Arbor Day

Today was the annual Arbor Day of Service for the Penn-Del chapter of ISA.  Arborists from many area companies came together to donate tree maintenance work at the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge.  Trees were pruned in the Medal of Honor grove, where our climbing championship will be held on May 5, as well as elsewhere on the grounds.
Highlighting the day was the planting of a replacement crabapple tree in the circle of trees honoring 13 marines who were killed in a horrific accident in Vietnam in 1967.  Veterans, some traveling from pretty far away, came to witness the event, and it was very humbling to hear their expressions of gratitude, knowing what THEY have given.  This video will help explain the story.

Penn-Del Arbor Day-of-Service 2011 at Friends Hospital

Tomorrow is National Arbor Day (Friday). We celebrated it a few days early, at Friends Hospital in Northeast Philly. That’s where we got together with other Penn-Del ISA companies to help restore a magnificent but neglected landscape through donated tree maintenance work. Aerial photos of Friends Hospital. This is the first time we’ve gone to the same location in consecutive years, and I’m happy that we did- I believe we have helped them catch up to the point that they can maintain these grounds so the public can truly appreciate what is there.
Arbor Day 2010
Arbor Day 2009
Some photos of what we did:
This weeping European beech had lots of dead wood and was overgrown with vines.

weeping European beech

Scott gives Dave a tree biology lesson before the pruning starts. He’s explaining why the sprouts that are growing from the roots are genetically different from the rest of the tree, by pointing out where the tree was grafted.

weeping European beech

(see the non-weeping rootsprout behind Scott, on the left?)

We had the pleasure of meeting Paul Freda, a self-employed arborist from Pottstown. He and Ricky worked together pruning the beech.

Paul is a great climber and very knowledgeable (he taught us about the amur corktree adjacent to where we were working). I hope sometime we get to work together in “real life!”

Done.

Scott got the worst of the dead wood out of this red maple (for the second year in a row!) This tree is in it’s final years, it’s doomed because of girdling roots.

red maple

Then we moved on to this red maple. Here Scott is setting his climbing line from the ground, while Paul works his way up the tree setting the line as he goes – the old fashioned way. Fun for me to watch- reminds me of “the day.”

Yes, Scott made it up there, too!

A final little detail- a round ended bark tracing on a nasty storm-damaged wound.

Before and after: A couple of December’s pruning jobs

Mr. B told me he had concerns about his big silver maple. It had a big leader that grew toward his house, and another over the neighbor’s yard. He wondered if we could make it less threatening. He even asked if I’d suggest topping it.

I went to see the tree, and his neighborhood was marred with many examples of bad pruning, like this “topped” silver maple a few houses away.

topped silver maple

Topped silver maple – DON’T DO THIS

Maybe that’s where he got the “topping” idea.  Anyway, I explained to him why topping would be counterproductive to his goal of keeping the tree safe and healthy.  (see April 2, 2010 if you want to read more about THAT). Then I described how I could reduce those leaders by 25% without making any heading (topping) (internodal) cuts. Mr. B liked that suggestion, so that is what we did.

Here’s the tree when we were setting up the climbing ropes:

We pruned a LOT of wood from this tree – those leaders were reduced by at least ¼.  But the type of pruning wounds we made are not significant injuries. The tree will compartmentalize them way better than if they’d  been heading cuts. And there are plenty of auxin (plant hormone) producing tips left in place to inhibit excessive re-sprouting.

Elaine, from Oaks, called me the week before Christmas to ask if I could prune her two cryptomeria (Japanese cedar) trees.  Both trees, and an arborvita, were very close to the house, with branches rubbing on the roof and gutters.  Nice old house.  Nice old trees.  Although the both cryptomeria had a lot of dead branches, possibly an indication of past health struggles, they were in stable condition and did not seem to be facing imminent decline.  And they add a lot to the curb appeal of the house (in my tree-biased opinion!)

We pruned them away from the roof, cleared out the dead wood, and gave them a good inspection to make sure they were not hosting and Japanese cedar longhorn beetles, ANOTHER imported pest new to our area.  (They were clean of pests – just a few sapsucker holes near the top).

A beautiful clear-blue December sky helped me get these nice before-and-after photos of the pruning job!

cryptomeria

cryptomeria

cryptomeria

Wonderful example of horrible pruning!

Sometimes in the course of my travels something catches my eye and I am compelled to pull over and snap a picture.  This is one of those things.

pin oak pruning

Somebody stripped out all the inside branches of this pin oak!

This is unfortunately a pretty common malpractice – the ignorant tree pruner sometimes claims to the unsuspecting tree owner that “thinning” the tree will let wind through and lessen the chance of storm breakage, and they do THIS.  But this is not thinning – the name for it is LIONSTAILING.  It doesn’t achieve the effect claimed because all the leaf surface area is now at the end of the branch where the wind force has the most leverage on the branch, instead of evenly distributed as “nature intended” (as evolution perfected).

