Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Need A Big Tree Removed? 3 Questions To Ask Any Tree Service...

Large Tree Removal Seems Simple, Yet is Complex

Facing the reality of large tree removal is not an investment that a property owner looks forward to (yes, tree maintenance is an investment--in equity, as well as risk and liability reduction). Well, can you blame them? Large tree removal can be complex, starting with the confusion of obtaining multiple quotes of which some include certain things but don't include others, forcing you to compare apples to oranges for, what seemed to be, a simple job of felling a tree. 

When it comes to large tree removal, there are three questions you should always ask any tree service:

Properly insured tree workers reduces owner liability.

1.  Are all your on-site workers on your payroll, insured to do the job at hand and CAN YOU PROVE IT? Knowing this can arm you with competitive information when comparing bids. If there are workers on your property who are not properly insured by their employer, guess who is liable if they are injured? Yep! You. 

It's more of a crucial question to ask when removing a big tree, as opposed to a shrub that any local landscaper could remove.

Immaculate landscaping intact! 120' Eucalyptus in Napa.

2.  Can you protect my landscaping from damage? The answer to this question will tell you whether you are working with a professional tree service or a company without proper training and equipment to do a stellar job without touching your beautiful landscape. 

Any quality professional tree service should be able to show you video or photos of their felling techniques and know-how.

The more professional the tree company (not always the chain brand!), the wiser your investment will be into your trees, especially the big ones.

Every great tree service should be able to split logs into firewood.
3.  Can you chop the tree into firewood afterward? Your tree is your property and should be yours to do with what you wish. The reason you are asking this question is to learn if the tree service has the equipment to satisfy your needs. 

It may cost a little more, but should not be a problem for a tree service to bring a log splitter along and accommodate that request.

Truth be told, we could have listed 25 questions for you to ask (an idea for another post) but we hope this arms you with enough information to know that when you call a tree service company for a quote on removing a large tree (or several, as the case may be), you have some helpful guidelines as a starting point.

If you'd like a quote from Signature Tree Service for large tree removal or anything El Nino related, give us a call at 707-449-8653, or visit us at for more about us. 

For free tips, videos and educational info about trees, follow Signature Tree Service on your favorite social media platform! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Preparing Your Trees For El Niño

We've blogged you to death about how to best protect your trees in California's worst drought in history. Now California homeowners are faced with another big challenge in protecting their trees and property from El Niño damage in what looks to be a serious weather disruption this year. Of course, we're talking in "what-ifs" here but as a property owner, reducing what-ifs minimizes liability. So, we thought we'd write this blog in the spirit of what-ifs...

What happens to trees if...

...El Niño brings the rain we've needed for years in one season?

If a tree falls from your property, you are liable.
Although Californians are hoping to regain some of the lost moisture in lakes and rivers, the damage of getting too much at once in combination with super dry drought soil is a scary thought. Why? First, the ground has a hard time accepting all that water at once. And since it can't be absorbed as quickly as it falls, it puddles and floods in places where it can. Secondly, eventually all that water and dry soil will create mud. And mud wreaks havoc. 
A Root Collar Exam by a Certified Arborist will determine if the roots of your trees are strong and healthy enough to withstand the weight of inches and inches of rain. A Root Collar Exam exposes smaller roots that grow tangled and overlapping, eventually creating a "stranglehold" on larger, main roots, which can severely damage or even kill a tree. (Curtis shows how this happens in this video:

 ...El Niño fosters unusually strong winds?

This is a pretty safe bet. If you've lived in California long enough to have been through an El Niño winter, you know that winds come with the territory. Think Santa Ana times three. The bigger question you may have is--how do I protect my trees against high winds?
The easiest way to protect your trees are to ensure they are well-rooted and healthy. When branches are in dormancy, they are still alive & pliable. When branches are dead, they are crisp & easily snap. One of the most important things you can do to prepare your trees for El Niño is to have any dead trees and branches removed. Since tree service, roof service and the like get VERY busy during the high season of El Niño, the sooner you have this done, the better. Otherwise, you may end up on a waiting list of several weeks!

...we're hit with both at once--high winds and torrential rain?

