Tag Archive | arborist

Tree Protection Gone Wrong

I work for a design / build landscape construction company. Part of my job is to pull permits for the installations of the hardscapes (patios, driveways, walks, pergolas, lighting, etc) along with tree permits. For me, the tree permits are the ones I’m most involved with. Sometimes, I am the arborist that visits the property before construction to determine the condition, size* and type of trees on the lot. I look at what the architect has designed for the property and determine how it will effect the trees around the site. I then produce what is called a tree survey. These surveys determine which trees stay and which trees go. My tree survey then goes to the city to determine how many inches of trees will have to be removed from the property. *Size is determined by measuring the width of the trunk at breast height or ‘Diameter at Breast Height’ (DBH), which has been determined to be 4′ 5″ (1.38m).

The city forester will look at the survey and calculate how many trees were in decent condition, of good quality or of decent size were removed. This number will translate into an inch amount the client will need to replace on their property or pay the tree inch fees. Many times, the return amount could be in upwards of 100″. Not only do the clients need to return 100″ to the property, every municipality has a different list to follow for the trees that actually count towards tree return inches. Many of these trees are native; oaks, hackberry, sycamore, tupelo, tulip trees and spruce are commonly on the approved list. However, many of my clients request chanticleer pear lined driveways and screening arborvitae are not on the list.

The trees on the survey that are marked to stay must be maintained to be able to survive construction. ‘Tree Fencing’ must be installed around the trees that are to remain. Placement of this fencing is usually 1′ foot away from the tree for each inch of DBH. As you can see in the photos below, this fencing is clearly not as far away from the trunk as it should be..  my guess these trees are about 18″ DBH requiring 18′ around the them. Let’s ice this cake with a bunch of construction waste leaning up against the trunk. The last photo shows a large amount of soil piled up on a nearby tree.

Usually, the city forester has to visit the site and approve the location of the tree fencing. I can’t imagine this was the original location (I did not do this survey). As you can see, there are many ruts from construction equipment all around the fencing. This traffic compacts the soil and suffocates the roots of the trees. It’s a slow death for the tree. A few years after the home is built, these trees will start declining and most likely will need to be removed. As these are very close to the foundation of the new home, along with being fairly large, it will be a costly removal.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful to anyone having any construction done and want to keep their trees!

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Acer platanoides ~ Norway Maple

Common Name: Norway mapleimage
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 40′ – 50′ feet
Spread: 30′ – 50′ feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Yellow-green in color
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Form: Columnar to Oval
Suggested Use: Do not plant
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Drought, Air Pollution

‘Columnare’

Dark green

Yellow

Columnar

50′ x 20′

‘Crimson Sentry’

Purple

Insignificant

Columnar

35′ x 25′

‘Deborah’

Red in spring, bronze green in summer

Bronze, yellow

Oval

60′ x 60′

Emerald Lustre

Dark glossy green

Yellow

Round, oval

60′ x 60′

‘Crimson King’

Purple

Insignificant

Oval

35′ x 35′

Princeton Gold

Golden yellow

Yellow

Oval

45′ x 40′

‘Royal Red’

Maroon, red, glossy

Insignificant

Oval

40′ x 25′

‘Variegatum’

Green with white edge

Yellow

Rounded

60′ x 50′

imageJohn Bartram of Philadelphia was the first to bring the Norway maple from England to the U.S. in 1756 and soon it began appearing along streets and in parks.

As its name implies, this maple is native to Norway and much of Europe into western Asia. It was introduced to the U.S. in colonial times as an urban street tree and is still widely used for that purpose today. Many years of horticultural selection has produced cultivars that vary widely in form, from columnar to densely global and different leaf colors varying from red maroons, bright yellow and even variegated. Many times the purple leaved varieties are miss identified as ‘red maples’. An easy way to identify Norway maples would be to break a leaf off and if the sap is milky, its a Norway. Other maples will have clear sap.

Norway maples are found in woodlands near cities, especially in the northeastern U.S., they have also escaped cultivation and invaded many forests, fields and other natural habitats. Norway Maple can be monoecious or dioecious, meaning it produces male (staminate) flowers and female (pistillate) flowers on either the same or separate trees. Either way, they produce a large quantity of seeds that germinate rapidly. The species can be locally dominant in forest stands, create dense shade and displace native trees, shrubs and herbs. Its dense canopy also can shade out native wildflowers.

