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Common Tree Pruning Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to care for virtually every tree type out there, pruning is a vital consideration. Important for everything from tree health to appearance and more, tree pruning helps your trees with density issues, broken or damaged branches, and other areas where removal will help the tree grow properly and live longer.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re proud to offer a wide range of branch structure pruning and other tree trimming services at your fingertips. While this is a common and necessary process, it’s one that comes with a few pitfalls to avoid – the kind that professional arborists help you steer far clear of. Let’s go over a few such areas within the world of tree pruning, detailing some areas to stay away from when it comes to trimming.

tree pruning mistakes avoid

New Trees

There are slightly different requirements when it comes to pruning for new trees that have just been planted. Within the first year or so, for most species, pruning will not be needed during this period of time.

There are slightly different requirements when it comes to pruning for new trees that have just been planted. Within the first year or so, for most species, pruning will not be needed during this period of time.

Safety and Professionals

Generally speaking, safety should be the top priority when it comes to pruning trees. There are numerous areas where this is the case, from general branch and ladder safety to areas like electrical utility conductors or other nearby hazards that may be close to trees.

For this reason, we highly discourage any self-pruning efforts that risk personal safety in any way. If you aren’t a fully trained arborist, even if you’ve done plenty of work on trees in the past, there are several areas of pruning that simply should be left to our professionals every time. We’re happy to advise you on each of these areas as part of our services.

Branch Stubs Vs. Core Damage

During pruning, a top priority of your arborist will be to avoid branch stubs during the process. Branches that are trimmed or pruned need to be removed completely, with a careful eye to the proper location.

Why so careful? Well, because the flip side here is cutting too deeply, causing damage to the core of the tree. Many without experience with a specific tree species will cut in the wrong places, risking major damage that may not always be reversible.

Other Tips

A couple other general areas to remember when trees are being pruned:

  • Climbing spikes: Whether pruning or performing any other task, never use climbing spikes, as these can damage the tree.
  • Wound paint: While this is a product that’s often talked up as a temporary solution to tree issues, it can often cause more harm to the tree than it provides care.

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

Keeping Trees Prepared for Larger Storm Risks

No matter what time of year it is, trees on a given property need to be protected from certain storm risks. Storms including high winds and other elements create tree movement that can put both the tree and certain building or property elements at risk if the proper steps aren’t taken.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to help with all your tree care and protection needs, from tree trimming that will help remove risky elements to disease control that will ensure your trees are strong enough to withstand the most arduous elements. Making sure your trees are properly cared for so they’ll be ready to face the next major storm comes down to a few very simple areas, each of which our arborists are proud to assist you with at a moment’s notice. Let’s go over each such area, plus some basics you should know.

trees prepared storm risks

Trimming and Removal

The trees that pose the greatest risk during a potential storm? Dead, dying or sick trees, which won’t be as strong throughout their branch structure and pose several physical hazards. Dead trees can see branches break off much earlier than usual during high winds, or may even fall over entirely if they aren’t taken care of, posing huge safety risks to both people and structures.

To prevent these risks, and even to limit the potential for overgrown trees creating similar issues, proper pruning, trimming and removal is vital. Our arborists will assess all the trees on your property and help you understand which could use some careful attention, both for their overall health and to protect your property during heavy weather.

Younger Trees and Stability

If you have younger or less stable trees that you’re worried won’t hold up during a heavier storm, we recommend the use of tree stakes. These are simple items that are placed around your tree to provide additional support, helping it stand up straight through wind, rain and any other weather. Check the stakes regularly to ensure they are in the proper place and not damaging the tree.

Watering Considerations

Finally, another big factor when it comes to keeping your trees strong and stable is year-round watering. Tree stability begins at the roots, which are simply healthier when they have a steady stream of water to keep them healthy. To go even further here, consider deep root fertilization that will bring greater quantities of air and nutrients to your roots, keeping them strong and fertile so they’ll produce a similarly robust tree above the ground.

