Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Tree Problems

Summer heat brings a bunch on new problems to your garden trees and shrubs. we look at 4 different problems.

Monday, June 25, 2012

How to Grow Oak Trees From Acorns : How to Do an Oak Tree Acorn Float Test

Learn how to do an oak tree acorn float test with expert tips on growing oak trees from acorns in this free gardening video.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Early Summer Tree Problems

There are lots of problems that could be affecting your landscape trees. We visit with Terrill Collier to cover just a couple of them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Value of Trees to a Community and Reduce Heating and Air Conditioning Cost

Trees can add value to your home. Use trees to help cool homes and neighborhoods, to break the cold winds and to lower your heating costs. Trees provide food for wildlife making the neighborhoods a park like setting. Statistics show that the net cooling effect of a young healthy tree is equivalent to ten-room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
According to the American Public Association; landscaping that shades windows and walls of a home can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50%. Energy bills can be reduced by planting a tree today on the west side of your home and in 5 years energy bills should be 3% less and in 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%. When trees are properly placed around buildings the air conditioning needs can be reduced by 30% and can save 20-50% in energy used for heating. Home marketability and property value increases whenever there is landscaping with mature trees. Mature trees has appraised value between $1,000 and $10,000. Economic development attracting new business and tourism are stimulated when trees are in the surroundings as commercial retail areas are more attractive to shoppers, apartments rent more quickly and tenants stay longer. Wooded-setting space is more valuable to sell or rent. The planting of trees means improved water quality resulting in less run-off and erosion which allows more recharging of the ground water supply.
Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams. Visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress as indicated in monitoring blood pressure and muscle tension. Healthy community forest begins with careful planning. The Department of Agriculture reported that one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. There are about 60 to 200 million spaces along city streets where trees could be planted with the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of carbon dioxide every year and saving $4 billion in energy costs. Nationally, each of the 60 million street trees have an average value of $525.
With a little research and a simple layout, you can produce a landscape that will cool your home in summer and tame the winter winds. A well-planned yard will contain trees that grow well in the soil and moisture of your neighborhood increasing the property value. Remember that trees should be properly placed to avoid collisions with power lines and buildings.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

When Do I Trim My Trees?

Trimming your trees has many advantages and it should be considered for all of the ones that you own. Tree trimming is an important, yet often overlooked, step in the growing process. By trimming your them early on, you can control the shape of the crown. When you trim your trees properly, you avoid many common problems that many people experience. Disease, damage to the tree, damage to your property, and broken branches can all be avoided by trimming at the right time.
Tree trimming can make your trees aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it can also keep your trees healthy. Trimming promotes the growth of foliage, fruit and flowers. Plus, trimming keeps the branches from getting too long and fragile, so they can actually support the weight of the new growth. This helps you to avoid limb breakage, which opens up your tree to diseases.
You should trim your trees at specific times of the year. The timing is dependent on the type of tree that you own. You may want to contact a local professional tree trimmer or arborist to assess the best times to trim your trees. Some trees do best if they are trimmed in the spring or summer. Doing this can promote rapid growth and help your young trees develop to their full potential. Other trees do best if they are trimmed in the winter while they are in dormancy. However, trimming certain trees in cold weather could actually kill them.
A certified arborist will know exactly which limbs to trim and how to promote a balanced density throughout your tree. Starting early and working with a professional from the time that your trees are young can give you control over whether the trees end up narrow and tall or wide and short. How the limbs are cut influences the direction that they will grow. This can be very useful, especially if your trees could grow too close to your home, power lines, the street, or off of your property. Controlling the shape and the growth rate can also help you to create shade where you need it and balance with your other landscaping.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tree Survival For The Summer

