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Telltale Signs It’s Time to Prune Your Trees, Part 1

You may think that pruning your trees on your property is only for visual reasons, but you’d be incorrect here. While it’s true that pruning trees is vital for things like curb appeal and home value, it’s also very important for tree health, property protection and saving you on various landscaping costs.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to help with all tree pruning needs as part of our tree trimming services. We can also help you determine when your trees are giving you clear signs that they need to be pruned – there are so many, in fact, that we’ll use this multi-part blog series to go over all of them. Let’s get started.

signs time prune trees

Broken or Damaged Branches

The primary reason for pruning in many situations is tree branches that have become broken or limp. If the damage also exposes the inside of the tree, it’s an even clearer sign that some pruning is needed.

This kind of damage can be caused by a number of different elements, from weather hazards to human and machine ones as well. Heavy snow is a common source of branch damage in Utah, for instance – you should check your trees after major storms, and you may even consider sweeping large snow quantities from branches on more fragile trees.


Over time, tress that aren’t properly cared for may experience branches that begin to cross each other. This may not be a problem in some scenarios, but in those where the branches touch and rub against each other, the bark can be damaged and the interior of the tree can be exposed – leading to branch decay, which can then spread to the entire tree if it’s not pruned properly.

Density Concerns

Another clear and obvious sign that your tree needs some pruning? The density of the greenery present on it. If you notice that your tree has become so thick with leaves and other greens that you can’t see through it at all, chances are it’s time for a trim. This can become a hazard due to branches catching the wind and causing damage, and due to branches that may contact each other and shed skin.


Deadwood refers to pieces of the tree that are no longer living, and they imply that other sections of the tree may be undergoing the same issues. If you don’t prune these dead branches, the decay found on them will spread to other parts of the tree, which will eventually have to be removed.


Another telltale sign of a tree that’s sick or may be dying is cracks found on the bark, especially if you find two or more at once. These are generally caused by rot, which can spread and, again, force full removal of the tree if you aren’t careful.

For more on some signs that it’s time to prune your trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

Basics, Tools and Tips for Tree Pruning

If you have trees anywhere on your property, one of the key bits of maintenance that needs to be performed on them from time to time is pruning. Pruning, which takes place for a great number of plants and nature items through both natural and man-made processes, keeps both the tree and the property safe and comfortable.

At Reliable Tree Care, our arborists are here to help with branch structure pruning and numerous other tree trimming and care areas. Whether you’re utilizing our professional services or supplementing with a bit of your own pruning, here are some basics on the process – why it’s necessary, some tools that might be used, and how to approach certain kinds of trees.

basics tools tips tree pruning

Why Prune?

Simply put, pruning the tree is necessary for health – not only of the tree itself, but of the rest of your property as well. A tree in the wild will naturally shed certain limbs or branches, and they will decompose on the ground. But you don’t want this for your landscape, so you have to act sooner.

In addition, pruning protects your entire family and keeps them safe. Tree branches that are uncontrolled may impact everything from falling risks to electrical power lines, presenting particular danger if you have children who play nearby.

Wound Care

Another purpose of pruning in many cases is wound care. Trees can be “cut” just like humans, and in some cases, covering larger cuts can help prevent diseases from spreading through various nesting insects. Pruning paint for these larger cuts is vital in these situations, particularly for oak trees (these are often attacked in their cuts by bark beetles).

Tools Used

Here are some of the tools that might be used for pruning:

  • Pruning shears: Hand-held cutters found in both scissor and anvil action formats.
  • Lopping shears: Longer handled shears that come in scissor action formats, used for cutting thicker branches and those that are a bit tougher to reach.
  • Pruning saw: A pole-mounted saw that does well with larger, higher-up sections of the tree.
  • Hedge shears: For smaller branches or other areas, there are both manual and power-operated hedge shears available.

If you’re doing some home pruning on any of your trees, be sure to maintain the quality of your equipment. Keep all tools sharp and clean so they avoid rust, plus disinfect all cutters after cutting any diseased limbs – this is to prevent disease from spreading to healthy tree areas.

