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June 12, 2017

Why Topping is Not Healthy for Your Trees

A Touch of Class Tree ServiceWhy Topping is Not Healthy for Your Trees wants you to understand why topping is not healthy for your trees, and the extreme damage it may cause with irreversible circumstances. We understand the need to prune or "clean up" the look of mature trees and shrubs in your yard, especially for aesthetic purposes or the fact that the tree is obstructing something, but we think you should leave this task to the professional arborist who knows what is best for your landscape and trees.

WHAT IS TREE TOPPING?

Tree topping is most often desired to reduce the size of a tree. It is the cutting of tree branches or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the end role, typically to the stubs. The other names associated with this procedure are "heading," "rounding over," "tipping," and much more, depending on where you are from.

WHY IS IT BAD?

 

STRESS: No one likes stress, and neither do our trees! This act alone can remove 50 to 100 percent of the tree’s leaf-bearing crown, that is a huge portion of the trees livelihood! Leaves are how your tree keeps healthy, nourished and rich in color. Removing or topping them can starve a tree and trigger various survival mechanisms, such as, the dormant buds will awaken and be activated, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree then feels the need to put out a new crop of leaves as soon as possible as it is going into a state of fear and panic.

If a tree does not have the stored energy reserves to do so, it will be severely weakened and is at serious risk of dying. A stressed tree with large pruning wounds is more vulnerable to insect and disease infestations as well as other attacks such as molds and fungus. The tree may lack sufficient energy to chemically defend the wounds against invasion, and believe it or not, some insects are attracted to the chemical signals trees release! So, there you have a recipe for disaster!

DECAY: If you want to prune your tree correctly, cuts are to be made just beyond the branch collar, where it attaches. The tree is adapted, and able to close such a wound when this happens provided the tree is healthy, and the wound not too big. If a cut is made along a limb between lateral branches, this creates stubs with wounds that the tree may not be able to close; exposing wood tissues that could begin to decay. Very few trees can defend the severe wounds caused by topping, and the decay organisms will find a way to freely move down through the branches, destroying everything in its path.

SUN EXPOSURE: Who knew that our precious trees could also suffer severely from the damages the sun emits? Branches within a tree’s crown produce thousands of leaves absorbing sunlight, so when you top your tree, you remove vital leaves that provide protection and nourishment to the tree. Those remaining branches and trunk are suddenly exposed to high levels of light and heat, which can result in sunburn of the tissues beneath the bark, and lead to cankers, bark splitting, and even death.

RISKY BUSINESS: When a tree must turn to survival mode to produce multiple shoots below each topping cut, it comes at an enormous expense to the tree. These shoots develop from buds near the surface of the old branches and are anchored solely in the outermost zones of the parent branches which are weakly attached. The new shoots grow very fast in one year in some species and are prone to breaking, especially during windy, icy, or stormy conditions. So, while your intention was to reduce risk by reducing height, the risk of limb failure has now very substantially increased.

UNSIGHTLY: Beyond why topping is not healthy for your trees, the look of a topped of tree is not great to look at. The shape and structure of a trees natural growing path is an amazing wonder, with their only goal being to get their leaves as much sun and nourishment as possible. Topping removes the ends of the branches, leaving ugly stubs, and it destroys the natural form of a tree. Without leaves, a topped tree looks butchered and sick, but with leaves, it is a packed green ball of foliage, that is beautiful and rich to your landscape. A tree that has been topped can never fully regain its natural form.

EXPENSIVE: Tree topping is not generally in the cheap range, it requires a lot of equipment, safety procedures, and experienced crews. Because not only do you have the cost of the actual job itself, there are other factors to consider such as:

  • Increased maintenance costs: If the tree survives, it will most likely need corrective pruning within just a few years. If the tree dies, it must be removed.
  • Reduced property value: Healthy, well-maintained trees can add 10 to 20 percent to the value of the property. If you are plan on selling in the future, you may want to hold off on your tree topping.
  • Increased liability: Topped trees may pose a level of risk. Because topping is considered an unacceptable pruning practice, any damage caused by branch failure of a topped tree may lead to negligence in a court of law.