One of the biggest worries of homeowners for their yards is "Are the trees in my yard going to survive this summer?" (We'll talk some more in a later article about the other big worry of homeowners: winter.)
You've just finished planting a new tree as the centerpiece to your yard. After all, early spring is the perfect time to plant for the optimum growth of your trees. And in late spring your hard work will have paid off. But now comes summer, and new needs for your trees.
Surviving that first summer is especially key for trees. Fortunately it's just a matter of proper maintenance and any tree can beat the heat. It's only a matter of understanding a few essentials and one can have healthy trees that last the year round.
First let's cover soil. You need to take a look to see what type of soil you have and then take steps to improve it on a gradient. If the soil you have is mostly clay then aeration will help provide oxygen needed for optimum plant health. In general trees do not need as much fertilizer as do lawns, but in our generally high pH soils, nutrients, such as nitrogen, iron, zinc and manganese, can be added. You can gain a clue to the soil quality if you note the color of leaves and needles. If they look sickly or light colored, that is a clue that additional nutrients may be in order. If you're concerned about soil health you might consider having your soil tested. Also, different soil types require different amounts of irrigation. Clay soils will typically need less water because they hold it, than say a sandy or loamy based soil.
Now, of course a big one is water. This is very evident with newly planted trees. They possess only a smaller percentage of their original roots and they have to be closely monitored and watered carefully. During extended periods of drought even large established trees need to be watered. A single, large tree can transpire (to give off vapor containing waste products through the stomata of plant tissue) more than 100 gallons of water on a typical summer day.
A few pointers: don't assume you are watering a tree when you are watering your lawn. Most of the water may go to the lawn, which has many roots competing with tree roots. Thatch in the lawn acts to repel water, and different soil types make water penetration very difficult in many cases. Soaker hoses and drip systems can be useful tools for applying water to dry soil. You should water an area at least as wide as the branch spread, but well established trees often have extensive root systems that extend far beyond the tips of the branches and will benefit from water applied to the soil outside the branch spread as well. Root feeding/watering probes are useful tools for irrigating trees as long as they are not inserted into the soil deeper than 12 inches and are moved frequently.
A few cautions: As a rule of thumb, soil needs to be moist to between 12 to 18 inches of depth for most trees and shrubs. Watering too frequently can also kill trees. Always check the moisture status of the soil around your tree before watering (use a hand trowel or soil probe). If possible, avoid applying chemically softened water to trees. Frequent use of softened water may harm soil structure and injure trees.
Next let's cover mulch. The purpose of mulch is to conserve moisture and suppress weeds around the tree. Ironically the opposite of these are its cons, as in certain mulches can bring about weed problems (if there are any weed seedlings in the mulch) or block moisture if it's put on too heavily. I always advise homeowners to apply mulch with caution, never allow the mulch to pile up on the trunk. Keep all mulch clear of the trunk flare at the base. 90% of the time it can do what's wanted, but you have to take care that you don't suffocate the tree. Organic mulch is generally better, inorganic mulches tend to sink in small traces into the soil. Organic mulches decompose naturally.
These are a few pointers to set you in the right direction. If your trees have more trouble than this surviving the summer then contact a tree care specialist to come out and take a look at it. The problem might not be the heat, there are tree diseases out there and there could be other factors plaguing city trees. But the above should cover a majority of cases. Then you can beat the heat yourself by sitting in the shade of your tree with a cool drink in hand.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saving Trees That Have Suffered Heat Shock

For weeks, I've been worried about a three-stemmed birch tree in our side yard. The leaves have turned yellow and are falling. Oddly, the two other birch trees are healthy. What is the problem? I went to a local nursery (the one that created our landscaping plan) and asked for help.
According to the tree expert, my birch tree isn't getting enough water. This is surprising because we have a sprinkling system. The tree expert showed a birch tree in a large pot and it looks just like our failing tree. "This tree needs more water," he explained. Then he showed me two other trees with small green leaves on them.
"Last week these trees were almost bare. A strong wind swept away the dry leaves and now, with extensive watering, they're growing new leaves," he said. This nursery uses river birch, he continued, trees require more water than other birch.
The national heat wave has caused many people to worry about their plants, trees and shrubs. KMBC Television in Kansas City, Missouri posted an article on its website, "Heat Shock Suspected as Trees Drop Green Leaves." Worried residents have been calling the Master Gardener's Gardening Hotline with questions about sycamore, maple, pine, oak and birch trees.
The article points out that leaf drop often happens when trees transition from cool to hot weather. In extreme heat, the trees struggle to support all of the leaves on their branches. Heat shock isn't the same as transplant shock, which can happen when a root ball is damaged or a newly planted tree is over-watered.
"The Tulsa World" published an article about heat shock titled "Water Stress." Extreme heat has caused water usage to soar. If water usage continues to surge a rationing system may be activated. "Mature trees can survive heat shock," the article notes.
I live in Minnesota, a state with plenty of water and rich soil. Though our three-stemmed birch was getting water, apparently he sprinkler head is too far away to give it enough. I was going to haul out our soaker hose, a hose with tiny holes in it, but nature intervened.
Torrential rains hit the state with such force that many towns lost power. The intersection in front of our house turned into a lake. We live at the bottom of a hill and so much water rushed down the hill that geysers of water shot out of the manhole covers. Water began to creep across the front lawn and I was glad we had flood insurance.
What became of the fragile birch? Like the potted trees at the nursery, the wind blew dry leaves off the tree and new green leaves appeared. We've run the sprinkler system several extra times and rain storms have taken care of our watering problem.
To prevent heat shock, make sure your trees get enough water. Use a soaker hose or insert a watering stake at the base of the tree. You may also buy a hose timer, start the hose early in the morning, and set it to turn off while you're at work. If you're going on vacation, ask a neighbor to water the tree or trees for you.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

