Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Green Benefits of Having Trees

We all know that trees are a calming, strong presence to have in our lives and that they are sorely missed when none are to be found. However, trees also offer amazing green benefits to their environment and the people who live near them. The benefits are numerous, but here are a few of the most impressive benefits that trees offer their surrounding areas and resident tree lovers.
Lower Energy Usage
Trees offer the surprising benefit of providing homes with lower energy usage and costs. Homes shaded by trees end up using less energy to cool their homes in the summer because their trees block and absorb the sun's rays before they can enter and heat the home. The opposite is true in the winter; because the trees have dropped their leaves in the fall, sunlight is able to enter the house and warm it, meaning homeowners waste marginally less energy trying to warm their homes in the cold.
Cleaner Air Quality
Trees are invaluable for their ability to clean our mess out of the air. Because they breathe carbon dioxide and release oxygen, trees are able to absorb the pollution we create in our every day lives and give us back the pure, clean air we need in order to breathe.
Erosion Reduction
Thanks to their extensive root networks, trees can help reduce erosion and flooding by retaining more storm water in their nearby soil. By reducing erosion and flooding, trees are able to reduce the pollution that washes into our storm drains. This creates a healthier overall ecosystem because it prevents much of the damage pollution can cause to smaller plant life and area wildlife. A healthier ecosystem is also beneficial to our personal health.
Keep Your Trees Healthy
To reap all of the eco-friendly benefits that trees offer, you need to be sure to keep the trees in your life healthy. The best way to do this is to make sure they are properly pruned and checked for damage at least annually by an arborist or professional tree service. These tree specialists have made the health and care of trees their life's work, and they will do everything possible to keep you and your trees safe throughout their life cycle. When trees do die or become a safety hazard, your professional tree service will also be able to help you remove the trees from your property and give them a new life as firewood or mulch.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Protecting Young Trees During the Winter Months

With the onset of the winter months, there are numerous factors that can cause damage to a young, newly planted tree. However, this doesn't mean that all efforts to grow a tree are in vain. In fact, there are ways to protect vulnerable trees so that they remain viable long after the cold months of winter have blown away.
Mulch is a simple and inexpensive way to protect and winter-proof a young, newly planted tree. In addition to providing a barrier of protection against wind, freezing temperatures, and frost, covering the base of the tree with mulch also helps trees retain heat from the soil. Because mulch acts as an insulator, it can also prevent damage to a young tree by upheaval. If air temperatures fluctuate too sharply, the soil may be subjected to repeated thawing and freezing patterns. This can cause damage directly to the root or can agitate the soil and cause the upheaval of a young tree. The addition of mulch to the base of the tree helps decrease the chances of this kind of damage.
Many young trees are also susceptible to sunscald during the winter. Sunscald is an injury whereby healthy bark becomes damaged and cracks or peels, causing a fissure within the tree. Sunscalding can be prevented by covering the trunk with a wrap or a plastic tree guard. These preventative measures help by reflecting the sun and insulating the young tree with a soil temperature warmer than that of the air temperature. An Austin tree removal specialist can help you determine if a tree is no longer viable due to sun scalding. Consider that the earlier the onset of the winter temperatures, the earlier one should wrap the tree. Mid to late fall is a good average. The wrap can then be removed in the spring. Additionally, consider that the chances of avoiding damage caused by sunscalding increase if the tree is wrapped during the winter months for several consecutive years.
Young trees need protection from the weight of ice and snow, too. Wrapping branches with burlap may add an extra layer of protection from cold weather conditions. Staking may also provide additional support, including preventing upheaval. 
If salting is something that's routinely done where you live, consider planting a tree away from areas that may be heavily salted, such as near roads, or at least far enough away such that salt cannot be sprayed by passing traffic. Also, avoid planting a tree in a high salt content runoff area. If landscaping options, such as where to plant, are limited and you must plant in an area that is likely to be heavily salted, consider choosing a plant that is tolerant of salt content or adding burlap as a protective barrier. An Austin arborist can help you determine which species are most salt tolerant.
Animals seeking shelter or food during the cold winter months may also pose a threat to a young, newly planted tree. An underfed deer population may resort to feeding off the branches of a tree if other food options are unavailable. They may also cause damage to the tree by rubbing their antlers against it during rut. Either repellent or perhaps even a fence may be solutions for protecting trees against deer. Mesh wraps or other guards may be necessary for smaller animals, such as mice or rabbits, which can also damage young trees in spite of their small size.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

