Time to look up! The trees are starting to bloom. While the temperature may currently be a bit chillier than we’ve seen this winter, spring is on it’s way, we promise. The first day of spring is officially next Monday, March 20th. We have already seen the first bud break on many of the trees in the area due to an unseasonably warm winter. That means your trees are trying to get your attention!
As the leaves and flowers emerge, now is the perfect time to look closely at your trees. Make sure to take note of any branches where the buds aren’t keeping up with the rest of the tree. Does your redbud look different from your neighbors? Have you failed to see blooms on previously healthy trees? Keep in mind that different species bud at different times.
Now is also a good time to look for insects or pests that weren’t affected by the winter (or lack thereof) conditions. Make sure to notice if there is any leaf discoloration as they peak out. Also, take note of any wounds or cankers on the bark.
Urban Soils and Tree Root Issues
A couple of years ago, during a notably large storm, a prodigious water oak fell on my neighbors’ house. This beautiful old tree could not support the weight of the branches because the root system had been compromised from years of cars rolling, parking and compacting the soil surrounding the base. Fortunately, in this case, the family was not in the house and only the house and tree were compromised, but it offers valuable insight into the damage that human activity can cause the trees in our community.
The dirt around us is constantly changing. Wind and heat and gravity and water all affect our soils. These are important positive components in creating an environment for many ecosystems. In an urban environment, one additional component is changing the soil around us: people.
People have a huge impact on the urban soils. Enormous cavities are dug for underground parking decks, the Georgia red clay is hauled away and piled to be used somewhere else, it is added to other tracts for other projects. The soil is leveled and graded and compacted. It is walked on and parked on, played baseball on and picknicked upon. Human activity is one of the main contributing factor in the changing urban soils.
This changing soilscape directly impacts the growing trees around us. Without careful consideration to how we impact the soils, human activity can have serious negative effects on our canopy.
One negative impact is the creation of a surface crust. This is caused by removal of the natural vegetation combined with compaction caused by foot traffic or wheels, and fine particles filtering in and filling in gaps beneath the surface. This hard crust doesn’t allow water to seep into the ground and be absorbed by the tree roots.
Water drainage and insufficient aeration can have a negative impact on the absorption capabilities of the trees. If the soil is too fine, such as with clay soils, it can become water-logged which can be equally bad for the root system.
When a new home is built, the ground must first be leveled. During this process, the topsoil is removed and often fill material is brought in from somewhere else. This can create layers in the soil that are different from the natural makeup of the land. This can be damaging to existing trees and can cause problems when planting replacements. The change in soil composition, including the ph and chemical makeup as well as density of the soil can prevent trees from receiving the nutrients they need to thrive.
There are several ways to remediate these effects on our trees. The first is to be aware of abused areas of your own landscape. Pay attention to where you park, where your children play, or areas that see more foot traffic. Try to park in areas that are far away from trees or only on existing parking pads. Divert traffic away from natural areas or create trails that have proper erosion control.
If you notice that the roots have been damaged in your landscape, there are plant healthcare guidelines that can prolong the life of your trees and repair damaged soilscapes. Contact a certified arborist to help with your tree concerns and you can hopefully prevent your trees from falling during the summer storms.
How do we love our trees? Aside from just giving them a big hug from time to time? There are things you can do to show your tree love that will sustain its life, beyond just regular pruning and maintenance.
We all know that trees need water. But how much water and when? I can’t tell you that. But an arborist looking at your trees can. Are they drought tolerant species? Was it planted in the last 2 years? What is the soil like surrounding the tree? Getting the right amount of water (and seriously, not too much) is one of the first ways to make sure your trees know you care.
Speaking of soil…
What does an arborist know about soil? Don’t forget that tree roots extend far below the surface. Trees start from the ground up. To hug the entire tree, you have to get your hands dirty.
One of the biggest dangers to our trees is soil compaction. Do you park your car under the tree? Do your kids play under a particular tree every day? This compaction can damage the roots of the tree. Your tree may look fine now, but compacted soil can eventually lead to insect infestation or stress which can lead to vulnerability months or years down the road. Improving the soil surrounding trees can rejuvenate ailing trees and prolong the life of your investment.
One soil-improvement method that might be recommended by an arborist is radial trenching. This is the fancy way of saying: digging holes (in a radius) and filling them with nutrient-dense soil. This calculated process is designed to aerate and supply nutrients and prolong the life of the tree.
Do you spray pesticides on your tomato patch? Did you fertilize your turfgrass? Your whole landscape can affect the trees in and around it. They all share the common soil. This is one reason why an arborist should help when planning what to plant and where. We can help plan when treatments are appropriate and will not be harmful to your trees and shrubs, and also how pruning and treatment of trees can affect the other plants as well.
