.

    ROOT-BALLED STOCK

    You should be able to see the basal trunk flare. The flare is the spreading trunk base that connects with the roots. Root balls should be flat on top. Roots in soil in round bags often have many major woody roots cut or torn during the bagging process. Avoid trees with many crushed or torn roots.

    The diameter of the root ball should be at least 10 to 12 times the diameter of the trunk as measured 6 inches above the trunk flare.

    After placing the root ball in the planting site, cut the ties and carefully pull away the burlap or other fabric. Examine any roots that protrude from the soil. If many roots are obviously crushed or torn, the tree may have severe growth problems. If only a few roots are injured, cut away only the injured portions. Use a sharp tool. Use care not to break the soil ball around the roots.

    Cut the wire on wire baskets. Place the basket into the planting site. Cut away at least the top two wires without disturbing the root ball. Inspect exposed roots for injuries. If many roots are injured, the tree may have serious growth problems. If the trunk flare has been buried, gently expose it before planting the tree, taking care not to damage the bark.

    CONTAINER-GROWN STOCK

    Roots should not twist or circle in the container. Remove the root ball from the container. Inspect the exposed larger roots carefully to see whether they are twisting or turning in circles. Circling roots often girdle and kill other roots. If only a few roots are circling, cut them away with a sharp tool.

    Trunk flare should be obvious. Be on alert for trees planted too deeply in containers or trees “buried” in fabric bags. As with root-balled stock, you should be able to see the basal trunk flare with container-grown plants. If the trunk flare has been buried, gently expose it before planting the tree, taking care not to damage the bark.

    INJURIES

    Beware of injuries beneath trunk wraps. Never buy a tree without thoroughly checking the trunk. If the tree is wrapped, remove the wrap and inspect the trunk for wounds, incorrect pruning cuts, and insect injuries. Wrap can be used to protect the trunk during transit but should be removed after planting.

    Incorrect pruning cuts are major problems. Incorrect pruning cuts that remove or injure the swollen collar at the base of branches can start many serious tree problems, cankers, decay, and cracks.

    Incorrect pruning cuts that leave branch and leader stubs also start disease and defect problems. Do not leave stubs.

    A correct pruning cut removes the branch just outside of the collar. A ring, or “doughnut,” of sound tissues then grows around the cut. Do not make cuts flush to the trunk. The closing tissues may form only to the sides of the flush cuts. Trunk tissues above and below flush cut branches often die. When the heat of the sun or the cold of frost occurs, cracks or long, dead streaks may develop above and below the dead spots.

    FORM

    Good, strong form, or architecture, starts with branches evenly spaced along the trunk. The branches should have firm, strong attachments with the trunk.

    Squeezed branches signal problems. Weak branch unions occur where the branch and trunk squeeze together. As the squeezing increases during diameter growth, dead spots or cracks often begin to form below where the branch is attached to the trunk. Once this problem starts, the weak branch attachment could lead to branches cracking or breaking during mild to moderate storms.

    When several branches are on the same position on the trunk, the likelihood of weak attachments and cracks increases greatly. As the branches grow larger and tighter together, the chances for splitting increase.

    Avoid trees with two or more stems squeezing together. As stems squeeze together, cracks often form down the trunk. The cracks could start from squeezed multiple leader stems or where the two trunks come together.

    If you desire a tree with multiple trunks, make certain that the trunks are well separated at the ground line.

    Remember, trunks expand in diameter as they grow. Two trunks may be slightly separated when small, but as they grow in girth, the trunks will squeeze together.

    Look for early signs of vertical trunk cracks. Examine branch unions carefully for small cracks below the unions. Cracks are major starting points for fractures of branches and trunks. The small cracks could be present for many years before a fracture happens. Always keep a close watch for vertical cracks below squeezed branches and squeezed trunks.

    If your tree has only a few minor problems, corrective pruning may help. Start corrective pruning one year after planting. Space the pruning over several years.

    Remove broken or torn branches at the time of planting. After a year, start corrective pruning by removing the branches that died after planting.

    TREES HAVE DIGNITY TOO

    Most nurseries produce high-quality trees. When you start with a high- quality tree, you are giving that tree a chance to express its dignity for many years. Remember RIF.

  • What Is The Best Way To Plant A Tree?

    Think of the tree you just purchased as a lifetime investment. How well your tree, and investment, grows depends on the type of tree and location you select for planting, the care you provide when the tree is planted, and follow-up care the tree receives after planting.

    Planting the Tree

    The ideal time to plant trees and shrubs is during the dormant season – in the fall after leaf drop or early spring before budbreak. Weather conditions are cool and allow plants to establish roots in the new location before spring rains and summer heat stimulate new top growth. However, trees properly cared for in the nursery or garden center, and given the appropriate care during transport to prevent damage, can be planted throughout the growing season. In tropical and subtropical climates where trees grow year round, any time is a good time to plant a tree, provided that sufficient water is available. In either situation, proper handling during planting is essential to ensure a healthy future for new trees and shrubs. Before you begin planting your tree, be sure you have had all underground utilities located prior to digging.