Be sure to have emergency numbers at the ready. In this scenario, being prepared makes all the difference. Your list should include neighbors, electrician, plumber, insurance companies (auto & home) and, of course, a 24-7 emergency tree service with Certified Arborists on staff (ours is 707-449-8653). A "Certified Arborist on staff" is as important as an electrician or plumber being certified. We are tree doctors. You wouldn't hire a doctor that isn't certified, would you? In the end, it may save you A LOT of hassle and money in the long run.
This can happen in 2 seconds!
The combination of strong winds and heavy rain is multiplied after a drought. Trees and landscape are weaker after weathering several years without regular water. As a result, trees are susceptible to infestation and disease when they are weak (their immune systems suffer, just like ours). And those diseased trees are the first to cause damage during a storm.
Just like you may have your roof checked before El Niño, it's important to care for the canopy above the canopy, too. Don't let procrastination cost you money! 

Wishing you a winter of the perfect amount.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for expert tree information, exclusive offers and cool tree pics and video! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The 5 Best Ways To Minimize Tree Fire Hazard On Your Property

The Wragg Fire from Lake Berryessa, California, recently caused our home office to have to
The Wragg Fire forced our office to evacuate (twice!).
evacuate and harbor at one of our other offices. As of today, that fire is nearly completely contained after burning 8,000 acres of hillside in between Napa and Vacaville and threatening hundreds of homes.

Before the Wragg Fire could be extinguished, the Rocky Fire started in Lake County, and at the time this blog is being written, is still only 20% contained and threatening over 6,000 homes in Clearlake.

So, aside from "500 feet of defensible space", what can you do to reduce the chances of the trees on your property becoming fire fuel? Here is a short list--easy for any homeowner--to guide you through best practices for tree care when it comes to fire hazard:

1. DO NOT WATER YOUR TREES WITH A SPRINKLER. In an effort to save water, many people are watering their yards (including trees) with a sprinkler. Since sprinklers are designed for watering shallow root plants, like lawns or gardens, they are not sufficient to deliver water to the deeper roots of a mature tree. 
A better bet for your trees is to have a special irrigation system designed. This will save water and be the best investment for your property to keep your trees alive and healthy.
How water distribution varies with irrigation

2. HONOR THE DEAD. Branches, trees, roots...any dead limbs or trunks should be removed regularly. They usually make great firewood! A Certified Arborist will be able to tell you if a tree is savable, or worth trying to save. And removal of big trees should not be a problem, even in the most delicate landscape scenario, for a seasoned tree removal specialist like Signature Tree Service in Northern California. We use a rope & pully system to protect landscaping, decks or fences around the removed tree. Check out videos of this on our You Tube page!

3.  ASSESS LIKE CLOCKWORK. To take care of your car, you get the oil changed every several thousand miles. You make a note and know that it's important to do so. The same "maintenance" goes for trees on your property. Instead of getting the oil changed, you make a note on your calendar to get your trees assessed annually by a Certified Tree Risk Assessor. Regular assessments can help PREVENT disease and death, which not only saves your trees but also saves your tree equity!

4. KEEP BRANCHES AWAY FROM YOUR BBQ & CHIMINEA. This seems like an obvious one but sometimes even fancy, well-planned outdoor kitchens can pose a fire hazard. Why? Trees are like kids--they grow up pretty fast! Many homeowners postpone pruning until the trees are out of control. In a drought, however, out of control is easier than you think when it comes to fire hazard. It only takes one spark.

5. SELF-ASSESS EVERY FEW MONTHS. In the drought conditions that California is seeing now, things can change quickly! 
Check your trees for signs of weakness: bug infestation, dead branches, lack of growth, etc. Catching problems you can treat early on can help minimize fire hazard around your home and maximize your property's return on investment.  

If you have an emergency situation, Signature Tree Service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ALWAYS with a Certified Arborist on staff. Give us a call to reach us directly at (707) 449-8653.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for tree information, exclusive offers and cool tree pics & videos.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tips To Help Your Trees Survive The Drought

Signature Tree Service is always trying to educate those who are interested. In that spirit, we thought we'd share more information about how to help your trees and landscaping survive this California drought. 