Planning your landscape with the longevity of trees and plants in mind with the help of an arborist can prevent problems that might occur years down the road and show your trees that you love them for many years.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill., U.S. February 06, 2015 John F. Ritzier of ATHENS, GA, recently earned the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification credential by successfully completing the course and passing the exam administered by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the local chapter of I SA.
The ISA Credentialing Program is a voluntary program designed to test an individual’s degree of knowledge in the field of arboriculture. The ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification is the only ISA credential that requires individuals to take a designated course. To earn the qualification upon completion of the course, individuals must pass an exam that includes both a written and field component to test their knowledge 0f tree risk assessment To maintain the qualification, individuals must take the course and pass the exam
every five years.
The credentialing program is designed to increase the standard of practice and safety in the tree care industry and to promote the professional development of individual practicing arborists. Credentialing also assists the public in identifying qualified tree care professionals. When contracting for tree risk assessment, ISA recommends hiring arborists who are ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified. Verification of credential holders is available online at www.isa-arbor.com.
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., U.S., is a nonprofit professional organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. As part of ISA’s dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally recognized
certification program in the industry. For more information about ISA and Tree Risk Assessment Qualification, visit www.isa-arbor.com. To promote the importance of arboriculture and help educate the public about the value of proper tree care, ISA also manages the consumer education website TreesAreGood”‘ (www.treesaregood.org).
Manage Effects of Moth Infestation
The Athens-Clarke County Unified Government’s Environmental Coordinator is urging citizens to look for signs of the black-dotted brown moth (Cissusa spadix). Athens has experienced significant infestations of this pest for the past four years. In recent years, the outbreak has expanded to include Athens-Clarke, Jackson, Madison, Oglethorpe, and Oconee County. The outbreak is expected to be more widespread this year, however, with less damage and defoliation to the individual trees. Learn how to manage effects of moth infestation.
The caterpillar tends to feed on tree species from the white oak group, with a special preference for post oaks (Quercus stellata). High densities of the caterpillar will completely defoliate these trees. Repeated defoliations can lead to crown dieback, tree decline, and risk for early death.
Typically, owners do not notice infestation until the tree experiences rapid and nearly complete defoliation. Other signs of an infestation include unusual loss of bark plates due to predators feeding on the inchworm-like caterpillars underneath that secrete a reddish brown liquid when disturbed and large amounts of frass (insect excrement) accumulated beneath the trees.
Dr. Kamal Gandhi, a forest entomologist at the University of Georgia, has already begun to see signs of emergence. Control methods should be taken immediately. If this is the first year property owners have noticed the insects, it is recommend that they either closely observe the infestation without taking preventative action, take low impact actions to increase natural predation of the caterpillars, or prevent them from climbing the tree.
John Ritzler of New Urban Forestry in Athens, GA, suggests encouraging habitat for natural predators that feed on the caterpillars such as birds and squirrels to reduce the number of insects; providing bird feeders near white oaks can increase the presence of these natural predators.
Other methods of low impact control include the use bug barriers to trap the caterpillars in the lower trunk so they are unable to feed on the leaves of the trees. While many barriers are commercially available, several local residents have established that a 4-6” wide band of vegetable shortening around the trunk provides an effective, low cost method of exclusion. More information on the management of this pest can be found at the Environmental Coordinator’s website at http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/green.
Smaller oaks that have experienced defoliation for a number of years can be treated with a bacterial insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Specimen trees that have experienced three or more years of defoliation can be treated with the insecticide Imidacloprid (sold as Bayer Tree and Shrub Insect Control, Dominion, or Merit). Use this treatment with caution and only on specimen trees and trees at risk for death. Many insects, including natural predators, can be affected by this treatment.
Prevention and treatment is the key to reducing the impacts of the black-dotted brown moth. Simple, inexpensive measures can insure that these pests do not defoliate and stress trees. Since this is a naturally occurring pest, many forest health professionals believe the intensity and frequency of the damage will subside as populations naturally decline due to harsh winter conditions, an increase in predation, and/or the spread of a disease that kills the caterpillars.
For more information, contact Andrew Saunders, Athens-Clarke County Environmental Coordinator, at 706-613-3530 or email@example.com.
For more information see here also.
Check out wonderful photos taken by local Athens resident Mark Johnson, who had trees removed in order to build an addition to his house. Thank you Mark for sharing!
Skilled Pruning of fruit and nut trees improves fruit quality and accessibilty. Tree pruning also improves the structure of the tree. Pruning reduces the chance of storm-damage and increases the lifespan of your favorite fruit trees.