    If the tree you are planting is balled or bare root, it is important to understand that its root system has been reduced by 90 to 95 percent of its original size during transplanting. As a result of the trauma caused by the digging process, trees commonly exhibit what is known as transplant shock. Containerized trees may also experience transplant shock, particularly if they have circling roots that must be cut. Transplant shock is indicated by slow growth and reduced vigor following transplanting. Proper site preparation before and during planting coupled with good follow-up care reduces the amount of time the plant experiences transplant shock and allows the tree to quickly establish in its new location. Carefully follow nine simple steps, and you can significantly reduce the stress placed on the plant at the time of planting.

    Dig a shallow, broad planting hole

    Make the hole wide, as much as three times the diameter of the root ball but only as deep as the root ball. It is important to make the hole wide because the roots on the newly establishing tree must push through surrounding soil in order to establish. On most planting sites in new developments, the existing soils have been compacted and are unsuitable for healthy root growth. Breaking up the soil in a large area around the tree provides the newly emerging roots room to expand into loose soil to hasten establishment.

    Identify the trunk flare

    The trunk flare is where the roots spread at the base of the tree. This point should be partially visible after the tree has been planted. If the trunk flare is not partially visible, you may have to remove some soil from the top of the root ball. Find it so you can determine how deep the hole needs to be for proper planting.

    Remove tree container for containerized trees

    Carefully cutting down the sides of the container may make this easier. Inspect the root ball for circling roots and cut or remove them. Expose the trunk flare, if necessary.

    Place the tree at the proper height

    Before placing the tree in the hole, check to see that the hole has been dug to the proper depth—and no more. The majority of the roots on the newly planted tree will develop in the top 12 inches of soil. If the tree is planted too deeply, new roots will have difficulty developing because of a lack of oxygen. It is better to plant the tree a little high, 2 to 3 inches above the base of the trunk flare, than to plant it at or below the original growing level. This planting level will allow for some settling. To avoid damage when setting the tree in the hole, always lift the tree by the root ball and never by the trunk.

    Straighten the tree in the hole

    Before you begin backfilling, have someone view the tree from several directions to confirm that the tree is straight. Once you begin backfilling, it is difficult to reposition the tree.

    Fill the hole gently but firmly

    Fill the hole about one-third full and gently but firmly pack the soil around the base of the root ball. Then, if the root ball is wrapped, cut and remove any fabric, plastic, string, and wire from around the trunk and root ball to facilitate growth (see diagram). Be careful not to damage the trunk or roots in the process.

    Fill the remainder of the hole, taking care to firmly pack soil to eliminate air pockets that may cause roots to dry out. To avoid this problem, add the soil a few inches at a time and settle with water. Continue this process until the hole is filled and the tree is firmly planted. It is not recommended to apply fertilizer at the time of planting.

    Stake the tree, if necessary

    If the tree is grown and dug properly at the nursery, staking for support will not be necessary in most home landscape situations. Studies have shown that trees establish more quickly and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they are not staked at the time of planting. However, protective staking may be required on sites where lawn mower damage, vandalism, or windy conditions are concerns. If staking is necessary for support, there are three methods to choose among: staking, guying, and ball stabilizing. One of the most common methods is staking. With this method, two stakes used in conjunction with a wide, flexible tie material on the lower half of the tree will hold the tree upright, provide flexibility, and minimize injury to the trunk. Remove support staking and ties after the first year of growth.

    Mulch the base of the tree

    Mulch is simply organic matter applied to the area at the base of the tree. It acts as a blanket to hold moisture, it moderates soil temperature extremes, and it reduces competition from grass and weeds. Some good choices are leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, or composted wood chips. A 2- to 4-inch layer is ideal. More than 4 inches may cause a problem with oxygen and moisture levels. When placing mulch, be sure that the actual trunk of the tree is not covered. Doing so may cause decay of the living bark at the base of the tree. A mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches wide at the base of the tree, is sufficient to avoid moist bark conditions and prevent decay.

    Provide follow-up care

    Keep the soil moist but not soaked; overwatering causes leaves to turn yellow or fall off. Water trees at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot weather. When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less-frequent watering.

    Other follow-up care may include minor pruning of branches damaged during the planting process. Prune sparingly immediately after planting and wait to begin necessary corrective pruning until after a full season of growth in the new location.

    After you’ve completed these nine simple steps, further routine care and favorable weather conditions will ensure that your new tree or shrub will grow and thrive. A valuable asset to any landscape, trees provide a long- lasting source of beauty and enjoyment for people of all ages. When questions arise about the care of your tree, be sure to consult our ISA Certified Arborists .

    The PHC Alternative

    Maintaining mature landscapes is a complicated undertaking. You may wish to consider our professional Plant Health Care (PHC) maintenance program, which we now offer to our customers. A PHC program is designed to maintain plant vigor and should initially include inspections to detect and treat any existing problems that could be damaging or fatal. Thereafter, regular inspections and preventive maintenance will ensure plant health and beauty.

