When and How to Stake a Tree

In this article, we introduce another fantastic passage from The Homeowner’s Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook. This time we take a look at the proper procedures for sound tree staking, and explore the unique circumstances behind when and why you should and shouldn’t stake a tree. The takeaway version of the story is that staking should only be performed under specific circumstances and for limited durations of time. To borrow a term from Nassim Taleb, trees may actually be considered anti-fragile – meaning that trees don’t necessarily require lots of human intervention, and actually thrive under certain unstable conditions!

Read on:

Only Stake When Necessary

“Buy healthy plants and don’t stake a tree unless absolutely necessary. Unstaked tree trunks grow fatter more quickly than staked ones, and unstabilized trees produce farther-reaching root systems. You may occasionally need to steady a newly planted tree in the ground, however, if you discover that the rootball is not as sturdy as it looked at the nursery. When you unwrap the burlap, for instance, you may find a crumbly or damaged rootball that cannot support the tree. Another tree may be sturdy, but the planting site slopes or is exposed to strong winds that affect the tree’s early stability and establishment. Trees with small diameter trunks (less than 2 inches) typically need no staking. When proper planting and mulching are not enough to keep a tree upright, you’ll need to stake it to the ground.

Staking Practices

Sink metal or wooden stakes about 24 inches into the soil, several inches beyond the circumference of the rootball but still within the mulched bed or groundcover area. Small trees need one stake, while larger ones need two or three. For a tree up to 12 feet tall to stay upright in strong winds, set two stakes at 90-degree angles to the wind.

The best materials for bracing are wide, flat, and stretchy. Bike tubes, webbed straps, and canvas bands all work. Wire or hose-wrapped wire can grind and injure the bark when the tree sways in the wind.

Trees need wiggle room. It’s natural for a healthy tree to sway in the wind. Trunks held rigid may break when staked or perhaps after you remove the stakes. When you stake a trunk, make sure the top of the tree can sway and keep braces as low as practical on the trunk. Make sure you keep the cord or cable attaching the brace to the stake loose enough so that the tree can sway in the wind. Trunks grow weak above a too-tight brace.

When to Remove a Brace

Be sure to remove the brace once the tree is established. Trees may establish in a few months or a couple of years, depending upon the climate and growing conditions. In warm moist conditions, establishment may be fast, whereas in cold dry prairie conditions, it can take considerably longer. Failure to remove the brace may result in wood growing around the support, which then girdles or strangles and the trunk. If you forget to remove the support and the trunk starts to envelop it, remove only the bracing material that is exposed and leave the rest of the support alone.”

How Construction Work Can Damage Your Tree

If you’re recently purchased a piece of property with large mature trees on it, you might want to preserve the existing trees instead of planting new ones. As you may have learned from other posts, having mature trees on your property can greatly increase the value of your home. There are several things to be aware of when building your new home in hopes of preserving the surrounding trees and making sure that they don’t become a hazard in the future.
 
This is some of the information I found from a helpful book called The Homeowner’s Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook.

While you can’t control the weather, you might be able to manage other environmental risk factors to trees and shrubs on your property. Construction damage to trees are the most destructive trauma that a tree can endure. Soil compaction on residential lots, trenching in root zones, grade changes, and band pruning are ways that people can harm their trees. 

The good news is that you can preserve trees from most construction damage and find trees that remain healthy and beautiful in stressful environments. In this blog post, you’ll learn about some of the challenges that trees face and learn how to keep them from harm. 

Building a house maybe be thrilling for yourself, but traumatic for the trees on our surrounding your property. Construction equipment will roll over root zones, squeezing air from the soil and slowing down root drainage. Rainfall on the bare soil also increases compaction as well as human footfalls across root zones. Because compacted soil is denser than well-aerated soil. it’s harder for toots to penetrate. 

Root growth and spread is hindered, making it harder for trees and shrubs  to absorb water and nutrients. Drought stunts tree growing in compacted soils, while flooding lessens the amount of air that gets to their roots. Disturbed, compacted, urban and suburban soils may lack mycorrhizae and essential elements, making it hard for trees to establish. 