New Urban Forestry has International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborists with the knowledge and tools to prune yourPEACH, APPLE, PERSIMMON, PLUM, MULBERRY, PAWPAW, JUJUBE, and PEAR trees.
Nothing tastes better than fresh, ripe fruit directly from the tree. Learn how to harvest high-quality fruit without the use of fungicides and insecticides. Improve your soil without industrial fertilizers.
Winter is a great time for soil improvements and pruning by an ISA-certified arborist.
A certified arborist is a specialist in the care of individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.
Services That Arborists Can Provide
An arborist can determine the type of pruning necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of trees. These techniques include
- eliminating branches that rub each other
- removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, or windows, or that obstruct streets or sidewalks
- removing dead or weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay
- removing diseased or insect-infested limbs
- creating better structure to lessen wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage
- training young trees
- removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions
- removing branches, or thinning, to increase light penetration
- improving the shape or silhouette of the tree
Although tree removal is a last resort, there are circumstances when it is necessary. An arborist can help decide whether a tree should be removed. Arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees. Removal is recommended when the tree
- is dead or dying
- is considered irreparably hazardous
- is causing an obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning
- is crowding and causing harm to other trees
- is to be replaced by a more suitable specimen
- is located in an area where new construction requires removal
Emergency Tree Care
Storms may cause limbs or entire trees to fall, often landing on other trees, homes and other structures, or cars. The weight of storm-damaged trees is great, and they can be dangerous to remove or trim. An arborist can assist in performing the job in a safe manner, while reducing further risk of damage to property.
Some arborists plant trees, and most can recommend types of trees that are appropriate for a specific location. The wrong tree in the wrong location could lead to future problems as a result of limited growing space, insects, diseases, or poor growth.
Many arborists also provide a variety of other tree care services, including
- Plant Health Care, a concept of preventive maintenance to keep trees in good health, which will help the tree better defend itself against insects, disease, and site problems
- Cabling or bracing for added support to branches with weak attachment
- Aeration to improve root growth
- Installation of lightning protection systems
- Spraying or injecting to control certain insect and disease problems
Selecting the Right Arborist for the Job
When selecting an arborist,
- check for membership in professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). Such membership demonstrates a willingness on the part of the arborist to stay up to date on the latest techniques and information.
- check for ISA arborist certification. Certified Arborists are experienced professionals who have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care.
- ask for proof of insurance and then phone the insurance company if you are not satisfied. A reputable arborist carries personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance. Many home owners have had to pay out large amounts of money for damages caused by uninsured individuals claiming to be tree experts. You could be held responsible for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the job.
- check for necessary permits and licenses. Some governmental agencies require contractors to apply for permits and/or to apply for a license before they are able to work. Be sure they comply with any local, state, provincial, or national laws that govern their work.
- ask for references to find out where the company has done work similar to the work you are requesting. Don’t hesitate to check references or visit other work sites where the company or individual has done tree work. Remember, tree care is a substantial, long-lasting investment; you would not buy a car without a test drive!
- get more than one estimate, unless you know and are comfortable with the arborist. You may have to pay for the estimates, and it will take more time, but it will be worth the investment.
- don’t always accept the low bid. You should examine the credentials and the written specifications of the firms that submitted bids and determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill, and professionalism to protect your substantial investment.
- be wary of individuals who go door to door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too busy to solicit work in this manner. Improper tree care can take many years to correct itself and, in some cases, it can never be corrected. Are you willing to take that risk with your valuable investment?
- keep in mind that good arborists will perform only accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, using climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed, and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause are unnecessary.
- get it in writing. Most reputable arborists have their clients sign a contract. Be sure to read the contract carefully.
What Is a Certified Arborist?
An arborist by definition is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. ISA arborist certification is a nongovernmental, voluntary process by which individuals can document their base of knowledge. It operates without mandate of law and is an internal, self-regulating device administered by the International Society of Arboriculture. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.
Certification is not a measure of standards of practice. Certification can attest to the tree knowledge of an individual but cannot guarantee or ensure quality performance.
Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. Certified Arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification. Therefore, they are more likely to be up to date on the latest techniques in arboriculture.
Be an Informed Consumer
One of the best methods to use in choosing an arborist is to educate yourself on some of the basic principles of tree care. ISA offers several other brochures in this series, which discuss many of the basic principles of tree care. Your local garden center, extension agent, or city arborists are also excellent sources of information if you should have further questions. They may also be able to refer you to an ISA Certified Arborist in your area.