  • What About Trees And Turf?

    Woody plants and turfgrasses are critical components of design plans for homes, offices, and parks. Trees and turf offer distinct personal, functional, and environmental benefits. Personal preferences for color, fragrance, and form should complement the functional properties of size, shape, density, and placement of plant material.

    We’ve all seen thinning grass under large shade trees, large surface tree roots that cause safety hazards and mowing obstacles, young trees that don’t seem to grow, and tree trunks badly damaged by lawn mowers or string trimmers. All of these undesirable effects can be caused by trees and turf growing too closely together.

    Turfgrasses provide many of the same environmental benefits as trees. They:

    • change carbon dioxide into the oxygen we breathe
    • cool the air by changing water into water vapor
    • stabilize dust
    • entrap air polluting gases
    • control erosion

    Turfgrasses, in addition to being environmentally beneficial, are attractive in formal and informal designs. There are many advantages to combining trees and turf in the landscape.

    Selection

    When trees and turf are used in the same areas, extra attention must be given to plant material selection in addition to the usual hardiness, climatic, and soil needs. An effort should be made to make the trees and lawn compatible. Grass is generally a sun-loving plant. Most grass species will not grow well in areas that get less than 50 percent open sunlight; however, new varieties with improved shade tolerance are being introduced. Consult your garden center specialist or sod producer for recommendations of shade-tolerant grasses for your area.

    In areas where the lawn is the primary design feature, select woody plants that do the least damage to grass growth and maintenance. The woody plants should be small, have an open canopy (to allow sunlight to penetrate to the ground), or have a high canopy. Select trees that do not root near the soil surface; surface rooting is most serious where shallow topsoil or composted clay soils are present. Remember, tree roots get larger as the tree gets older.

    Competition

    Trees, shrubs, ground covers, and lawn grasses all require sunlight, water, and rooting space for growth. Each plant in the landscape competes with neighboring plants regardless of type or species. Some even produce chemicals that are exuded from roots to restrict growth of nearby plants. For each plant to do well, it must have adequate space. Because perennial woody plants increase in size each year, they require additional space over time. The landscape design should provide adequate space for these plants to mature.

    While shade is the biggest, most obvious problem trees create for turf growth, a tree’s roots also contribute to poor turf performance. Contrary to general thinking, most tree roots are in the top 2 feet of soil. More important, the majority of fine, water absorbing roots are in the top 6 inches of soil. Grass roots ordinarily occupy a much greater percentage of the soil volume than tree roots and outcompete them for water and nutrients, especially around young trees. However, grass root density is often much lower in areas where trees were established first. In these situations, tree roots compete much better for water and nutrients and prevent or reduce the success of establishing new turf.

    Competition is especially important when transplanting, seeding, or sodding. The newest plant in the area must be given special treatment and must receive adequate water, nutrients, and sunlight, which frequently means that competing sod should be removed from around transplanted trees and shrubs or that some of the lower branches should be removed from existing trees above a newly sodded lawn. In any case, do not do any tilling around trees.

    Mulching is an alternative to turf around trees, and its use eliminates potential competition. A 2- to 4-inch layer of wood chips, bark, or other organic material over the soil under the drip line is recommended because it

    • helps retain soil moisture
    • helps reduce weeds and controls grass
    • increases soil fertility when mulch decomposes
    • improves appearance
    • protects the trunk from injuries caused by mowing equipment and trimmers that often result in serious tree damage or death
    • improves soil structure (better aeration, temperature, and moisture conditions)

    Maintenance Practices

    Maintenance practices for trees and turf are different. Because tree and grass roots exist together in the upper 6 to 8 inches of the topsoil, treatment of one may damage the other. Fertilizer applied to one plant will also be absorbed by the roots of a nearby plant. Normally that is good, but excessive fertilization of either trees or turf can result in tree crown or grass blade growth greater than desired.

    Many herbicides or weed killers that are used in turf can cause severe damage to trees when misapplied. Misapplication can occur on windy days, causing the drift to fall on nontarget plants, or on hot days when the herbicide may vaporize and diffuse into the air. While most herbicides do not kill tree roots, some, such as soil sterilants and a few others, do. Herbicides that can cause tree damage have statements on their labels warning against using the product near trees.

    Watering of lawns is beneficial to trees if the watering is done correctly. Trees need, on average, the equivalent of one inch of rain every seven to ten days, depending on the species. Frequent, shallow watering does not properly meet the needs of either trees or turf and can be harmful to both.

    Turf growing under or near trees should be mowed at the top of its recommended mowing height. Mowing off no more than one-third of the grass blade’s height and letting the clippings remain on the lawn does much to ensure a healthy and vigorous lawn. In an ideal situation, tree and turf maintenance would be handled by the same individual in order to maximize the benefits of all maintenance practices.