In neighborhoods with underground utilities, laying electrical cable from electrical box to the house often cuts through precious top foot of sill where most tree roots lie, wrecking the network of roots the trench encounters. There also may be trenches for gas, telephone, sewer, water, and cable television. Remember, even if a trench seems far from the tree, the root zone may be double or triple the diameter of the crown. 

New construction may necessitate grade changes to improve drainage on the property. Roots that were formerly in the top few inches of soil may be buried alive under loads of sand and topsoil to ultimately suffocate and die. To preserve existing trees, avoid raising or lowering the soil level under the canopy of the tree. 

Building a tee will is one way to maintain air circulation and drainage in the root zone. Tree wells are walled shafts to the original soil grade in landscapes where soil levels have been artificially increased. Digging old fashioned tree wells dug near a trunk doesn’t work. If you’re trying to save a tree with a tree will, you must build it beyond the tree’s drip-line, then grade the soil outside the well to keep runoff from flowing into the well. There’s not guarantee that the tree will survive construction, but you improve the chances. by leaving undisturbed the trunk and as wide an area as possible around it. 


Making a Landscape Plan

In skimming through the book, The Homeowner’s Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook, we stumbled upon this concise explanation of how to properly create a landscaping plan for the home, and we just had to share it with our readers. Clearly, landscaping doesn’t have to be a chore or a headache, especially with the right planning. The following passage takes you step by step. Enjoy!

“A garden plan shows you the ups and downs of your property. It puts your ideas on paper, so you can see if they work. Planning clarifies what to highlight and what you should improve. You don’t need to make a professional-quality plan. Even a series of simple sketches can help you realize the garden of your dreams.

  1. Start with a base plan, showing some fundamental data about your lot and your home. Outline the lot on graph paper. Label known dimensions. Using a compass, mark North, South, East, and West. If you can copy the information from a boundary survey or construction plan of your property, it will save you measuring and drawing time.
  2. If there’s no survey, measure the lot’s perimeter with a distance roller, landscaper’s tape measure, or laser-measuring device all available at a hardware store. Note measurements on your sketch. Write distances to the nearest whole number.
  3. Mark location of utility lines, well, and septic system, since these affect the placement of landscape features.
  4. Observe the views from key rooms inside the house and mark their range on the plan.
  5. Indicate with arrows the direction of prevailing winds and the angle of the sun at different times of year.
Making a Landscape Plan
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Make several copies of your plan so you can test different ideas later in the process. On one plan, show existing gardens, trees, large shrubs, outdoor spigots, swing sets, and the like. As you study your site, note on the sketch anything that concerns you or that you may want to change. For instance, if the view of your neighbor’s garage bothers you, write that down on the site survey, so you can improve that when making your final plan.

As you progress on your garden-making journey, jot ideas on fresh copies of the basic plan. For example, do you need privacy? A windbreak? Summer shade? Outline areas where these conditions are desirable, noting what you need. Would you like to let more light onto your property? You may want to move small trees and shrubs, limb some up, take out others, and set out new plants where necessary. Keep in mind the principles of design as you begin to plan.

Dividing the Landscape

The public area is the façade that you show to the world. It includes the house, the entry path, the front door or area visible from the street, the driveway, lampposts, lawn, and foundation or other plantings. Your house is the key element, and any landscaping should enhance it. To show off your house to advantage, look at the house as a series of geometrical shapes (probably squares and rectangles) and balance those masses with trees and shrubs in your plan.

Depending upon the style and shape of your house, the balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. In symmetrical balance, objects on one side of a centerline mirror those on the other. Symmetry, used extensively in historical landscapes, gives your property a formal look. Asymmetrical balance looks informal and is harder to achieve. When done successfully, however, it can produce a pleasing, naturalistic effect.

Plan to make the hardscape (the non-plant landscape) elements big enough for comfort. Instead of building a skinny 3-foot-wide entry path, make a 5-foot-wide walkway that accommodates two average-size people walking shoulder to shoulder to the front door. A 3-foot-wide path meandering through a woodland garden behind the house is fine.

In the public area, devise plantings that will blend your house into its surroundings, keeping plants in proportion to the size of the house. In general, trees and shrubs off the corner of the house should stay below two-thirds of the height from the eaves to the ground; while plants near the entrance maintain a lower profile, with a mature height no more than one-quarter of the height from the eaves to the ground. Plants with rounded shapes make a more effective transition from house to surrounding environment than plants with columnar or pyramidal shapes. That’s not to say you can’t use a tall skinny accent shrub in an entry garden, but rounded plants should predominate.

