Using Biochar Amendment for Better Soil

Lafayette Tree Service

When used broadly, the term biochar simply refers to charcoal made from any organic matter. Biochar is a type of charcoal that can improve soil quality, not all charcoal is good for this.

Raw biochar can be processed further prior to being added to the garden. Adding it to compost, or soaking it with nutrient rich compost tea, urine, or fish emulsion are commonly used to introduce beneficial organisms and nutrients to the porous biochar.

 

What are the benefits of using biochar in the garden?

 

Optimum Soil Properties

Biochar makes better soil, because it changes soil composition in multiple positive ways. With the charcoal amendment, your soil will have better water handling characteristics. It’s porous structure both drains and retains water better, keeping a more consistent water balance.

Biochar reduces soil acidity, and the raise in soil pH also reduces aluminum toxicity. Your soil will have a higher cation exchange capacity after biochar is added. Cation exchange capacity is a bit of a fancy way of saying that on a molecular level, it can hold onto nutrients better.

 

The Soil Ecosystem

Amended soil enjoys an increased web of fungal life deep inside the soil. Healthy microbes thrive, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which is a needed soil feature that has a symbiotic relationship with the vascular roots in plants.

In fact, your soil should be teaming with life that interacts with the plants you see above ground. Biochar keeps that web of life healthy for you. The presence of biochar increases the microbial respiration and biomass, meaning you have more microbes and they breathe better. This increase in biomass also means that eroded soil is replaced faster than it would be otherwise.

 

Better Fertilization

The amount of fertilizer required for your trees and plants will decrease because of the biochar content. Most estimates say you’ll need 10% less fertilizer for soil areas that have biochar components.

Because of the chemical and porous nature of biochar, your soil will be able to hold higher levels of available Carbon, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Potassium. This will reduce leaching of nutrients so your soil stays rich.

 

A Long Lasting Investment

The benefits that come from using biochar are not temporary, in fact your grandchildren will be witness to the benefits to the soil that you amend with biochar today. Your trees and plants will grow healthier for years to come as a result of lasting changes that take place in the soil’s inert properties and its ecosystem.

 

To set the foundation for lush trees and healthy lawns, contact Sexy Trees today and arrange for biochar amendment.

Fertilizer Root Injections to Support Tree Health

Tree Care Blackhawk

If you have a tree that needs a little help to get or stay healthy, there are options for you. Liquid fertilizer treatments can be injected to the root area to fortify your tree.

 

What is Deep Root Fertilization?

When a specialized liquid fertilizer treatment is injected to the root area of your tree, that is Deep Root Fertilization. The liquid solution injected into the root zone is under pressure and mixed with oxygen. The injection method aerates the root system and distribute nutrients evenly. The fertilizer is injected to about 1 foot to 1.5 feet below ground, in sites 2 to 3 feet apart. The sites form a grid pattern in the canopy area soil and beyond the drip line.

 

Why Not Just Apply Fertilizer on The Ground Surface?

When applying them directly to the surface, only a limited part of the root system is exposed to them. Plus if grass is present, grass root systems absorb most of your fertilizer. Wind and rain erode the rest of your surface fertilizer. None of it generally makes it to the depth of more than a foot underground where tree roots need it most. It can be a real waste of effort.

 

How Often Should You Have Your Trees “Fed” Liquid Fertilizer Root Injections?

Fertilization performs best when repeated once or twice a year for healthy trees. Sometimes there is severe root damage, soil is compacted, or your tree has other health problems. When that happens, the arborists at Sexy Trees will examine your tree and may recommend increasing frequency or amending nutrients. The custom treatment plan will optimally improve conditions in and around the root zone to restore your tree to health.

Roots are opportunistic by nature and will grow wherever oxygen, nutrients, and moisture are present. Ongoing deep root fertilizer injections improve the oxygen content, microbial activity, and nutrient levels within the soil. The injections create better environmental conditions in the root zone. Your trees will get progressively healthier and more robust as they keep receiving root injections.

To provide your tree with these health-boosting nutrients, you’ll need to work with an arborist that has the proper equipment and training, like Sexy Trees. Contact us today to find out more or schedule your first root injection.

