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Homeowner's Guide To Tree Service

Just like any other living thing, trees need regular care to grow healthy and strong. For the most part, they can be left alone, but just like you or I, they can benefit a lot from a physical check up every now and then. Since the only way trees can communicate with you is through physical signs, they must be checked regularly to identify potential problems as they mature and grow. It is up to you, the property owner, to ensure that their internal and exterior structures are in balance and developing properly. For this you need to do a thorough inspection of all the trees on your property.

How to Inspect Your Trees

A tree that has structural defects can be dangerous for anyone in or near the property. They pose an extremely high risk of branches breaking and injuring someone or falling on vehicles or buildings causing major damage. It is important for you to learn how to identify hazardous trees and what corrective measures you can take to ensure the safety of everyone concerned:

  • Know When to Inspect: Your trees should be inspected at least once a year and even more frequently after a heavy storm has passed. Climactic conditions are a major reason why trees may become damaged or weakened.
  • Inspect the Entire Tree: An inspection is more than a cursory glance at the trunk or whatever's in your line of vision. You must carefully go over every tree in a systematic fashion. This will include the roots, trunk, main stem, branches, and branch unions. Look for dead twigs, dead branches, or small off-colored leaves. These will be indicators that the tree's health may be compromised. A healthy tree will have strong branches, full-sized leaves, and full crowns.
  • Know the Species: Some species of trees are more prone to certain diseases and defects. Do your homework ahead of time so that you can identify risk factors and possible weaknesses before they become a major problem.

Basic Tree Care

Once you've completed your inspection you are ready to do some basic tree maintenance. These steps should be done even if you find that you have a healthy tree. They will ensure the tree's continued growth and maturity. Basic tree care will include the following:

  • Pruning: In order to keep your trees healthy, they will need regular pruning. This will eliminate diseased, dead or broken branches that could impact the overall health of the tree. When pruning, don't just randomly cut the branches without purpose, instead cut each branch diagonally and in the same direction that the bud is growing. Make sure that you cut the branch right at the point where it intersects another branch. When you prune and clear out areas that are too dense, it allows the tree the freedom to breathe and grow into its natural beauty.
  • Provide Artificial Support: Occasionally you'll find that there is a structural defect in one of your trees. Perhaps your tree is leaning a little more to the side than it should. Some branches may be too heavy and are at a risk of falling. When this happens you can provide the tree with a temporary artificial support. The trunk can be propped up so that it will continue to grow in an upright position. Leaning trees and those with structural problems may need a professional to come in to secure it or remove the damaged branches and limbs.

Landscaping

No matter where you live or what you plan to do in your landscaping, trees will always be an important part of the process. Still, finding the right trees to fit into your landscaping design may seem a little intimidating to say the least. Not only is there a seemingly unlimited variety to choose from, they are in fact, living and breathing things that will require your attention in order to keep them strong and healthy. Depending on your landscaping needs here are a few suggestions:

  • Understand your zone: In order to know what plants will grow best in your location you need to have a grasp on what types of trees can withstand the environmental factors in your area. The Hardiness Zone Map, issued by the USDA, is used to tell people which plants will thrive in their particular area. To find the zones for your area, simply go to http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ and enter your zip code and your zone numbers will appear. Once you know your zone, you can look for plants and trees that are labeled the same and you have the most promising choices for your landscaping.
  • Considering Your Immediate Environment: Now that you know which trees will work best in your climate, look at your immediate environment. For sunny areas with lots of drainage, you can afford to plant larger trees, but if your yard is lacking in sunshine or has poor drainage, then you'll have to look for trees that will grow best in the shade.
  • Consider the space: Learn first what the size your tree will be when it's fully matured. What will be its height and width and see if the area you're landscaping will be able to accommodate its full size. Always plant for the future and not for the present. Most trees only look strong, beautiful, and healthy if they are allowed to grow to their full height. If they are planted in an area that is too small for them, they will be too cramped and may get sick and die.
  • Consider the shape: Finally, consider the shape of the tree. For the most part, this will be a matter of preference; some people enjoy the wispiness of the weeping trees and others prefer the tall, majestic ones. There are many different shapes to choose from including round, oval, conical, columnar, fastigiate, vase, weeping, and irregular.

Common Tree Problems to Watch For

Just like with people, there are common tree problems that seem to always catch a homeowner off guard. However, if they plant their trees with a little forethought and planning, they can easily avoid these problems in the future.

