Watering Christmas Tree Displays: Tips from an Arborist

Walnut Creek Tree Removal

If you’ve brought a living Christmas tree into your home, you’ll need to take proper care of it. Otherwise you may have to witness it’s death and decay right in your home! Luckily, keeping a cut tree alive indoors is not extremely complicated. At the same time, there’s some bad information out there about what your tree needs, so let’s clear a few things up:

 

Cutting Your Tree

When the tree’s going to be stored more than a couple days, put the trunk in water and store it in a cool, shaded and protected area like an unheated shed or garage.

If the tree was harvested within the last 12 hours, it’s not necessary to recut the trunk before putting it in water. After longer than 12 hours, the trunk needs recut for maximum water uptake.

Cutting off a disk of wood about ¼” thick from the base of the trunk is all you need. Make the cut perpendicular to the trunk. Not at an angle or in a v-shape. Those fancy cuts make it far harder to steady the tree in the stand and reduce the amount of trunk submerged in the water.

Don’t drill a hole in the trunk to try to help it hydrate, this only hurts the tree.

 

Using Tree Stands

A tree stand needs to provide at least 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. For most Christmas trees, the treestand should hold at least 1 gallon of water.

Make sure your tree stand is big enough, not that your tree trunk is small enough. Don’t whittle down the sides of the trunk to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should be retained.

Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water is above the bottom of the trunk. Many stands will still be holding water even when the base of the tree is no longer submerged.

 

Hydration and Watering Christmas Tree Care

A cut tree will absorb a surprising amount of water, particularly during the first week, so replenish the water daily.

Displayed trees suffer when they’re near sources of heat like fireplaces, heaters, heating vents, and direct sunlight. Lowering the room’s temperature will slow the drying process, reducing the amount of water the tree needs.

Cold, cool, lukewarm or even very warm water are all fine and won’t affect the tree’s ability to hydrate.

Check your tree daily for dryness. It’s easy to run your fingers across the needles to see if they’re dry or brittle. If they break or fall off easily, the tree is dangerously dry and should be taken outdoors away from the house.

A well-cared-for tree will reliably remain fresh at least three to four weeks before becoming too dry.

 

Don’t Get Too Creative

Anti-transpirants for Christmas trees won’t help you much at all, even though they may technically reduce some evaporation, it’s not enough to make your tree last longer indoors.

Adding water-holding gel products to the stand reduces the amount of water available to the tree, making it a pretty bad idea.

Don’t use additives in the water. No floral preservatives, commercial tree preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey, or anything else. Clean water is what trees want to drink, and how you’ll get the best results.

Flame retardant products can give flame retardance while reducing your tree’s ability to stay hydrated, losing the advantage they gained.

 

What Are Mycorrhizae And Why Should You Care?

Berkeley Tree Care

Fungi are an incredibly important part of soil health. You may hear the term Mycorrhiza Fungi used referring to beneficial fungi. So, what exactly is this stuff? Basically, “myco” means fungus and “rhiza” means root. These special fungi establish a beneficial connection with plant roots and aid them with the uptake of water and nutrients. Mycorrhizae fungi have been in existence for more than 460 -million years since the first plant life appeared on dry land.

How Do Mycorrhizae Work With Roots?

After the mycorrhizae colonize and begin to multiply, they effectively increase the root area and volume by acting as extensions of the roots. The symbiotic cycle between roots and mycorrhizae results in improvements to not only the root system but also the color, foliage and overall health of the tree. Mycorrhizal fungal filaments in the soil are truly extensions of root systems and are more effective in nutrient and water absorption than the roots themselves.

More than 95 percent of terrestrial plant species form a symbiotic relationship with  mycorrhizal fungi and have evolved this symbiotic relationship over the past several hundred million years. These fungi predate the evolution of terrestrial plants, and it was the partnership with mycorrhizal fungi that allowed plants to begin to colonize dry land and create life on Earth as we know it.

Types of Mycorrhizae

There are two major groups of mycorrhizal fungi: ectomycorrhizal and endomycorrhizal fungi.

Endomycorrhizae

Endomycorrhizal fungi penetrate the plant cells where direct metabolic exchanges can occur. Endomycorrhizal fungi colonize trees as well as shrubs and most herbaceous plants and do not form visible structures.

Among the types of endomycorrhizal fungi, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are the most prevalent in soils. Their name is derived from arbuscule structures they form within the plant root cell.