Evergreen Vs. Deciduous

How you prune will vary depending on whether you have evergreen or deciduous trees. Some basics:

  • Deciduous trees are pruned from the bottom up, usually featuring less than a third of the total tree height.
  • Evergreens should be pruned in early spring for healthier growth.
  • During winter when plant tissue is frozen, do not prune deciduous trees. Prune them only in late winter, which encourages growth in spring and summer.
  • Never prune evergreen trees to the inactive center.

For more on pruning trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or removal services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Choosing Between Tree Removal and Medication

If you have a tree on your property that’s struggling, you may be wondering whether the right action to take is to trim and medicate it or remove it completely. Some trees may hold historical or sentimental value, and we often want to look to alternatives before completely removing it.

At Reliable Tree Care, we can help you make this important decision. Our tree removal services include first assessing whether this is the proper option for your tree and property, particularly if the tree is not fully dead and only has certain elements of damage. Here are some important areas we’ll help you consider as you choose which approach to take.

choosing tree removal medication

Proximity to Living Spaces

Human safety and comfort are the first and most important considerations here. Does the tree impact areas like sidewalks, roads, yards, electrical lines or other important elements? If so, or if the tree is at risk of falling near or on a dwelling, replacement might be in the cards if there’s no way to trim or otherwise limit the potential for damage here. There’s no perfect data on the numbers here, but people are hurt and killed every year due to falling trees or limbs – make sure you avoid this at all costs.

Costs of Medication Vs. Replacement

If the tree isn’t providing direct danger or impediment, the next question to ask is regarding the costs of removing it versus other options. If you have a small seedling with an easily identifiable and manageable disease, for instance, treating it can cost as little as $10 and makes far more sense than any removal. Some diseases can be treated with little else beyond water and nutrients.

Other cases, however, aren’t so easily managed. Larger saplings can cost thousands of dollars to treat with medications, and may take years of treatment to see results. And in these cases, you have to consider the long-term cost of this medication as well.

Chances of Recovery

Another area to consider if you’re thinking of medicating your tree is just how realistic the chances are of recovery. There’s no exact way to tell here, but our pros can assess your damage and determine the degree of canopy damage and the disease or issue causing it. Some trees just need better watering processes, but others may have reached a disease stage that makes full recovery impossible.

Long-Term View

It’s important to remember that trees have longer lifespans than humans – the trees on your property are highly likely to outlive you. This means that the sooner you replace older, failing trees with newer seedlings, the sooner others in the future will be able to enjoy these.

For more on whether you should remove your damaged tree or consider other outlets, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

Why Winter Tree Pruning Is Wise

Winter tree pruning probably isn’t at the top of your to-do list – but you now’s an ideal time to schedule an appointment with a local certified arborist.


Many people tend to forget about tree care during the cold weather months, and some assume that tree service professionals don’t offer service in the winter. The reality is, this time of year is perfect for pruning. Here’s why.

 winter tree pruning

Tree Structure Is More Visible


With the leaves gone, making accurate cuts on problem branches is much easier. A certified arborist can tell at a glance what needs to be pruned away.


Trees Are Dormant in Winter


Pruning during dormancy allows for a vigorous, healthy burst of growth in the spring – and isn’t that exactly what you want to see?


Winter Is No Friend to Tree Disease


Tree disease tends to spread more easily during the growing season. Prune in the winter, and diseases stand little chance of taking hold or finding their way to neighboring specimens.


Insects Are Less Active in Winter


Pests don’t like frigid temperatures, and most problem insects are dormant in the winter. Prune now, and the fresh branch cuts have little chance of attracting an infestation.


Winter Pruning Boosts Spring Growth


Trees that are pruned in the winter flourish come spring, as pruning provides extra energy reserves that support vigorous growth in the warmer weather conditions.