This particular infographic was created and published on CalFire's website, brought to you here by your friendly local North Bay Arborist and tree service. What we're seeing in the forests is that the trees' immune system cannot fight bug infestation in those areas hit particularly hard by the drought. If you travel to the forests East or North of the Bay Area, you will notice and undertone of brown on the mountainsides. The undeniable color of tree death. 

Don't let your trees be taken by the drought! If you need an assessment, give us a call. We'll work with you on a detailed survival plan. Otherwise, we hope these tips will help you: 

Thanks for reading our blog! If you're in the San Francisco North Bay Area and have further questions, call us anytime at 707-449-8653. We're here to help 24-hours a day, 7 days a week!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

3 Easy Ways To Successful Drought Resistant Landscaping

It's important in a severe drought to keep a close eye on what you have planted right now. How is it fairing with less water? Is it fighting for life or holding its own? If it's fighting for life, that may be an uphill battle best put to rest now.

We can help you with sick, dying and dead trees but for the general "How To" info, we thought we'd give you 3 easy ways to consider adopting in case this drought lasts another few years in California.

1. Plant What Grows Native To The Area

By taking a queue from nature, you will be one step ahead to a successful drought-resistant landscape. There are several ways to find out what grows naturally in your area, the list differs slightly from county to county. First, just start observing what seems to be prominent when you go for a nature walk. You can also visit your local nursery for advice. Any nursery in California will be well-versed on drought-resistant flowers, trees and shrubs at this point. If you would like an online reference, we've listed trees native North Bay counties on our website at Simply click on your county on the right-hand side and scroll to the bottom of the page!

2. Use Ornaments & Art To Add Interest In Lieu of Thirsty Flowers & Lawns

You will get more compliments on your
garden art than you ever did on your lawn!
A landscaper may want to plant lots and lots of flowers to add interest to your garden. They do this
because until a severe drought, flowers were a viable option. But in being hyper water conscious, consider investing in some outdoor art or bonsai-designed shrubs. You'd be surprised by the amount ambiance that the wildlife, invited by a simple birdbath, can add to your backyard!

Two talented artists in Sebastopol, California, Patrick Amiot & Brigitte Laurent, specialize in light-hearted, pop-culture style garden art. Here is a link to their website.

3. Drip-Watering

Installing a drip system is probably one of the most useful, wise investments you can make to do your part during a severe drought. Newly planted trees, even if they are native to the area, should be watered regularly for at least the first year. The best way to do that without wasting a drop (or "drip") of water is drip irrigation. Here is a handy reference we found on This Old House's website.

Thanks for reading our blog! If you're in the San Francisco North Bay Area and have further questions, call us anytime at 707-449-8653. We're here to help 24-hours a day, 7 days a week!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Arborist or Landscaper? 3 Ways To Know When You Need Each & Why

Why Pay An Arborist When A Landscaper Said He Can Handle The Job?

Let's face it, climbing and falling trees is dangerous work. When accidents happen, they're usually not splinters. Just like owning a pool or raised deck, mature trees increase your homeowner's liability while also increasing your home's value. Arborists, tree removers and climbers are professionally trained, using professional equipment specifically designed for their trade, much like landscapers when it comes to lawns, gardening and landscaping.

When you need an electrician, you hire one. You wouldn't call a plumber instead hoping he can do just as well. Both know the innards of a house, but handle completely different jobs. The same goes for landscapers and tree service companies. Similar, yet completely different jobs.

1. Workman's Comp is a small homeowner safety net when a worker is injured on their property. If Workman's Comp insurance on every employee isn't paid to date, or the worker is performing duties not covered under his job description, your safety net is gone. 
2. Any worker on your property NOT listed on the hired company's official payroll, will NOT be covered by Workman's Comp. A certified arborist is accustomed to having proof of payroll for every worker on the job site.  
3. MOST IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT MAKES BOTH 1 & 2 MOOT: Arborists pay more for business insurance, which is based on risk assessment and potential liability. If a landscaper is injured on your property while performing the job of an arborist, their insurance will not cover them and liability falls to you, the homeowner

Hire a professional tree service for tree jobs to reduce homeowner liability.

