Category Archives: Our Blog

Avoiding Personal or Tree Risks During Winter

When it comes to the care and protection of trees during the winter, some homeowners naturally stress. The Utah winter brings significant snow, ice and cold concerns, and we all naturally want our trees protected from these.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re here to let you in on a little secret about trees that we’ve learned from years of tree shaping, trimming and other tree services: They’re stronger and more capable of protecting themselves here than you might think. And while we’re not telling you to completely avoid winter tree care – certain pruning and removal areas can still be very important – there are areas where you might actually be risking your safety for no good reason. Let’s go over a couple of these, plus why you should always count on a certified arborist for winter tree care services.

avoiding tree risks winter

Snow Removal

Trust us, we understand how stressful it can be to watch snow build up on your tree branches. Branches may droop down and appear highly vulnerable, particularly after a heavy snowfall like those we’ve experienced several times this winter.

There’s a natural temptation to go out and shake tree branches to remove some of this snow, but we don’t recommend this. You’re actually likely to cause more damage than you prevent here. Trees have millions of years of experience surviving through storms without human intervention of any kind, and they’re much more resilient than many people think. Even if you notice the occasional limb that’s suffered damage or has fallen, this is part of the natural cycle.

Ice Buildup and Risks

Another concern is ice, which may build up on limbs and lead to similar effects as snow. And while it’s important to make sure too many branches of the tree don’t break, you can run into significant risks if you attempt to remove this ice.

For one, you should absolutely never attempt to climb a tree with ice or snow present for any reason. You can check from ground level and note damaged limbs, but you should never try to get up there. And just like with snow removal, you could actually cause more damage than you prevent if you attempt to regularly rid your trees of ice.

Professional Arborist Assistance

Now, all of the above isn’t meant to suggest that snow or ice buildups on trees are meaningless. If you’re concerned about their degree or damage they’ve caused on your trees, however, you should be contacting our experienced arborists to inspect them for you. We can tell you whether the damage they’ve sustained is ordinary or something unusual that requires action, plus we can help remove branches that might be putting the rest of the tree at risk.

For more on winter tree care, or to learn about any of our tree services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

The Practical Value of Evergreen Trees

Within the world of botany and plant life, the term “evergreen” refers to any plant that keeps its leaves throughout the entire year. This is in contrast to deciduous plants, which lose their foliage during one season of the year, commonly winter.

At Reliable Tree Care, we’re proud to offer year-round services for all trees, including evergreens. We can help you with everything from tree fertilization to tree disease control, ensuring your low-maintenance evergreens continue to offer the year-long beauty and practicality you’re looking for. This latter category is one that’s often not fully appreciated by people who haven’t had evergreen trees before – let’s look at three specific practical benefits that come with evergreen trees.
practical value evergreen trees

Reducing Wind

In many cases, both in private residences and in public areas, evergreen trees are planted in long rows or lines. This is for a few reasons, but one of the most practical is the way these trees can protect a given area from wind. There are several foliage elements that do not do well with wind, even if they’re mostly okay during other major parts of winter, and evergreens are great for protecting these.

On top of this, though, evergreens are also perfect for protecting the home from drafts. They block wind during the winter and then double as shade providers during summer, both of which can lead to far better energy efficiency in your home and a lower utility bill each month.

Blocking Snow

Another major winter element that evergreens help with is blocking snow from anything from patios and driveways to roads and sidewalks. In fact, the term “living snow fence” has been around since the early 1900s, when trees like evergreens were planted to protect major highways and railroad lines from snow that would blow onto them.

In most cases, these kinds of living fences block more snow, are more visually attractive, and most importantly are less expensive than installing actual fence materials. It provides an additional habitat for wildlife while improving the way your property looks and feels.

Privacy Formats

Lines of evergreens aren’t only valuable for protecting your physical property – they’re great for protecting your privacy as well. Once again, they’re a much cheaper and more aesthetically pleasing option than fences here; true privacy fences are some of the most expensive on the market, but you can accomplish the same thing for a fraction of the cost with some evergreens.

And furthermore, fences are limited by local height and size guidelines. Evergreens are not, and can grow as high as you’re able to allow them. This is especially valuable for privacy if you live in a hilly area with other properties at various elevations.