 

OPTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES

At times, it is necessary to top a tree, that is understandable. Some instances would be if utility lines need to be put in, or it is obstructing something or could be a hazard to a home or building. If possible, it is best to try and remove the tree and replace it. Or have a professional do some light tree trimming to help allow the tree to choose a different direction of growth.

It is important to know why topping is not healthy for your trees, and at A Touch of Class Tree Service, we understand the concerns of our clients, and we take into consideration the best options for your trees in all situations. Our professional arborists have a keen eye and skilled regimen for topping trees if necessary, but we will always try to maintain and retrain your trees before resorting to that option. If you have any questions, have us sit down and discuss other options available to your situation.

May 9, 2017

Planting Trees This Spring? Read This First

Planting Trees This Spring? Read This FirstSpring is in the air and A Touch of Class Tree Service knows the weather will bring fresh new growth. Are you planting trees this spring? Read this first to get a heads up on the "do's and don’ts" of what will make your trees healthy, happy and vigorous this year. Our experts are by your side to guide you every step of the way with experienced arborists and knowledgeable tree pruners to help out.

Why plant in the springtime? The plain and simple answer is the weather and temperature. It is not too cold and not too hot, so trees can adjust and thrive in just the right temperatures, allowing them an easy transition and safety from freezing in the winter or overheating in the summer. Here a few ways to keep your trees looking healthy and happy.

  1. Choose the RIGHT tree, the RIGHT spot, and the RIGHT time when planting the tree of your choice. Take into consideration just how big the tree will get, make sure there is plenty of room for the root system, and ensure there are no overhead obstructions such as roof lines or power lines.
  2. Consider hiring a professional arborist such as A Touch of Class Tree Service for all your planting needs. Specialists know tree species and could save you a lot of money and heartache from losing trees due to incorrect planting. They will also know the best trees for the area where you live.
  3. Water; this seems like an easy task, but knowing how much water new young trees need is essential to their health. Ten gallons of water per week for a new young tree during the summer months is typical for this area and necessary for their growth. Remember to water during cooler temperatures as in the early morning or evening.
  4. Mulch around your trees to avoid compaction. Mulching will protect the soil from drying out and prevent lawn machinery from injuring the root system.

So now you know some basic points about tree planting, let's dig a little deeper to understand the dynamics of planting a tree in the ground and what is involved. You have chosen the perfect tree and the perfect spot to put it; now it is time to dig the hole and get your hands dirty!

TOOLS: Get yourself a long-handled shovel and a pair of gloves; neoprene will save your hands from callouses and blisters. Purchase some composted soil and composted pine bark soil conditioner to enrich the dirt. Never use unfinished compost or fresh manure. You will also need some root stimulants and mulch, placing it above ground after planting the tree. Use any form of mulch including pine bark, pine needles, shredded hardwood, cocoa shells, cedar mulch, or whatever you may find in the area.

DIG THE HOLE: Start by digging up the soil at a circumference of about twice as wide as the rootball itself and one and a half as deep; this is the norm for planting. Make the hole in a saucer shape, not straight up and down along the edges. This helps the tree roots move upward into the higher-oxygenated soil. Turn the ground over, breaking it up so that it’s fine and the topsoil is mixed in with the deeper soil. Now add the soil amendments; mix in a generous amount of each.

PREPARE THE TREE: Gently work the rootball out of the pot, being very careful to avoid damaging the roots. Tear or cut the sides of the pot if necessary. Then tease the roots out of the rootball with your fingers rubbing through the sides of the rootball to loosen the roots. If your tree is wrapped in burlap, do not remove root ball material. Remove any twine or string at this time.

PLANT YOUR TREE: Place your tree in the center of the hole. The rootball should be level with the ground and sit on the undug soil. Add soil to the hole and tamp it down to make it firm. If the rootball is below grade, the tree could undergo root rot or suffocate. Once positioned in the hole, gently drop the backfill into the hole, around the rootball, about halfway up. Now you can add a bio stimulant around the roots before filling up the hole. Do not pat down the soil or compact it at this point.