The normal leaf color is a dark green but cultivars have also been created with maroon, purple, and variegated foliage. Leaf variegation is not a stable trait and often tree canopies will display solid leaves along with variegated. Few Norway Maples provide meaningful fall color, a few yellows at most and often persisting on the tree until late season frosts before turning a drab olive brown.image

Norway maples tend to have very shallow roots and sometimes growing grass or any other ornamental plant under it is impossible. This also is one dirty tree… dropping trash during every season; starting with flower buds, two crops of seeds, twigs, branches, and copious amounts of leaves. There are many alternatives to Norway maples.

Red maple – Acer rubrum

Sugar maple – Acer saccharum

Hackberry – Celtis occidentalis

Basswood – Tilia americana

Northern red oak – Quercus rubra

Sycamore – Platanus occidentalis

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

A Broken Tree ~ Why Arborist’s Cry

imageWe were camping at one of our local campgrounds last October and this tree was on our site. I normally love to put supporting links to old posts in my blog, however I’m going to be anonymous on this one. For us, this campground is close (under an hour drive) and is on a river we like to kayak on. Sadly though, they don’t care for their campground whatsoever. Almost every tree in the campground is injured in one way or another. Many are ready to fall on campers with a good gust of wind! I cringe when I see these situations, as what am I to do? Tell the family of 6 to move their camper now, before you lose a few of your chitlins from a downed tree? I’d get a “Pffft, we’re fine, you crazy lady!” Yeah, don’t mind the lady with the ‘Risk Assessment Arborist’ badge on her lapel. =-P

I’ve pondered highly about saying something to the owners of such campgrounds. I would think that they would love the free information from a licensed arborist! Of course, I can give constructive criticism without being accusatory. No one wants to be told they don’t know what they’re doing  😉 However, I’ve done this once with nasty repercussions. I was at a campground that had poison ivy everywhere in spades! Some hung into the paths that people walk on. I mentioned this to the owner, who told me, “What am I supposed to do about it?” I said that there are landscapers that care for these types of situations and his reply was that he didn’t have the money to do it and people will just have to avoid it. I told him he could put up a sign that identifies the area and show folks what poison ivy looks like. He said he didn’t want people to be afraid to camp there and campers should know what PI looks like! This campground was charging $67 a night, without sewer. This is an outrageous fee, for you non-campers. Normal rates are about $30-$40, with sewer, at a private campground. The sad part is that this is the campground a close, family friend decided to drop their seasonal trailer on, and gives us grief that we don’t come up there and camp with them.

Sometimes, there’s really no risk involved in the landscape. Many times it’s just a plant health problem or an aesthetic thang.

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Take a look at the photos of this tree… From a layman’s perspective, it may not look like there are any issues at all. However, upon further inspection, do you notice how large the trunk is compared to the canopy of the tree? A few years ago, the top of this tree broke off. Then the tree sent out a bunch of shoots from the broken trunk to compensate for the loss of its food-making leaves. These branches are not attached to the tree very well and can break with little effort. As you can see, many of the branches are dying already.

The last photo is of the root-crown and how it was planted. This tree had little chance from day one of ever surviving. It was buried too deep and has multiple girdling roots, which are roots that circle the trunk and only get tighter as the tree grows, cutting off its circulation, in laymen’s terms.

Can this tree be saved? No. Its structure has been so compromised, there’s really no way to prune it back to a healthy shape.

Just like Prince sang, “This is what is sounds like…. when Arborists cry.”  😉


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Neighbor, We Need to Talk….

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If my neighbor’s tree branches hang into my yard, can I trim them?

Yes. By law, you have the right to trim branches and limbs that extend past your property line, nothing further into the neighbor’s yard. You may not go onto the neighbor’s property or destroy the tree. If you do harm to the tree, you could be found liable for up to three times the value of the tree. Most trees have a replacement value of between $500 and $3,500. Some are considered ornamental or landmark trees and can have an astonishing values of between $20,000 and $60,000. Be sure to use extreme caution when tree trimming!

If my neighbor owns a fruit tree and the branches hang over my property, can I eat the fruit?