  • Power lines: When you first plant your tree in front of your house, you're not really thinking about that power line towering 30 feet over your head. However, if the tree you've planted has a mature height of 80 feet, you have to realize at some point you're going to have a fight with the power lines. If you know the trees height at maturity, make sure that you plant it with enough clearance so that you can avoid this problem.
  • Know what's common for the kind of tree you have: It is always a good idea to do a little research before you invest in a particular tree. Every variety of tree has its own pros and cons and will soon reveal certain problems. Some trees will thrive better near a water source while others will do best as shade trees in your back yard. The more you know about the variety of tree you have and the potential problems, the better you will be prepared for what's to come.
  • Stress conditions: Trees can also undergo a lot of stress from the environment; insect damage, disease, and nutrition deficits are common problems that can cause stress. When your tree is stressed you might see physical symptoms appear like slow growth that is less than normal, fewer and smaller leaves, excess fruit, or scorching from the summer heat. If the stress level of the tree is not reduced, eventually the tree will wither and die. Once you see the identifying signs of stress, find the source and take care of it.

Tree Removal

Occasionally, there will come a time when you need to completely remove a tree from your property. Experts say that there is probably nothing more dangerous than trying to undertake this job on your own. The combination of the weight of a damaged or sick tree, the potential of falling limbs, a chain saw, and the angle of fall could bring disaster to anyone in the area. If you're insisting on doing this job yourself there are some commonsense precautions that you should take.

  • Safety Gear: Make sure that you wear a proper loggers helmet to protect your head from falling limbs, earmuffs and a face screen to protect your ears from the noise and debris of the chainsaw, safety glasses to keep the dust out, Kevlar chaps will stop the chain from cutting through if you lose control, and felling wedges to prevent the saw from getting pinched.
  • Figure out the Felling Zone: Most people don't realize how far the tree will reach when it's on the ground. You need to estimate where it will go before you make the first cut. Only then should you start the attempt to cut the tree down.
  • Hire a Professional: Depending on the size the tree and your level of skill, you may discover that the job is better left to the professionals. If you have any doubt about the success of this type of job, it might be wise to hire a tree expert to remove the tree from your property.

Lawn Care

While trees certainly do make for a beautiful addition to any lawn, they don't create the perfect landscape entirely on their own. The most beautiful yards and gardens are the result of a joint effort between trees, lawns, shrubs, and flowers. When you're deciding on a tree for your garden, you need to think about it's surroundings. Some lawns and grasses do not do well under the shade of a tree. When choosing your lawn, here are a few questions you should ask to make sure that your yard will look great for years to come.

  • Is the turf going to be adaptable to shade? When the tree is small, you are not likely to have a problem but as the tree grows it will produce more shade and block out the sun the grass may need.
  • Are the nutrients in the soil sufficient? Trees absorb a lot of the nutrients from the soil; this could starve the grass that is growing underneath.
  • Will the grass get enough water? There may be a battle between the lawn and the tree for enough water. If you have them both growing together, you'll have to up the amount of water you give it to ensure they both don't wither from thirst.

When it comes to lawn care make sure that you consider the needs of all the other living plants that will be thrown together in your garden family.

Know When to Call a Professional Tree Service Company

When it comes to tree service there are a lot of things that could go wrong; knowing when to call in the experts can take much of the sting out of handling difficult situations. This is especially true if you have limited knowledge about how to care for these beautiful living creatures. Of course, when the trees are small, they are easy enough to care for but trees can grow into massive giants that will require expert hands to care for them. Here are some clear signs that let you know you need an expert:

  • Do you have the know how? Experts have seen and done it all when it comes to tree service. They know about common diseases, infestations, stress signs, and proper care. If one tree gets sick, it is only a matter of time before it spreads to others. If you don't know the warning signs, you could be putting your entire yard in jeopardy.
  • Time and Effort: Trying to fit tree care into a normal busy life can be overwhelming. When your schedule is already full, you are less likely to really give the trees the attention they deserve.
  • Materials and Tools: Maintaining trees requires a lot of specialized equipment, which you probably don't have lying around your home. Professionals already have everything they need at their disposal and can do the job quickly and efficiently in the same amount of time it would take for you to go out and rent what you need.

Tree Service Cost

  • Tree removal: There are many factors that can affect the price of tree removal services; the height and diameter of the tree, its condition, and its location can all have a bearing on the price. On average, tree removal services will cost somewhere between $200 - $1,500.
  • Tree stump removal: This is usually an extra service that comes in addition to the tree removal. The diameter of the stump is the determining factor on the price but expect to pay anywhere from $60 - $350 per stump.
  • Limb Chipping: If you don't want the limbs hauled away, you can have them chipped for about $75.
  • Tree Pruning: Depending on the service you use, the price of pruning and inspecting trees can vary widely. Most companies however, will offer free onsite estimates for the services you need.