What to Do About a Sick Tree

Let's face it. Tree health care isn't on the same level as your primary care physician. Skipping past the fact that it would be unreasonable to expect technology to be on a similar level, the real issue is that trees' best interests are usually not the primary consideration in the planning in our shared urban environment. Even still there are some fundamental ideas we can work with to improve any tree's chances for survival. Proper pruning, applying timely treatments, improving soil environments and regimented monitoring are all tools that arborists have to help fight the fight for our green friends.
Let's start with pruning. This is the first thing most people think of when they think about helping their trees. As an experienced veteran tree guy, I can tell you that most people get the wrong idea about pruning. With native trees in Austin, like the live oak, pruning is usually done for functional reasons rather than for the tree health. The right idea is to prune the tree in a manner that we can live with it without damaging the tree. Cleaning out deadwood will definitely improve the trees longevity, but cutting off limbs so we can drive under them is not ideal for the tree. Ideal would be moving the road. You can learn more about tree pruning by reading my pruning series. In general, tree pruning is the least impact factor for improving health for sick trees.
The highest impact approach for seeing quick results is implementing a series of timely treatments. Understand, when I say quick results I mean 1-2 years. There are very few scenarios where we can produce visually noticeable improvements for tree disorders in less than a year. Lets look closely at my statement of "implementing a series of timely treatments." The most common mistake I see made when attempting to fertilize a tree is that people (even many arborists!?) will pump a bunch of nitrogen in the ground at no specific time of the year and then walk away from the tree as if all its problems are solved. The important thing to know here is that timing is CRITICAL. I like to explain this by comparing trees to grass. Grass maintains a constant state of growth; that's why it has to be cut once a week. You can put fertilizer on turf at any time and get virtually the same response: greener grass and faster growth.
Trees are not the same. Trees go through a cycle of defferent growth stages through out the course of the year. Early in the spring the focus is on foliage growth; virtually all trees are producing an entire canopy of leaves. During the bulk of the "growing season" there is very little growth (percentage wise); this is mostly an energy producing time for trees. As late summer and fall approach the trees' focus shifts to root growth. Sixty to seventy percent of a tree's root growth for the year takes place in the fall. So, depending on what time of year it is, the treatment is going to have a different affect on the tree. It is mission critical that you put the right stuff on the tree at the right time of year.
Improving the soil environment is a relatively new technique being used by arborists here in Austin, and a very good one. What I'm talking about here is basically air-tilling the soil and mixing in organic matter. Our native "soils" are heavy clays with very little, if any, organic matter. Mixing in organic matter improves water penetration, aeration and microbe activity among other benefits. The new development that is making this popular is the use of an airspade. In the past there was no good way to till up the soil without destroying the inhabiting roots. An airspade is a high powered air compressor tool that blows apart the clay chunks. This breaks up the soil and doesn't damage vital tree roots. Although not necessary in every situation, this is an important technique in our arsenal of tools.
Every sick tree is going to be a different scenario. There is not a template you can apply to every tree. The foundation for any successful recovery is diligent monitoring and keeping good notes. My company policy is to keep a map showing the location of every tree on a property and taking a photo(s) and notes on every inspection; 4 times per year as a minimum. The trees condition will be constantly changing.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