    Special Situations

    • Placing fill dirt around existing trees. Fill dirt frequently is added around existing mature trees so that a level or more visually desirable lawn can be established. Fill dirt changes the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide around tree roots and the roots may subsequently die. Consult a tree care expert before adding fill or constructing soil wells around tree trunks.
    • Establishing lawns around existing trees. Preparation of a seedbed for lawns requires disruption of the upper 4 to 6 inches of topsoil. This soil contains the feeder roots of trees. Damage to tree roots often results in declining tree tops.
    • Lawn watering in arid sites. Homes are sometimes built in woodlots. In arid regions, the watering that is required to maintain grass is especially damaging to dryland trees. Excess water at the tree trunk encourages growth of fungi that can kill trees.

    Thin turfgrass growing around trunk-scarred weak trees does not need to be a common sight in the landscape. With proper planning, proper plant selection and placement, and reasonable management, the many and varied benefits of both trees and turf can be readily achieved.

  • What Are Proper Mulching Techniques?

    Mulches are materials placed over the soil surface to maintain moisture and improve soil conditions. Mulching is one of the most beneficial things a homeowner can do for the health of a tree. Mulch can reduce water loss from the soil, minimize weed competition, and improve soil structure. Properly applied, mulch can give landscapes a handsome, well-groomed appearance. Mulch must be applied properly; if it is too deep or if the wrong material is used, it can actually cause significant harm to trees and other landscape plants.

    Benefits of Proper Mulching

    • Helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and the need for watering can be minimized.
    • Helps control weeds. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch will reduce the germination and growth of weeds.
    • Mulch serves as nature’s insulating blanket. Mulch keeps soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
    • Many types of mulch can improve soil aeration, structure (aggregation of soil particles), and drainage over time.
    • Entrap air polluting gases.
    • Some mulches can improve soil fertility.
    • A layer of mulch can inhibit certain plant diseases.
    • Mulching around trees helps facilitate maintenance and can reduce the likelihood of damage from “weed whackers” or the dreaded “lawn mower blight.”
    • Mulch can give planting beds a uniform, well-cared-for look.

    Trees growing in a natural forest environment have their roots anchored in a rich, well-aerated soil full of essential nutrients. The soil is blanketed by leaves and organic materials that replenish nutrients and provide an optimal environment for root growth and mineral uptake. Urban landscapes, however, are typically a much harsher environment with poor soils, little organic matter, and large fluctuations in temperature and moisture. Applying a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch can mimic a more natural environment and improve plant health.

    The root system of a tree is not a mirror image of the top. The roots of most trees can extend out a significant distance from the tree trunk. Although the guideline for many maintenance practices is the drip line—the outermost extension of the canopy – the roots can grow many times that distance. In addition, most of the fine, absorbing roots are located within inches of the soil surface. These roots, which are essential for taking up water and minerals, require oxygen to survive. A thin layer of mulch, applied as broadly as practical, can improve the soil structure, oxygen levels, temperature, and moisture availability where these roots grow.

    Types of Mulch

    Mulches are available commercially in many forms. The two major types of mulch are inorganic and organic. Inorganic mulches include various types of stone, lava rock, pulverized rubber, geotextile fabrics, and other materials. Inorganic mulches do not decompose and do not need to be replenished often. On the other hand, they do not improve soil structure, add organic materials, or provide nutrients. For these reasons, most horticulturists and arborists prefer organic mulches.

    Organic mulches include wood chips, pine needles, hardwood and softwood bark, cocoa hulls, leaves, compost mixes, and a variety of other products usually derived from plants. Organic mulches decompose in the landscape at different rates depending on the material and climate. Those that decompose faster must be replenished more often. Because the decomposition process improves soil quality and fertility, many arborists and other landscape professionals consider that characteristic a positive one, despite the added maintenance.

    Not Too Much!

    As beneficial as mulch is, too much can be harmful. The generally recommended mulching depth is 2 to 4 inches. Unfortunately, many landscapes are falling victim to a plague of overmulching. A new term, “mulch volcanoes,” has emerged to describe mulch that has been piled up around the base of trees. Most organic mulches must be replenished, but the rate of decomposition varies. Some mulches, such as cypress mulch, remain intact for many years. Top dressing with new mulch annually (often for the sake of refreshing the color) creates a buildup to depths that can be unhealthy. Deep mulch can be effective in suppressing weeds and reducing maintenance, but it often causes additional problems.

    Problems Associated with Improper Mulching

    • Deep mulch can lead to excess moisture in the root zone, which can stress the plant and cause root rot.
    • Piling mulch against the trunk or stems of plants can stress stem tissues and may lead to insect and disease problems.
    • Some mulches, especially those containing cut grass, can affect soil pH. Continued use of certain mulches over long periods can lead to micronutrient deficiencies or toxicities.
    • Mulch piled high against the trunks of young trees may create habitats for rodents that chew the bark and can girdle the trees.
    • Thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and may prevent the penetration of water and air. In addition, a thick layer of fine mulch can become like potting soil and may support weed growth.
    • Anaerobic “sour” mulch may give off pungent odors, and the alcohols and organic acids that build up may be toxic to young plants.

