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Tree Questions

How much mulch should I put around my trees? I see mulch piles high against the trunks, is this right?

Mulch beds and rings need to have their mulch level checked each year. The mulch layer should be between 3-4” of material under the tree out to the drip line. If there is a sufficient layer of mulch, it can be turned over to give it a fresh look. It is not necessary to add more mulch each year. Mulch wide, not deep. Keep mulch away from the trunk of the plants. Piling mulch high against the truck can cause disease, decay, and eventual death.

There is “green - grey growth” on the side of my tree. Is it harmful? Will it kill my tree?

The “green-grey growth” that is on the trunks of the trees is called lichen. It is not harmful and will not kill the tree. Removing the lichen is not recommended because it may cause damage to the tree. Lichens are living organisms composed of algae and fungus. It can be found growing on a variety of surfaces, including: tree branches, trunks, rocks, fences, gutters, and roofs, and come in many different forms and colors. Lichen do not absorb food from the tree or any source it is attached to or growing on, and prefer moist and shady conditions. There is no need for any control measures for lichen.

Why is my pine tree dying? All of a sudden there are brown needles on the inside of the tree. What is going on?

Brown needles on the inside of the tree, generally in fall, are from a natural occurrence called Seasonal Needle Drop. Pines do not keep all their needles for the life of the tree. Seasonal needle drop is caused by weather and season. The change can be gradual or quick. Spruces and fir trees also go through seasonal needle drop, but the change is less noticeable. As long as the brown needles are on the old growth, and not the current years growth at the outer branch tips, the condition is seasonal needle drop. If the current season’s growth is brown than the tree may be suffering from a more serious problem, and one of our certified arborist should be contacted to determine the cause.

Why is topping my tree bad?

Topping is the removal of branches and stems, leaving long stubs with disregard for tree structure and form. Pruning is the selective removal of branches and stems with regard to tree structure and form. There are several reasons topping is bad for trees. Topping removes a majority of the trees ability to make food. It can result in “burning” of the tissue under the bark because new areas of the tree are now exposed directly to sunlight and heat that would normally be shaded. “Burning” of tree tissue can also lead to cankers, splitting, or death of some branches. Large branches and stems are slow to heal or may not heal from the topping cuts. Plus these cuts are vulnerable to insects and decay. Topping results in rapid growth, often called water sprouts. Water sprouts occur below the cuts will need to be pruned again soon because of their rapid growth. Topping loses the natural form of the tree, and the tree will never regain its natural form. Trees that are topped are more likely to break and be considered hazardous.
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What is a Hazardous or High Risk Tree?

A “hazard tree” is a tree with structural defects likely to cause failure of all or part of the tree, which could strike a “target.” A target can be a vehicle, building, or a place where people gather such as a park bench, picnic table, street, or backyard. If the target cannot be moved and a serious hazard exists, consider blocking access to the target area until the hazard can be properly eliminated.

Tree Warning Signs:

History. Past tree care and circumstances can affect the health of your trees. Construction, trenches, and tree topping can all have adverse effects on your tree. If roots have been cut or disturbed, the tree may become unstable.
Lean. Trees do not necessarily grow straight up. However, trees with a significant lean can indicate a problem. Look for cracked soil and exposed roots around the base of the tree which may indicate the tree has recently begun to lean.
Multiple Trunks. Some trees develop multiple trunks. Trees with multiple trunks can, however, break if the trunks are weakly attached. Trunks with splits or cracks have a high failure potential. Inspect these trees for cracks or splits where the trunks meet.
Weakly Attached Branches. Inspect branches where they attach to the trunk. Tight V-shaped forks are more prone to break than open U-shaped unions. Trees with splits, cracks, and/or several branches arising from the same point on the trunk can also present problems.
Cavities & Decay Pockets. Inspect the trunk or branches for peeling bark and hollow or decayed areas. Large decay pockets and decay where branches meet the trunk can indicate problems. Mushrooms or conks growing on or at the base of a tree are signs of decay-causing fungus.
Trunk & Branch Cracks. Inspect the trunk and large branches for cracks. Deep, large cracks indicate structural weakness in the tree and need careful evaluation.
Hangers. Hangers are broken branches still lodged in the tree. Whether partially attached or separately completed from the trunk, hangers are likely to fall and should be removed. Stubs left by broken branches should be pruned correctly.
Deadwood. Deadwood, or dead branches, are a normal part of a tree’s growth pattern but will eventually fall. Branches over two inches in diameter can cause serious damage when they fall. Removal of all deadwood may not be critical, but deadwood should not be ignored.