Posts Tagged ‘email: to comment’

Searching, Searching, Searching

Monday, August 12th, 2013

As you read this blog entry, I call your attention to the archives section on the right side of the page. It should now be easier to locate a specific tree care topic by using the search function. Just follow the instruction and the entries related to your topic or keyword should be displayed in a listing that will allow you to access a particular entry directly from that listing. That way, you won’t have to go back and scroll through the entries by month and year, just to find a topic of interest. I have over 4 years of posts, which cover most of the relevant basic tree care topics, so you should be able to locate relevant information. If you try, and cannot locate an article on your topic, please e-mail me, and I’ll try to add something to help.

I am also trying to add the direct comment feature to the blog site, but the cost for doing so may still be prohibitive. So, I ask for your patience, and encourage you to use the e-mail function to communicate with me. It’s not the best, or normal, way for most blogs, but right now it is the way we have to go. Hopefully, I’ll get it worked out.

I’m going to continue trying to make this section of MCFC,s website as user friendly as possible, because the more informed you are about the basics of urban tree care, the better you can be the kind of steward your trees deserve. Stay tuned…………………………………..

Understanding Roots

Friday, December 7th, 2012

It’s the dormant season, and you’ve settled in to think about tree care for the coming year; e.g. cleaned and fixed tools, making plans for planting and pruning, reading up on various issues that you have identified to be important for your yardscape, etc. So……………I will be offering some information about the root system of trees, over the next several blog entries, which may be helpful in your studies. The subsequent information and illustrations presented have been gleaned from Tree City USA Bulletin No. 35 from the National Arbor Day Foundation. I hope it is helpful.

The ground in which a tree grows is as much a part of its environment as the sky above. Roots are a trees life support system, and the first rule of tree care is to understand and protect (as much as possible) root zones. Roots sometimes get no respect from us above-ground caregivers. Roots quietly go about doing their job. They anchor immense (and heavy) trees firmly against the wind, deliver vital water to the growing parts, and pry loose essential elements from the soil.  Thus, it is critical that roots be protected as much as possible as we go about above-ground activities. Even when we must install underground utility lines, drainage pipes, construction of foundations or sidewalks, or any other activity that requires digging, it is important to minimize damage to the roots of nearby trees.

One of the first things to realize is how roots systems grow. The following illustrations demonstrate typical root systems, and also debunks a myth that seems to persist no matter what:

Next time I’ll talk some more about the underground network of roots and why root damage must be minimized or avoided.

Don’t Give Up Just Yet

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Recent widespread rain, in fairly decent quantities, indicates that this summers drought may finally be broken. However, it will be several weeks; maybe even through October, before we’ll know if the drought has really killed some of the trees that appear to be dead. So…………………….don’t be too hasty in removing those trees that appear to be dead without first checking them to be sure.

I have an American arborvitae in my yard that seems to have succumbed to the dry weather. The needles are totally brown all the way from the top to the base of the stem. The poor thing looks really sad. However, I checked it just the other day, and I found that some of the twigs were quite limber, and had living cells under the bark when I carefully peeled back a very small section or two. In addition, the brown needles are not falling off as quickly as they might if the twigs and branches were completely dead and dried out. I even stepped back and thought I saw a glimmer of green here and there, especially within the interior of the crown where there was some shading during the very hot times experienced in June and July. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I see a glimmer of hope that my arborvitae might recover once cooler weather sets in for good………….AND we continue to make up some of our water deficits.

Fortunately, there is no need to rush out and “take care” of a tree that might make a “miraculous” recovery. I plan to wait until next spring and see if my arborvitae leafs out. There is no need to remove it and replant this fall. That can always be done in the spring, if the tree doesn’t recover. A tree planted this fall may not survive, nor grow as well (if at all) if the dry weather persists into the winter. We’ll have a much better idea of what the conditions will be by late March, and a removal/replacement decision can be made then, without potentially wasting the cost of planting a tree this fall; which might not survive anyway.

So…………………..don’t give up just yet. If you have a tree that looks dead, but you’re not sure, check it more closely and/or get some professional advice from a local arborist, forester, or nurseryman concerning what and how to check it out.


Good luck.