LAST STEPS: Spread excess soil around the tree to make it level and feather out a fair amount of mulch around the tree. It should only be about 1 inch in depth to avoid fungal or moisture issues. Mulch is a great way to help conserve moisture, moderate temperature and keep weeds at bay. Water the tree immediately after planting with a gentle pour, such as with a water wand. If the soil sinks in too far, add more backfill.

STAKE or NOT? Most trees do not need staking. Trees naturally develop roots and trunk growth. Placing stakes creates an artificial support causing the tree never to develop properly, making the tree weak and prone to breakage once the supports are removed. If necessary to stake, do so only as long as it takes the roots to develop – only a few months, but no longer than a full growing season. Be sure to use staking straps. Down the road, it may need support via cabling and bracing, but that’s different story.

WATERING: For the first year of tree growth, water once a week with at least 1 inch of water. Temperatures, drought conditions, rainfall, and tree size, may mean you will need to water twice a week. But remember, overwatering can lead to root rot so the soil should be moist, but not soaking in standing water. Early morning or evening in cooler temperatures is the best time to water the tree. To prepare your tree for winter, water it thoroughly in the fall.

By following these above planting chores and having the help of A Touch of Class Tree Service, you won't have to ask, "How and where should I be planting trees this spring? Read this first, and you will be one step ahead of the game and enjoy the fruits of your labor on warm, summer evenings.

April 24, 2017

Tree Diseases You'll Find in Colorado

Tree Diseases You'll Find in ColoradoThere are a few tree diseases you'll find in Colorado that could be attacking the greenery around your yard this spring. At A Touch of Class Tree Service, we are at your service to correct the problem quickly and efficiently. In the meantime, here are some tips and ideas for what you can do to detect and identify problems and know when and if you need to call the professionals to step in.

PURPLE SPRUCE NEEDLES: If you see these purple needles popping up here and there, it is not a changing of the seasons, but something more serious. All spruce trees need water during the dry fall and winter months to keep the needles hydrated, happy, and healthy. However, some factors can dehydrate spruce roots; consider these when diagnosing the problem. If you have been using de-icing salts and excess fertilizer around the home, this can cause or add to the off-color because they dehydrate roots. A girdled root reduces the amount of water reaching the needles, and in turn, causes purple needles. Any activity that damages spruce roots also prevents them from absorbing water very well. If you suspect this may be your situation, attend to the issue immediately.

THE COOLEY SPRUCE GALL APHID: You will more than likely find these growths on the north and east side of the tree, they are a cone shaped light brown in color, and it is similar to a woolly aphid. They tend to be most active come April and May when new buds are springing. And while this does not affect the health of the tree, it is rather ugly. The insect is efficiently managed by spraying the underside of twigs to kill the overwintering stages in spring before the buds arrive.

SCALE INSECT: Small, but damaging scales, and one of the most insidious insect pests affecting landscape plants in Colorado. They like to spend their days silently removing sap from trees and shrubs and cause severe damage such as dieback of branches and occasionally killing the tree. These scales give the insects a lot of protection from the environment, as well as from many of the control sprays we use. These pests are hard to manage, but there are several soaps and oils that will help tremendously.

IPS BEETLE or BARK BEETLE: with recent droughts in the area these pests have taken over. They will usually attack environmentally stressed or weak and diseased trees and shrubs, but if an infestation is in the works, no greenery is safe. With 11 species in Colorado, they specifically attack mostly spruce and pine trees as their hosts. Other factors aiding the increase of the IPS beetle is the creation of fresh cut wood from forest homeowners that experienced fire damage or that are seeking to limit wildfire hazards. These beetles will breed in the cut wood, making the population numbers increase.

ZIMMERMAN PINE MOTH: Scots, Ponderosa, and Austrian pine, are mainly affected by this pest, and typically infested branches will break at the crotch where they join the trunk. You will see small grape-sized clustered masses on the tree.

