Should Your Tree Stay or Go?

Should Your Tree Stay or GoAt A Touch of Class Tree Service, we know how to answer the question, should your tree stay or go? If you are pondering this issue and are unsure of what your options are, we will guide you on all the pros and cons of whether your tree should stay or be cut down. Don’t take this matter into your own hands, when our professionals are here to serve all your landscaping needs.

Certified arborists, such as ours, are your best bet to help give a clear and unbiased picture of the situation. We will assess the overall condition and health of the tree in question so you can make an educated decision on tree removal. Many times, arborists can spot the sources of future problems before it’s too late, and advice for avoiding and correcting problems.

Here are some questions to ask when deciding should your tree stay or go:

  1. Is the species desirable?

There are many species of trees that harbor various problems such as weak wood prone to frequent breakage from wind and ice, always dropping large quantities of debris, shallow roots that damage lawns and pavement, infestations with diseases or insects specific to the tree species, and invasive species due to prolific reseeding in the landscape.

  1. Is it healthy?

If 50% of the tree is damaged or infested with a pest, you should probably eliminate it. A tree in decline can survive for many years, but will always have limited or abnormal growth and appearance, and can cause unforeseen damage if a storm hits and knocks it over.

  1. How healthy is the trunk?

If you notice vertical cracks, seams, dead branch stubs, and large, older wounds, this may suggest internal decay. Severe damage to the main trunk often requires removal of the tree. If the degraded area is less than 25% of the circumference of the trunk, the tree’s wound could gradually heal over, and no lasting injury will remain; but again, a professional opinion is necessary for the right conclusion.

  1. Is it hollow?

The life-support tissue, the xylem, and phloem, of a tree, are on the outer edges of the trunk, which means many trees will live for years with a hollow trunk. However, there could be possible compromised trunk strength which could make the tree dangerous. The rule of thumb in decision-making on this issue is, if 1/3 of the interior is hollowed out or rotten, remove the tree.

  1. Are there large dead branches?

This problem is most definitely a danger to people and property. If less than 25% of branches are damaged, the tree will probably survive. Remove crossed or rubbing branches and narrow branch angles, especially if the main trunk is particularly prone to splitting. Get the help of a certified arborist. If a narrow crotch is too extensive to remove, the two co-dominant leaders could be cabled, to relieve the strain and avoid breakage.

  1. Are all the dead branches only on one side?

A lopsided tree has many potential hazards. Dead branches only on one side of a tree can be a symptom of root or trunk damage on that side.

  1. Are there sprouts or shoots coming from the trunk?

These sprouts are a response to severe stresses inflicted on the tree that indicates that there is something wrong. This is typical of trees enduring new home construction injuries, over-exposure to the sun, or soil compaction.

  1. Is there trunk rot?

Fungi appearing on the outside of a tree are an indication of internal rot, and should be evaluated by an arborist.

  1. Has there been excavating near the tree?

If so, it is necessary to check for root damage. If half of the roots are damaged, the tree needs removal.

  1. Does the tree lean?

A sudden lean indicates breakage and weakening of roots and that means the tree should probably be removed immediately. More than 15% from vertical points to removal of a dangerous tree.

  1. Are there power lines above the tree?

A tree growing up near power lines will need tree trimming and thinning. During wet weather conditions, electricity can arc as much as 10 feet over to the wet tree foliage, grounding out and causing a power failure or property damage. Never attempt removing tree limbs that are near power lines, for obvious safety reasons.

  1. What is the tree’s history?

Unsavory previous pruning jobs such as tree topping practices can cause problems later. A change in the soil level over the root system is a cause of a gradual decline of trees also. If 3″ or more of soil is piled over the root system, there is a high likelihood it will die. If caught early and before stress symptoms develop, the tree can be saved.

  1. How is the tree’s environment?

Trees that are growing on rock ledges or near bodies of water, frequently have shallow root systems. Trees suddenly exposed to sunlight are severely stressed by the sudden change in exposure. There are also issues with soil compaction, grade changes, and the sudden exposure to full sun.