The private area is where you live when you’re outdoors. It’s usually, but not always, in the backyard and includes decks, patios, swimming pools, gazebos, swing sets, sand-boxes, and whatever else suits the leisure needs of your family. Your private area extends the inside of your house outdoors and may incorporate hedges, fences, walls, and shrub borders that make your living space more private. A privacy planting doesn’t have to be tall. It just needs to distract your attention from the space beyond it and give a psychological feeling of enclosure.

The service area contains the utilitarian aspects of your landscape. Items like sheds, garbage cans, and compost bins belong there. Shrubs with edible fruit not integrated into the ornamental landscape belong in the service area, where you can plant them in rows for easy harvesting.”


5 Ways Trees Benefit Humans

Trees play a very important role in our environment. As the largest plants on the planet, they serve a vital role in keeping our planet healthy. Not only do they give us oxygen, store carbon, and stabilize; they also provide sanctuaries for our planet’s wildlife. In addition, humans need trees to provide us with materials that give us shelter against the elements. 

As you can see, trees are essential for the survival of the planet and the humans and wildlife that occupy it. Not only are trees essential for forests, they are also needed in urban settings such as parks and forest preserves within cities. Here are a few other essential ways that trees play an important role in our lives!

Trees Keep Us Healthy

Trees act as a filter that can trap dust and absorb pollutants from the air. Trees can absorb toxic chemicals through their ‘pores’, effectively filtering chemicals from the air. Essentially, trees keep us from breathing in toxic chemicals in the air and keep us healthier.

Some trees offer medicinal properties. Trees such as Ginko Biloba can offer medicinal benefits and contain healing properties. For example, Ginko Biloba extract is collected from dried leaves of this plant is known to help reduce the risk of cancer. 
Trees are also good for your mental health. Research shows being surrounded by trees lowers your blood pressure. Your heart rate also slows and your stress levels drop.

Trees Protect Our Environment

As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide in the air. They then store that carbon in their trunks, which can help to slow the rate of global warming. 

Trees like evergreens can reduce wind speed, which can limit the loss of heat from your home in the winter by 10-50%.

Trees help prevent flooding and soil erosion through their ability to absorb stormwater. 

The canopies of trees act as a filter that can trap dust and absorb pollutants from the air.

Trees also provide shade from solar radiation. A tree can actually block 90% of solar radiation, which can help also help reduce your cooling expenses. 

Trees can shade surface areas like driveways, patios, sidewalks and buildings. This can minimize the heat load on these surfaces, which is a build up of heat during the day that gets radiated at night. This can result in warmer temperatures. Ideally, you want 50% of the total paved surface should be shaded.

Trees Provide Habitat for Wildlife

Trees host many different types of microhabitats. When trees are young, they offer not only habitation, but also are a food source for  birds, insects, lichen and fungi. As trees age, their trunks also provide homes for species such as bats, beetles, tawny owls, woodpeckers and other critters. 

Trees Increase Communities

Parks that often have several trees, provide a place for communities to gather. These parks or urban forests can be used as an educational resource. They bring in large groups for activities like bird watching or even hiking. Trees are also invaluable for children to play near or climb trees. 

Trees Help the Economy

People are attracted to live and work near green spaces. Research shows that average house prices increase when homes have mature trees on their properties. 

Why Do Trees Drop Their Leaves In The Fall?

There’s nothing more beautiful than driving through Colorado to see the leaves start to change in the early Fall. For a short window of time you’ll see colors on deciduous trees quickly change from green to gold and red; right before the trees shed their leaves and the temperatures start to dip. While admiring the changing leaf colors, have you ever wondered why the colors change at a specific time of year? 

Basically, it’s science and the environmental cues that make leaves change their color, but let’s take a deeper dive into the reasons why. 

The Purpose of Leaves

First, we need to take a look at the purpose of tree leaves to truly understand why leaves change color throughout the year. 

There are several purposes for leaves, but primarily they are there to provide food for the tree Through a process called photosynthesis, they turn sunlight into energy, which creates food and nutrients. The tree will store this food during the winter months, when there is less sunlight available. 