    Proper Mulching

    It is clear that the choice of mulch and the method of application can be important to the health of landscape plants. The following are some guidelines to use when applying mulch:

    • Inspect plants and soil in the area to be mulched. Determine whether drainage is adequate. Determine whether there are plants that may be affected by the choice of mulch. Most commonly available mulches work well in most landscapes. Some plants may benefit from the use of a slightly acidifying mulch such as pine bark.
    • If mulch is already present, check the depth. Do not add mulch if there is a sufficient layer in place. Rake the old mulch to break up any matted layers and to refresh the appearance. Some landscape maintenance companies spray mulch with a water-soluble, vegetable-based dye to improve the appearance.
    • If mulch is piled against the stems or tree trunks, pull it back several inches so that the base of the trunk and the root crown are exposed.
    • Organic mulches usually are preferred to inorganic materials due to their soil-enhancing properties. If organic mulch is used, it should be well aerated and, preferably, composted. Avoid sour-smelling mulch.
    • Composted wood chips can make good mulch, especially when they contain a blend of leaves, bark, and wood. Fresh wood chips also may be used around established trees and shrubs. Avoid using noncomposted wood chips that have been piled deeply without exposure to oxygen.
    • For well-drained sites, apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch. If there are drainage problems, a thinner layer should be used. Avoid placing mulch against the tree trunks. Place mulch out to the tree’s drip line or beyond.

    Remember: If the tree had a say in the matter, its entire root system (which usually extends well beyond the drip line) would be mulched.

  • What Are Proper Pruning Techniques?

    Proper pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. Trees that receive the appropriate pruning measures while they are young will require little corrective pruning when they mature.

    Keep these few simple principles in mind before pruning a tree:

    • Each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree. Always have a purpose in mind before making a cut.
    • Proper technique is essential. Poor pruning can cause damage that lasts for the life of the tree. Learn where and how to make the cuts before picking up the pruning shears.
    • Trees do not heal the way people do. When a tree is wounded, it must grow over and compartmentalize the wound. As a result, the wound is contained within the tree forever.
    • Small cuts do less damage to the tree than large cuts. For that reason, proper pruning (training) of young trees is critical. Waiting to prune a tree until it is mature can create the need for large cuts that the tree cannot easily close.

    Making The Cut

    Where you make a pruning cut is critical to a tree’s response in growth and wound closure. Make pruning cuts just outside the branch collar. Because the branch collar contains trunk or parent branch tissues, the tree will be damaged unnecessarily if you remove or damage it. In fact, if the cut is large, the tree may suffer permanent internal decay from an improper pruning cut.

    If a permanent branch is to be shortened, cut it back to a lateral branch or bud. Internodal cuts, or cuts made between buds or branches, may lead to stem decay, sprout production, and misdirected growth.

    Pruning Tools

    When pruning trees, it is important to have the right tool for the job. For small trees, most of the cuts can be made with hand pruning shears (secateurs). The scissor-type, or bypass blade hand pruners, are preferred over the anvil type. They make cleaner, more accurate cuts. Cuts larger than one-half inch in diameter should be made with lopping shears or a pruning saw.

    Never use hedge shears to prune a tree. Whatever tool you use, make sure it is kept clean and sharp.

    Establishing a Strong Scaffold Structure

    A good structure of primary scaffold branches should be established while the tree is young. The scaffold branches provide the framework of the mature tree. Properly trained young trees will develop a strong structure that requires less corrective pruning as they mature.

    The goal in training young trees is to establish a strong trunk with sturdy, well-spaced branches. The strength of the branch structure depends on the relative sizes of the branches, the branch angles, and the spacing of the limbs. Naturally, those factors vary with the growth habit of the tree. Pin oaks and sweetgums, for example, have a conical shape with a central leader. Elms and live oaks are often wide-spreading without a central leader. Other trees, such as lindens and Bradford pears, are densely branched. Good pruning techniques remove structurally weak branches while maintaining the natural form of the tree.

    Trunk Development

    For most young trees, maintain a single dominant leader growing upward. Do not prune back the tip of this leader. Do not allow secondary branches to outgrow the leader. Sometimes a tree will develop double leaders known as co-dominant stems. Co-dominant stems can lead to structural weaknesses, so it is best to remove one of the stems while the tree is young.

    The lateral branches growing on the sides contribute to the development of a sturdy well-tapered trunk. It is important to leave some of these lateral branches in place, even though they may be pruned out later. These branches, known as temporary branches, also help protect the trunk from sun and mechanical injury. Temporary branches should be kept short enough not to be an obstruction or compete with selected permanent branches.

    Permanent Branch Selection

    Nursery trees often have low branches that may make the tree appear well- proportioned when young, but low branches are seldom appropriate for large-growing trees in an urban environment. How a young tree is trained depends on its primary function in the landscape. For example, street trees must be pruned so that they allow at least 16 feet of clearance for traffic. Most landscape trees require only about 8 feet of clearance.