Winter Tree Pruning Is Easier


Accessing the yard to prune with state-of-the-art equipment is much less difficult – and much less likely to cause landscape damage – when the ground is hard and frozen.


What About Spring & Summer Tree Pruning?


Certified arborists say winter is a great time to prune, but that doesn’t mean you should skip tree pruning in the spring and summer. It’s still important, as the practice is done for different reasons, including:


  • Identifying and cutting away deadwood and diseased or damaged branches
  • Improving the balance or overall shape of the foliage
  • Opening up the foliage to provide the interior with more sunlight and air flow
  • Eliminating branches and foliage that are getting in the way of the view or blocking a walkway


These issues can be difficult to address with winter tree pruning, as they may not be obvious when the trees don’t have any leaves. So, you may still need to prune in the spring or summer. Just remember not to do any pruning once fall arrives, as this weakens trees and puts them at greater risk for winter damage.


If you’re ready for winter tree pruning and you live in the greater Salt Lake City or along the Wasatch Front, turn to the certified arborists at Reliable Tree Care.


A well-known and trusted leader in the northern Utah arborist industry for over 20 years, Reliable Tree Care offers a range of affordable professional services that can help preserve the health and beauty of your landscape. Contact our Murray office and schedule a free, no-pressure comprehensive yard evaluation to discuss winter tree pruning today.

Tree Service Tips for Taking Care of Snow-Covered Branches

How do tree service professionals take care of branches that covered in snow and bending from the heavy weight?


If one of your trees appears to be in trouble, you might be tempted to run out and relieve the snow-covered branches of their burden. However, taking this approach could actually make the problem worse.


Instead, contact a local tree service immediately if the snow-bent branch poses a property hazard. Otherwise, follow the tips below to avoid causing any more damage.

 care snow-covered tree branches

DON’T Shake the Tree


Heavy snow weakens limbs and makes them brittle. Give the tree a shake now, and snow-bent branches could break or snap. If that happens, you could face significant injury, additional devastation to the tree or property damage. Don’t risk it – resist the urge to shake.


DO Gently Brush the Branches


If the snow that’s covering the branches is light, dry and fluffy, you can gently brush it away – just do so before it has a chance to freeze. To brush snow-covered branches, tree service professionals recommend using a soft-bristled broom and sweeping upwards rather than from the top down. The latter action puts more pressure on the limbs, which can cause additional damage.


DON’T Break the Ice


When a brutal winter storm hits and you end up with limbs coated in a layer of ice, tree service professionals say to leave them alone. Allow the ice to melt on its own instead of trying to break it up, as any step you take to chip away the icy layer could damage the branches and create an even bigger problem.


DO Check the Branches in the Spring


Once the snowy winter weather is gone for good, take a good look at the formerly snow-covered branches to see of the heavy burden caused any lasting damage. If so, or if you can’t tell whether the limbs are still in good shape, contact a local tree service for expert advice and assistance. In northern Utah, call on the certified arborists at Reliable Tree Care.


Whether you’re worried about a hazardous snow-covered branch in the winter or you need a professional assessment in the spring, the Reliable Tree Care team can meet your needs. We’ve been in business for decades, and we’re known for providing high-quality workmanship and stellar customer service at an affordable price.


Reliable Tree Care offers free comprehensive yard evaluations to homeowners and businesses in the greater Salt Lake City area, along the Wasatch Front and throughout northern Utah. To schedule yours, or to talk to our tree service professionals take care of your snow-covered branches, contact our Murray office today.

Arborist, Landscaper or Tree Surgeon: Which Do You Need?

The difference between an arborist, a landscaper and a tree surgeon may not be obvious to property owners. These terms are often used interchangeably, and you may think it really doesn’t matter which of these professionals you hire.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. While these three professions share a degree of commonality, the differences are significant. Here, we explain when to hire an arborist, and when (or if) it may make more sense to call on a landscaper or tree surgeon instead.

arborist landscaper tree surgeon

What Is an Arborist?