Apple Trees in the Bay Area: Good or Bad Idea?

Tree Service Concord

If you already have apples trees in the SF Bay Area, then you already know: Apple trees are great here. Not effortless, but not hard.

 

Which Apple Trees are Good in the Bay Area?

Apple varieties that are “Low Chill” can be found at most Bay Area nurseries, and these are the ones you want. Among these are ‘Baldwin,’ ‘Braeburn,’ ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin,’ ‘Fuji,’ ‘Gala,’ ‘Golden Delicious,’ ‘Red Gravenstein,’ ‘Spitzenburg,’ ‘White Pearmain’ and ‘Yellow Bellflower.’

Of course your property may already have an apple tree or many of them. To find out what kind of tree you have, whether it’s in good health, and what its needs are, you can set an appointment with Sexy Trees to come out, examine it, and schedule any maintenance it needs.

 

What Kind of Care Do They Need?

If you have a newly planted apple tree, now is the time to have it pruned.  As your tree grows, prune for the four “D’s”: Dead, Diseased, Damaged or Disoriented Branches. Fruit trees, including apples, benefit from pruning in winter and summer.

Your tree also needs sunlight to fruit, not in general, but specifically: each branch with perform in alignment with how much sunlight it receives. Apple trees don’t do well in shade, and pruning should reflect that, being mostly at the top of the tree so that maximum surface area gets strong light exposure.

Top-dress your apple trees with compost each fall. Also, lay down mulch about 3 inches deep and  about 4 inches from the trunk, which keeps back weeds and retains moisture.

Unless they’re self-fertile, apple trees need pollination to produce fruit. Neighboring or nearby apple trees are needed for pollination to bear fruit, after honeybees and other insects pollinate the trees. Once fertilized, their flowering can be followed by good fruit set.

 

For help with your apple trees or any tree on your property, contact Sexy Trees today to get top quality services from a Diamond-Certified professional arborist.

Signs of a Dying Tree

Tree Service Danville

We rely on trees for our livelihood as they provide the oxygen that we breath to survive. This is why many of us feel a kindred connection to trees and the outdoors. However, trees are not indestructible or immortal. They can get sick and do die over time. As with humans, there are signs that you should be aware of so you can quickly identify a sick or dying tree.

 

Loss of Leaves

During the autumn and winter months, it is quite common for trees to lose the foliage. This is very normal. Should a loss of leaves occur in the spring and summer months, this is a clear indicator of a problem. Similarly, if the leaves turn brown and brittle during said months. Sometimes, a sick tree may get reddish/brown leaves in these same months.

 

Inspect the Branches

Beyond the leaves, take a look at the branches of a tree. If no bark exists, this is a sign of an issue. It is called deadwood. Such branches are often prone to falling and be a great area for fungus growth. Should you see such signs, you should contact a certified arborist right away. Even if your tree is not dead, this could be an indication of an infestation and you want to prevent it from attacking the healthier parts of your tree.

 

Absence of Bark

Related to the above, the peeling or loss of bark is a strong indicator of disease. The presence of missing bark can also be caused by things like weed eaters or environmental conditions that make a tree highly vulnerable to bacteria, disease or fungus. While such situations may not be enough to remove the tree, a tree inspection by a certified arborist would allow you to ensure your tree is kept healthy.

 

Trunk Firmness

If the tree’s trunk becomes hollow or soft, it is usually a sign of a dying tree. It is similar to a potato that goes bad. It becomes squishy and if you leave it out long enough it starts decomposing from the inside out. Some signs of such decay are mushrooms, cavities, insect damage, or any of the other conditions discussed above.

 

Roots

Although you are unlikely to see this most of the time, damage to the roots is another indicator of a problem with your tree. Some indications of this issue are soil rising around the base of a tree or visible roots that show decay. Another sign could be a reduction in the tree coverage or a lean in the tree.

Regardless of what the factors maybe that lead you to believe there may be a sickness or death to the tree, a certified arborist can both be a great resource to do a proper inspection and/or do routine preventive care. Contact the certified arborist at Sexy Trees at 925.233.6877.