Ectomycorrhizae

Ectomycorrhizal fungi are also found in natural environments, mainly in forests ecosystems. Ectomycorrhizal fungi develop exclusively on the outside of root cells. Ectomycorrhizae are found on trees and form visible structures.

These fungi can form visible reproductive structures (mushrooms) at the feet of trees they colonize. Ectomycorrhizal fungi grow between root cells without penetrating them. Their hyphae grow externally, forming dense growth known as a fungal mantle. These fungi form symbiotic relationships with most pins, spruces and some hardwood trees including beech, birch, oak, and willow. 

How Mycorrhizal Fungi Help Soil Health

Trees can only take in nutrients from the soil within their rhizosphere (the area surrounding their roots). This area extends only about 1/10 of an inch from the roots.

Beyond that 1/10 inch, all the fertilizer, compost, water and whatever else you add to the soil would be wasted without this web of fungi, the tree is simply not able to reach it.

That’s where mycorrhizae comes in. They spread out from the tree roots in long, root-like stringy webs call hypha and bring any needed nutrients or water back to the rhizosphere for the tree. In exchange, the tree provides carbon and sugars to feed the fungi.

In effect, the fungus provides a secondary “root system” that is considerably more efficient and extensive than the tree’s own root system, allowing it to access more nutrients. One tablespoon of healthy soil can contain several thousand of mycorrhizal filaments!

Benefits Of Mycorrhizae-Rich Soil

• Increased yield from fruit trees

• Enhanced  plant and tree growth

• Healthier root development

• Increased disease resistance

• Improved transplant success

• Increased drought tolerance

Why We Should Care

So, why do we need to know about this? Many of the regular practices we use to augment our soil actually kill the organisms in healthy soil including Mycorrhizae. This is one of the best reasons low/no-till gardening has become more prevalent over the years.  Inoculating plants with multiple varieties of Mycorrhizae and providing food that will support plant health is a necessity. Be very careful with poisons and weed killers, they can destroy healthy symbiotic relationships.

If you have questions on how to create or foster healthier soil for your trees, contact Sexy Trees today.

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.

3 Tips for Winter Tree Care

Alamo Tree Service

 

As winter weather approaches, many of us look at trees as being “dead” without any work needed. Since the trees around the Bay Area have lost much of their foliage, it may feel like a sign to leave them alone. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Proper winter tree care is what helps the tree grow and become stronger for its spring growth.

Here are a few key tips for winter tree care this time of year:

Saving Rain Water

Whether we have a rainy season or drought conditions, it’s very important to try to maximize the amount of water that is preserved in the tree’s surrounding soil. There are a couple techniques that we recommend for Bay Area trees. First, get fresh mulch. This can help keep the water contained, captured, and embedded in the soil. Even an inch of mulch helps retain moisture.  If you would like to also use the mulch for weed control, use about three inches of mulch.

Keeping the Bugs Away

While many pests stay away during this time of year, if you’ve had attacks from mites, scale, or aphids, then you should spray for them now. Use dormant oil to kill the eggs after the leaves drop. Another layer of protection is to spray for peach leaf curl or lime sulfur.

Winter Tree Care Pruning

Growth has to be monitored and may need controlled to prevent problems. It’s critical to cut back some trees in order to allow light to enter and hit the inner branches. Along with lightening heavily congested areas, you should also prune away diseased or dead areas of the tree so the nutrients will focus on the remaining portions of the tree. Sometimes you will also have to trim to maintain the balance of a tree, to prevent it from breaking.

By following the above winter tree care tips, you will find that you’ll have healthier, fuller trees in the spring and summer.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our Certified Arborists at Sexytrees.com

 

 

What’s The Right Way To Prune: Pollarding, Reducing or Topping?

Mistletoe Removal

 

If you have large trees in your yard, you might be concerned about their size and growth. Large trees look beautiful, but they can reach overhead lines, become unstable, and be dangerous in a storm. Typically, trees need to be pruned and maintained for their health and your safety. While there are many methods of pruning, here we look at three common methods.

Pollarding

This type of pruning is used to reduce the overall size of a tree to fit a defined area and offers a longer-term solution. It involves removing the upper branches or top of the tree in a way that creates denser foliage within a smaller canopy. At first, pollarding may not typically create a very attractive appearance, however, as new growth appears, foliage becomes denser and much more appealing. One advantage of this approach is that it maintains the tree in a juvenile state, which can help the tree to live longer. The tree also has less height, which makes it less susceptible to wind damage.