No. The fruit of the tree belongs to the owner of the tree, so don’t pick any unless you’ve asked! Courts are divided on who can have fallen fruit, however. Be sure to check your local laws to see if you can eat any fruit that falls from the tree.

If my neighbor’s leaves keep blowing into my yard, could I file a nuisance claim?

No. Leaves are considered a natural product. Even if the leaves cause damage, like clogging your gutters or pipes, you have no legal claims against the owner of the tree.

However, if the tree branches that are shedding the leaves are hanging over your yard, or the tree trunk is encroaching on your property, then you have a right to trim those branches up to your property line.

You could also consider building a fence. Fencing that is built on your side of the property line may help those leaves from blowing over into your yard. Ever heard the saying, “Fences make better neighbors”?

Most of a large tree hangs over my yard, but the trunk is in the neighbor’s yard. Who’s tree is it?

The neighbor owns the tree. So long as the tree trunk is wholly in the neighbor’s yard, it belongs to the neighbor.

When the tree trunk is divided by the property lines of two or more people, it is referred to as a “boundary tree”. In the case of a “boundary tree”, all of the property owners own the tree and share responsibility for it. Tree removal without the consent of all the property owners is unlawful.

My neighbor dug up his yard, and in the process killed a tree that’s just on my side of the property line. Am I entitled to compensation for the tree?

Yes. In this situation, the tree owner has the right to sue for damages. Anyone who engages in tree removal, tree cutting, or injury to the tree without the owner’s permission is liable for compensating the tree owner. In many cases, the tree-owner has been compensated by up to three times the value of the tree. If you will be excavating near any trees, be sure to consult an arborist.

A storm knocked down my neighbor’s tree limb onto my property, damaging my house, car, and yard furniture. Is he responsible for the damages?

It depends. The court will probably apply a reasonable care standard. If your neighbor took reasonable care to maintain the tree branch and the tree branch did not seem to a reasonable person to be threatening to fall, then probably not. If a reasonable person could not have avoided this from happening in any way, then it will be deemed an Act of God, and the neighbor will not be liable.

If, after applying this reasonable care standard, however, the court finds that a reasonable person would have or should have known that the tree branch posed a danger of falling, or that the neighbor never did reasonable inspections to maintain the tree branch, then the neighbor could be found liable of negligence, and therefore responsible for damages to your property.

My neighbor’s tree looks like it’s going to fall on my house. What should I do?

Landowners are responsible for maintaining the trees on their property. Legally, they have two duties: make reasonable inspections and take care to ensure the tree is safe. Therefore, if a reasonable inspection shows that the tree could be dangerous, your neighbor is responsible for the tree removal. If your neighbor does not remove the dangerous tree, and the tree does in fact cause damage, your neighbor can be held liable.

If you have spoken to your neighbor about the tree issue, and he has not done anything about it you do have laws that protect you. The tree may constitute a nuisance, by interfering with your use and enjoyment of your own property. You could file a nuisance claim, and if the court finds that the true is a nuisance, the court may order the tree removed. Having a professional arborist write a letter describing the condition of the tree will help.

Hopefully, you will not have to go that far. Most cities have ordinances prohibiting property owners from keeping dangerous conditions on their property. If you call your municipality, they may remove the tree themselves or order your neighbor to do it.

Utility companies may also have an interest in the tree’s removal if the tree’s condition threatens any of its equipment. A simple call to a utility company may prompt them to remove the tree themselves.

The spreading of tree roots on my land damaged my neighbor’s septic tank. Do I have to compensate my neighbors?

It depends. You will need to check with your specific state laws, as each state is different. In most states, the bothered neighbor can engage in the tree trimming or root cutting herself, and does not have a claim against the tree owner. Other states provide that neighbors may sue if the following conditions are met:

  • Serious harm caused by encroaching tree limbs or tree roots may give rise to a lawsuit. Serious harm usually requires structural damage, such as damaged roofs or walls, crushed pipes, cracked foundations and cracked or clogged sewers.
  • If an encroaching tree was planted, not wild, the neighbor may sue.
  • A neighbor may only sue if the tree is noxious. “Noxious” means that the tree must be inherently dangerous or poisonous, AND the tree must cause actual damage.