    The height of the lowest permanent branch is determined by the tree’s intended function and location in the landscape. Trees that are used to screen an unsightly view or provide a wind break may be allowed to branch low to the ground. Most large-growing trees in the landscape must eventually be pruned to allow head clearance.

    The spacing of branches, both vertically and radially, in the tree is very important. Branches selected as permanent scaffold branches must be well-spaced along the trunk. Maintain radial balance with branches growing outward in each direction.

    A good rule of thumb for the vertical spacing of permanent branches is to maintain a distance equal to 3 percent of the tree’s eventual height. Thus, a tree that will be 50 feet tall should have permanent scaffold branches spaced about 18 inches apart along the trunk. Avoid allowing two scaffold branches to arise one above the other on the same side of the tree.

    Some trees have a tendency to develop branches with narrow angles of attachment and tight crotches. As the tree grows, bark can become enclosed deep within the crotch between the branch and the trunk. Such growth is called included bark. Included bark weakens the attachment of the branch to the trunk and can lead to branch failure when the tree matures. You should prune branches with weak attachments while they are young.

    Avoid overthinning the interior of the tree. The leaves of each branch must manufacture enough food to keep that branch alive and growing. In addition, each branch must contribute food to grow and feed the trunk and roots. Removal of too many leaves can “starve” the tree, reduce growth, and make the tree unhealthy. A good rule of thumb is to maintain at least half the foliage on branches arising in the lower two-thirds of the tree.

    Newly Planted Trees

    Pruning of newly planted trees should be limited to corrective pruning. Remove torn or broken branches, and save other pruning measures for the second or third year.

    The belief that trees should be pruned when planted to compensate for root loss is misguided. Trees need their leaves and shoot tips to provide food and the substances that stimulate new root production. Unpruned trees establish faster with a stronger root system than trees pruned at the time of planting.

    Wound Dressings

    Wound dressings were once thought to accelerate wound closure, protect against insects and diseases, and reduce decay.

    However, research has shown that dressings do not reduce decay or speed closure and rarely prevent insect or disease infestations. Most experts recommend that wound dressing not be used. If a dressing must be used for cosmetic purposes, use a thin coating of a material that is not toxic to the plant.

  • What About Insects And Disease?

    Insects and diseases can threaten tree health. As soon as you notice any abnormality in your tree’s appearance, you should begin a careful examination of the problem. By identifying the specific symptoms of damage and understanding their causes, you may be able to diagnose the problem and select an appropriate treatment.

    Stress

    Basic elements that influence plant health include sufficient water and light, and a proper balance of nutrients. Too much or too little of any of these environmental conditions may cause plant stress.

    Environmental stress weakens plants and makes them more susceptible to insect and disease attack.

    Trees deal with environmental stresses, such as shading and competition for water and nutrients in their native environment, by adjusting their growth and development patterns to reflect the availability of the resources. Although trees are adapted to living in stressful conditions in nature, many times the stresses they experience in the landscape are more than they can handle and may make them more susceptible to insects and diseases.

    Diagnosis

    Correct diagnosis of plant health problems requires a careful examination of the situation.

    • Accurately identify the plant. Because many insects and diseases are plant-specific, this information can quickly limit the number of suspected diseases and disorders.
    • Look for a pattern of abnormality. It may be helpful to compare the affected plant with other plants on the site, especially those of the same species. Differences in color or growth may present clues as to the source of the problem. Nonuniform damage patterns may indicate insects or diseases. Uniform damage over a large area (perhaps several plant species) usually indicates disorders caused by such factors as physical injury, poor drainage, or weather.
    • Carefully examine the landscape. The history of the property and adjacent land may reveal many problems. The number of species affected may also help distinguish between infectious pathogens that are more plant-specific as compared to chemical or environmental factors that affect many different species. Most living pathogens take a relatively long time to spread throughout an area, so if a large percentage of plants becomes diseased virtually overnight, a pathogen is probably not involved.
    • Examine the roots. Note their color: brown or black roots may signal problems. Brown roots often indicate dry soil conditions or the presence of toxic chemicals. Black roots usually reflect overly wet soil or the presence of root-rotting organisms.
    • Check the trunk and branches. Examine the trunk thoroughly for wounds because they provide entrances for pathogens and wood-rotting organisms. Wounds can be caused by weather, fire, lawn mowers, and rodents, as well as a variety of other environmental and mechanical factors. Large defects may indicate a potentially hazardous tree.
    • Note the position and appearance of affected leaves. Dead leaves at the top of the tree are usually the result of environmental or mechanical root stress. Twisted or curled leaves may indicate viral infection, insect feeding, or exposure to herbicides. The size and color of the foliage may tell a great deal about the plant’s condition. Make note of these and any other abnormalities.