  1. Is there enough space?

When it comes to your home, it is best to avoid trees hanging over the roof. Larger trees should be at least 20 feet away from your house. Are there other nearby trees, whose growth will be enhanced by the tree’s removal? Is the location of the tree such that, it interferes with sight lines in traffic flow and stop lights? If it poses a risk, consider dangerous tree removal.

So many things to consider for our amazing and beautiful trees that most of the time bring us shade, beauty, and add to our landscaping view and investment. Be sure to do the right thing when it comes time to question a damaged or severely diseased tree that may need to come down.

A good rule of thumb to consider is, if you take care of your trees, they will take care of you! Protecting your family and your investments should be a priority over any unhealthy or damaged trees. So, should your tree stay or go? Call A Touch of Class Tree Service today, and get an honest answer on what to do.

Everything You Need to Know About Tree Trimming

Everything You Need to Know About Tree TrimmingHow do you keep your trees looking their best? Today, A Touch of Class Tree Service discusses everything you need to know about tree trimming to ensure your trees get the utmost attention and look their best for years to come. We can also provide superior services in many different areas and are professional arborists with extensive backgrounds and skills for maintaining and bringing longevity to your landscapes.

The importance of having trees on our planet is necessary for life, as we all know, and the importance of healthy trees is equally important to control infestations and decline of our precious and beautiful species of trees. Tree trimming is an inherently important factor in maintaining the health of all your trees or shrubs. But there is a science to how, when and why to trim trees.

Why do we need to trim our trees? First, pests and infestations spell danger. When a tree is damaged or untrimmed, it can invite unwanted pests to attack the tree even further which will lead to the trees death or decay eventually and could even spread to nearby trees, wreaking havoc on your entire yard.

Nutrients are necessary for plants, trees and shrubs to sustain life, when we do not trim the scraggly branches, sunlight is blocked from reaching areas of the tree, and the tree will suffer. Air flow is also needed to keep the tree vigorous and healthy from unwanted diseases. So, trim your tree down, and allowing in the sun and air.

Safety is another reason why you should keep low-lying tree branches trimmed and away from your home or possessions. Wind storms, ice damage and dead trees all pose big problems if the tree in question is close to your dwelling. Have the professionals assess the situation if you are uncertain about the tree in question and have them provide the best solutions.

How often should you trim trees? When it comes to everything you need to know about tree trimming, this is rather important! If you notice dead or damaged branches hanging from the tree, trim them immediately, so they don’t affect the healthier parts of the tree. The best time to trim a tree, in general, is in the winter or late fall when most of the leaves are gone. During winter, most of us do not want to battle the cold or the dangers of slipping and falling, so it is always suggested to hire a professional company, such as A Touch of Class Tree Service to do the job.

In any case, whether it is winter or summer, do not trim any tree if the weather is extremely intense, it will cause too much stress on the tree.

If you do decide to try trimming trees yourself, here is a 3-step program you can follow:

  1. Make the very first cut just about 1-2 ft. from the trunk of the tree. This cut starts underneath the limb and goes into it, but only about one-third of the way. This is a critical step in the process, so be sure you know and understand the procedure.
  2. Make the second cut just outside of the first cut, about another foot or two. This cut will be all the way through the branch. The branch is highly likely to break away as you saw through the limb, which is ok. Since you have made the first cut on the underside and closer in from the previous step, the bark will not continue to tear down into the tree trunk.
  3. The final cut is right at the branch collar where the branch meets the tree’s trunk. You will be looking for a flared area here. Make the final cut so that the flair is still noticeable afterward. If cut properly, this “flair” will heal over, eventually filling in with new bark and scar tissue. You’ll know the tree is healing correctly when you see a “doughnut” forming where you made the cut. And that is all there is to it!

A word on “bleeding”. There are some trees that ‘bleed’ excessively when cut. This is a type of sap oozing from the fresh wound, and it can look rather severe and unsightly, but rest assured, it causes no harm. Some trees that are especially prone to bleeding are beech, birch, elm, maple, and yellow wood.