Still other states are not as straightforward, but lawsuits have been successful when the tree does cause substantial damage or interferes with the neighbor’s use and enjoyment of her property (constituting a nuisance claim).

 

 

The bottom line is that you need to check your own state’s laws regarding who’s responsible for tree related damage. However, why wait? If you see a tree on your property or a neighbors, hire a professional arborist to check it out. She will bring you piece of mind and may even avert a hefty claim on your homeowners insurance!

Added after publishing
I was reminded of a story regarding this tree… If you look at the left side of the tree, about a third of the way up, you’ll see a large stump. This limb had snapped, was touching the ground, but not completely severed from the tree. In forestry, these are called ‘widow makers’. There is a similar term in heart attacks when a specific area of the heart is effected, as the result is the same. A widow is made.
I saw the snapped limb the next morning after a storm. I had actually heard the crack the night before, although couldn’t see it. Later on that day, I heard a chainsaw fire-up and went out to investigate. My neighbor had his ladder against the tree and his wife was at the end of a rope that was attached to the limb to pull it out of the way when it detached (silly human – Woman=160# and Limb=1500#). I started to run for the fence… It was too late. Before I could either film the possible death of my neighbor or yell for him to stop. The limb gave way.
I’m no physics major, nor slept in a Holiday Inn the night before, so in layman’s terms, the tree was pulled back like a slingshot when the limb fell, and when the limb was cut free, it ‘sprang’! His ladder was propelled backwards with him on it. His chainsaw fell, since he chose to hang onto the ladder instead. Luckily, the wife was clear. Although he was able to lean and send the ladder back forward towards the tree, the location he had rested the ladder originally had shifted and he fell forward, while the ladder feet slid out with the top rung of the ladder scraping down the trunk of the tree. A helluva ride down!!
This all happened in 5 seconds.
This man has already had a heart attack 4 years ago.
Hopefully, the only bad outcome to this was he had to change his pants…


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Sycamore Anthracnose (Apiognomonia veneta)

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Anthracnose is a fungus that has many forms and affects manyimage different species of trees. Some are fatal, some will just make the tree look unpleasant.

The most common signs of Sycamore Anthracnose are:

  • *Heavy leaf and twig drop in late spring
  • *A thinning crown
  • *Random, dead leaves in canopy
  • *Distorted limb growth
  • *“Witches’ broom” growth (dense clusters of twigs)
  • *Cool, wet, spring weather will aggravate the spread of this disease.

If the average daily temperature at the time of leaf budding is below 55 °F, anthracnose infections will be severe. If the average daily temperature is 60F or above during this time, disease incidence will be greatly reduced.

Sycamore anthracnose is caused by the fungus Apiognomonia veneta and is more serious than anthracnose on other shade trees. Sycamore anthracnose is common when cool, wet weather occurs during leaf development. Considerable defoliation may occur in late spring, however trees normally bounce back and produce a second set of leaves in early July that are disease-free. Leaves that are infected in early spring often turn brown and shrivel while still small, which can be mistaken for frost damage. Leaves that are infected may have brown foliar lesions that follow along the veins in V-shaped patterns. Leaves turn brown and may drop prematurely or continue to hang in the tree.

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There are two other stages of this anthracnose: shoot and leaf blight and canker formation. Shoot and leaf blight results when the pathogen enters young, succulent shoots. It causes the rapid death of growing shoots and leaves. The pathogen overwinters in twigs and is active whenever temperatures are high enough in the fall, winter and spring. During winter, cankers form on infected shoots and kill the buds. Repeated infection results in deformed shoots and witches brooms. Although this disease can weaken the trees and increase their susceptibility to attack by other pathogens and pests, it is not lethal.

imageManagement: Dead twigs should be pruned as they develop throughout the growing season. Rake and discard fallen leaves to reduce the source of the fungus. It is impractical to spray fungicides on large trees, however for smaller, specimen trees, the disease can be controlled with fungicides applied at three intervals; just before bud break, during bud break, 10 to 20 days later. Systemic fungicide injections can also be used.

If you really want to plant a Platanus species and don’t want to worry about sycamore anthracnose, plant a hybrid planetree, which are resistant to the disease. These trees are mixed with a maple.