How Trees Respond To Damage

Trees have inhabited the earth since prehistoric times, and have adapted to survive in some of the harshest of conditions. Throughout their existence, trees have been the subject of damage brought on by inclement weather as well as birds and other animals. In modern times, trees are faced with an increased threat of damage as a result of human activities. Unlike animals, trees do not have a process of healing damaged tissue, or in other words, trees cannot replace damaged tissue with healthy tissue. Instead they have developed a way to seal off a damaged area to protect against further damage through a process called compartmentalization.
If a tree is on the receiving end of a vehicle accident, for instance, its bark will likely incur some damage from the impact. With the protective boundary of bark compromised, the wood comprising the interior of the tree becomes vulnerable to harmful insects and fungi. Without the ability to create a protective barrier around the damaged area, the tree would be faced with death and decay. Instead, a damaged tree will begin to seal off the wound area in order to protect the rest of the tree. New bark forming around the wound is referred to as callous tissue, and this new protective tissue serves to protect the rest of the tree from damage as well as prevent it from drying out. If you have ever seen a tree with what appears to be an abnormal growth protruding from its trunk, you have probably seen firsthand the result of this natural defense. Being struck by a vehicle is an extreme incident through which a tree can incur damage, though other forces such as birds, squirrels, storms and pruning are more common culprits for tree damage.
Although trees are equipped with an ability to seal off wounded areas, all trees do not survive after damage leaves them susceptible to infestation and decay. It can take a tree several years to fully seal off a wounded area, and further damage may occur before the area is fully covered by the new layer of protective tissue. Many factors contribute to a tree's ability to successfully repair a wound, such as the tree's age, species, extent of damage, and weather conditions. If the wound is compartmentalized successfully without further damage or decay, the tree is likely to survive.
If a tree on your property has incurred damage, it is advised to hire a tree service professional to assess the extent of damage. While trees with minimal damage may repair themselves naturally without intervention, excessively damaged trees may need to be removed so that they do not become a hazard.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Tree Care

Wondering if your trees can handle a rough and tumble winter? We check with a local certified arborist to learn about the warning signs of a dangerous tree.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Winter Tree Wrapping

Winter tree wrapping will help prevent bark splitting on exposed trees. Find out why this is important and what trees need to be winter tree wrapped.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cutting Down 100+ foot Pine Tree over Houses - Signature Tree Service

Curtis with Signature Tree Service shows how to safely cut down a HUGE tree in a confined space amongst houses and utility lines. See more at

Sunday, December 9, 2012

California Storm So Cal Storm

There's a storm going through and it's not such nice weather. Me and a buddy had to learn the hard way that you never park under trees. Luckily there is no damage to any vehicles.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Weather Conditions That Cause Tree Disasters

With every season come different weather patterns that can cause some damage to trees. Especially in a time when winds are high and there are days when the rain just downpours. Excess water around the base of the tree can cause the tree's leaves to change color and the stability of the tree can be weakened. When the soil around the base is constantly wet, the roots will loosen their grip making the likelihood of the tree uprooting increase. Another weather element that can cause problems to occur is the wind.
High winds bring trouble because they can damage virtually anything. A newly planted tree has no chance against a high wind storm because they have not yet had the chance to fully root themselves in the soil. Older or diseased trees can also be knocked over or uprooted by high winds because they are weak. When these trees have fallen over or limbs have been snapped off, a tree company should be called in to remove the tree(s) or prune it to prevent future damage. With working conditions such as these, safety should be taken seriously.
When working with trees it is very important that certain precautions be taken. Tree limbs can weigh hundreds of pounds and need to be handled with care to prevent harm coming to workers. Ensuring the safety of the work crew should be the number one priority. Strict rules should be set in place to avoid any disastrous situations from occurring. Many times, damaged trees call for those with expertise.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Storm Damage and Mature Tree Pruning