And then, all that light let in on the previously shaded bark causes the tree to waste valuable stored energy putting out sprouts, and it can’t make the needed amount of food (sugar) (energy) because of the reduced amount of foliage.  This could likely be the beginning of the irreversible decline of the health of this mature tree.  What a shame.

Actual thinning is not harmful, it can be good.  It takes skill to get out to the ends of the branches where the thinning cuts need to be.  And if the cuts are made correctly, according to ANSI standards and using the 3 to 1 rule, you probably won’t even notice it was pruned if you are driving by.

Arbor Day-of-Service

Today was Arbor Day for us!  Not the official arbor day – that’s not until Friday here in Pennsylvania.  But it is the day the Penn-Del Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture held their annual day-of-service Arbor Day celebration.  Each year several companies from our area get together and provide pro bono tree care at the grounds of a worthy non-profit organization that just is not able to budget for the tree maintenance work they really need.  This year’s recipient was Friends Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia.  A great time was had by all of us, many of whom compete against each other in the tree care business every other day of the year.  But this day was different – there was great camaraderie among us as we teamed up and worked on some really special and sometimes historic trees for a good cause.

cedar of Lebabon, Arbor Day

The Jacobs Tree Surgery crew pruned this cedar-of-Lebanon.  It was in bad shape from snow-storm damage.

Penn-Del Arbor Day

Mike Chenail, our Penn-Del Arbor Day committee chairman, coils his climbing line after an aerial interview with KYW’s Karin Phillips.  Here’s a link to the interview, if you click the audio part on the right you’ll hear all the background banter.

A lot of arborist work is about helping people plan

The trees in your landscape today – and their values based on condition, location, and species – are a result of decisions that were made years ago.  What you decide today determines the future.  With trees, you need to think long term.  Here are 3 jobs we did last week and the plans we decided on.

1. Pruning to make a (damaged) tree safer This customer had 2 silver maples in the backyard – both in poor condition.  The one in the rear was in such poor health (almost dead) that removing it was the only sensible option.  But the one near the house provided shade over the deck, and the owners would miss it terribly if it were gone.  This tree had lots of problems – big broken branches from past storms, weak co-dominant branch structure, and the biggest portion of this misshapen tree hung out over the roof of the house, where if it broke it would cause plenty of damage.  And silver maples are very prone to breakage.  We decided to prune the tree in such a way that the new growth on the broken branches would be in a desirable direction and we pruned the big leader over the house to reduce its size.  And we cleared out the dead wood.

silver maples

After - much less of a threat now, and it really doesn't look that bad!

After – much less of a threat now, and it really doesn’t look that bad!

Of course, I can’t guarantee that this tree won’t be damaged again.  After all, it is a silver maple.  But the owners should be able to enjoy it for several more years with much less concern for their safety.

2. Pruning to train for the future The next day (Thursday) we pruned several healthy young trees in Collegeville.  The goal was to train them so that as they grow, they will have the strongest possible branch structure, and won’t encroach on the house as much.

The honey locust had two main leaders, and the one towards the house had grown larger than the other.  Ideally, it should have been pruned when very young to maintain a single central leader.  It’s now too late for that, but we can reduce the larger leader to subordinate it and to help keep it away from the house.

honey locust before

Before

honey locust after

After

The tree was pruned to reduce the larger leader, without destroying its appearance and in compliance with Ansi A300 pruning standards.

Also on this property was a young Sawtooth oak – healthy and vigorous, but beginning to develop several co-dominant stems.  These are the upright branches with the tight-angle crotches that will be likely to split in a storm when the tree is bigger.

sawtooth oak before

Before

sawtooth oak after

After

We pruned the co-dominants to subordinate them, so the center leader will remain dominant.  In a few years, the co-dominants can be removed or further subordinated and the tree will be much less prone to storm damage as it grows to mature size.

3. Getting the new tree started is sometimes the best plan The last big snowstorm broke a really large branch on the red maple in front of a client’s house in Limerick.  The tree is on the south side of the house and the owner really appreciates its shade in the summer.  But now it’s really disfigured, and it has other problems that make it unlikely it will still be there in another 10-15 years:  It has a girdling root problem due to improper mulching in the past, and it is really too close to the house.  Whoever planted it did not take into consideration the potential size at maturity.

Once the client was aware of all of this, he liked my idea of getting a new tree started – a new tree that would eventually get really big, but would be planted where it had room to grow.  In a few years, when the red maple finally has to go, the new bur oak tree will be established and the loss will not seem so great.

Digging the new tree in the nursery

Digging the new tree in the nursery

Planting the new tree

Planting the new tree

 Planting the new tree