How much does tree trimming cost? Well, depending on where you live, the size of the tree to be trimmed, and the risk factor involved, for example, is it near power lines, a home, or dangerous hill area, will factor into the price of the service. When hiring the professionals, be sure to tell them the situation and have them come out to see the extent of the job and give you a quote before deciding to move forward. Here are some tree trimming services that companies can provide:

Young Tree Pruning: experienced arborists will begin training young trees ranging from 10-15 feet in height which is essential for the long-term structure and health.

Evergreen Pruning: While pines and spruce trees require very little attention, especially in metropolitan areas, overgrowth can block passageways and sight lines. Evergreen shrubs often can acquire blight if neglected. This type of trimming is incredibly stunning and a great feature or focal price to any yard.

Dormant Tree Pruning: Certain trees, especially certain fruit trees, can only be pruned during the dormant season. Dormant pruning is also the best way to lessen emergency storm damage.

Now that you have everything you need to know about tree trimming and the importance of this necessary task, feel free to enlist the help of A Touch of Class Tree Service. There is no doubt your trees and landscaping will be the envy of the neighborhood. We look forward to providing excellent service at any time of the year for all your tree maintenance needs. Call or contact us today for a free quote on trimming, lot clearing, stump grinding, dangerous tree removal and more.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pruning Your Tree for Winter

Pruning Your Tree for WinterAt A Touch of Class Tree Service, we know how deadly winter can be on the trees we enjoy so much during the warm summer months and fall. That is why pruning your tree for winter will help your outside greenery stay healthy and happy, living a long life. Pruning of deciduous plants in the winter promotes fast re-growth in the spring, as most plants are dormant during winter. It is also much easier to see the shape of deciduous plants in the winter, since their foliage is gone, making pruning a breeze.

  • Prune on a mild, dry day, if possible.
  • When pruning, prune dead and diseased branches first.
  • Then remove the overgrown and smaller branches to increase light and air at the crown of the tree.

In general, your goal is to keep the branches that develop and retain the structure of the tree. Cut the branches at the point where one branch or twig attaches to another, often called a node.

Get the right EQUIPMENT. To prune efficiently, use only sharp tools. You can cut an awful lot with a good old wood saw, however, a curved pruning saw makes getting between limbs a whole lot easier. Sturdy secateurs will save your wrists from aching if you’ve got a lot of work to do, and loppers will extend your reach just the little extra length you may need. A ladder may also be necessary, so be sure to invite a friend over to hold it for you. Don’t go “Edward Scissorhands” on your trees and shrubs. Remember, less is more, depending on the variety of plants you are pruning.

The national average tree pruning cost is approximately $410, based on your state or area and conditions. Some people forget that if you do not properly prune or trim trees and shrubs, they can grow too dense, preventing much-needed water from reaching the roots and sunlight from visiting the interior. This might leave the plant nice and lush on the outside, but the inside will eventually die or get diseased. Pruning your tree for winter is a highly important step.

Here are some of the trees that SHOULD be pruned in winter.

SHRUBS:

Barberries

Glossy Abelia

Beauty Berries

Camellias (after they finish blooming)

European hornbeam

Euonymous

Mallow

Hydrangeas

TREES:

Bradford and Callery Pears

Crabapples

Poplar

Spruce

Junipers

Sumacs

Bald cypress

Cherries

Plums

Honey locust

When pruning, here is a general rule of thumb to follow:

  1. Remove dead or dying branches.
  2. Prune diseased limbs immediately. Be sure to make the cut well below the infected areas, and don’t prune when the plants are wet. If you want to be cautious, rinse off your tools with a solution of 10 percent bleach in water.
  3. Cut back branches that grow over where you walk or mow, to prevent unsafe breakage.
  4. Where you see two branches cross, prune only the smaller one.
  5. Thin branches to allow sunlight and air into the center of the trees and shrubs.

Here are some DO’s and DON’TS when pruning:

Cut at an angle that mirrors the branch collar, the furrow of bark where the branch and tree trunk meet. Cut the branch just next to the branch collar. If you have done it right, a circle of healthy callus will swell up around the point.