When You Need Professional Tree Removal

As a homeowner, there may be a time where you will need to address problems on your property. Whether you live in a suburban or rural area, trees may have to be removed. There are a lot of instances where you will need to find an effective solution for tree removal. No matter what the issue is, if the tree is large you will have to find a professional to help you.
Disease & Decay
Sometimes, trees experience decay over time. This could be due to a slow disease or insect infestation. They can also suffer from plant-based infestations. The weak tree will then become a safety hazard. It will also be an eyesore, especially if it's featured on your front lawn. It's best to have professionals come in and assess the situation and provide a quote. When your tree contracts a disease that manifests quickly, you may have a serious problem on your hands. Although a single tree in your yard can suffer alone, chances are you will need to cut down and remove the tree so that you can save the other trees in your yard. Tree removal services deal with these problems often and can take care of the issue to avoid spreading the disease.
Above Ground and In Ground Pools
When you have an above ground or an in ground pool, it can be difficult to deal with a lot of trees on your property. The trees can stain concrete, clog filters, and generally make it difficult to maintain the cleanliness of your pool. You may want a tree removal contractor to come in and remove trees that canopy the pool in order to cut back on the amount of leaves. Since you're removing trees that provide natural shade, you might also want to invest in poolside umbrellas to keep the space enjoyable.
New Construction
If you're working on a building a new house or adding to the property you currently own, you may need to remove a tree or several in order to fully take advantage of the space you have. Just because it's an empty lot doesn't mean you or a general contractor can handle it safely. Tree removal services can help you make the right decisions in regards to what trees should come down. When working on home additions, they can help remove trees that are close to your house safely. It's very important to work with professionals when you're taking trees down.
When looking for a tree removal company, make sure that you're working with a reputable company that will not only take the tree down safely and effectively but also remove stump and the tree from the property. Removal services can be expensive, but as long as the company has a reputation within the community for being effective, safe, and show professional courtesy, there's no reason why a reasonable price can't also be a part of the package. Shop around before choosing a contractor to help you with your tree problem.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

When to Call in a Professional Tree Service

Ice storms, tornadoes, hail, and thunderstorms are very common in North America. Sometimes the aftermath leaves huge trees bent, damaged and hanging on power lines. It it then that the chainsaws and work crews start to clean up the mess. Some of these trees can be recovered, while others need to be removed. Here are some tips that will help you to make the right decisions.
At times, the damaged tree will get tangled in some utility lines. Under any circumstances, you should not try to cut into the mass because it will be very dangerous to your life. In such cases you should immediately call your electricity provider so that they will take the steps to correct the situation. If the tree debris is manageable, a home-owner can clean it up himself. However, even then, he has to make sure his footings are secure, because the presence of ice and snow could provide all sorts of problems to an amateur tree cutter. Though they look simple, chain saws should only be used by folks who are very familiar with their operation, and even then, they should be used very carefully. Protection of the eye and ear are other important safety rules, due to the noise and flying bits of wood.
When a tree has fallen, you may remove all the loosely attached branches. Remember that you should never top or severely prune the tree, or else it will never grow back. When you have removed the loose branches, the tree may not look very attractive, but if it is a healthy one, it will recover. It may take two or three years, but it will happen.
After you have done some initial trimming work, stop and assess the situation. Step back and take a good look at the tree. If there is more than fifty percent damage, the tree should be removed completely. Trees with split trunks are severely weakened and should also be removed. This is a painful process, especially if you are losing large specimens that have provided shade in your yard since you were a child.
After making an initial assessment of the damage, you can decide whether you need the service of a professional arborist. These are professional tree service folks who know everything about trees from the planting of seedlings, keeping them healthy as they grow, right up to the pruning of full-grown tress. An arborist knows how to deal with any tree situation, so when you decide you need emergency help, you will know to call a professional tree removal service who has an arborist on staff. With dedicated workers and the most modern equipment, they will be quickly at your service offering meticulous clean-up.

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