    Diseases

    Three things are required for a disease to develop:

    • the presence of a pathogen (the disease-causing agent)
    • plant susceptibility to that particular pathogen
    • an environment suitable for disease development

    Plants vary in susceptibility to pathogens. Many disease-prevention programs focus on the use of pathogen-resistant plant varieties. Even if the pathogen is present and a susceptible plant host is available, the proper environmental conditions must be present over the correct period of time for the pathogen to infect the plant.

    Diseases can be classified into two broad categories: those caused by infectious or living agents (diseases) and those caused by noninfectious or nonliving agents (disorders).

    Examples of infectious agents include fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Noninfectious diseases, which account for 70 to 90 percent of all plant problems in urban areas, can be caused by such factors as nutrient deficiencies, temperature extremes, vandalism, pollutants, and fluctuations in moisture. Noninfectious disorders often produce symptoms similar to those caused by infectious diseases; therefore, it is essential to distinguish between the two in order to give proper treatment.

    Insects

    Some insects can cause injury and damage to trees and shrubs. By defoliating trees or sucking their sap, insects can retard plant growth. By boring into the trunk and branches, they interfere with sap flow and weaken the tree structure. Insects may also carry some plant diseases. In many cases, however, the insect problem is secondary to problems brought on by a stress disorder or pathogen.

    It is important to remember that most insects are beneficial rather than destructive. They help with pollination or act as predators of more harmful species. Therefore, killing all insects without regard to their kind and function can actually be detrimental to tree health.

    Insects may be divided into three categories according to their method of feeding: chewing, sucking, or boring. Insects from each group have characteristic patterns of damage that will help you determine the culprit and the proper treatment. Always consult a tree care expert if you have any doubt about the nature of the insect problem or the proper treatment.

    Chewing insects eat plant tissue such as leaves, flowers, buds, and twigs. Indications of damage by these insects is often seen by uneven or broken margins on the leaves, skeletonization of the leaves, and leaf mining. Chewing insects can be beetle adults or larvae, moth larvae (caterpillars), and many other groups of insects. The damage they cause (leaf notching, leaf mining, leaf skeletonizing, etc.) will help in identifying the pest insect.

    Sucking insects insert their beak (proboscis) into the tissues of leaves, twigs, branches, flowers, or fruit and then feed on the plant’s juices. Some examples of sucking insects are aphids, mealy bugs, thrips, and leafhoppers. Damage caused by these pests is often indicated by discoloration, drooping, wilting, leaf spots (stippling), honeydew, or general lack of vigor in the affected plant.

    Boring insects spend time feeding somewhere beneath the bark of a tree as larvae. Some borers kill twigs and leaders when adults feed or when eggs hatch into larvae that bore into the stem and develop into adults. Other borers, known as bark beetles, mate at or near the bark surface, and adults lay eggs in tunnels beneath the bark.

    Treatment

    The treatment method used for a particular insect or disease problem will depend on the species involved, the extent of the problem, and a variety of other factors specific to the situation and local regulations. Always consult a professional if you have any doubt about the nature of the problem or proper treatment.

  • How Do I Avoid Construction Damage?

    As cities and suburbs expand, wooded lands are being developed into commercial and residential sites. Homes are constructed in the midst of trees to take advantage of the aesthetic and environmental value of the wooded lots. Wooded properties can be worth as much as 20 percent more than those without trees, and people value the opportunity to live among trees.

    Unfortunately, the processes involved with construction can be deadly to nearby trees. Unless the damage is extreme, the trees may not die immediately but could decline over several years. With this delay in symptom development, you may not associate the loss of the tree with the construction.

    It is possible to preserve trees on building sites if the right measures are taken. The most important step is to hire a professional arborist during the planning stage. An arborist can help you decide which trees can be saved and can work with the builder to protect the trees throughout each construction phase.

    How Trees Are Damaged During Construction

    Physical Injury to Trunk and Crown

    Construction equipment can injure the aboveground portion of a tree by breaking branches, tearing the bark, and wounding the trunk. These injuries are permanent and, if extensive, can be fatal.

    Cutting of Roots

    The digging and trenching that are necessary to construct a house and install underground utilities will likely sever a portion of the roots of many trees in the area. It is easy to appreciate the potential for damage if you understand where roots grow. The roots of a tree are found mostly in the upper 6 to 12 inches of the soil. In a mature tree, the roots extend far from the trunk. In fact, roots typically are found growing a distance of one to three times the height of the tree. The amount of damage a tree can suffer from root loss depends, in part, on how close to the tree the cut is made. Severing one major root can cause the loss of 5 to 20 percent of the root system.

    Another problem that may result from root loss caused by digging and trenching is that the potential for the trees to fall over is increased. The roots play a critical role in anchoring a tree. If the major support roots are cut on one side of a tree, the tree may fall or blow over.

    Less damage is done to tree roots if utilities are tunneled under a tree rather than across the roots.