A certified arborist has in-depth training in how to properly plant and care for trees. Obtaining certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the organization that sets the industry standards, requires at least three years of full-time work experience. A certified arborist must also pass a comprehensive exam and participate in continuing education and ongoing training throughout their career.

What Is a Landscaper?

A landscaper typically doesn’t have nearly the same level of training as a certified arborist. In fact, most landscapers learn the trade while on the job. That said, many of these professionals are well-versed in aesthetic yard design, garden bed preparation, plant and hardscape installation, landscape irrigation and lawn maintenance. However, you could just as easily land someone who’s new to the industry. And, unlike a certified arborist, even an experienced landscaper doesn’t usually specialize in tree care.

What Is a Tree Surgeon?

A tree surgeon offers professional pruning, trimming and tree removal – but lacks formal training in the correct ways to complete these often difficult and dangerous tree services. Like landscapers, tree surgeons learn on the job. Some develop skills after years in the industry. Others, however, may not possess the knowledge or ability to properly care for your trees.

Deciding Which Type of Professional to Hire

Should you hire an arborist? Or is a landscaper or tree surgeon better suited to meet your needs?

To answer that question, consider the scope of work that you need to have done. If your trees are hazardous or unhealthy, turn to a certified arborist. Arborists offer expert planting, pruning, trimming, preventive maintenance and many other essential tree services such as risk assessment, disease and insect control, cabling, bracing and removal.

If, on the other hand, your lawn and property need more of an aesthetic overhaul, calling a landscaper is probably your best bet. Since a certified arborist can do everything a tree surgeon can do and more – and since many tree surgeons have little to no serious training – hiring this type of professional instead of an arborist could ultimately be costly.

Have you decided to hire an arborist? If you live in northern Utah, call on the professional team at Reliable Tree Care.

An industry leader in the greater Salt Lake City area for more than 20 years, Reliable Tree Care offers complimentary comprehensive yard evaluations to homeowners and businesses in the northern Utah region. To schedule an appointment with a highly-experienced certified arborist, contact our Murray office today.

Arborist Tips to Protect Your Trees from Winter Threats

You might love the winter weather. But your trees? Not so much, according to expert arborists.

Wintry conditions can actually lead to a host of tree problems that can compromise their health. So, though you might see a beautiful winter wonderland when you look outside, the frightful weather is anything but delightful to your trees.

protect trees winter

You can’t completely protect your trees during the cold weather months. But, if you follow our arborist tips, you can take steps to safeguard them from the effects of wintry conditions.

Winter Threat No. 1: Cold Roots

Tree roots may be deep underground, but they’re still at risk for damage when the temperature takes a dive.

To insulate the roots of your trees, arborists advise applying a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch. Mulching to the edge of the canopy will help the roots stay warm all winter long.

Winter Threat No. 2: Winter Drought

Any trees planted within the last two years can suffer the consequences of winter drought. The same is true for evergreens – even mature ones – and specimens that are already stressed from insect infestation, disease or nearby construction.

For protection against winter drought, arborists recommend giving trees a thorough watering just before the ground freezes in late fall.

Winter Threat No. 3: Heavy Snow

Heavy snow can threaten the integrity of trees with multiple stems or narrow, upright limbs. If a great deal of snow piles up on the branches, the accumulation can pull them apart.

Arborists suggest brushing snow off the branches after heavy storms – but do so gently, or you could inadvertently cause breakage or damage to the tree.

Winter Threat No. 4: Falling Branches

If any of your trees have limbs that hang over your house, garage or driveway, arborists warn that winter weather stress could make them fall. And if a branch breaks, it could create significant property damage.

To prevent this from happening, consult with a local arborist. The branches in question may need cabling and bracing to remain stable. Or, if the limbs are dead, diseased or damaged, removal may be the most effective solution.

Winter Threat No. 5: Sidewalk Salt

Do you use sidewalk salt to keep your walkways free of ice? While this can help you avoid falling, arborists say that the deicer is no friend to your trees. The salt can leach through the ground and enter the root system, causing leaf browning and other health problems in the spring and summer.