Reducing

Reducing typically involves cutting back limbs to their point of origin on the tree. Unlike pollarding, it does not create a long-term solution. The tree branches will grow back and will require reduction or other methods of pruning again in the future. Reducing mostly just shortens the length of branches and stems. Reducing may be needed to keep trees away from overhead lines. It can also help protect very large trees that are otherwise at risk of being blown over in bad storms or dropping branches in a dangerous way.

Topping

Tree topping involves removing large branches, whole tree tops, and even the top of the tree trunk. It may be done to reduce the tree from view or limit its shade. This approach can be deadly for some tree types because it removes the parts of the tree that are necessary for it to sustain itself. The new lack of shade on bark can lead to too much sun exposure and tree decay, while also removing the leaves that are the tree’s energy source. This approach is sometimes used to promote new growth, but it is a risky approach, as the tree is more susceptible to insects and fungi.

The Right Type Of Pruning

Pollarding, reducing, and topping are just three methods for tree pruning. Choosing the right technique depends on the type of tree and the demands of the space, which is where the assessment of a skilled arborist can help you make the right choice. Where possible, milder and less invasive methods of pruning, applied regularly to control growth and tree shape, usually create the best outcome for trees.

If you need pruning for the trees in your yard, it’s best to connect with a professional arborist or tree service. They can survey the area, assess the trees, and make recommendations for your best pruning options, then carry out the job correctly. This helps preserve the appearance and health of your trees, while protecting the safety of your yard and home.

4 Signs Your Tree Needs Cabling And Bracing

Walnut Creek Tree Removal

The trees in your garden are living entities and need attention and care in order to flourish. In some cases, trees need first aid and even ‘surgery’ to help maintain their health and structure. Cabling and bracing is a technique that can be applied by a skilled arborist to help support your trees branches and trunks. This can extend a tree’s life if done correctly, allowing your trees to flourish for longer. Here we look at 4 signs that your tree needs expert attention from a qualified arborist with professional cabling and bracing.

  1. Leaning Trees

Trees that are dead or dying tend to lean, however a leaning tree doesn’t always signify a problem. Cabling and bracing can’t be used to save diseased or dying trees, but it can help to provide structure and support to trees that are weak, but healthy. Trees may normally have a slight lean to them. A skilled arborist can inspect your trees and assess whether they are leaning normally, or whether there are adverse underlying causes. A tree’s root system can grow to accommodate and calibrate a lean, but in some cases cabling and bracing may be needed to support the tree to prevent cracking and hazardous tree falls.

  1. Cracks in the Trunk or Branches

Cracks in the tree trunks and branches can be a sign that your tree is becoming unbalanced and overburdened. Cracking or splitting in the trunk of your tree can represent a particularly serious structural issue, and you should enlist the assistance of a professional arborist as soon as possible. In some cases, cabling and bracing can be applied to help strengthen and reinforce your tree when the problem is caught early to prevent cracks deepening and causing split trunks. Cracked branches may not be worth trying to recover, but it’s important to remove them to avoid potentially dangerous falling branches.

  1. Multiple Trunks

It’s not uncommon for trees to split at the trunk, with the two trunks diverging in a V shape. This can be called co-dominant stems or V-crotch trunks. As the tree grows, these multiple trunks can form a weak spot, as one trunk becomes larger than the other and threatens to topple the tree. Cabling and bracing can help to strengthen divergent trunks so they don’t split too far apart and cause breakage. However, in some cases one of the trunks may need to be removed by your arborist to preserve the tree.

  1. You’re Due For Adverse Weather

Storms, rain and strong winds can really put on a strain on your trees and worsen any structural issues you may already be experiencing. If you’re expecting adverse weather, have your trees inspected and fitted with cables and bracing if necessary to protect against the harsh conditions. Professional cabling and bracing from a skilled arborist can help to keep your trees and branches safe during harsh weather, adding extra strength and reinforcement while also allowing flexibility, to keep your branches intact.

Cabling and bracing can be a useful tool to protect and preserve your trees when implemented safely by a professional arborist. Talk to us about your tree’s needs and whether cabling and bracing is right for your trees.

