Regular tree inspections can catch changes in a tree’s health before a disease, insect, or environmental problem becomes too serious to address. Ideally, mature trees should be inspected at least once a year to assess four characteristics of tree vitality: new leaf or bud formation, leaf size, twig growth, and absence of crown dieback (gradual death of the upper part of the tree).
Growth reduction is a fairly reliable cue that the tree’s health has recently changed. An experienced arborist can look at twig growth from past years to determine whether there is a reduction in the tree’s typical growth pattern.
Further signs of poor tree health are trunk decay, crown dieback, or both. These symptoms often indicate problems that began several years before. Loose bark, deformed growths, and conks (mushrooms) are common signs of stem decay.
Any abnormalities found during these inspections, such as insect activity and/or spotted, deformed, discolored, or dead leaves and twigs, should be noted and monitored closely. If you are uncertain about what to do, report your findings to your local ISA Certified Arborist or other tree care professional for advice on treatment options.
Though it may seem simple, tree work is actually extremely complicated, technical and dangerous. Homeowners have been injured and even killed by falling limbs, faulty equipment, or general carelessness while attempting “do-it-yourself” tree work.
An arborist can help you manage the trees on your property and can provide treatments that may help reduce the risk associated with certain trees. An arborist familiar with tree risk assessment
Common accident factors include:
Use of extension ladders. If you need to use a ladder for your tree care work, think twice. If your ladder does not extend at least 3 feet past the branch, cutting off the end of a branch will cause the branch to rise up beyond the ladder. Many ladder related fatalities occur this way. Do not make the mistake of setting the ladder on something unsteady to get the reach you need.
Improper tools. Faulty tree care equipment, such as a dull chain saw, can cause terrible accidents. It is very easy to lose control or misuse the tools, which often results in a trip to the hospital.
Lack of knowledge about tree physics and biology. Aimlessly hacking away at the tree with your axe or chain saw is dangerous! For example, homeowners are often tempted to cut corners by removing limbs in massive, unwieldy sections. The weight makes the limb section difficult to control, and this may damage the tree – or you.
If you are at all uncertain about what could happen by attempting your own tree work, contact a qualified tree care professional. Safety is the cornerstone of the tree care profession, and professional arborists have the experience and training necessary to navigate hazards.
Whether hazards are created by strong winds or ice-storms, or whether construction on the site may or already has negatively affected the tree, tree owners should recognize tree risk and management strategies to help ensure trees are able to provide their full complement of benefits.
Almost everyone understands that trees and other living plants are valuable. They beautify our surroundings, purify our air, manufacture precious oxygen, act as sound barriers, and help us save energy through their cooling shade in summer and their wind reduction in winter.
Many people don’t realize, however, that plants have a dollar value of their own that can be measured by competent plant appraisers. If your trees or shrubs are damaged or destroyed, you may be able to recapture your loss through an insurance claim or as a deduction from your federal income tax.
Here is some practical advice that may help you find out what your trees and plants are worth — a process known as valuation.
Planning for Highest Value
A professional in the tree, nursery, or landscape industry can help you plan, develop, install, and care for all of your trees and plants so that each of them will be worth more to you.
How Your Trees and Shrubs Are Valuated
Seek the advice of professionals in this industry who have developed a set of guidelines for valuation. Such guidelines have been widely adopted in the field and are recognized by insurance companies, the courts, and in some cases, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
There are several valuation methods that can be used for tree appraisal. The most appropriate method will vary based on the situation and type of loss. Using an inappropriate method can result in an appraised value that does not make logical sense and will not be accepted. This is why seeking advice from an experienced appraiser is very important.
What to Do if You Suffer Loss or Damage to Your Landscape Plants
A casualty loss is defined by the IRS as “… a loss resulting from an identifiable event of sudden, unexpected, or unusual nature.” This definition applies to loss resulting from events, such as vehicular accidents, storms, floods, lightning, vandalism, or even air and soil pollution.
If you suffer damage to trees or landscaping, first consult your homeowner’s insurance policy to determine the amount and type of coverage you have. Contact the insurance company to have an appraisal made by a competent tree and landscape professional who is experienced in plant appraisal. Have the appraisal made as soon as possible after your loss or damage.
The tree and landscape appraiser accomplishes many things for you. The professional can see things you might miss, help correct damage, and prescribe remedies you may be able to do yourself. The appraiser will establish the amount of your loss in financial terms, including the cost of removing debris and making repairs and replacements. All of these steps are wise investments and well worth the cost you may incur for the inspection.
Four Potential Factors in Professional Valuation of Trees and Other Plants
Size. Sometimes the size and age of a tree are such that it cannot be replaced. Trees that are too large to be replaced should be assessed by professionals who use a specialized appraisal formula.
Species or classification. Trees that are hardy, durable, highly adaptable, and free from objectionable characteristics are most valuable. They require less maintenance; they have sturdy, well-shaped branches, and pleasing foliage. Tree values vary according to your region, the “hardiness” zone, and even local conditions. If you are not familiar with these variables, be sure your advice comes from a competent source.
Condition. The professional will also consider the condition of the plant. Obviously, a healthy, well-maintained plant has a higher value. Roots, trunk, branches, and buds need to be inspected.
Location. Functional considerations are important. A tree in your yard may be worth more than one growing in the woods. A tree standing alone often has a higher value than one in a group. A tree near your house or one that is a focal point in your landscape tends to have greater value. The site, placement, and contribution of a tree to the overall landscape help determine the overall value of the plant attributable to location.
All of these factors may be measurable in dollars and cents. They can determine the value of a tree, specimen shrubs, or evergreens, whether for insurance purposes, court testimony in lawsuits, or tax deductions.
