Tag Archives: Jonathan Bantle

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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Ashwaubenon Street Tree Pruning Contract

As of Monday, January 30th 2017, the crews have finished pruning 183 village-owned street trees. Go ahead, applaud. I’ll wait.

This is the second pruning project we have been a part of for the Village of Ashwaubenon. The first project was completed in June of 2016. The pruning of village-owned trees is just as important as pruning privately owned trees (if not more so).. Have you ever witnessed a tree branch taking a ride on top of a garbage truck? This is one of the main reasons why we prune these street trees. Although the garbage truck did effectively “prune” the limb off the tree, this is not ideal for the tree or the truck. Street trees need to be pruned properly to provide clearance for larger vehicles on the street side and to provide ample head room on the residential side. While our arborists are up in the trees, they take a little extra time to remove any larger deadwood as well as any branches that may be crossing or rubbing on one another. This is better for the overall health of the tree, and also allows the arborist to move around the entire canopy. This also lets the arborist see any parts of the tree that are (or could become) threats for any people on the street, sidewalk, or lawn areas below.

Along with the obvious vehicles driving down the city streets, our crews had to work around many obstacles. Some of the things we encountered on a daily basis were: mailboxes, our own chipper and truck, street lights, and signs. All of these things need to have ample clearance so they can be most useful to village residents. One of the largest obstacles of this year’s project was quite simply: weather. With the April showers in January, we did lose a lot of snow, but rain can turn a lichen-covered Norway Maple or Green Ash into a very slippery situation. It’s for this reason that we had to completely cancel pruning the street trees for four of the eleven total days we had originally scheduled to complete the job.

With all the weather-related setbacks, it seemed that completing the project would be a little tougher than we imagined. However, the crew seemed to look at the time-crunch as a sort of challenge and, with a little extra work and a couple of late days, we made up the extra four days without trouble. Looking back on the project and all that we’ve accomplished, it’s hard to ignore everything that was done to keep us on track despite the challenges and setbacks we encountered. I’d like to thank every one of the crew members that had a hand in getting the project completed to Selner Tree & Shrub Care LLC.’s standards. Thank you Casey, Matt, Phil, Aree, and Skye for putting in the extra effort to make sure everything was completed on time in a professional manner regardless of what the weather had in store for us.

All the trees for Part 1 of the contract are now completed and won’t need much attention for the next 8-10 years or so. Yup, you read that correctly. I wrote “Part 1.” Which might make you wonder, “Does this mean there is a Part 2?” That’s exactly what it means. For the second part of the pruning contract, we have 299 trees to prune, inspect, and clean up for the Village of Ashwaubenon. If you happen to see our crews out working on the street trees in 2017, feel free to wave and say “Hi!”

 

~Jonathan Bantle

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Pruning Trees in the Winter

One of the most common questions we hear is “What do you do in the winter?” Simply put: we zip up our coats and do the same work we do in the spring, summer, and fall.

This response often leads people to wonder how we know what to prune in the winter since the trees have no leaves. It does take a little eye-training, but after a day or two, it becomes quite easy to distinguish dead from living branches even from the ground. Some of the obvious signs are mushrooms covering the bark, all small twigs missing from the branch, or bark missing from the branch. If the limb hasn’t been dead long enough to show any of the above signs, we can look at the bark or buds of the branch. The buds of a dead branch will either be very small and dried up, or non-existent, and the bark may have a different color or look shriveled up compared to nearby living tissue.

Most people assume that we don’t prune in the winter. However, there are certain species of trees that must be pruned in the dead of winter to help prevent disease; especially fungal disease. Oaks and Elms are great examples of this. Both species suffer from fungal diseases that will outright kill a tree over one or two growing seasons. These trees are more susceptible to diseases because insects can carry fungal spores and introduce them to a healthy tree with any damage or pruning cut. By pruning in the dormant season, the trees are less susceptible to disease through insect vector.

Pruning trees in the winter may look insane and very hard to do, but sometimes it is the only way to keep the health of the tree as our top priority.

~ Jonathan Bantle

Tree Pruning

Tree Pruning – Image Courtesy Lowell Franklin

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Benefits of Mulching

Trees are cannibals.  Plain and simple.  They eat themselves, and they have adapted a pretty good system in doing so.  Think about where leaves and branches fall to when they come off a tree.  Those branches and leaves are, in a forest setting, being recycled by either the parent tree, or another nearby tree. 

In an urban setting, that all goes out the window.  Leaves are raked, branches hauled to the curb for a municipality to chip up and dispose of.  So why not try to give your trees a little piece of the paradise like their counterparts in the forest?  Mulching does just that.  It adds some of that lost organic matter that is hauled away in large trucks.  Not only is mulch a great food for trees as it breaks down, but it helps to amend the soil, adding organic matter which improves water-holding capacity, reduces compaction, and increases beneficial microbes in the soil. 

-Jonathan R. Bantle

Mulch around a tree

Mulch around a tree

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