Spring Mulching

Concord Tree Service

 

Spring is starting in two weeks and besides spring cleaning, many of us start focusing on our yards. Mulching is the key thing to do for your landscaping. It can help with your trees and plant health if applied properly. However, if you do too much, then it could negatively impact things. Spring is the best time to start mulching. So what is the proper way to mulch?

1. Choose your Mulch Carefully

Mulch is not as simple as throwing some wood chips in an area. It also is not a matter of picking the one that looks best. You want it to bring the proper minerals to your soil while also retaining moisture, protecting your landscaping, and keeping those nasty weeds away.

Organic mulch is generally best for most trees and bushes. The living matter in them can provide valuable ingredients to your soil as it decomposes. Several varieties exist and you can usually find some at your local gardening place or through online stores like Diablo Mulch.

There are some other, more common mulch varieties may save you some money but you need to make sure you keep some things in mind. For instance, you could use cut grass but you need to let it dry out before placing it or you’ll end up damaging your soil.

2. Quantity

While in many things in life, more is better, this isn’t the case with wood chips. The best quantity for trees is about 2-3 inches deep with between 3-10 feet around the base of a tree. As the wood chips decompose, you may need to add an inch each year to keep the aesthetics.

3. Proper Mulching Technique

Think about when you’ve gone hiking and how the ground looks around trees. If you recall, it is covered with leaves, wood particles, and other organic items. This is the same fashion in which mulch should be placed.

4. Preparation

Prior to mulching in the Spring, you want to get the area around trees prepared to apply the wood chips. A good rule of thumb is to remove the grass and other items from within the 3 to 10 feet around the tree in which you’ll apply the mulch. This will ensure that the mulch will keep the right amount of moisture in while providing proper drainage.

Upon clearing the area, the next step we recommend is getting some compost and placing some in the impacted area. You should then water this area and then apply the wood chips. This will provide your tree with adequate water with the wood chip keeping it in.

A quick word of caution, do not use mulch within about a foot of any structural foundation. This is to limit the likelihood of creating an environment for termites to crop up.

Mulch provides an essential element for your trees. Should you have questions about mulching or other tree care for your East Bay home, contact Sexy Trees certified arborist at 925.233.6877.

How Often Should I Prune My Trees?

Tree Service Alamo

 

Most people in the East Bay should be pruning their trees between November and March. But how often should I prune my trees? Is it an annual tradition? What is best for my tree to ensure it grows and isn’t damaged? While it’s always best to speak to our certified arborist, the following are some basic guidelines that individuals should follow when determining pruning schedules:

Type of Tree

One of the key factors is the type of tree involved. Each tree type will react differently. For instance, fruit trees are generally pruned annually. On the other hand, oak trees should be trimmed every 2-3 years. Additionally, the tree type can also determine the ideal time to prune your tree. Thus, knowing your tree type is essential in determining the pruning schedule.

Age of the Tree

In addition to the tree type, the age of the tree also impacts how often you should prune it. Younger trees are usually pruned more often than older trees. If you had to find an average, most younger trees should be pruned every 2-3 years while older trees are trimmed every 3-5 years. This allows younger trees to flourish while helping to maintain established structures.

Tree Condition

The condition of a tree can dramatically affect the pruning timeframe as well. If a tree has a broken branch or loose/unstable areas, the tree may require trimming, even if it’s not “time”. Alternatively, if a younger tree is having trouble establishing its roots, it maybe recommended that the tree not be pruned as frequently for now.

Thus, if you are wanting to get your trees pruned or evaluated for trimming in the Bay Area, contact us. Sexy Trees has a certified arborist with years of experience.

When is Best to Transplant Trees?

Tree Removal Lafayette

 

Maybe when you moved into your dream home, you noticed that beautiful tree in your backyard and thought, that would look so good if I could put it in my front yard. Or your tree has flourished to the point of outgrowing its current location. When is a good time to move/transplant your tree?

As with most things, it all depends on the type of tree. However, the biggest rule of thumb is to try to move it when it is dormant and not freezing. You want to move it before the colder weather hits or before the tree starts sprouting new foliage.

What is dormant?