    Soil Compaction

    An ideal soil for root growth and development is about 50 percent pore space. These pores—the spaces between soil particles—are filled with water and air. The heavy equipment used in construction com-pacts the soil and can dramatically reduce the amount of pore space. This compaction not only inhibits root growth and penetration but also decreases oxygen in the soil that is essential to the growth and function of the roots.

    Smothering Roots by Adding Soil

    Most people are surprised to learn that 90 percent of the fine roots that absorb water and minerals are in the upper 6 to 12 inches of soil. Roots require space, air, and water. Roots grow best where these requirements are met, which is usually near the soil surface. Piling soil over the root system or increasing the grade smothers the roots. It takes only a few inches of added soil to kill a sensitive mature tree.

    Exposure to the Elements

    Trees in a forest grow as a community, protecting each other from the elements. The trees grow tall, with long, straight trunks and high canopies. Removing neighboring trees or opening the shared canopies of trees during construction exposes the remaining trees to sunlight and wind. The higher levels of sunlight may cause sunscald on the trunks and branches. Also, the remaining trees are more prone to breaking from wind or ice loading.

    Getting Advice

    Hire a professional arborist in the early planning stage. Many of the trees on your property may be saved if the proper steps are taken. Allow the arborist to meet with you and your building contractor. Your Tree Works arborist can assess the trees on your property, determine which are healthy and structurally sound, and suggest measures to preserve and protect them.

    One of the first decisions is determining which trees are to be preserved and which should be removed. You must consider the species, size, maturity, location, and condition of each tree. The largest, most mature trees are not always the best choices to preserve. Younger, more vigorous trees usually can survive and adapt to the stresses of construction better. Try to maintain diversity of species and ages. We can advise you about which trees are more sensitive to compaction, grade changes, and root damage.

    Planning

    Treeworks and your builder should work together in planning the construction. The builder may need to be educated regarding the value of the trees on your property and the importance of saving them. Few builders are aware of the way trees’ roots grow and what must be done to protect them.

    Sometimes small changes in the placement or design of your house can make a great difference in whether a critical tree will survive. An alternative plan may be more friendly to the root system. For example, bridging over the roots may substitute for a conventional walkway. Because trenching near a tree for utility installation can be damaging, tunneling under the root system may be a good option.

    Erecting Barriers

    Because our ability to repair construction damage to trees is limited, it is vital that trees be protected from injury. The single most important action you can take is to set up construction fences around all of the trees that are to remain. The fences should be placed as far out from the trunks of the trees as possible. As a general guideline, allow 1 foot of space from the trunk for each inch of trunk diameter. The intent is not merely to protect the aboveground portions of the trees but also the root systems. Remember that the root systems extend much farther than the drip lines of the trees.

    Instruct construction personnel to keep the fenced area clear of building materials, waste, and excess soil. No digging, trenching, or other soil disturbance should be allowed in the fenced area.

    Protective fences should be erected as far out from the trunks as possible in order to protect the root system.

    Limiting Access

    If at all possible, it is best to allow only one access route on and off the property. All contractors must be instructed where they are permitted to drive and park their vehicles. Often this same access drive can later serve as the route for utility wires, water lines, or the driveway.

    Specify storage areas for equipment, soil, and construction materials. Limit areas for burning (if permitted), cement wash-out pits, and construction work zones. These areas should be away from protected trees.

    Specifications

    Get it in writing. All of the measures intended to protect your trees must be written into the construction specifications. The written specifications should detail exactly what can and cannot be done to and around the trees. Each subcontractor must be made aware of the barriers, limitations, and specified work zones. It is a good idea to post signs as a reminder.

    Fines and penalties for violations should be built into the specifications. Not too surprisingly, subcontractors are much more likely to adhere to the tree preservation clauses if their profit is at stake. The severity of the fines should be proportional to the potential damage to the trees and should increase for multiple infractions.

    Maintaining Good Communications

    It is important to work together as a team. You may share clear objectives with your arborist and your builder, but one subcontractor can destroy your prudent efforts. Construction damage to trees is often irreversible.

    Visit the site at least once a day if possible. Your vigilance will pay off as workers learn to take your wishes seriously. Take photos at every stage of construction. If any infraction of the specifications does occur, it will be important to prove liability.

    Final Stages

    It is not unusual to go to great lengths to preserve trees during construction, only to have them injured during landscaping. Installing irrigation systems and rototilling planting beds are two ways the root systems of trees can be damaged. Remember also that small increases in grade (as little as 2 to 6 inches) that place additional soil over the roots can be devastating to your trees. Careful planning and communicating with landscape designers and contractors is just as important as avoiding tree damage during construction.

    Post-Construction Tree Maintenance

    Your trees will require several years to adjust to the injury and environmental changes that occur during construction. Stressed trees are more prone to health problems such as disease and insect infestations. Talk to us about continued maintenance for your trees. Continue to monitor your trees, and have them periodically evaluated for declining health or safety hazards.

    Despite the best intentions and most stringent tree preservation measures, your trees still might be injured from the construction process. Tree Works can suggest remedial treatments to help reduce stress and improve the growing conditions around your trees.

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