Cut large branches into three parts. First, cut off approximately one-third of the branch to reduce its weight. Holding up a huge branch, while you prune it off the trunk, will break your back and probably your saw, tearing the trunk’s bark. Next, undercut the remaining stub, so the trunk bark won’t rip when the stub falls free. And finally, make the final cut from the top, beside the branch collar.

Don’t leave stubs behind—stubs invite insects and disease to move in and attack healthy tissue.

Don’t butcher your trees. A tree with a flat-top looks ludicrous and will grow weaker new sprouts in the place of more vigorous branches. Cut to the tree’s own natural shape and let it grow up the way it wants to. You should never cut away more than a 1/4 of the crown of the tree.

There are just three basic techniques for crown work:

  1. Crown thinning removes excess branches from the top and outer edges of the trees so that the others can grow stronger. Prune branches that rub or cross other branches. The trick is to keep even spaces between lateral branches.
  2. Crown raising removes excess branches and foliage from the bottom of the tree because they obstruct sidewalks and roads. Keep in mind the above techniques, but make sure that you keep branches on at least two-thirds of the tree’s height.
  3. Crown reduction takes off branches and foliage from the top of a tree. This should only be done if unavoidable for the health of the tree or the safety of people and property.

The pricing for tree pruning depends on multiple factors and sometimes is a necessary cost. Here are a few elements to consider if hiring a professional:

  • The size of the tree
  • The tree’s location
  • The type of tree or species
  • The health of the tree

Check with many tree trimming professionals when getting a quote for your tree pruning, as these factors could affect how much you pay for the pruning experience. Larger trees with a greater girth may cost more and trees planted close to your home or power lines could also increase the cost substantially. Trees with thick branches are harder to cut, and a healthy tree is generally easier to prune. Whereas, trees with pests or diseases will take extra work and increase the total cost of your pruning work by a professional, indefinitely. Ask around, and be sure to get the full quote, including removal if needed.

Of course, most pruning of your trees can be done by doing it yourself. However, there are also times when you should call on the professionals such as A Touch of Class Tree Service. We are experienced arborists that can tackle hard to reach trees and shrubs during the cold winter months when the last thing you feel like doing is being out in the cold or high up on a ladder. Pruning your tree for winter can be achieved with one easy phone call to A Touch of Class Tree Service. Call today!

Pruning for Your Tree’s Health

A Touch of Class Tree ServicePruning for Your Tree's Health knows the value of trees and why it is so important to be diligent in pruning for your tree’s health at every level of growth. They provide wonderful shade, oxygen to our planet, homes for animals and may even increase your property value if you have beautiful mature specimens in your yard. And let’s not forget that kids love to climb on them and all over them!

As the experts at tree pruning, plant health care, tree maintenance and more, we wanted to provide you with simple guidelines to see how you too can give your trees the best health ever.

The reason we prune is simple, to help a young tree grow strong to maturity, and to help mature trees remain healthy. Pruning also enhances the beauty and shape of a tree and can keep bug infestations at bay. Safety is also a factor in pruning. It’s important to eliminate old dead branches nearby that could crack or break causing injury or damage to property or people.

When to prune is also vital, and you will want to leave this to the professionals if you are unsure. Lightly prune and remove dead wood at any time of the year. Where it gets tricky sometimes, depends on the species of the tree. These are the two seasons in general for pruning, winter and summer pruning.

WINTER: Pruning during dormancy is the most common, resulting in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring. It is best to wait until the coldest, most severe weather part of winter is over. Some species, including walnuts, maples, and birches, may “bleed” when the sap begins to flow. This is not harmful and will cease when the tree loses its leaves.

SUMMER: Generally, summer pruning is done to slow the development of a tree or branch. Perform soon after the seasonal growth is completed. Reduce food production and nutrition to the roots by reducing the total leaf surface to create the slowing effect. Summer pruning is used for corrective purposes.

FALL: Never prune in the autumn. Decay and fungi will spread their spores profusely in the fall and healing of wounds are slower in the fall. Leave your pruning tools in the shed.