Leaves also allow the tree to “breathe”. Leaves have pores that can take in carbon dioxide and turn it back into oxygen. As you can see, leaves have several important functions to maintain its health and vitality. 

Why Leaves are Green

Beginning in the Spring, you’ll start to see tree leaves bud and then in mid-Summer trees become full and lush with a vibrant array of green colored leaves. Tree leaves are green because they are filled with chlorophyll which is needed to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into glucose. Chlorophyll also provides the leaves with their pigment.

When Chlorophyll Start to Break Down

The longest day of the year occurs towards the end of June in Colorado. After that day, the days slowly get shorter and shorter as we get closer to Fall. The shortening of daylight means that the trees have less and less access to their food source produced by the sun. 

With no food source, the chlorophyll in the leaves begins to break down along with the color green. With this change, the leaves will start to change to yellows, reds, or purple which provides the vivid colors you see during the Fall season. 

Different Colors Mean Different Things

Yellow to orange pigments are actually carotenes and xanthophyll pigments which, for example, give the orange color. These are the same pigments that give carrots their vibrant orange color. Most of the year these colors are masked by great amounts of green coloring.

Anthocyanins are pigments that add the color red to tree leaves. You can also find these same pigments in including red apples, cherries, and strawberries.

Additional Changes During the Fall

The changing colors of tree’s leaves aren’t the only thing that changes during Autumn. Leaves and their stems also deliberately become detached from the branches of the tree. The area where the branch is attached to the leaf’s stem will gradually sever itself so that the leaf will eventually be blown off by the wind or fall due to its own weight. 

Trees by Leaf Colors:

  • Oak Trees: Red or Brown
  • Hickory Trees: Gold
  • Dogwood: Purple-Red
  • Birch: Yellow
  • Poplar: Golden yellow
  • Maple Trees:
    • Sugar Maple: Orange-Red
    • Black Maple: Yellow
    • Red Maple: Scarlet

If you’re curious to learn more about how trees change during different seasons, you can read one of our articles here on preparing your trees for stormy weather.

What Is An Arborist?

In short, an arborist is someone who is highly trained and specialized to care for trees or otherwise known as arboriculture. They are often called “tree surgeons” because their role is to remove dead limbs or branches from trees and to also monitor their health to look for signs of disease. Aside from trimming and pruning trees, arborists are highly skilled maintaining and rehabilitating trees. 

A certified arborist is one who has given credentials by the International Society of Arboriculture, which is based on both tree care experience and a comprehensive exam.

Arborists also go by several other names more recognizable when you’re searching for tree service providers in the Denver area. You may see them referred to as “tree trimmer”, “tree surgeon”, tree care specialist”, “tree climber”, or “ground workman”. Whatever you may see them called, their role is vital to ensure the safety of people like you and I by trimming trees so they don’t interfere with power lines, busy roads, sidewalks, or your home.  

What Types of Jobs do Arborists Perform?

Arborists are tree specialists with a specific set of skills in tree care. You would be surprised that the jobs they perform are more than just diagnosing trees and removing dead limbs. 

  • Prune tree limbs using chain saws, handsaws, pole saws/pruners, and or other various other tools.
  • Climb trees with ropes and harness to remove dying, diseased, dead or hazardous limbs from trees.
  • Cut, load, chip and transport tree limbs/logs with the aid of a chipper and hauler. 
  • Remove dead or diseased trees from properties.
  • Remove stumps using stump grinding machinery. 
  • Proper planting techniques and tree selection. 
  • Diagnose tree diseases and recommending a treatment plan. 
  • Provide pest control treatment.
  • Diagnose trees potential to become hazardous to surrounding properties. 
  • Respond to tree emergencies during storms when they become hazardous.

How to become an arborist?

If you’re interested in becoming an arborist, you must first have a passion for trees! While that seems obvious, people that go into the business have a love for nature and see the value in maintaining healthy trees.

Depending on the job you’re seeking (see below), you may or may not need a degree to become an arborist. Some employers require at least an associates degree in arboriculture so that you have some background knowledge in tree maintenance, specifically about soil fertility and plant pathology. Other helpful degrees are Bachelor’s programs in forestry to learn about botany and forest ecology.