For more on protecting your trees and preparing them for storms throughout the year, or to learn about any of our tree trimming, tree removal or other arborist services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Winter Injury Concerns for Evergreen and Broadleaf Trees

After what felt like forever, the long and arduous Utah winter finally has given way to spring. The snow is gone from the ground, trees are beginning to bloom and the weather is warming up.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to tell you about what the changing seasons mean for you as a tree owner, from important fertilization areas in spring to pruning, trimming and much more. If you have any evergreen or broadleaf trees on your property, specifically, the early spring is a period to look out for one post-winter condition simply known as “winter injury.” Let’s go over what winter injury means, how it affects trees, and how you can spot and manage signs of winter injury on your trees.

winter injury evergreen broadleaf trees

Trees and Adaptation

Winter injury is a broad category that can affect a number of evergreen or broadleaf species, including Boxwood, Douglas Fir, Fraser and several others. It’s often marked initially by browning concerns (more on symptoms in a moment).

In many cases, winter tree injury is based on issues with the tree adapting to the conditions of the season. Many of the worst cases of tree injury come when a mild previous summer and fall are followed by an extremely harsh winter, such as the one we just went through. This causes the trees to struggle to adjust to the changes in weather that come so quickly. While tree injury is possible even in milder climates, it’s the greatest risk during seasons that change significantly like this.

Symptoms of Winter Injury

There are several symptoms of winter injury to be aware of:

  • Browning: The first and primary symptom of most winter injury conditions is browning on the needles or leaves, generally on the south side of trees or any needles that are not above a snowline.
  • Water loss: If soil becomes frozen during winter, it may leave trees struggling to absorb water through the roots, especially when the sun is out or it’s windy.
  • “Winter burn”: When sunlight reflects off snow and heats up exposed sides of the tree, causing rapid changes when the temperature drops at night.

Avoiding Winter Injury Concerns

When it comes to avoiding future winter injury, the name of the game is actually paying strong attention to late-summer and early fall tree care. Strong watering of shrubs, evergreens and broadleaf trees should be observed all the way up until the first frost and freezing ground in the fall, and you can consider mulch around the base of these trees to keep water conserved in the soil and protect the roots from frost. Some property owners choose burlap screens for wind and element protection, including keeping trees safe from salt spray from close-by roads.

For more on spotting and avoiding winter injury in your trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or tree removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

Determining the Right Time for Tree Removal, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over several of the broader tree diseases and conditions that may require an eventual tree removal on your property. There are several such conditions, and determining their severity and how they impact your species specifically is the name of the game when understanding whether the tree can be treated or whether tree removal might be necessary.

At Reliable Tree Care, our arborists are proud to assist numerous clients in this area, from assessing issues and providing disease control services where possible to taking care of tree removal when it’s required, plus everything in between. In today’s blog, we’ll look at a few issues of placement or physical issues that may lead to removal needs, plus how you can assess the concerns and make the right choice.

determining right time tree removal

Ground Roots

If you have begun to notice roots from a given tree that are growing along the top of the soil, this is generally a sign that the root system is struggling to find purchase within the soil. There could be a few reasons for this, including soil makeup concerns.

Regardless of the reason behind it, trees in this position are at risk of physical damage from humans, animals and other surface elements. When exposed to winter weather, roots may undergo significant strain. In certain cases, enough roots in this form will signal that the tree simply cannot build an adequate root system and must be removed.

Sewers and Septic Tanks

One of the single most significant and expensive plumbing issues that can happen to homeowners relates to trees: The invasion of tree roots into main sewer lines or septic runoff areas. Tree roots are always on a natural search for water and nutrients, which may lead them to these plumbing areas in some circumstances – leading to massive repair needs and often tree removal concerns. Ensuring trees have both proper water and appropriate distance from main water lines is important for their long-term health.

Roof Concerns

If trees have grown to the point where their branches overhang a roof or other areas of the home, there could be risks present for both the tree and the structure. Roof shingles and moisture protection areas could be at risk of physical damage, especially during high winds or storms, as could siding or other structural areas.

In addition, branches that are in contact with the home will be tough to trim and prune. This can compromise the health of the tree, allowing it to grow out of control and create even further hazards in a damaging cycle.

Power Lines

Down similar lines, it’s vital to trim and otherwise prune tree branches that are anywhere close to power lines. Branches that are even in the vicinity may become entwined during wind or storms, leading to major electrocution risks or other hazards. Such trees will need to be removed for the safety of nearby building occupants in many cases.