For more on the practical value of evergreen trees, or to learn about any of our tree services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Learning About Trees and Sun Exposure

Even if your knowledge of trees and their health is pretty limited, chances are you know about the two primary things they need to survive: Water and sunlight. Like most kinds of plant life and vegetation, trees have these basic needs that must be met.

At Reliable Tree Care, we supplement our high-quality tree trimming and disease control services with numerous areas of expertise given to our clients, including on trees and sun. Different tree types vary pretty widely in terms of the sun or shade they require, and we can help you navigate all the important ins and outs here. Let’s go over some basics to know in this area.
learning trees sun exposure

Trees and Sunlight

As you may remember from your high school science class, trees interact with sunlight using a process called photosynthesis. This is a process where the tree synthesizes food from carbon dioxide and water, producing important nutrients.

This isn’t just a matter of providing as much sun as possible for every tree, however. There’s absolutely such thing as trees having too much food, and many tree types can receive too much sun if you aren’t careful about planting. The amount of sun a tree gets will affect everything from foliage and flowering to its fruiting characteristics, meaning it’s important to plan out your planting areas well in advance (more on this below).

Full Sun, Partial Sun and Full Shade

When planting new trees, it’s important to note the three primary sunlight stages: Full sun, partial sun and full shade.

  • Full sun: Not necessarily all day – at least six hours of sun in a given day will constitute full sun. Many full sun trees get cool light in the morning, then become shaded in the afternoon to protect roots from the heaviest heat. These trees will require good mulch that keeps the moisture inside roots despite heat.
  • Partial sun or shade: Partial sun means the tree will thrive in three to six hours of sun, while partial shade means a spot that will get more shade than sun during the day period. A good area for partial shade is generally the east side of a building where it will be blocked from the sun until later in the day.
  • Full shade: Full shade refers to a tree that receives virtually no sun exposure.

Planting Smart

There are several other important factors that will play a role as well, but the sun should be near the top of your list when you consider placement for new trees. Know about the type of tree you’re looking to plant and what sort of sun exposure it thrives in, plus spend time planning for how nearby trees or other plants may impact things here. Map out your plan in a detailed format, something our pros are happy to help with.

For more on trees and sun exposure, or to learn about any of our tree services, speak to the staff at Reliable Tree Care today.

Telltale Signs It’s Time to Prune Your Trees, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some of the primary signs that your trees might be in need of pruning services. Tree trimming and pruning is very important for both visual appeal and the health of your trees, and knowing the right times to do it can make a big difference.

At Reliable Tree Care, pruning is just one of several tree services we offer. Here are a few more of the detailed signs that your trees might be ripe for pruning.
signs time prune trees

Wandering Branches

This is another term for long, untamed branches that may have begun interacting with other nearby elements. Some of them may wrap around telephone poles or wires, while others may have reached your house itself and are causing damage.

In the case of wiring or electrical poles, the risks here are significant to both your property and electrical power in the area. When near your home, branches can move with the wind and damage everything from the roof to windows, siding and more. Pruning these kinds of branches ahead of time can avoid this issue entirely.

Outward Growth

Also called uninhibited tree growth, this is a condition where trees that have tons of open space on either side grow outward instead of upward. This would be fine on its own, except that it creates heavy branches that are likely to collapse due to their own high weight. This can lead to hazards in the yard and for other plants, but you can avoid it by pruning early and encouraging upward growth.


If you notice spots on your tree’s bark that are sunken or just missing entirely, this is usually a condition called tree cankers. These often signal disease or decay symptoms, but pruning can help ward these off while avoiding rotting concerns that may crop up if you take no action.

Dead Leader Branch

The “leader branch” of a tree refers to one of several main branches that can be found at the stem. Some trees have just one or two leaders, while others will have many – and trees that have several will find their leader branches competing with each other for dominance. Pruning is a big part of this process; you can essentially select a dominant leader branch and prune others back, which will improve tree health long-term.

Irregular Shape

When trees have not received the proper pruning care over the years, they won’t grow properly and will take on poor shapes. Trees that are badly shaped have bad weight distributions, which leads to breaking branches and property damage in many cases. Pruning can help avoid this, however.

For more on when and why pruning is so important, or to learn about any of our tree trimming services, speak to the pros at Reliable Tree Care today.

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 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.