These steps should be taken before and after any casualty loss to your trees and landscape. Taking them can improve the value of your investment in nature’s green, growing gifts and prevent financial loss should they be damaged or destroyed.
Plan your landscaping for both beauty and functional value.
Protect and preserve to maintain value.
Take pictures of trees and other landscape plants now while they are healthy and vigorous. Pictures make “before and after” comparisons easier and expedite the processing of insurance claims or deductions for losses on federal tax forms.
Check your insurance. In most cases, the amount of an allowable claim for any one tree or shrub is a maximum of $500 USD.
For insurance, legal, and income tax purposes, keep accurate records of your landscape and real estate appraisals on any losses.
Consult your local Plant Health Care professional at every stage in the life cycle of your landscape (planning, planting, care), and to make sure you do not suffer needless financial loss when a casualty strikes.
The tree care profession has experienced rapid growth over the past decade and there is a significant amount of knowledge required to perform at the highest level. ISA credentials help consumers identify qualified, knowledgeable tree care professionals.
Earning a credential is a voluntary activity, but it demonstrates that you have the proper knowledge and skills, as well as a high level of dedication to your profession and your community. ISA Certified Arborists understand the importance of continued education and how it helps to make the world be a better place, one tree at a time.
The Value of an ISA Credential
ISA credentials are valued and trusted because they let consumers know that you possess a high degree of knowledge about caring for and maintaining trees. When developing an exam, a panel of subject matter experts from around the world completes a job task analysis, and then writes an exam that encompasses the defined skills. ISA credentials build expert knowledge and reflect the professional skills sought by leaders from the public and private sectors, including training, academia and government organizations.
Benefits of Certification
Earning an ISA credential has many benefits. A few of the major benefits are listed below.
Certification builds an individual’s self-image. By studying for and passing the exam, individuals reaffirm to themselves and their peers a thorough knowledge and dedication to arboriculture.
Certification affords the public and those in government the opportunity to make an informed selection of services based on the knowledge and advanced training demonstrated by an ISA Certification.
The process of becoming ISA Certified and maintaining the designation provides incentives to the individual to continue his or her ongoing professional development.
Certification is a tool to help employers in both training their personnel and selecting new employees.
Holding an ISA credential can lead to an increase in income and promote new opportunities in professional advancement.
Certification is a tool used to set oneself apart from the competition and gain a competitive edge in today’s economy.
Certifications, sometime more than price, can be a deciding factor when multiple individuals bid for the same job. If you want the job done right, hire the right people!
You will need a sharp shovel, a tarp, a watering hose and mulch. You may also want someone else to help you, depending on the size of the tree.
2. Determine the Correct Timing
In most of the United States, the best time to move and plant trees is early spring. If that’s not possible, you can do it in the fall. Do not move a tree in the summer because the heat will further stress the plant. If you are not sure when your type of tree should be moved, call a local nursery or agriculture college.
3. Pick a Location
Give this some thought, taking into consideration how much sun or shade and water or dry soil your particular specimen will require. Also, make sure to give it enough room away from walls or other plantings, so it can stretch out and grow.
4. Dig the New Hole
The new hole should be twice as wide as the rootball. Do not loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole. As you dig, pile up the soil on one side of the hole.
5. Dig Up the Tree
This must be done very carefully, so you minimize the harm to your tree’s root system as much as possible. Place your tarp near the tree. Start digging about 3 feet away from the base of the tree trunk. As you do, start figuring out just how big the rootball is and where it’s located. If it’s small enough, you may be able to dig most of it out without hurting it. If it is bigger, however, you will likely have to cut through roots shooting off the sides of the ball. When you see most of the rootball, start sliding your shovel under it and gently begin loosening and prying it up, away from the ground. Once the ball is free, carefully lift it and carry it over to the tarp.
6. Plant the Tree
Drag the tarp with the tree on it over to the new hole. Gently slide it into the hole. Use the shovel to carefully move the loose soil back into the hole, packing it gently around the rootball. Every so often, add water to the hole. When you’ve placed all the soil back, gently mound it up, creating a rim to catch water. Starting a couple of inches away from the trunk, spread a layer of mulch over the ground in a circle around the tree.
7. Monitor and Maintain the Tree
Make sure to check the tree frequently, and water as needed. It will take awhile for the roots to grow and establish a new root system in their new location, so you need to water them regularly until they are able to do so. Be patient; realize that it could take about a year before your tree fully recovers from moving.
Follow these steps to give your tree its best chance of moving successfully into its new home. Take the time to make the move correctly so that your tree goes on to thrive for years to come.
It may not be easy to dispose of an especially large tree stump. The city may not pick it up along with the rest of your yard waste. Contact your city to find out whether it will be picked up or not. If not, ask if there are any additional options. In some places, local recycling centers will take large tree stumps.
If you have several tree stumps to dispose of, it may be worth it to rent a wood chipper and then use the wood chips for various projects around the yard. If it’s allowed in your area, you may also be able to burn your old tree stumps. If you do this, be sure to cover them with scrap wood first. If the stumps are especially large, it may take a long time for them to burn completely away.
Storms can leave even the most pristine landscape in disarray; uprooted trees, broken branches, and stray debris are common post-storm eyesores. To prevent this, evaluate your landscape for potential hazards. Even innocuous tree limbs can prove dangerous in bad weather, so be thorough in your assessment.
If your trees exhibit the following warning signs, they may be at risk:
Wires in contact with tree branches are dangerous. Trees may become energized when they are contacted by electric wires.
Dead or partially attached limbs hung up in the higher branches can fall and cause damage or injury.
Cracked stems and split branches can cause catastrophic tree failure.
Hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs, or mushrooms growing from the bark indicate a decayed and weakened trunk.
Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk also indicate structural weakness.
Fallen or uprooted trees exert pressure on other trees beneath them.
Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system.
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