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Get to Know Your Roots!

Tree roots are more impressive than many people know. They are also unbelievably vital to tree health. Roots function to stabilize the tree, as well as search for, absorb, and store nutrients. Tree roots in an urban setting face many more challenges than those in the wild. Common problems we see include strangulation, soil compaction, and property damage. It is very important to know that roots will grow in any direction necessary to find what they need.

Picture of Girdling Root

Girdling Root

Trees can be strangled by their own roots. We see this very often with trees that have been planted too deep. If the root flare is buried by soil, we know that it was improperly planted. The roots on these trees will actually grow upward to get to the oxygen they desire. Upon doing so, the roots may stay closer to the trunk, may cross over the trunk, and eventually circle the trunk. These misguided roots are what we refer to as “girdling roots.” As they grow larger in diameter, the roots can effectively strangle the tree by diminishing and eventually stopping the flow of nutrients throughout. At Selner Tree & Shrub Care, we offer a girdling root program to mitigate the chances for your tree’s early demise. For a more proactive approach, we do tree planting as well.

A common misconception is that tree roots go deep into the soil. In reality, the roots only occupy the first two feet of the ground. However, roots spread out very far in order to collect nutrients and stabilize the tree. Their reach is beyond the drip line of the crown, and may sometimes stretch as far as five times the height of the tree. Therefore, protecting the ground all around trees is very important. Construction damage is seen far too often. Air pockets in the soil are necessary for roots, and may be compacted by construction. Roots may also be torn or cut by machinery. Beautiful old trees and new plantings may become very stressed and may not be able to survive these changes. When planning a construction project on your property, a consultation with an ISA-certified arborist is always a good idea. If it is too late for that, Selner Tree & Shrub Care does offer another root program for soil aeration. We also have a chemical treatment that temporarily inhibits the growth of the crown to allow the roots to catch up.

Homeowners regularly blame tree roots for damaging things like house foundations. While they may not help the issue, they are certainly not the cause. Roots will grow in any matter to follow nutrients. They may detect a small crack in a wall, believe it to be an air pocket, and continue to grow into it. Little does the tree know, it is actually your basement. The same goes for water pipes. If the root finds a small hole in a pipe, it may grow into it in search of air and water. As the roots grow larger, you may begin to notice the issue. Please don’t blame the tree! The best way to prevent this is to plant trees at least ten feet from your house: the farther the better.

~Skye Kocha



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Women in the Tree Care Industry

Melissa Treating for Apple Scab

Melissa treating for Apple Scab at the Selner Tree Shrub Care office

There is a certain stigma associated with tree workers: strong, bearded, rough and tumble, and in general, not dainty.  A lot of our clients are surprised to find that when the crew arrives on site, that we usually have at least one woman on the crew.  Folks usually associate tree work with men, and why wouldn’t they? Trees are heavy. Believe me, I’ve tenderized my back lifting many pieces of trees, and I’m no tiny person.  Selner Tree & Shrub Care, LLC employs three full time female arborists.  They are full time employees, and are some of our most valuable employees on staff.

Let’s spearhead the obvious reason most folks are shocked to find a female on the crew: strength.  Forgive me for the generalization, but it’s no secret that women just aren’t built the same as men.  Although there are a few anomalies, women aren’t usually as strong as men when it comes to lifting heavy things.  These ‘things’ in the tree care industry include: their own body weight, heavy pieces of wood, tree branches, and even certain pieces of rigging gear.

The beauty of working for an advanced tree care company in the 21st century is the fact that many of the heavy things that need lifting daily, are often lifted using equipment that is built specifically to do so.  It’s for this reason that there is no need to be built like an ox to be a valuable employee in the tree care industry.  A careful and dainty touch is often required more so than brute force.  When we are removing a tree over a glass sunroom surrounded by landscape beds full of tender perennials, I’ll opt for a softer hand over a bull in a china shop any day. 

Many of our clients are often shocked to hear that most of our female employees also climb.  You heard that right, girls! You can be a professional tree climber too!  I still remember the first time I watched a woman climb a tree professionally.  It was about five years ago at an international tree climbing championship.  I’m not going to lie (honesty is the best policy), that I was skeptical about how the female competitors would stack up to their male counterparts.  After the first female competitor ascended and started through the work climb, I was shocked.  She was absolutely crushing it.  She made many of the male climbers I knew look like silly fish flopping around aimlessly in a tree.  This same feeling was reassured again just a couple weeks ago when I competed in my first tree climbing competition.  I always thought I was an above average tree climber, but the few women that were at that same competition made me look like a toddler just learning to walk.

As a man in the tree care industry, I have no doubt that women can be just as, if not more, valuable than most men doing the same exact job.   


~Jonathan Bantle

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An Introduction

Casey Selner PictureAs arborists, we are called to look at trees and shrubs of both good and bad health. We do our best to bring good news. My name is Casey Selner. I am the Chief Arborist and Board Certified Master Arborist here at Selner Tree & Shrub Care. We plan to use this blog as a collection of things we come across on a day to day basis. The blog posts will come from me and my team of amazing arborists; all of whom bring a unique set of skills. Each of us has a different experience every day and we want to share those insights with you.

Over the next few months, we hope to cover a wide range of topics including information about girdling roots, how to identify improper planting and what can be done to fix it, provide updates on Emerald Ash Borer, and explanations of the personal protective equipment our arborists wear and why. I will even feature fun facts about my mobile office, or my Nissan Cube, that you may have seen around Green Bay or Appleton. We are very excited to share these topics with you. Feel free to join in on our conversations!

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