With our lush forests and yards, it’s likely that there will be many tree diseases you'll find in Colorado. But with due diligence and a company like A Touch of Class Tree Service, you will most definitely get a step ahead of these pests and enjoy a beautiful landscape all season long.

April 11, 2017

Spring Tree Care in 6 Easy Steps

Spring Tree Care in 6 Easy Steps Let’s talk about spring tree care in 6 easy steps and how A Touch of Class Tree Service can lend a hand if you ever need it. Tending to the shrubs and greenery around your home is essential. We all love the crisp smell of spring in the air, budding blossoms, and fresh new growth on our trees. And just by spending some time taking care of them, you can prolong their life, keep them at their absolute healthiest, and ensure a yard that looks spectacular all season long.

STEP 1-FERTILIZE and AERATE: Nutrients in your lawn have a significant effect on the health of the trees planted in that area. Spring is a perfect time to fertilize and aerate your lawn to allow for maximum water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the earth below and bring those substances to your trees and shrubs. Be careful to not OVER-fertilize; too much nitrogen will cause severe damage. Clean up any leaves, pine needles and debris around the base of your trees and unwrap any winter protection you may have used.

STEP 2-ADD SOME MULCH: Retain moisture and get rid of weeds by adding a layer of mulch for protection. Young trees depend on mulch to help them grow quicker, and mulch benefits older trees, contributing to their health and longevity. A 3-inch layer is the general rule of thumb, but be sure to avoid putting mulch around the trunk, which can lead to diseases.

STEP 3-WATERING: Get your sprinklers ready and keep in mind that even though it is cool outside, your trees can still dry out. They need ample water to stay hydrated. If your soil is sandy, you may need to water even more regularly.

STEP 4-PRUNE and CLIP TREES: Research your trees, shrubs, and perennials for the best course of action for each type. Discard dead or diseased branches. A lot of perennials trees can be trimmed to the base.

STEP 5-INSPECTION: Take a thorough and complete look at all your trees; look for any damage or disease, examining the general healthiness. Inspect for any mole or rabbit hole signs that may be inhibiting the growth of your shrubbery. If you are uncertain of what to look for, you can contact A Touch of Class to inspect your trees for you.

STEP 6-PESTS and DISEASE DETECTION: Prevention the most important of spring tree care in 6 easy steps, so if your area is affected by any sort of infestation, be sure to ask around for ways in which you or our plant and tree health services can help rectify the situation.

Remember, trees are generally pretty low maintenance, but keeping them healthy is the key to even less maintenance and fewer headaches. Seasonal chores will prolong your greenery and your landscape investments in the future, so don't ever put off these important spring time chores if you can help it.

This practical knowledge about spring tree care in 6 easy steps is just a stepping stone to having a fantastically green, healthy, and happily landscaped yard this coming season. Ask A Touch of Class Tree Service today how we can help in making your trees superb on all levels. With competitively fair prices and regular maintenance programs for your yard, we can guarantee your trees will look the absolute best they can, free of disease, pests, and problems.

March 15, 2017

Colorado Has Over 830 Million Dead Trees Due to Bark Beetles

Bark BeetlesA Touch of Class Tree Service knows how important it is to control an infestation
accurate before it spreads. Did you know that Colorado has over 830 million dead trees due to bark beetles? Those numbers are staggering and saddening to say the least. You’ll typically see these dead standing trees spotting the beautiful forest line, and they currently number about 1 out of every 14 trees. The impact of the bark beetle is to blame, and its preferred meal of choice is to devastate spruce-fir and lodgepole pines.

What exactly is a beetle-infested tree?

It is a green or living coniferous tree that is the site of a bark beetle attack. External symptoms of a beetle infestation include a popcorn-like mass of resin called "pitch tubes" on the trunk and boring dust in bark cracks at the tree base. Approximately nine to ten months after being attacked, the needles of infested pines will turn a reddish-brown color. Internal symptoms, which cannot be seen unless the bark is removed, include the beetle's distinctive tunnel system, wood which is stained a bluish-gray, live eggs, larvae, pupae and adults in the phloem layer of the tree.