For more on signs it might be time to remove trees, or to learn about any of our tree disease care or pruning services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Determining the Right Time for Tree Removal, Part 1

Trees are wonderful and highly beneficial property elements, and those many of us build a bond and connection with over time, but even the longest-lasting trees reach the end of their road at some point in time. In fact, in many cases, the best tree owners are able to spot the signs that their trees are reaching the end of their lifespan, allowing them to provide the proper care to both the tree itself and surrounding property areas.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to help with everything from proper care of diseased trees to tree removal when needed. We can also help explain the risks of delaying dead tree removal when the time comes. How do you know, though, when the time is coming to remove a tree? This two-part blog will go over several important factors here, including certain situations that may or may not indicate tree concerns, plus those where removal is an absolute necessity.

determining right time tree removal

Dead Trees Vs. Dormant Trees

For starters, it’s important to understand the full range of actual tree conditions out there. Namely, while certain trees may appear to be dead or dying, they might actually just be dormant – and knowing the difference is important.

In many situations, trees go dormant during the fall or late summer as they prepare for winter. In others, damage or sickness may appear in only sections of a given tree, while the rest of the tree remains fine. In both these and related situations, it might not be necessary to remove the tree. Our arborists can assess the tree and make a determination.

Stressed Trees

“Stress” is another broad category that a tree can come under, and it may or may not lead to removal needs. It’s marked by the appearance of small “shoots” near the base of the tree, little branches that look out of place in this area. They often show up because trees are struggling with some part of the environment or soil system, and an arborist can assess their specific causes plus whether they signal a need for removal.

Branch Damage

In many cases, branches that are damaged can be removed for the good of the tree while the tree itself remains. This is often done purposely during the pruning process, in fact.

In other situations, though, too much branch damage may necessitate a full removal of the tree. If too many branches are damaged, the tree may not be able to harvest enough sunlight to keep itself alive, and letting it die naturally can be dangerous to the surrounding environment.

Fungal Infection

Fungal infections in trees may give off a few different visible signs, from strange wounds without a known cause to brackets that begin to form from the trunk, roots or even branches of the tree. Once again, not all fungal infections necessitate removal, though some do – and a trained arborist will know best.

For more on conditions that may or may not lead to tree removal, or to learn about any of our tree pruning, removal or disease care services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Managing Tree Root Contact With Sidewalks and Walkways

At Reliable Tree Care, our top priority is the health and safety of your trees. From basic tree shaping and trimming services up to checking for disease and preventing insects, we’re here to keep your trees beautiful and healthy for decades into the future.

One common property area where basic tree care can become a bit more complex is when trees are located near a property walkway, most commonly a sidewalk. Let’s go over why this can sometimes be a small concern, what can be done when tree roots begin interacting with concrete or other walkway materials, and how our arborists can help here.

tree root contact sidewalks walkways

Roots and Sidewalks

Roots are a vital part of any tree, and as the tree ages, their root systems will spread out. This spread isn’t random – it’s based on finding areas where the roots can comfortably supply nutrients and moisture without interruption.

When roots expand into areas nearby walkways, however, this process can be bothered. The outcome here will often be negative for both the tree and the walkway; roots will not grow properly and the tree’s health may suffer, plus root areas will often grow directly into seams or expansion joints in sidewalks, damaging them significantly.

“Just cut the roots, then,” you might be thinking, but it isn’t that simple. First off, roots can simply grow back again right into that same section and cause even more damage, often within just a couple years. Secondly, cutting roots this way during tree growth risks further damage.

Tree Stability is Paramount

When assessing the options for managing this kind of interaction, which we’ll go over momentarily, the top priority for arborists is the stability of the tree. Roots aren’t only present for nutrients – lateral roots are also vital for resisting wind and keeping the tree stable. If they’re cut, you risk the tree being uprooted far m ore easily.

Essentially, cutting roots closer than five feet from the tree will only be used as a final option if all others have been exhausted. This is due to both tree health and potential liability concerns.

Available Options

There are a couple good options your arborist might suggest when it comes to dealing with tree roots that are reaching walkways:

  • Sidewalk shaving: If possible within local regulations, shaving down the sidewalk is the safest method here for trees. This can be done with asphalt in some cases, or with other formats, and can be repeated several times if needed to even out the sidewalk.
  • Slabjacking: Slabjacking is a recently-popularized technique that utilizes injections into concrete that raise the slabs to a certain level. While it’s commonly used for concrete leveling to avoid removing large slabs of concrete, it may also be used to correct a slab when roots are nearby and make the space safer for both.