Arborists suggest skipping the sidewalk salt and choosing a tree-friendly deicer, such as sand or gravel, instead.

Would you like expert assistance protecting your trees this winter? If your property is located in northern Utah, the certified arborists at Reliable Tree Care can meet your needs, offering expert service at an affordable price.

Reliable Tree Care, a leader among Salt Lake City area arborists for over 20 years, offers no-cost, no-obligation comprehensive yard evaluations to homeowners and businesses. To schedule yours, or to discuss winter tree care with our arborist team, contact our Murray office today.

Why Hire a Professional Holiday Lighting Service?

Talk to a professional holiday lighting service this year, before you untangle the strands of lights and haul out the ladder.

Creating a festive outdoor light display can be a huge hassle, and many northern Utah homeowners have come to realize that leaving the task to the pros is the best way to make the season bright. Here’s why you may want to start a new tradition and hire a professional service for your holiday lighting.

professional holiday lighting


Who isn’t extremely busy at this time of year? Hire a professional holiday lighting service, and you’ll have more time to enjoy the joyous season with your family and friends.


Hanging holiday lights on your rooftop and trees can be dangerous, and every year thousands of people suffer injuries. Let the pros take on the task, and you can stay safe on the ground.


When freezing temperatures hit, most people don’t look forward to spending time outside. With a professional holiday lighting service, you won’t have to brave the cold – you get to stay inside, where it’s warm and cozy.


Want the brightest, most durable holiday lights? Without question, the high-quality lighting a professional service provides is far superior to the options offered at local retail stores.


If you’ve always wanted to have the most spectacular holiday lighting display in the neighborhood, hiring a professional service allows you to achieve that goal. The pros can customize a design that perfectly enhances your home and property features.


Fasteners and cords can mar the beauty of a holiday lighting display. A professional service puts up light strands with the utmost care, using property-friendly clips that are color-matched to the backdrop and making sure the cords stay neatly hidden.


Do you get frustrated when a bulb goes out or a winter storm brings down a light strand? If you hire a professional service, you won’t have to maintain your seasonal display – the pros will come out whenever the lighting needs attention.


Taking down a light display can be just as much of a headache – and just as unsafe – as installation. Choose a professional holiday lighting service, and removal won’t be your job. At the end of the season, the pros will return to remove the lights, safely packaging the strands for storage.

Are you ready to skip the headaches and win the neighborhood holiday light fight? If you live in the greater Salt Lake City area or one of the surrounding northern Utah communities, let the Reliable Tree Care team handle your outdoor home and tree lighting.

Reliable Tree Care can make your property merry and bright with an amazing custom light display, and our season-long service – which includes installation, maintenance and removal — comes at a surprisingly affordable price. For more details on our professional holiday lighting service, contact our Murray office today.

How an Expert Tree Service Can Benefit Your Utah Landscape

Many Utah homeowners call on an expert tree service company when they have a specific need, such as insect control, disease management or removal. That makes perfect sense, of course – but effective tree care goes beyond these basic arborist services.

Trees need attention to stay healthy, strong and beautiful. With expert tree service from a local certified arborist – like the Reliable Tree Care team – yours will continue to thrive for generations. Below, we explain four ways professional care can benefit your Utah landscape.

expert tree service landscape

Comprehensive Yard Evaluation

Do you know what tree species you have on your Utah property? And do you understand how to care for them properly?

During a comprehensive yard evaluation, an arborist will walk the landscape to identify the species you own, offering expert advice on their care. While completing this tree service, the arborist will also evaluate the health status of every specimen on your property, looking for signs of pests, disease and stress that need to be addressed.

Proper Pruning and Trimming

Do you have a solid understanding of the proper techniques for pruning and trimming? Unless you’ve had arborist training – or were born with a green thumb – you could end up doing more harm than good if you take on the tasks yourself.