If you’re considering starting your own business, there’s nothing better than gaining hands on experience. On the job training is from tree care companies is one of the best learning opportunities out there to gain knowledge of the industry and eventually start your own company. This will help you understand customer’s needs, identify trees, and understand how to do proper tree removal. 

Who do arborists work for?

Arborists often work for government municipalities or even power companies. Oftentimes, universities, golf courses, and parks will also hire tree specialists. Some arborists, like ourselves, will start their own business where they can privately serve residential and commercial property owners. 

Becoming an arborist is a physically demanding job to say the least. You also use heavy machinery that can be dangerous. 

Where Can I Learn More?

  • The Tree Care Industry Association offers a “Tree Care Academy” of professional education options. It also has a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP) program for tree care professionals.

Help Prepare Your Trees for Stormy Weather in Denver, CO

In Denver, we’re prone to strong storms that come through in the Summer months, bringing in hail and strong winds. The wintertime can also bring in storms that can damage trees with its icy rain and heavy snows. 

With those strong storms, they can cause a hefty amount of damage to your property in terms of costs and stress. It’s important to take steps to either prevent trees or tree limbs from falling on your home or know what to do when that happens. 

There are things that you can do to help protect your trees during storms. If your tree gets damaged during a storm, there are also specific things you can do to prevent further damage to your tree. Here are several tips below on both subjects. 

As always, it’s important that your trees are already strong and healthy. That way they are better equipped to “weather the storm” and stand-up to bad weather. 

Prevent Trees From Storm Damage

Here are a few steps you take prior to stormy seasons to ensure your trees stand a chance against terrible weather events.

  • Make sure to trim and prune your tees. Cutting away dead or diseased branches helps not only protect your property, but your safety, as well. Cutting away dead twigs will also let additional air and light in through the canopy which makes your tree healthier. (You can read more about proper pruning techniques here.)
  • You can protect your tree against lightening strikes by installing a lightening protection system. These systems use conductive cables that run through the ground and absorb storm electricity.  Protection systems will keep trees from taking the burden of the lightening.
  • Regularly check your tree for signs of poor health that could lead to further damage during a storm. Look for peeling bark or cracks on the trunks. Leafless limbs, dead branches, and cavities in the trunk are also indications that your tree has fallen ill. A sick or dying tree could be an indication that it’s time to remove the tree so it doesn’t cause potential damage to your property. For more signs on if your tree is dying, check out this article

Help For Storm Damaged Trees

Here are some suggestions to help your trees recover from storm damage.

  • Firstly, do not try to do it all yourself. If large limbs are broken or hanging, or if high or overhead chainsaw work is needed, it is a job for a professional arborist. Storm damaged trees can be dangerous.
  • Take safety precautions. Look up and look down. Be on the alert and stay away from downed utility lines and dangerous hanging branches that look like they are ready to fall.
  • Assess the damages. Evaluate your trees carefully by asking the following questions:
    • Other than the storm damage, is the tree basically healthy and vigorous?
    • Are major limbs or the leader (the main upward-trending branch on most trees) branch still remaining?
    • Is at least 50 percent of the tree’s crown (branches and leaves) still intact?
    • Are there remaining branches that can form a new branch structure?

If you answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, there is a good chance for complete recovery.

  • Broken branches or stubs that are still attached to the tree should be removed. Removing the jagged remains of broken limbs minimizes the risk of decay agents entering the wound. 
  • Proper pruning cuts should be used to avoid damaging the tree further.
  • Topping, the cutting of main branches back to stubs will not help avoid breakage in future storms. Instead “topping” will encourage the growth of many weakly-attached branches that are higher and are more likely to break during a storm. Also, topping will reduce the amount of foliage, on which the tree depends for the food and nourishment needed for re-growth. A topped tree that has already sustained major storm damage is more likely to die than repair itself.

As aways, if you need assistance assessing your tree to see if it needs to be removed prior to storm season, call one of our certified experts for advice!

Things To Consider Before Building A Tree House

Many dream of the day where owning a home and having a family will present them with the opportunity to build a tree house. Planning a tree house build provides a challenging and fun opportunity, adds aesthetic value to the home, brings the family together outdoors, and becomes the seeds for nostalgic childhood memories. Just try to name an activity more wholesome than building a tree house!

