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.
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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.

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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!