EXCLAMATION LONDON PLANETREE Platanus x acerifolia  ‘Morton Circle’ Zones 4-8

OVATION LONDON PLANETREE Platanus x acerifolia  ‘Morton Euclid’ Zones 5-7

 

 

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories

Ah, April. A great, transitional month where you never know what weather you’ll be blessed with. It was 73F/23C the other day and then 34F/1C a few days later. Sigh.

I hope these Monday Memories are interesting or just a ‘LIKE’ and move on.. 😉 There are just so many things to watch for in the landscape and small windows to treat in, you don’t want to miss them.

imageIlex VS Pine Bark Borer

If any of your evergreens look a bit brown this time of year, it’s time to investigate why the tree looks this way. If you don’t see any pen tip sized holes in the trunk, then there is another reason other than borers that the tree died. However, if you see holes, these dead trees need to be removed before mid-April, when the adult borers emerge and fly to other trees. I’d highly suggest doing this if you have other pines and spruce on your property.

 

Ilex VS Zimmerman Pine MothZimmerman pine moth's pitch tube on pine.

Insecticides should be applied during the two vulnerable times in the ZPM cycle. These times are late to mid-April, as the over wintering caterpillars become active, and in August, when the female moth has just laid her eggs and the caterpillars are searching for over wintering sites. Indicator plants for these spray times are when the saucer magnolia is in pink bud to early bloom, or in mid to late summer when panicle hydrangea is pink. Preventive insecticide sprays should be applied as a drenching spray to trunks in mid to late April.

 

pineIlex VS Diplodia Tip Blight

Managing Diplodia tip blight focuses on tree health, sanitation and fungicide applications. Providing proper care  helps suppress the disease. Removal of diseased cones from the ground helps, but is not practical in large stands. Pruning of infected tips will aesthetically improve the tree, but will do little in the stop of the disease. Severely infected trees should be removed. A fungicide spray program needs to be implemented in the spring and includes at least three applications. Make the first application just prior to bud break.

Ilex VS Oak WiltOak Wilt

The “rule of thumb” for the Upper Midwest is to avoid pruning or wounding oaks during the months of April, May, and June. Nitidulids, carrying spores of the fungus, can be attracted to fresh wounds on oak trees. When nitidulids visit these wounds spores can be transferred to the oaks, initiating oak wilt disease infections.  To avoid infection, all necessary wounds to an oak in the spring should be treated immediately with wound dressing or paint. (this is the ONLY time I will recommend wound dressing, normally a no-no!!) New symptoms of oak wilt disease usually are apparent in July and August.

 

 

Girdling Root – A Slow Death For a Tree

As an arborist, many things make me sad when I see a dead tree. Most of these trees did not have to die a slow death. A girdling root could have been prevented during planting. If the planter would have examined the tree’s rootball before installation and planted this tree correctly, this tree may have been alive today.
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Firewood.

 

How to Plant a Tree Like a Licensed Arborist!

There are many rumors out there that somehow become common knowledge that are very detrimental to whatever the cause is. Planting trees is one of them. I am so saddened when I see trees mulched up to their lower branches, called ‘Mulch Volcanoes’. Professional landscapers do it all the time for two reasons, one, to sell you more mulch and to not have to come back anytime soon to remulch you. Sadly, homeowners see this and think this is the way to go and the vicious cycle continues.

S I G H…

Now, let me teach you how to plant your tree correctly, so you can enjoy your newly planted tree for your lifetime!

We’ll start with a quick pictorial summary, then delve into the details afterward!

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This was a small, PeeGee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora) on a standard. It had been grown in a container, but is in B&B (Balled & Burlaped) format now as a client did not like it, we had to remove them from their yard and I was the lucky recipient of two free trees! As they were small and the rootball was solid, I chose to remove the burlap first (not recommended for amateurs!!) I felt the top to find the roots, which were right at the top. I dug my hole 3X larger than the rootball.

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I moved the tree into the hole, by holding the rootball, NOT by picking up the tree by the trunk! I back-filled it about halfway with native soil and watered. After that water soaked in, I filled the remainder of the hole and watered again. Notice how I did not put any soil on the rootball? Be sure to water your new trees regularly. One long soak is better than three fleeting waters. I love these type of Gator bags more than the Teepee types as they somewhat settle the soil with their weight and they will fit on bushy shrubs also.