During the winter months, trees go into their form of hibernation, called dormancy. While they may seem like they are sleeping or even dead, they’re doing quite a bit to keep going. They drop their leaves and fill their cells with water. Upon the arrival of winter, some of this water goes into the spaces between the cells. This water then becomes the barrier for the trees to protect against possible freezing.

Why transplant trees when they’re dormant?

During the non-dormancy period, trees are heavily reliant on the steady water flow coming to their roots. If this is cut off during the critical period, the tree maybe harmed and have a hard time adapting to its new environment. It would be similar to being in a nice warm shower and having someone dump ice cold water on you.

Dormant trees do not rely on water as much. They’ve lost their leaves and any fruits. They have time to establish their roots and get acclimated to their new environment before the new water supply becomes essential.

However, a critical warning. Do not move trees during extreme cold spells. This could dramatically damage the roots and prevent proper transplantation.

The following are some general rules of thumb for transplanting:

Pine/Evergreen: Fall

Oak: February/March

Maple: Late Fall

Fruit: Early

If you are wanting to transplant your tree, talk to our certified arborist at Sexy Trees. He can provide you key details to avoid damaging your tree.

What Should You Ask a Tree Care Specialist?

Berkeley Tree Service

 

Many of us either ignore our trees, do some self-tree care, or simply ask the gardener to do the tree service. Is this best way? Usually these are not the right approaches to ensuring your trees thrive. The following are some key things to ask you Tree Care Specialist:

  • Please give me your experience level

When speaking to tree care specialist, their experience level is critical. They may have seen many situations and been around various tree scenarios. Among their experiences should be becoming a certified arborist. Certified Arborists go through extensive testing to ensure they are familiar with the nuances of caring for trees. Sometimes the difference between a healthy tree and a sick one could be hard to identify differences in how it was pruned or cared for.

  • What things should I do regularly to care for my tree?

Whether it’s watering, pruning, or adding supplements, caring for a tree is very individualized. Each tree will be getting a set of nutrients from the soil, but it does have other needs. An oak tree will have different needs than a peach tree, and those will also vary according to terrain and climate. Each has to be cared for appropriately to ensure maximum health. Get specific recommendations about level of watering, sunlight, etc. A certified arborist has this knowledge to evaluate the tree and make quality recommendations.

  • What is your approach to pruning a tree and why?

As you are speaking with a tree care specialist, some will recommend some pruning or even tree removal. Always ask the essential question of “why?”. If they give you a very generic answer, it’s important to follow up and ask again for the basis of their recommendation. Hacking a tree shorter or removing it without a true need could permanently damage this living being.

Sexy Trees has a certified arborist with years of experience. We do offer tree evaluations. If you have questions about planting trees, feel free to reach out at Sexytrees.com.

Planting Trees in the Winter

Danville Tree Service

 

Many people look at the barren parts of their garden and wonder when they can plant that fruit tree they’ve always wanted to have. They know it is winter so they don’t want to waste time planting something that will die due to the weather.  The good news is that you can plant many things during the winter, especially in the warmer temperatures of the Bay Area.   However, even without these weather conditions, the best time of year to plant most trees actually occurs in late winter.

Dormancy

In order to understand the basics of planting trees, let’s discuss a key stage in a tree’s life, dormancy.  A person recognizes this as the stage in which their leaves usually fall off and it appears that the tree is dead.  In reality, the tree is in a “sleep” mode whereby it is using less energy and not growing at the same rate.  During this portion of life, a tree can withstand changes and thereby be moved, planted, and nurtured a lot easier.  As a result, many people start planting their trees in the middle to late winter while they are in dormancy.  Thus, when they enter the spring and key stage of growth, their roots are fully established in their new environment.

Evergreens

What about those trees that do not lose their leaves, the evergreens?  The short answer is that the same time period does apply with a bit more leniency.  Evergreens tend to withstand changes a lot better and aren’t as prone to dramatic shifts.  If anything, their ideal period for transferring can go longer due to their genetics.

Now is the time (if it’s late winter)

If you are wanting to get some trees planted, you should start selecting that ideal tree and begin planting it in the next thirty days or so.  Sexy Trees has a certified arborist with years of experience.  If you have questions about planting trees, feel free to reach out at Sexytrees.com.