You Need A Landscaper When:

1. You want regular maintenance of your yard. This may include anything from cleaning to mowing to pruning of small trees and shrubs.
2.  You need landscaping specifics, like yard design. A landscaper can tell you which plants and ground coverings will work best for your particular location, preference and lifestyle.
3. Garden layout and advice. Most landscapers have a good understanding of garden design, soil and which flowers will work best to complement your veggie garden.

You Need An Arborist When:

 1. Trees are threatening your fence, overhang, deck, house, or other space/property.
 2. You want advice on design, placement and species of trees within your landscape and location layout.
 3. You need to determine the overall health of trees on your property. An ounce of prevention! This should only be done by a Certified Tree Risk Assessor. 

Every job has a professional in that field. Signature Tree Service regularly recommends landscapers to our clients to handle jobs we don't cover. We love landscapers! This informational blog, as are many of our blogs, was written solely to educate homeowners on liability, risk and risk reduction.

We hope this blog article has been interesting and/or useful for you. Signature Tree Service strives hard to provide the best professional tree service in Northern California. Curtis Fosnaugh, CEO, is a reputable Certified Arborist and Certified Tree Risk Assessor. Signature Tree Service has proudly served Northern California for over 10 years with offices in St. Helena, Benicia, Vacaville and Santa Rosa.

Call us if your trees need work! We are here to help, 24/7.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Power Lines & Your Trees: 5 Ways To Protect Your Property Value!

NAPA, CA: Sidewalk tree shows a butchering by PG&E
We know that power companies have a job to do, not only in supplying power but also in protecting the public from dangerous wires. Why is it, though, that these power companies, despite years of regular practice, seems to continuously get more careless with the lives of the trees they prune? 

Forget for a minute that some of these trees are older than our grandmothers. As the picture to the right shows, power companies like PG&E here in Northern California appear to be concerned with only one thing: Keep those pesky trees out of the way of our important power lines!

The Napa Valley Register recently published an article about the controversy of this practice. And Northern California isn't unique in this way! The arborists here at Signature Tree Service have seen some pretty unappetizing pictures of power company tree slaughterings all over the U.S. and Europe. Perhaps this is happening in your town? Comment and let us know! 

In order to empower you (and the trees!) as best we can, Signature Tree Service has developed a short list of 5 ways to protect your property and its value from power company butcherings.

1.  Plant Wisely. This is probably the single-most important thing you can do if you are designing your own landscape. Even though many people are drawn to taller trees around the perimeter of their property, small to medium trees are much more appropriate under power lines. Don’t forget to look up, and to think ahead 10 years when you are planning!

2.  Proactive Care. Maybe you don’t have control over the design of your current landscape (many of us are in this boat), in which case you will want to beat the power company to the punch. Hire a certified aborist to help you maintain your trees. An arborist can also assess the overall health of your trees and advise you about where to plant or transplant different types of trees.

3.  Easy On The DIY. Since trees are living creatures, the importance of a professional hand is crucial to preserving the tree’s life and your property’s value. Chopping a tree at the top (called “topping”), for instance, can remove 50 to 100 percent of a tree’s leaf-bearing crown, which is how the tree generates “food” for itself. Improper tree care can open doors for disease, decay and death. Your trees are an investment and HOLD VALUE for your home. They can increase property value when properly maintained. (The other obvious factor here is safety of doing it yourself and/or liability in hiring a handyman to do this job.)

4.  Evaluate & Transplant, if needed. Consider your current landscape. How do you expect it to grow in the next 10 or 20 years? A Sycamore tree can reach 20 feet tall in 20 years! They provide great shade…until the power company gets a hold of them. If you have a situation where you think a healthy tree may pose a future problem, consider having it moved to a different area in order to preserve property value, shade and tree life.

5.  Research & Communicate. Contact your power company or check out their website (PG&E offers info here). They can advise you as to their regulations and protocol, which will give you a head start on any pruning action they are planning to take in your area.

We love trees! We hope this blog article has been interesting and/or useful for you. Signature Tree Service strives hard to provide the best professional tree service in Northern California. Curtis Fosnaugh, CEO, is a reputable Certified Arborist and Certified Tree Risk Assessor. Signature Tree Service has proudly served Northern California for over 10 years with offices in St. Helena, Benicia, Vacaville and Santa Rosa.

Call us if your trees need work! We are here to help, 24/7.