Water, Water, Where Art Thou?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

It looks like much of our Wide Missouri may be in for a droughthy (spell check says there’s no such word) summer. I could have said dry, but I like messing with spell check now and then. As with most droughts, some localities have received recent rain in quantities decent enough to help recently planted trees. However, even then, relief can be short-lived, so I admonish those of you with newly planted trees to keep a close eye on local conditions, and keep up with supplemental watering as recommended in my previous blog entry. Extended droughts (1 – 3 m0nths) are not uncommon during Missouri summers, and we could be in for such an event this year. So…………………BE AWARE AND FOREWARNED!

Appropriate watering, proper pruning, and responsible pest control have long been among the basic tenets of good urban tree care. A major part of appropriate watering is the need to conserve (wisely use) the water that is applied, so that this precious resource is not wasted, while providing benefits to tree growth during our dry periods. Listed below are some steps that can be taken to help conserve water in a home landscape:

1. Plan and design to save water – large shade trees on the hot side of the home,  a dense windbreak to slow drying winds, reduced lawn sizes, and other design features can help reduce water needs. Other, more specific, ideas can be sought from local experts: arborists, nurseymen, & urban foresters.

2. Reduce lawn area – lawns are high water consumers. There are many ways to do this – collect ideas from local landscapers.

3. Select the right vegetation- remember RIGHT TREE, RIGHT PLACE! A tree naturally adapted to your locality will require less supplemental watering, than a non-native species.

4. Work with your soil – make it as close to a good loamy composition as possible, and avoid compaction as much as possible.

5. Use mulch – freely! It does a bunch of good things, including conserving soil moisture, and is a trees best friend; especially during a drought.

6. Provide regular landscape maintenance – Aerate the soil, water between midnight and 10 am, if you have a sprinkler system, Don’t over fertilize or water, Control weeds (they sap water from desirable plants), Set your mower high (taller grass is good for a yard), and Check your irrigation system frequently to assure it’s working properly (and not putting out more water than is needed).

7. If you need to irrigate regularly, use a drip irrigation system, rather than a broadcast technique. A simple drip (or trickle) system can be put together from materials readily available from local garden centers, and they will probably have someone on staff who can provide directions for properly  using it on your trees. A broadcast system (e.g. sprinklers) can waste as much as 70 % of the water applied due to runoff, evaporation, and application on sidewalks, weed patches, and other non-targeted areas.

Fresh water is a precious and limited resource. Don’t waste it!

Plant Correctly

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

If you plant a tree this week/month in honor of Arbor Day, Be sure it is planted correctly so it will get off to a good start. The following illustrations should help guide you, if you are unfamiliar with techniques for proper planting. Click on each to enlarge.

Proper Technique For Larger Trees, B&B or Potted (From: Missouri Dept. of Conservation)

Last Minute Pruning ?

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Have you been putting off removing those last few errant limbs on your favorite landscape tree(s)? And now, with an early spring apparently in the offing, you think it might be too late to take care of the problem(s)? Fear not, it can still be done as long as it is done correctly and without too much grandiosity (a two bit way of saying don’t remove too much at a time – not over 10-25 % of the total crown area). If a picture really does convey the ideas in a thousand words, then the drawings below should offer a short primer on proper pruning techniques (hopefully). Click on images to enlarge.

Tree Protection In Communities

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Ordinances are the primary way a community has to provide protections for individual citizens and their property, as well as protection of those community resources and/or property held on behalf of the citizens. For example, ordinances prescribe speed limits on city streets, standards for trash and sewage removal, what types of property development can occur in what locations (zoning), and a host of other prescriptions that are meant to make the community a better place to live for all. Ordinances are also the strongest means available to protect trees in a community.

Ordinances can safeguard street trees, assure proper landscaping in commercial areas, and prevent natural woodlands from disappearing completely as shopping malls and housing developments spread across the landscape. Used correctly, ordinances can help provide a high quality environment – without imposing undue hardships on developers or interfering with basic property rights of homeowners and other citizens.

I recently came across a stylized drawing from the National Arbor Day Foundation, which illustrates how properly developed and applied tree ordinances can benefit a community from both a practical and aesthetic point of view. You can click on the image to enlarge. It provides a better summary than I can write on this subject. Enjoy!

Water Is A Trees Wonder Drug!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Not necessarily, the old guy cautions. Too much of a good thing can kill a yard tree just as effectively as an axe girdle; and much more insidiously. Even during dry spells, over enthusiastic watering can actually provide the tree roots with more water than they can handle, and they effectively get smothered due to lack of oxygen. In the average planting situation, a large, newly planted tree (say 6-8 footer, 1-2″ caliper) only needs about 10 gallons of water a week in dry weather; the equivalent of about two flushes of a toilet!