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This tree is planted at perfect grade. It is about 1″ – 2″ higher than the soil around it. Next year, I will dig the grass out in between them and add some groundcover. For now, the grass is an insulator.

So, without further adieu: How to Plant a Tree Like a Licensed Arborist! 

Determine the depth of the top roots in the root ball

rootball

  • Systematically probe the root ball with a slim rod or screwdriver. At least two structural roots should be found in the top 1” to 3” inches of soil, 3” to 4” inches out from the trunk. On species prone to trunk circling-roots*, the top structural root should be within the top one inch of the root ball. If any circling roosts are found, prune them out.
  • If the tree has too much soil on the root ball, excess soil should be removed from the top in the backfill step of the planting process.

Dig a saucer-shaped planting hole three-times the root ball diameter

big rootball backfill

  • To maximize soil oxygen levels, plant the tree 1” to 2” inches above grade
  • The root ball MUST sit on undug soil, which stabilizes the tree and prevents sinking and tilting. Measure after each shovel-full if you have to!
  • A saucer-shaped planting hole allows the root system to grow rapidly to 400% of the root ball volume before being slowed by the lower oxygen levels in the site soil. This is enough to minimize post-planting stress in normal planting situations.
  • The wide, saucer-shaped planting hole gives the tree more tolerance to over-watering and waterlogged soils. The wide planting hole also allows for root ball wrappings to be removed after the tree is situated in the planting hole.
  • A labor-saving technique is to dig the planting hole about two times the root ball diameter with somewhat vertical sides, then widen the hole into the desired saucer shape with the shovel during the backfill process.

Set the tree into place, and remove container/wrappings

crook

  • In setting the tree into the planting hole, if the tree has a “dogleg” (a slight curve in the trunk just above the graft) the inside curve must face north to avoid winter bark injury. This is a good practice to follow, however if you must place it differently because of aesthetics, you may need to wrap the trunk the first couple of winters to prevent sun scald on the trunk.
  • Vertically align the tree, with the top centered above the root ball. Due to curves along the trunk, the trunk may not necessarily look straight.

In this step, techniques vary for Container-Grown Trees and Balled And Burlapped (B&B) Trees.
Container-Grown Nursery Stock:
Container-grown nursery stock describes a variety of production methods where the trees or shrubs are grown in the containers (limiting root spread to the size of container). In some systems, like pot-in-pot and grow-bags, the container is in the ground. An advantage of container stock is that it can be planted in any season.

  • Lay the tree on its side in or near the planting hole.
  • Wiggle off or cut off the container.
  • Shave off the outer 1-1½ inches of the root ball with a pruning saw or pruners. This is to deal with circling roots.
  • Tilt the tree into place with the inside curve of any graft crook facing north.
  • Check the depth of the root ball in planting hole. If needed, remove the tree and correct the hole depth.
  • Align vertically.
  • For stability, firm a shallow ring of soil around the bottom of the root ball

firm rootball

  • The ideal container-grown tree has a nice network of roots holding the root ball together. After the container is removed, the tree is gently tilted into place.
    If most of the soil falls off the roots, the tree is planted as a bare-root tree.
    If some of the soil falls off (often on the bottom), it may be necessary to adjust the depth of the planting hole. Backfill and pack the bottom of the planting hole to the correct depth.
  • Fabric grow bags must be removed from the sides. They are generally cut away after setting the tree into place.
  • Paper/pulp containers should be removed. Most are slow to decompose and will complicate soil texture interface issues. Pulp containers often need to be cut off, as they may not slide off readily.
  • In handling large trees (3-inch caliper and greater) it may be necessary to set the tree into place before removing the container.

Field-Grown, B&B Nursery Stock:
Field-grown, balled and burlapped (B&B) trees and shrubs are dug from the growing field with the root ball soil intact. In the harvest process, only 5-20% of the feeder roots are retained in the root ball. B&B nursery stock is best transplanted in the cooler spring or fall season.
To prevent the root ball from breaking, the roots are balled and wrapped with burlap (or other fabrics) and twine (hence the name B&B). In nurseries today, there are many variations to the B&B techniques. Some are also wrapped in plastic shrink-wrap, placed into a wire basket, or placed into a pot.
An advantage of the wider planting hole is that it gives room for the planter to remove root ball wrappings AFTER the tree is situated in the hole.
Based on research by the ISA, standard procedures are to remove root ball wrapping materials (burlap, fabric, grow bags, twine, ties, wire basket, etc.) from the upper 12 inches or 2/3 of the root ball, whichever is greater, AFTER the tree is set into place. Materials under the root ball are not a concern since roots grow outward, not downward. It is still a good idea to remove as much as possible.