For more on how to handle tree roots that are pressing up against walkways, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

All You Need to Know About Watering Trees, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some of the basics of watering trees on your property. We discussed both younger and mature trees and how their watering and root systems differ, plus some other general tips.

At Reliable Tree Care, our pros are always here to assist with watering concerns and questions among our wide range of tree services, which also include trimming, disease control and several other areas. In today’s part two, we’ll go over some of the practical elements of watering trees – when and how to do it, avoiding too much or too little water, and a few specific factors for watering in the fall.

need to know watering trees

Basic Watering and Time of Day Considerations

Generally speaking, we recommend using either a proper soaker hose or an installed drip system to water the trees on your property. These allow water to slowly be released into the soil, sinking into the ground and reaching the full root system of the tree.

When should you be doing this during the day? The answer might depend to some degree on which tree species you have on your property, but in general the best period for this is in the evening time, a couple hours before dusk sets in. This is a period where the ground and soil are still relatively warm from the full day, but the sun is no longer beating down at its highest levels and will not risk evaporation of much of the water meant for your tree’s roots.

Avoiding Overwatering or Underwatering

So how do you know if you’re providing your tree with the proper amounts of water? We went over some basic amount guidelines in part one here, but as we noted in that section, this really depends on a few factors that will vary from property to property. Our pros are here to offer some expertise, though – here are some signs that a tree is overwatered:

  • Area surrounding the tree is constantly wet or moist
  • Leaves or branches may begin to turn yellow when this is not the desired color
  • Root rot or fungus may begin to appear at the base

On the flip side, here are some red flags that your tree might not be receiving enough water:

  • Leaves have begun to wilt or curl in strange shapes
  • The edges of leaves begin to turn brown
  • Leaves are generally smaller, and may drop earlier in the fall than usual

Fall Factors

Speaking of fall, some people wonder whether watering should be done the same way during this period of the year. If you’re dealing with newly planted trees, the answer is yes – you should water them in the same manner as you would during any part of the year. For mature trees, however, you may slow your watering near the beginning of fall – but plan a deep watering at least once before the ground freezes over to prepare them for winter.

For more on watering your trees, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or other arborist services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

All You Need to Know About Watering Trees, Part 1

At the heart of caring for not only trees but all vegetative life is the use of water. Just like humans, trees and other areas of nature need water to survive, and knowing how much to give various tree types – and how to go about giving it – is very important for involved tree owners.

At Reliable Tree Care, our tree care services range from basics like watering and fertilization up to disease control, trimming and even full tree removal when needed. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over a bunch of basic information on watering trees – general amounts to know, how to deal with trees of varying ages, and when proper watering times might fall during both individual days and season of the year.

need to know watering trees

General Daily Basics

It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines – every tree is different, particularly when dealing with various species, and how much water yours need will depend on their age, where they’re located, what time of year it is, and possibly several other factors.

That said, it’s good to know a basic range for all trees. Generally, we recommend about an inch of water per day for the soil surrounding your tree, or enough to moisten the soil at least 10 inches deep below the surface. One simple test here is the screwdriver test: Push a long screwdriver into the ground, and see how difficult it is to press it down. If the screwdriver won’t easily penetrate at least six inches of soil, your tree might need additional water that day.

Watering Younger Trees

One of the big areas to differentiate between with watering is whether the tree is nearer to the beginning or end of its lifespan. Those that are in their early years require a bit more attention when it comes to watering.

This is for a few reasons, but primarily because the root systems of younger trees are not fully developed yet. Their roots are mostly in a ball for the first few months at least, and it’s vital to keep this area full of water so the roots grow and continue to expand. As this happens, you’ll have to increase your watering area and water at least twice a week for the first couple years.

Watering Mature Trees

Trees that have fully established their root system, on the other hand, fall into more of a routine when it comes to watering. Roots will now be spread out deeply within the soil and watering will mean soaking the entire area underneath the tree at least a couple times per week during growing seasons (perhaps a bit less if there’s been recent rain, or more if it’s a particularly dry period).

In part two of this blog, we’ll go over some practical areas of watering trees and the timing required here. For more on this or any of our tree trimming or removal services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Why Cold Months Make Sense for Tree Branch Removal

Due to cooling temperatures, snow and other weather elements, many homeowners pay a lot less attention to their trees and other gardening elements during the winter. Most trees are dormant during the winter, they assume, and this is a period where they don’t really need much love.