Over watering can easily occur, especially if there is an automatic sprinkler system nearby to water grass. If mother nature was more orderly, she would provide about one half inch of rain per week, which falls gently over a four hour period; on Friday afternoon. With a schedule like that, all plants (including trees) would do quite well in our part of the world, without any supplemental watering. Unfortunately nature isn’t orderly, and it seems that we either have too much rain all at once, or none at all for weeks on end. So, occasionally, we can help our plants by watering appropriately.

Since watering usually provides more benefit to trees than fertilization, it is important to do it properly. The key to success is to match your watering schedule with the amount of local rainfall. Watering should be done only during long dry spells, especially if windy and/or hot, and in dry climates. In these cases, water is the wonder drug that carries the tree through the stressful period. To be effective, deep watering is important; just sprinkling water on top of the ground does not get enough water to the tree roots and only provides relief to grasses and weeds with shallow root systems. Make sure that half inch per week soaks in.

Myth: Trees And Utility Lines Are Incompatible

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

One thing I’ve learned through many years of observing people’s reaction to tree/utility line conflicts, particularly after downed trees cause a power outage, is this: people like their electricity better than they like their trees. When they flip the switch they expect the lights, heat, and/or A/C to come on. Their comfort level, at all times, is more important than their beloved tree(s) that they kept the utility company from pruning properly when there was no emergency. Then, it is the utility’s fault that they are in the dark and are cold or hot depending on the season. Our dependence on electricity makes any interruption in service unacceptable to the majority, so trees, and the people who try to manage their care, are demonized; resulting in drastic action against the trees such as topping, unnecessary removal, and damaging “hacking off of perfectly good limbs that “might” come down in the future. All this gives rise to the idea that trees and utility lines cannot co-exist, so “we have to get rid of those damn trees!”

Management of trees and utility lines occupying the same space can be difficult, but not impossible. I’ve provided many examples in previous entries, concerning techniques that work well in allowing trees and the lines to coexist. It is probably a good time to reiterate some of these techniques, while adding a couple I may have missed. The storm season is always one cold front away, and could appear at any time in the form of ice, wind, heavy snow, etc. Herewith are some ideas for consideration:

1. Plant, or get, the right tree in the right place to begin with. This will solve over 90% of the problems that urban trees may face during their life. This is particularly true with regard to utility line conflicts. The following illustration provides a general idea of this concept (all illustrations and photos are from the National Arbor Day Foundation):

2. Must we always be doomed to having short trees under utility poles along our streets? Not necessarily. Maybe extra tall poles can be used, thus allowing taller trees to be planted underneath. It’s worth consideration:

3. Place utilities underground! OK. But, it must be done carefully or trees will still be damaged:

4. Use special pole construction such as alley arms, , compact spacer cabling, or bundling:

There are additional techniques out there now, and maybe yet to be developed, that are meant to avoid or lessen tree/ utility line conflicts. Another good one already available is to place the lines in alley ways or backyard easement areas; thus allowing tall trees to flourish along streets and in front yards, making them green and shady. Which adds to the “curb appeal” of one’s property, and adds to everyone’s environmental enhancement.

It would also be good if we didn’t get so upset during an emergency that we force drastic action on “those damn trees,” that we might regret later. Trees make our lives better, and can do so for a long time if cared for properly.

Roots Grow In The Ground, Not On it!

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Many homeowners complain about exposed roots of larger trees that seem to have grown on top of the ground. Let’s get real here.

Tree roots grow in the soil not on top of the soil. If the roots are exposed, it means that the soil has been removed by some means; mostly erosion, but also by construction work, or excessive raking of leaves and other natural debris which prevents the formation of new soil that would otherwise cover shallow roots. Under good conditions, roots grow in the soil where satisfactory supplies of moisture and nutrients are found.  In natural settings, where very rocky or very wet conditions (such as in a swamp), are roots forced to grow near the surface, and these conditions are very seldom selected as home building sites. Thus, something has caused the roots of larger trees to become exposed, where they interfere with mowers and prevent grass from growing; much to the chagrin of some homeowners.

To prevent exposed roots and lawnmower conflicts:

1. Break up compacted soil around new construction before adding topsoil and planting trees.

2. Reduce or eliminate raking, power vacuuming, and “thatching.”

3. Cover exposed roots with a thin layer of good soil.

4. Create gracefully designed mulch beds over the exposed root area.

5. Develop a flower, shrub, or ground cover area that doesn’t need mowing.