  • Remove extra root ball wrapping added for convenience in marketing (like shrink-wrap and a container). However, do NOT remove the burlap (or fabric), wire basket and twine that hold the root ball together until the tree is set into place.
  • Set tree into place with the inside curve of any graft crook facing north.
  • Check the depth of the root ball in planting hole. If needed, removed the tree and correct the hole depth.
  • Align vertically.
  • For stability, firm a shallow ring of soil around the bottom of the root ball.
  • Removed all the wrapping (burlap, fabric, twine, wire basket, etc.) on the upper 12 inches or upper 2/3 of the root ball, whichever is greater.
  • If roots are found circling the root ball, shave off the outer 1-1½ inches of the root ball with a pruning saw or pruners.
  • The consensus from research is clear that leaving burlap, twine, and wire baskets on the sides of the root ball are not acceptable planting techniques.
    • Burlap may be slow to decompose and will complicate soil texture interface issues.
    • Burlap that comes to the surface wicks moisture from the root ball, leading to dry soils.
    • Jute twine left around the trunk will be slow to decompose, often girdling the tree.
    • Nylon twine never decomposes in the soil, often girdling the trees several years after planting.
    • Wire baskets take 30-plus years to decompose and may interfere with long-term root growth.
  • With tapered wire baskets, some planters find it easier to cut off the bottom of the basket before setting the tree into the hole. The basket can still be used to help move the tree and is then easy to remove by simply cutting the rings on the side.

Backfill
When backfilling, be careful not to over-pack the soil which reduces large pore space and thus soil oxygen levels. A good method is to simply return soil and allow water to settle it when irrigated.
Soil “peds” (dirt clods) up to the size of a small fist are acceptable in tree planting. In clayey soils, it is undesirable to pulverize the soil, as this destroys large pore space.
Changes in soil texture (actually changes in pore space) between the root ball soil and the backfill soil create a soil texture interface that impedes water and air movement across the interface. To deal with the interface, the top of the root ball must come to the surface (that is, no backfill soil covers the top of the root ball). Backfill soil should cover the root ball knees, gradually tapering down.

Optional Staking
When properly planted, set on undug soil, most trees in the landscape do not require staking or underground stabilization. Staking may be desirable to protect the trees from human activities. Staking or underground stabilization may be needed in windy areas.
Install staking before watering so the planting crew does not pack down the wet soil. After the first year, remove the stakes for two reasons, one to be sure growth is not hindered by any cables and secondly, the tree will need to learn how to deal with the wind, if left staked, it may blow down after it’s larger.

Water to settle soil
Watering is done after staking so the installer does not compact the wet soil installing the stakes. Watering is a tool to settle the soil without overly packing it.
Be sure the new tree gets enough water to settle the soil, then at least 1” of water a week, more if it is hot and dry.

Final grade
With the wide planting hole, the backfill soil may settle in watering. Final grading may be needed after watering.

Mulch
Do not place mulch directly over the root ball on newly planted trees. As a rule of thumb, 3” to 4” inches of wood/bark chips gives better weed control and prevents soil compaction from foot traffic when placed over the backfill area and beyond. Additional amounts of mulch may reduce soil oxygen.
Do not place wood/bark chips up against the trunk. Do not make mulch volcanoes!! On wet soils, mulch may help hold excessive moisture and be undesirable. Wood/bark chips are not suitable in open windy areas.
summary

