Tag Archives: Selner Tree and Shrub Care

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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How to Prepare for your Arborist Visit

Phil Pruning Oak Trees

Phil Pruning Oak Trees

Some people wonder what they should do before their arborist team arrives. It may not be every day that you have an educated tree guy or gal show up, so here’s a few small things that your arborist will truly appreciate having done before they arrive.

1. Pet droppings: Please pick up your pet’s droppings. Sometimes, with a wave of our magical chainsaws, we can have the brush go straight from the tree to the chipper without touching the ground, but most of the time, someone is walking through your yard. It not only gets on our boots, but our hands too! When we climb, our hands typically end up where our feet were. Now, don’t feel bad if your cutie-pie puppy planted a land mine for us just as you leave for work, we understand, most of us have fluff balls of fun at home, too. So thank you for helping us keep our boots, hands, and lunches free of digested dog food.

2. Items sitting underneath the tree: Please remove any items in the area around the tree. Birdbaths, garden gnomes, and solar lights love to hide in places we can’t see. Now, avoiding the lawn chair isn’t going to cause us to drop a limb in your kitchen, but it does make our day easier. Not having to move things out of the way before beautifying or dismantling your tree helps us get to our fluffy fur balls and rug rats sooner. Moving kid’s toys is also extremely helpful to our climbers. Some of the grounds crew can get…um…distracted with toys laying around. Please don’t hurt yourself trying to move the heavy 100% steel patio set by yourself because the heavy lifter in the house decided that the Packer game was more important than your back (even though it may or may not be). We get paid to move trees from your yard to our truck, but we can move a thing or two to keep you happy and healthy.

3. Open gates and clear pathways: Please open the gates to your yard prior to your arborists arriving. We like climbing things made of wood like jungle gyms and trees, but fences are kinda low on the list. Also, if you happen to have your great grandma’s precious hasta that you don’t want damaged, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to pop it out of the ground and put it in a pot for the day; especially if it could be in a drag path. We do our best to keep your plants and yard in good shape. Sometimes, the brush isn’t very compliant in leaving your yard and may put up a fight worse than a kid told “No” in a candy store. If you have any special concerns with anything on your property, please let us or our sales representatives know.

4. Plan one company at a time: I like to think we are friendly people and don’t bite too hard, but tree work is hazardous and takes up a lot of space. The less people we have walking around, the better. So if the lawn cutter guy and the landscapers could show up before or after our team, I am sure we would all be okay with it. Now, back to the digested doggy food topic. Pesticides, just like dog waste, gets everywhere. We all like being healthy and not having herbicide in our lunches, so please eradicate the weeds after we leave. Don’t worry, we won’t judge, your lawn is almost guaranteed to look better than the lawn at my house.

5. Let us know about any concerns or hidden objects in your yard: We don’t like breaking your stuff. We really don’t. It involves paperwork and informing the weird boss guy. So if you have any hidden sprinkler systems, jars of money, or explosives just under your turf, please let us know. Also, if you have any other concerns or questions, feel free to talk to us: we get paid by the hour. Just get our attention from a safe distance if we are working. We like keeping our customers and their things intact.

Thanks for reading this, or at least pretending to read it.

-Phil, the childish arborist who gets yelled at for playing with kid’s toys.

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Winter Protection of Trees and Shrubs

This time of year, many people wonder how they should be preparing their yards for winter. We suggest attending to new plantings, preparing evergreens, be aware of winter burn, and protect any trees, shrubs, or plants that might be subject to animal feasting.

Spreading Mulch

Melissa Spreading Mulch

New plantings are most susceptible to winter desiccation because they don’t have established root systems. Continue to water these new plantings through fall. Watering can be done until frost and is strongly encouraged for new plantings and evergreens. People often overlook the fact that trees and shrubs still transpire (although slowly) through winter. Roots still grow in unfrozen soil, so it is important to tend to them until frost takes over.

 

Evergreens have foliage to support and therefore are also very susceptible to winter burn. Damage is not directly caused by how cold it gets, but rather how quickly the cold comes. Rapid 40 degree swings from day to night can cause the most damage. Photosynthesis and respiration still take place in winter on sunny days through needles and bark, which requires soil moisture. When there is little snow cover, the soil freezes to deeper levels, limiting moisture uptake. Deep snow is more beneficial because it insulates the roots and provides moisture when it melts. Mulch helps insulate the roots as well. We recommend three inches of mulch around trees, but take care to keep the mulch away from the trunk itself. Little snow and excessive dry wind make for the harshest of winters for these trees.

 

Winter burn is the result of plants drying out over winter, but there are other types of damage. Growth that has not hardened off can easily be damaged by early frosts. Buds can be injured during late frosts, causing tattered looking leaves in the spring and early summer. De-icing salt can damage plants along sidewalks and roads. They can dry aerial parts of the plant in the winter, but cause continuing problems later. The residual salt in the soil concentrates when the water table drops during mid-summer droughts. If you know of an area in your yard that routinely gets a good amount of salt indirectly applied to it, a little extra watering in the spring will help. You may also want to consider applying some garden gypsum to help break it up.

 

As animals run out of easily accessible food, they may turn to your trees and shrubs. It is best to fence off areas to deter wildlife from browsing. Also, deep snowbanks can create the perfect cover for rodents to girdle stems. If you can help it, don’t pile up shoveled snow in one area.

 

We never really know what winter will have in store for us. These tips should give you some ideas of what you can do to prepare your yard for whatever might be coming.

 

~Melissa Veloon

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