Our tree experts service the following areas:  Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Lafayette, Orinda, Oakland, Albany, Alhambra Valley, Alamo, Berkeley, Danville, Diablo, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Sunol, Saranap, San Pablo, Reliez Valley, Piedmont, Port Costa, San Leandro, Vine Hill, Martinez, Benicia, Fairfield

6 Things You Need To Know About Tree Removal

Alamo Tree Service

While tree removal should be avoided whenever possible, and trees should be saved and conserved through appropriate tree pruning or tree trimming, in some cases, tree removal is unavoidable. Dead or dying trees that are beyond saving, or trees that are growing in a way that threatens people or property usually need to be completely removed. Tree removal is usually much more difficult than it seems, and the steps and processes involved with tree removal should be properly understood before you decide to remove a tree. Above all, it is essential to consult with a professional tree services company when you are thinking about removing a tree, as trying to remove a tree on your own can result in damage to you or your neighbor’s property, or injury and even death for those who try to remove a tree without the proper training. Here we look at 6 things you need to know about tree removal before you decide to get rid of your tree.

Local Laws

In some cases, you need permission from the local council before you remove a tree, even if it is on your private property. Be sure to make your intentions known and receive the appropriate tree removal permits, which are necessary in some cities in California for particular types of trees, known as ‘heritage’ trees.

Danger to Property and People

Tree removal, particularly for large and overgrown trees, is a dangerous process that can pose significant risks to both property and people. Many people have been injured or even died as a result of trying to remove a tree without the proper tools or training. Tree removal should always be left to the care of professional arborists wherever possible.

Underground and Above Ground Hazards

Tree removal can sometime involve close proximity to power lines, which means extremely careful and delicate work is required for safe removal. Likewise, digging to remove tree stumps and tree roots poses the risk of damaging underground cables, sewer lines or gas lines, so a proper understanding of underground structures should be obtained before any digging begins.

Trees Hanging Over Neighbor’s Properties

When parts of a tree or tree branches hang over into neighboring properties, confusion can arise when one neighbor wishes to remove the tree. Local laws or bylaws may govern this situation, but even if not, it’s always best to communicate and ask your neighbor before removing a tree that hangs into their property.

Stump Grinding & Removal

Once your tree has been cut down and taken away, in most cases a stump will be left behind. Old stumps can create a hazard, be unsightly, and spread tree diseases, so wherever possible, have your tree care professional provide tree stump grinding and removal to eliminate all traces of your tree.

Importance Of Professional Help

Due to the complex process and significant risks and dangers involved in removing a tree from your yard, it is essential to work with a tree services professional for safe and effective tree removal. A tree care professional can not only prepare by evaluating risks and getting necessary permits, as well as successfully remove your tree and the stump, they can also help advise you how to correct the issue that led to the need for tree removal and recommend an appropriate tree replacement.

By keeping in mind these 6 points before you remove your tree, you can ensure that your tree removal is safer, more effective and more successful, benefiting both you and the surrounding environment.

Berkeley Tree Removal

Walnut Creek Tree Removal

North Berkeley removal of oak canopy leaving main trunk from wildlife habitat.

What Are The Most Drought Resistant Plants and Trees?

Walnut Creek Tree Pruning

With drought spreading across most of California, and now affecting many other states across the U.S. as well, many more homeowners are looking for alternatives to keeping their homes and gardens beautiful while minimizing water usage. One of the best ways to do this is to switch out your lawn and water hungry plants for drought tolerant plants, trees, and landscapes. A drought tolerant landscape designed by a skilled arborist will be resistant to water shortages and look beautiful all year round. Here we look at how the drought situation might affect you and your garden, and how you can maintain a beautiful landscape with drought resistant trees and plants.

Drought Affected Areas

If you’re living in California, you may be all too familiar with the effects of drought, however drought conditions are also prevalent in over 30 states across the U.S. More than half of California is currently in a state of drought, with 59% of the state affected. Nearby Nevada is also affected in 22% of the state, while 28% of Georgia, 40% of Massachusetts, and 27% of New York is also affected by drought. Regardless of the dry conditions in these states, the right knowledge of tree care and low water plants and trees can help to maintain a beautiful outdoor environment, even in drought conditions.