If you do decide to take up this pruning task yourself, it is always important to have good quality and sharp instruments for the job. These can range from, but are not limited to:

  • Bucksaw for large limbs
  • Chainsaw for someone experienced
  • Scissor action secateurs, good for small branches and clean cuts
  • Pruning saws, good for tight spaces
  • Lopping shears, good for larger branches

 

Be sure not to go cheap when purchasing these types of tools. You can save yourself a ton of frustration by buying quality. So now you know the when to prune, why to prune, and what tools to prune with year-round. If you are not going to hire the professionals, then it is wise to follow this 3-step process:

  1. About one or two feet from the tree trunk, make the first cut. It starts on the underside of the limb, goes into it, only about a third of the way. This is a critical step in the process. Do not skip it.
  2. Make the second cut outside of the first cut by another foot or two. Go all the way through the branch. Naturally, the branch will break away as the saw cuts through the limb. But, because the first cut is located on the underside and closer in, the bark will not tear down the tree trunk.
  3. The final cut is made at the branch collar which is where the branch meets the trunk. Look for the flared area here. The flair should be apparent as you make the final cut. It will heal with new bark and scar tissue. A doughnut forms when the tree is healing properly.

 

NEVER TOP TREES. Topping trees is perhaps the most harmful tree pruning practice known, and yet topping remains a common practice. According to the ISA, International Society of Arboriculture, topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or to lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Other names for tree topping include “heading,” “tipping,” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over.” We know that sometimes it is inevitable that a tree needs to be “topped” because of power lines or to reduce the size, there are PROPER ways of doing this, though. It must be done by a professional, so as not to stunt or harm the tree. In severe cases, it is sometimes best to remove the tree altogether and replace it with something more appropriate.

A common saying among landscapers and arborist is, “less is more.” It is important to remember not to prune too much off of a tree at once. Prune the smallest amount possible to achieve the desired effect. Never prune more than ¼ of the crown of a tree, as this is where most of its leaves are and where it gets most of its energy. You run the risk of forever damaging the tree if too much is pruned too rapidly.

So, how much will all this cost if I hire a professional? Well, a reputable company will give you a good, close estimate, which you most certainly should ask for, but in general, you can look at spending anywhere between $75 to $1000. The size of the tree will usually determine the cost and the difficulty. Extra costs can also be incurred because of the location, the last time it was pruned, accessibility, the health of the tree, and how remote your location is. It may seem costly at first, but in the long run, you will save time and money by letting a company like A Touch of Class Tree Service tend to your trees. Ask about a regularly scheduled maintenance service to help bring costs down.

A Touch of Class Tree Service has years of botanical knowledge and understands the need for pruning for your tree’s health. Get a quote if you have an issue with a mature tree or for any of your landscaping and tree maintenance needs. Trees are important, beautiful and magnificent, so let us all do our part in keeping them healthy!

Tree Pests and Diseases Here in Colorado

Tree Pests and Diseases Here in ColoradoEveryone knows that trees are important to the environment, and they always look great when included in the landscape design for homes, cities and commercial spaces. But when tree pests and diseases here in Colorado strike, it can be a disaster. A Touch of Class Tree Service can help you manage these issues, as well as offer a bit of expert advice on how to keep infestations and attacks at bay.

A common cause as to why these pests get the upper hand is environmental stresses such as weed eater damage, lawn mower damage, salt from de-icing, construction sites, vandalism, drought and even extreme or unusual changes in temperatures. Some might even say that global warming has something to do with it. Trees and shrubs that are “stressed out” will suffer terribly and often die. But there are a number of things that you can do to keep tree pests and diseases here in Colorado to a minimum:

  • Plant native species or drought-tolerant trees if possible
  • Routinely mulch, water, and prune the proper way
  • Do not move firewood from the forest to your home

Diseases that Affect our Area

The Thousand Cankers Disease is a major problem here and a relatively new disease which is spreading rapidly to Black Walnut trees. It’s carried by the walnut twig beetle, which spreads a fungus that creates a canker around the tree. You can detect an infestation by looking at the branches to see if they are browning around the tree crown, and you should also keep an eye out for walnut dieback symptoms. 