What is a beetle-killed tree? A coniferous tree that has succumbed to a pine bark beetle attack. The foliage will be discolored in early summer, as well as the other signs of a beetle attack mentioned above. This is evidence that bark beetles have killed a coniferous tree.

So why are these bugs so out of control?

Well, it's safe to say that the number one culprit is climate changes that are affecting almost everything in our natural world. Bears no longer have enough pine cones to supplement their diets, the beautiful scent of pines while walking through the forest seems to be diminishing, and real estate even is taking a hit because of the unsightliness of these diseased trees turning up on prime real estate properties. But some people seem to think that maybe these bugs know more than we do. Insects are often mirrors of the environment, and they can act as a barometer of changes that are taking place in our ecosystems. The only way they subside is when the weather freezes them off, or they run out of trees. Perhaps, it’s time to listen carefully and learn more about these little creatures.

When our forests are left with diseased and dead bark beetle kill trees, the chances of extreme forest fires and diminished water supplies in the state begins to increase. Fortunately, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) has been taking extreme measures in the following five aspects to help get this beetle infestation under control.

  1. Watershed Protection: The complexity of watershed systems and processes make it difficult to predict the effects of the bark beetle outbreak on runoff quantity and quality. Measurement would certainly be difficult to detect accurately because of a number of variables influencing these effects, including annual precipitation and other climate factors. 
  1. Reducing the Risk of Wildfires: Although the effect of fire suppression on bark beetle outbreaks varies by forest type, region, and the level of forest management, it is fair to conclude that fire suppression policies have helped generate a landscape that is more homogeneous over vast tracts of forest, and more susceptible to large-scale bark beetle attacks.
  1. Providing Seedling Trees for Restoration: It’s only natural to combat the problem by planting more trees to replace those lost.
  1. Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program (CoWood): This group provides the public with information, education and outreach to help improve the health of our forests.
  1. Disease and Pest Detection Measures:
  • Solarizing – Wrapping cut trees in 6ml clear plastic sealed around the edges with soil.
  • Burning – Moving dead, cut trees away from non-infested, high-value trees for burning.
  • Chipping – Chipping branches and logs into small pieces with powered equipment.
  • Stripping – Removing the bark completely from cut logs to expose beetles to the elements.
  • Hauling – Relocating infested trees to where beetles cannot jump to healthy trees.

How can you manage bark beetles around your home?

ELIMINATION: If the tree, shrub or plant is too far gone, be sure to get rid of it so as not to spread to other healthy trees.

SELECTION: Only plant species that are adapted to the area and avoid host trees. Redwoods and Cedars are good choices.

LIMIT TREE STRESSES: Poor planting practices, crowding, and lack of proper care all lead to weakness. Proper irrigation and pruning are also a must, along with yearly maintenance and inspections.

BIOLOGICAL CONTROL: Infested trees attract predators and parasites. Woodpeckers, certain flies, and wasps love to eat bark beetles, but it is not likely they will be able to get it under control.

INSECTICIDES: Some chemicals have been known to rid the bark beetle, but it will take a professional who knows the extent of the damage to treat your trees with this manner effectively. If the bark beetle is not detected in the larvae stage, the chances of an insecticide working are very minimal.

BEHAVIOURAL CONTROL: Some research has been done on the effectiveness of certain pheromones that will trap the bark beetle, and while it has suppressed or reduced the number of insects, it cannot eliminate them.

In Colorado, private landowners are responsible for deciding how to address forest health issues on their properties, which collectively account for 30% of all Colorado's forested landscapes. However, they are not alone when determining how to accomplish effective forestry methods and reduce the risk of hazardous wildfires. It will take the effort of all forest landowners working together on a massive scale to address the health of the forest and reduce fires situations

Now that you are aware that Colorado has over 830 million dead trees due to bark beetles, you are well equipped and ready to do your part, along with the help of A Touch of Class Tree Service, to get you started on your property and surrounding areas.

 

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