Drought Resistant Trees

Tree trimming and tree pruning can help to reduce water consumption by trees, however it can also result in tree death and the need for tree removal. A better solution is to plant drought resistant trees which have leaves that use water efficiently, waxy coatings that protect from water loss, and extensive root systems to maximize water absorption. While a tree company or certified arborist can provide expert advice on which kind of trees would best suit your environment and aesthetic taste, some of the drought resistant trees suitable for California and the Bay Area include Western sycamore, California oak, Southern magnolia, Eldarica pine, Kentucky coffee tree, White oak, Northern red oak, Eastern red cedar, and the Thornless honeylocust.

Furthermore, the California sycamore and Holly oak are drought resistant, but only once established. Choose drought resistant trees, or contact a tree cutting service to prune your trees safely and appropriately in order to keep your garden drought friendly. 

Drought Resistant Plants

Drought resistant plants can also feature in a drought resistant garden, and they make the perfect addition to homes with smaller available garden space. Drought resistant flowers such as hawthorns and crepe myrtle, drought tolerant succulents and dry climate grasses all contribute to added variety and color in a drought resistant garden.

Drought Resistant Landscaping

Lush, green lawns are great, but not during a drought. Why let your grass go brown and die when you can swap out your thirsty lawn for a drought resistant landscape? If you want to maintain the appearance of green grass without the water consumption, realistic artificial grass could be the ideal solution. Gravel or stone landscapes interspersed with succulents and other drought resistant plants also look stunning and add a modern landscape feature to the home. Ornamental grasses and perennial flowering plants add a touch of variety and color.

Although drought conditions look set to stay for a while, with the assistance of a professional arborist to build the perfect drought resistant garden for your home, you can enjoy a beautiful landscape year from season to season.

4 Important Reasons You Should Leave Tree Work to the Professionals

Tree Care Concord

Many homeowners like to do their own DIY work around the house, and many may see money spent on professional tree service and arborists as ‘wasted’. Many feel that when it comes to tree trimming and pruning in California – how hard can it be? But the reality is that tree care is hardly as simple as it looks and in fact involves a number of considerations and precautions many DIYers fail to take into account, and these could end up costing you in the long run. Here we look at 4 of the most important reasons you should always leave tree care to the professionals.

Arborists Have Essential Tree Knowledge

Do you know and understand how every tree and plant should be cared for in your garden to promote its optimal health? Are you familiar with when and how each type of tree variety should be pruned? Would you recognize critical tree damage such as weakened tree branches, tree and plant pests and tree diseases? A certified arborist is trained and experienced in these and other aspects of arboriculture and tree care in order to provide relevant and targeted tree care to ensure tree health.

Arborists often pick up underlying issues when working with your trees, such as tree diseases and pest you may not have noticed, or the need for cabling and bracing to support tree branches and protect your property. Having a qualified arborist work on your trees allows you to receive an expert opinion on tree care and health.

Improper Tool Use

Homeowners completing DIY jobs on their trees and plants are often at risk of injury and damage to property due to improper use of tools. Power tools such as chainsaws are incredibly dangerous and difficult to use, and improper use or use of a blunt or damaged blade can cause major issues. Ladders are another dangerous tool that are improperly used in DIY tree trimming, and they can often be too short, set on unstable ground, or supported by a faulty limb.

Professional arborists also have an collection of specialized tools such as stump grinders, wood chippers, and aerial lifts which provide the easiest way to remove tree stumps and allow some of the more complex and difficult jobs to be completed more quickly and efficiently.

Personal and Property Safety

Improper use of tools, a failure to accurately assess and understand environmental conditions and a lack of adequate support or other people to work with can all result in large risks to the DIY tree trimmer and their property when completing a DIY tree care job. Removing high or large limbs, using ladders and power tools and uprooting a tree are all tasks that present significant risk. DIYers often suffer serious injuries or fatalities from taking on difficult tree work, particularly alone, due to risks from electrical wires, falls and dropped branches.

Falling branches, removing trees and failure to recognize root damage can also result in damage to your home and neighboring properties. Using a professional Bay Area tree care company reduces these risks to personal safety and property.

Insurance

If you’re planning to be your own tree trimmer, you might want to think about what the consequences will be if something does go wrong and whether it’s worth it. If damage does occur during DIY work, the homeowner will be the one responsible. Reliable arborists complete work in your yard with personal and property damage insurance so you can have peace of mind.

For safe work and the most comprehensive and detailed tree care, always choose a professional, qualified arborist for completing work in your yard.