At Reliable Tree Care, however, we’re here to tell you about one particular area that might actually be better off done during the winter: Tree pruning, or the removal of various branches for the improvement of tree health and appearance. We’re happy to help with pruning needs at any time of year – here are some of the basics on why pruning for certain reasons might be better done during cold weather.

cold months tree branch removal

Pruning, Dormancy and Seasons

As we noted above, most trees enter dormancy during the winter months. This means that pruning does not stimulate new growth. And while this may sound like a negative in terms of pruning at this point, the opposite is actually the case in some situations – particularly those related to basic tree maintenance.

When trees are cut during pruning, they’re wounded and need time to heal properly. This is tougher during the spring and summer months, which are the heaviest times for disease and destructive pests to rear their heads. And in the fall period, pruning will stimulate new growth – this is fine, but then this growth will immediately be killed when the temperatures drop. In addition, spring pruning can impede blooming or fruiting if it’s done at the wrong time.

Why Winter Can Be Preferable

Winter pruning, on the other hand, can encourage the right kind of new growth – and at the right time. There’s less foliage present during winter, for one, which makes it much easier to assess the condition of branches and limbs that have been damaged and might need removal. It’s also easier to access certain tough areas, plus simpler to identify long-term structural issues. And if you time it properly, new growth will be encouraged just as spring hits and temperatures rise.

Limiting Disease Risk

Another risk of pruning in autumn, at least for maintenance purposes, is the risk of spreading disease. Wounds don’t heal as quickly for trees during the fall, but disease-carrying spores are in high season and trees can become infected. They’re also more susceptible to insects and parasitic activity.

Maintenance Pruning

There are some cases where pruning simply can’t be avoided regardless of the season – when tree branches are dead, dying or diseased past a certain point, for instance. But when we’re talking about maintenance pruning, the kind meant to shape a tree or boost some area of growth, this should not be done in spring or summer if you can avoid it. Once trees are actively growing, you should hold off on cuts that might interfere with everything from growth to dormancy patterns. Knowing when not to prune trees is just as important as knowing when to prune them in some cases.

For more on why the cool months might be preferable for certain kinds of pruning, or to learn about any of our tree trimming or removal services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

Risks of Delaying Dead Tree Removal

While their timelines are generally longer than almost any other living organisms on the earth, trees will eventually die. This can happen for a number of reasons, from pests and disease to basic aging concerns.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to provide valuable tree removal services if a tree on your property has died or will soon do so. And while you may think these services are only for the purpose of aesthetics and removing unsightly dead trees, there are actually numerous practical and safety-related reasons why removing dead trees is very important. Let’s go over some of the basics here, including why trees die, the signs of dead trees on your property, and some of the risks of avoiding removal.

risks delaying dead tree removal

When Trees Die

When trees die due to aging reasons or those not specifically caused by pests or early disease, they typically do so by becoming dry and brittle. This is due to a lack of moisture and nutrients they’re able to receive, often because their root systems are no longer capable of ingesting these properly.

While living trees are able to absorb and transport moisture and its accompanying nutrients to all necessary areas, dead or dying ones aren’t as able to hydrate themselves. They’ll become more likely to break, particularly in thinner areas.

Signs of Dead Trees

Some of the noticeable signs of dead trees on your property include the following:

  • Bark that’s peeling away or falling off
  • Broken or damaged limbs
  • Discolored or clearly dead leaves
  • Large cracks or crevices in the trunk of the tree
  • Significant infestations of wood-boring insects

Falling Risks

While there are also concerns with regard to the way dead trees impact their surrounding areas and other plants nearby, the primary risk for the physical property itself, and the people living on it, is falling. One of the first signs of a dying tree is branches that begin to crack and break off, due in part to less weight and structural balance holding them in place and also as a result of wind or other elements. These can put animals, humans and even other plants at risk.

And it’s not only branches that can fall – dead trees can fall in their entirety if they aren’t removed promptly. This can lead to everything from minor damage to a total loss of your home if the tree is large enough and in the wrong position.

Professional Removal

If you’ve noticed some of the signs above that signal a dead tree on your property, we highly discourage attempting to remove it yourself unless you have professional training in this field. Rather, call our experts to avoid any risks of injury or damaging your property.

For more on how we can help with tree removal, or for information on any of our tree trimming and care services, contact the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.