One winter evening I was working on the computer when the power went out. The freezing rain that had been forecast must have been the culprit. It was getting late so I went to bed figuring we would have power again by morning.
Thunder and lightning woke me a couple times, but then I heard something a little different. An explosive popping sound followed by what seemed to be a shower of sparks. In my minds eye I tried to picture the cause of this sound. An exploding power transformer with hot lines arcing around it? There is nothing like a puzzle to keep me awake; but I didn't want to get up and lose the warmth I had built up under the blankets. Just drifting off again I heard the sound repeated but up the hill behind my house and more distant... more crackly sounding but still accompanied by the sparkling shattering sound my ears were now more tuned in to analyze. Suddenly realizing the impact this freezing rain was having I shot out of bed and ran to the window. Large tree limbs were on the ground. Major branches were bending under the cumulative weight of the ice; then noisily busting sending thousands of 3" icicles to break with a sparkly shattering sound.
Well the power was out for days for many, and the damage to the trees and landscape is still being cleaned up. After a damaging storm you always see a migration of tree company trucks to the area. Many of the local tree care, and landscape businesses have their hands full assisting their customer base. The city workers are also busy as these crews and residents move debris to the street for collection. The effects of such a storm can be seen in the landscape for years to come. Storms can cause limbs to break and trees to fall. A large damaged tree branch can be extremely heavy and dangerous to remove or trim. Removing large branches from a mature tree safely requires special training and often specialized equipment. Also the way this damage is dealt with impacts on the health of the tree. If you value your trees (yes I know they are all valuable) or fear a tree becoming a hazard, I would suggest you find a certified arborist.
One good first test of an arborist is:
Tell them you need your trees topped.
If they say "Sure, no problem." move on till you find one that knows what is good for the long term health of a tree.
There are plenty of crews in your town that can carve up your trees for you; but it may take diligence to find a crew trained in the proper pruning of mature trees. Everyone appreciates the hardworking and practical service of the local jobber cleaning up a storms mess, but if you have issues with major branches of a large tree, do generations to come a favor and search out an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist.
A good certified arborist with integrity will only perform ISA accepted practices. Branches are not removed without good reason. They do not "top" tree's, remove excessive amounts of live wood, or use climbing spikes on a tree (unless it is being removed). A good arborist knows how to make removal of a desirable tree the last option, and will make pruning decisions that will enhance the health of the tree and reduce possible hazards.
Pruning Cuts on a Mature Tree
Regardless who is doing the pruning or why, final pruning cuts should be made just outside a growth of bark cells called the branch collar. The branch collar is a collar of growth made of parent branch (trunk) tissue where the branch meets the trunk (or parent branch) and care should be taken to not cut or remove it. This is true for dead, damaged or living branches. Do not remove the actively growing cells of the branch collar. These cells are the trees way of closing the wound. The branch collar grows a bit out and angled away from the parent, so if you make a flush cut against the trunk, the branch collar has been removed and the wound will not close. Conversely if you cut far away from the trunk the branch collar is not near the cut where they can grow over the wound.
Improper pruning cuts can hurt your trees.
Take notice of trees with dieback of the bark on branches and down the trunks. Often you can tell it was from a flush cut or an end cut. Other times it may be a storm damaged branch that wasn't removed and it died back to the trunk and on down.
If removing a large limb, first its weight should be reduced to prevent tearing the bark when the branch falls. Make a shallow cut from the bottom of the branch a foot or so out from the branches point of attachment. Then finish cut from the top, above or a little further out on the branch. This leaves a lighter and more manageable stub. The stub is then removed while taking care to not remove the branch collar. This technique reduces the possibility of tearing the bark.

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