  • These species are prone to girdling roots.
    Austrian pine, Pinus nigra
    Black gum tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica
    Bradford pear, Pyrus calleryana
    Bur oak, Quercus macrocarpa
    Cherry, Prunus spp.
    Crabapple, Malus spp.
    Dogwood, Cornus spp.
    Elm, Ulmus spp
    Fruitless mulberry. Morus alba
    Gingko. Gingko biloba
    Green ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica
    Hackberry, Celtis occidentalis
    Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis
    Holly, Ilex spp.
    Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos
    Juniper, Juniperus spp.
    Littleleaf linden, Tilia cordata
    Norway maple, Acer platanoides
    Norway spruce, Picea abies
    Pin oak, Quercus palustris
    Poplar/Cottonwood, Populus spp.
    Red maple, Acer rubrum
    Red oak, Quercus rubra
    Sawtooth oak, Quercus acutissima
    Scotch pine, Pinus sylvestris
    Shumard oak, Quercus shumardii
    Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila
    Silver maple, Acer saccharinum
    Spruce, Picea spp.
    Sugar maple, Acer saccharum
    Sugarberry, Celtis laevigata
    Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
    White oak, Quercus alba
    White pine, Pinus strobes
    Zelkova, Zelkova sp.

Why Tree Inventories Are Important

WP tree invTrees are an essential part of the human world as they provide us food and shelter, clean our environment and calm our restless spirits. Many municipalities have not embraced the benefits of trees into their economic sphere, which hurts cities from receiving grant monies and federal or state funds, which would better the community.

Tree inventories are one way of keeping track of the benefits trees give back to the earth, along with records to aid in the maintenance, upkeep and diversity of the monitored forest. Urban forest inventories provide a unique advantage to foresters, as many of the trees are within an area where many people live.  Information is easier to obtain when more people are involved. Armed with information such as; reduction of air pollution, carbon storage, energy savings, functionality,  and monitory worth, urban foresters could influence unaware politicians to the monitory worth of trees. When trees (or anything) become worth money, more people pay attention to them.

People do care about trees in one way or another, some care for their beauty and values; others are only concerned if they will fall on their home. The information gathered during an inventory could make homeowners’ properties more valuable and species data could warn homeowners of potential failure due to a pest or disease. Whatever the reason, it would be to a municipalities benefit to conduct tree inventories to satisfy both sides and to improve the urban forest.

Although there are many ways to conduct an inventory (partial, complete or sample), within a municipal forest, a complete inventory should be a goal. To achieve the goal of a full inventory, a city must try to involve the people living within the community in conducting it. Nonprofessionals can also utilize the inventory tools currently used by professional, urban foresters.

Handheld GIS (Geographic Information Systems), smartphones and android apps have made tree identification, location and inventory easier for all involved; and all are inexpensive. Combining these tools with community outreach programs to inform the public about the benefits of trees can gain funds useful to all the citizens in the area.

In the past, many citizens have voted for tax monies to be invested into forest preserves, reforestation of local parks and right of ways. Another possible process to produce a complete inventory (though it is a slow one) would be to add a tree survey requirement along with the land survey done when a property is selling. Opposed to enacting a tax, funding could possibly be raised from grants to offset the cost.

How a City Becomes a “Tree City USA”

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Palm Trees are Trees, too!

Palm Trees are Trees, too!

The Arbor Day Foundation, partnering with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, developed the Tree City USA designation. This program aides the communities with knowledge, advertising, and recognition. Municipalities benefit in a number of ways. Tree City USA helps towns get a plan of action together, along with the education necessary to implement the job. Sometimes financial assistance is available. Having the designation will often help home values increase. Finally, the public image of a city is of quality, and citizens will have a sense of pride in their community.

Becoming a Tree City USA has four parameters: A tree department, tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with budget, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

A tree department or board should partially consist of a professional foresters or arborists. The balance of the board should consist of concerned citizens.

A tree ordinance will give the tree department the power to designate the working plan for the community. This will set the policies and guidance for planting, maintaining, and removing trees. This needs to be in writing as this policy may be backed by the law if necessary.

A budget of $2 per capita is needed for the designation. Most towns already have this figured into its budget, but if not, it must be addressed. This budget will be part of the plan after an evaluation of diversity, problem trees, insect disease issues, and care is completed.

The most enjoyable requirement of a Tree City USA designation is the Arbor Day celebration. Publicity, feelings of community, and appreciation of trees are just a few of the benefits.

There are 187 communities in Illinois that have the Tree City USA designation and growing…

The job market for urban foresters has increased because of the Tree City designation, as there is a requirement for a licensed professional to be on the tree board.

Happy Arbor Day everyone!

© Ilex Farrell