For your own personal safety and the future health and beauty of your trees, let a professional tree service company handle the pruning and trimming. A certified arborist understands which techniques to use and how to make cuts that don’t compromise tree integrity.

Efficient Root Fertilization

Do you already fertilize your trees? If you aren’t careful in your fertilizer selection, the products you apply may not provide the right nutrients to encourage healthy growth.

An expert tree service company offers professional-level fertilization treatments that are more efficient and effective. Sometimes, injecting nutrients deeply into the soil near the roots is the best solution. Certified arborists also offer mycorrhizae fungal treatment to help with root system development.

Seasonal Protection

Do you consider what your trees need when the seasons change? To effectively fend off insects, disease and stress, seasonal protection is essential.

Trees are vulnerable to freezing cold temperatures and require special attention in the winter. Spring storms can also threaten their health, as can the heat of summer. And in the fall, they often need late-season foliar treatments to quickly improve their health before the cold weather arrives. A certified arborist can handle all of these types of necessary seasonal protective treatments.

Have we convinced you to hire an expert tree service company? At Reliable Tree Care, a northern Utah industry leader for more than 20 years, our highly-skilled certified arborists provide free, no-hassle comprehensive yard evaluations to homeowners and businesses in the greater Salt Lake City area and all along the Wasatch Front.

Reliable Tree Care also offers a range of effective, affordable services – including pruning, trimming, root fertilization and seasonal protection – that can preserve the health and beauty of your trees. We also offer professional rooftop and treetop holiday lighting service, illuminating your property without causing any damage.

For more information on how our expert tree service can benefit your Utah landscape, contact our Murray office today.

Tree Trimming and Utility Lines – What You Need to Know

As a property owner, you have control over any tree trimming that takes place. Right?

Not necessarily. Your utility company has the right to trim trees on your northern Utah property – and they can do so without your permission. Actually, they don’t even have to let you know ahead of time.

Why is this? As it turns out, utility companies take on trimming for a very good reason – to help prevent widespread blackouts.

Professional gardener pruning a tree

Tree Trimming Can Prevent Power Outages

In August 2003, a utility line fault in Ohio led to a massive blackout. More than 50 million people throughout the northeast United States and Canada were left without electricity – and in many areas, power wasn’t restored until two days later.

While several factors contributed to the power outage, tree overgrowth was the catalyst. The fault began when tree branches came into contact with the utility lines.

Since then, tree trimming for clearance around power lines is mandated by law. Utility companies are required to manage vegetation growth as a means of preventing future blackouts.

Tree Trimming Near Utility Lines Requires Expert Care

If you have trees growing near power lines, let the utility company take care of the problem – don’t try to trim them yourself.

Tree trimming around utility lines is incredibly dangerous. Plan the job incorrectly, and a falling branch could knock out the electricity in your neighborhood. Worse, you could accidentally come into contact with a high-voltage wire.

If you don’t trust your utility company to trim properly, contact a local certified arborist with expertise in trimming for power line clearance.

Planning to Plant New Trees?

If you’re thinking about adding more trees to your property, taking care in choosing a planting site can help prevent the need for trimming by the utility company.

You don’t want to plant too close to the power lines, as utility companies are required to trim branches within a certain distance. Typically, this is about ten feet, but trimming is often done to a greater degree to account for future growth.

In addition, think carefully before deciding which type of tree to plant. To ensure clearance around power lines, species that grow to reach heights of over 25 feet need to be planted at least 25 feet away. Any that grow taller should be planted at an even further distance.

For expert advice on planting to avoid utility line interference, turn to a local certified arborist – like the professionals at Reliable Tree Care.

As a northern Utah industry leader for more than 20 years, Reliable Tree Care strives to provide effective and affordable arborist services to homeowners and businesses throughout the greater Salt Lake City area and along the Wasatch Front. Contact our Murray office and schedule a free, no-obligation comprehensive yard evaluation to discuss tree trimming and planting around utility lines with one of our expert certified arborists today.