Yet, even though tree houses are intended to last for years (if not decades), very few people ever consider hiring an arborist for a professional inspection before building a tree house. Not only does this present a risk for the health of the tree itself, but also your family and friends!

So before you start that build, we can’t recommend enough hiring one of our tree professionals to help guide you along your tree house building journey…

In this article, we will discuss a few factors to consider before starting your build, and provide you with some tips to help you with your due diligence. Remember, rule number one when building a tree hose is always safety first!


SELECTING TREE TRAITS

The size of the tree that you select will ultimately determine the potential size of your tree house build. Generally, it is is recommended to select a tree with a diameter that is no less than 12 feet, or 37 feet in circumference. This might seem rather large, but it is important to take into account the additional stress that will be placed on the tree from building materials (and of course, human beings).

Quick Tip: Measuring the diameter of a tree can be tricky. In this case, simply use a tape measure to measure the circumference of the tree, and divide that number by pi (3.14). For example, a tree with a circumference of 22 feet would have a diameter of about 7 feet (22 divided by 3.14).

While a tree’s age is secondary to its size in determining which tree to build on, it can still be a helpful deciding factor. In determining the age of the tree (see our article on How To Determine the Age of a Tree), your potential tree candidate should be young enough to not have been weakened by rot, disease, or insects; yet, old enough as to where the tree is not too weak to be able to support the tree house.

A tree should have deep roots that provide a solid foundation, sturdy branches, and should be inspected to be free of insects and fungus. Oak trees, for instance, are more susceptible to the anthracnose fungus which presents itself as dark lesions blotches on the tree bark. A tree service professional will also help you to identify any holes burrowed into the wood, which may be a sign that termites or carpenter ants have a made a home in your tree.

The moral of the story here is that any kind of fungus, infection, or insect invasion may weaken the foundation of a tree, making it unfit and unsafe for a tree house build (See Article: Common Tree and Plant Diseases). An ounce of prevention may end up saving your time, money, and aggravation in the future!

    
WHAT SPECIES ARE BEST?

Your best bet here is stick with deciduous versus coniferous trees. As a quick reminder, deciduous trees are the ones that lose their leaves in the fall and winter seasons. The inherent nature of these trees is to grow at a steadier pace, making your tree house less vulnerable to shifting and breaking. At the same time, the wood that makes up deciduous trees is dense and sturdy, providing a solid anchor for bolting lightweight materials into your tree.

Generally, these are the best tree species for building a tree house:

  • Oak
  • Apple
  • Beech 
  • Maple
  • Ash
  • Hemlock
  • Cedar 

Start with some of the tips above, and if you are in any doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our tree experts for a consult. Building a tree house should be a joyous and pleasant experience, which means that it never hurts to get some professional advice before you dive right in. As we always like to say, “measure twice, build once”!

Benefits of Mulching Around Your Tree

Many tree care professionals will praise the benefits of using mulch around trees and for very good reason. Mulching around trees have several benefits. It reduces soil compaction, reduces weed growth, and conserves moisture; all of which is going to create long-term health benefits for your tree.  

What is Mulch?

Mulches are materials placed over the soil surface to maintain moisture and improve soil conditions. Mulching is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your trees. Mulch can reduce water loss from the soil, minimize weed competition, and improve soil structure. Mulch must be applied properly; if it is too deep or if the wrong material is used, it can actually cause significant harm to trees and other landscape plants.

The benefits of proper mulching:

  • Helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and the need for watering can be minimized.
  • Helps control weeds. A 2-4 inch layer of mulch will reduce the germination and growth of weeds.
  • Mulch serves as an insulating blanket, keeping soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • Many types of mulch can improve soil aeration and drainage over time.

What Can I use As Mulch Should I Use?

There are several different types of mulch that’s available.but the two primary types of mulch are organic and inorganic. Inorganic mulches include: stone, lava rock, geotextile fabrics, rubber, and other materials. Inorganic mulches don’t decompose and don’t need to be replaced too often. The downside of using inorganic mulches, is that they don’t improve soil or provide much needed nutrients for the tree. For these reasons, most arborists use organic mulches.