Let’s look at even more:

  • CEDAR HAWTHORNE RUST attacks apple and Hawthorne trees mostly and creates a reddish-brown rust ring on leaves/branches.
  • ANTHRACNOSE is a fungus that attacks leaves and twigs and overwinters in dead leaves and fallen branches. Sycamore susceptible.
  • BACTERIAL WETWOOD aka (SLIMEFLUX) caused liquid to ooze out of cracks or wounds in the tree, foul smelling, caused by bacteria.
  • CHLOROSIS is caused by a lack of chlorophyll in plants which turns them yellow. Caused by insufficient nutrients from the soil.
  • CYTOSPORA CANKER is the #1 killer of Colorado Blue Spruce and caused by a fungus.
  • FIREBLIGHT is contagious bacterium disease is affecting apple and pear trees mostly.
  • DECAY is most often caused by fungi entering a wound.
  • DUTCH ELM DISEASE can be spread by the elm bark beetle, causing leaves to wither and yellow.
  • LEAF SPOTS are often caused by a fungus or bacteria and even some insects. Leaves turn spotty.
  • DWARF MISTLETOE is caused by parasites that cause severe damage to Pine trees mainly.
  • POWDERY MILDEW is caused by many species of fungi.
  • THYRONECTRIA CANKER is caused by a fungus and drought.

Four Main Critter Culprits

Beyond diseases, let’s not forget about the different tree pests out there that love to munch on our beautiful forests and landscaping.

  1. IPS BARK BEETLE: Groups of these beetles infest pine and spruce trees. The tree will start to die from the top down, and the beetles usually attack a tree that is already stressed or unhealthy. They are like a little weevil feeding on the inner bark of the tree, which eventually kills the tree from the inside out. The needles will turn an orange rust color and die.
  1. MOUNTAIN PINE BEETLE: About the size of a grain of rice, it can do some damage. According to the state’s forest service, about 264,000 acres of trees in Colorado were infested by the mountain pine beetle at the start of 2013. In 2008, 1.15 million acres were affected. Ponderosa and Lodgepole pines are the trees of preference for these nasty beetles. They are truly an epidemic and need controlling. If you have an old tree kicking around or overcrowding, call on the professionals to give you some advice.
  1. EMERALD ASH BORER: This non-native insect made its way into Colorado in 2013 where it annihilated 27 states home to the Ash tree. A healthy or stressed tree may become infested and die within two years. A human-assisted spread is required, so we must all do our part to keep this pest under wraps. If you think your Ash trees may be affected, be sure to call A Touch of Class Tree Service.
  1. ELM BARK BEETLE: This beetle eats the Elm tree leaves and causes them to die eventually. The tree becomes brown and weak and is susceptible to wind breakage of branches and limbs. This beetle can also invade homes, looking for shelter in the winter time and hatch by spring, causing the homeowner alarm. We can remedy this situation also by treating the tree with effective products.

Here are just a few other common pests that do damage to our forests: Aphid, Codling Moth, Brown Headed Ash Sawfly, Leaf Hoppers, Plant Bugs, Spider Mites, Tip Moth, Zimmerman Pine Moth, Nipple Gall, Tussock Moth. You can get in-depth information on all these pests and more from the Colorado State Forest Service. Keep yourself informed and up to date on what is happening in your state so you can do your part in helping our forest survive these sometimes-deadly attacks on our trees.

Treating Tree Pests and Diseases Here in Colorado

At A Touch of Class Tree Service, we provide customers early detection by record keeping, diagnosis, and treatment. We also use safe and effective products to control pests and fungi such as insecticidal soaps, oils, and natural ingredients whenever possible. Proper fertilization is also essential to the health of your trees to keep them as healthy as possible. We recommend fertilizing every two years and offer a worry-free program to our customers so they never have to wonder when and if they should fertilize.

Tree pests and diseases here in Colorado are a serious matter. The more we can learn, the better off our forests and future forests will be. At A Touch of Class Tree Service, we are actual botanists, not just tree trimmers and landscapers. We care about plant and tree health, and it is the foundation of our business. We are knowledgeable and trained in detecting tree pests and diseases here in Colorado, and are ready to take on your outdoor landscaping needs from pruning and plant care, to tree removal, lot clearing, pest and disease help and so much more. Call or contact us today for more information.