Organic mulches include: leaves, pine needles, wood chips, hardwood or softwood bark, cocoa hulls, compost, and various other products derived from plants. Organic mulches are designed to decompose in the landscape. They break down at different rates that depend on the type of material used and also the climate plays an important role. Remember, that mulches that decompose/break down at a faster rate must be replenished more often. Although it can be an annoyance to need to replenish your mulch, it’s actually very beneficial for your tree because it improves the soil structure. That’s the main reason why most arborists will recommend organic mulch over inorganic and view the added maintenance as a positive aspect. 

Tips to Remember:

  • Apply mulch several inches from the base of the tree so the trunk and the root crown are exposed.
  • Organic, well aerated and preferably composted mulch is usually best due to their soil-enhancing properties. Avoid sour-smelling mulch.
  • Composted wood chips make good mulch, especially when they contain a blend of leaves, bark, and wood. Fresh wood chips may also be used around established trees and shrubs.
  • For well-drained sites, apply a 2-4 inch layer. Place mulch out to the tree’s drip line or beyond.

Remember NOT to:

  • Pile mulch too deep it can lead to excess moisture in the root zone causing root rot.
  • Pile mulch against the trunk or stems of plants it may lead to insect and disease problems.

As always, please reach out to us with any questions on how to properly mulch around your tree! We’re happy to help!

Curious to learn more about tree care? Read more about how to keep your trees healthy!

Stump Grinding 101

Let’s face it, tree stumps can be an unsightly eye-sore. Whether old or new stumps can be an annoyance and a hazard. Stumps can impede landscaping and new construction, create tripping hazards, and cause time to be wasted mowing and trimming around them. Not to mention that removing a stump yourself can be a pain!

STUMP DIAGNOSIS 

So what other issues can arise from living with tree stumps on your property? Let’s see if we can get to the root cause of the problem (pun intended!).

Typically when a tree is cut down, the roots will stop growing and die. However, in some cases trees may develop root sprouts. In this case, the only way to resolve the problem is to totally grind down or remove the stump. Even if the stump does not develop sprouts, it will eventually start to decay and become an attraction for bees, termites, and other insects. The stump may also present a risk for spreading diseases to healthy trees surrounding the area. Ultimately, stump grinding or stump removal allows for repair, replanting, and landscaping of the area.

For homeowners, this kind of preventative maintenance may help you to protect the value of your home in the long run (aside from the obvious aesthetic benefits).

STUMP GRINDING VS. REMOVAL

In most cases stump grinding is the simpler solution, except in cases in which it’s more practical to remove the stumps entirely. These situations may include: new construction, landscaping, the quantity of stumps, and location or size of the project. To effectively remove stumps, it’s important to first understand the mechanics of how a stump is locked into the soil. For example, trees can have many small diameter roots or a few large diameter roots.

A stump grinder or stump cutter is a power tool (or attachment) that removes tree stumps by means of a rotating cutting disk that chips away the wood. The stump is ground below the current surface level of the topsoil and can then be landscaped over. Typically stumps will be ground 6″-8″ below ground level. Stumps and roots are ground into chippings and mulch resulting in minimum disturbance with no root ball to dispose of.

By contrast, stump removal is a process of extraction which requires a tree service professional to dig, lift, and transport the stump from the site. Few companies have all the equipment necessary to do this, so make sure that when hiring a tree service company that you ask the right questions!

AFTER YOUR STUMP HAS BEEN REMOVED

Note that in some cases, you may experience some degree of “settling” or ground depression in the location where your stump was removed. This is a natural process that causes air and water to fill up small air pockets in the dirt mound over time. It the dirt does start to settle, you can simply level the ground with top soil or dirt.

QUALITY COMMITMENT

If in your stump removal research, you find yourself seeking the highest level of professionalism without compromising on quality, rest assured that Urban Forestry Tree Service has both the expertise to help you make the best choice and the equipment to handle your job, large or small. 

We grind the stump and haul almost all of the mulch and debris, and if requested, will leave just enough mulch in the ground area to serve as filler for new topsoil. We are always careful to completely clean after a project is completed, but note that in some instances a small amount of shavings will remain and are soon absorbed by surrounding lawn and grounds.