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Plant Health Care

 Plant Health Care is a program of monitoring your landscape for signs of trees in distress.  Once a threat or poor growing condition is identified, we carefully consider the best way to improve your tree’s micro-environment without causing undo harm to the larger environment.

We hug trees at Truetimber …

but we also hug people. We see ourselves as mediators between the two greatest families of the two greatest kingdoms of the living world.  Our job is to help you and your trees live well together,  to keep you from unnecessarily hurting one another, and to help you mutually benefit from sharing space together.

New and Improved Plant Health Care for 2018-

After years of struggling to determine the most responsible way to use chemicals in the landscape for plant health, we’ve decided at Truetimber to make a big change. Moving forward, we’re suspending our traditional spray-based Plant Health Care program and are instead focusing on a more holistic, soil-based approach to plant health that better reflects our values on sustainability and customer service.

Here’s what the new program looks like:

Diagnostic Visits-

Inspection visits from our expert staff help to identify plant issues ranging from insect infestations to diseases. We will then evaluate your property and cultural practices to determine the root cause of your issues. It is when we try to plant species outside their natural environment, unknowingly starve them for water, improperly amend their soil, and limit their root zones that they become stressed and in turn are attacked by insects or disease. Much in the same way you or I get sick more readily when we are under intense stress, so trees also become more susceptible to pathogens. Think of our diagnostic visits at checkups with a doctor to make sure everything is working as it should.

Spray Alternatives-

While we will not offer chemical insecticide or fungicide treatments, there are many pests that can be controlled using beneficial insect releases. For fungal diseases, our plant growth regulator treatments also have the added benefit of making the leaves more resistant to disease by thickening the protective outer cuticle. If we determine that a spray treatment will be effective and is the only possible course of action, we can refer you to a trusted partner who will apply the proper treatments at the specified timing throughout the season, meanwhile, we will be monitoring the overall health of the plants to prevent reinfection with the same pest or disease.

Soil sampling-

Step one in any plant health discussion. Like the air we breathe and the food we eat all wrapped into one, the soil is the most important, and most limiting factor in an urban tree’s environment. Once you know the species and the soil composition, you can begin to evaluate the needs and prescribe treatments accordingly.

Decompaction and Radial Trenching-

Soil compaction is a huge issue that urban trees must contend with that forested trees do not. Roots must have oxygen to survive, and by compressing the soil we limit that vital breathing room. Over 90% of trees’ root systems are in the top 3 feet of soil, with over 50% in the top 12 inches! This means that soil compression happens with every truck that passes over, every lawnmower that takes the same route each time it mows, and every person who walks across the root zone of a tree (which can be double that of the spread of the canopy). It is just a part of urban life that trees are subjected to.

Our primary weapon against compaction is the AirSpade. Essentially a large wand that attaches to a large (large) air compressor, it uses the power of air to loosen and excavate soil without damaging even the smallest of root hairs.

Vertical Mulching and Fertilization-

Using either an AirSpade or gas powered drill with a small auger, holes are made in a uniform pattern around a tree or shrub. These shallow holes (6-10 inches deep) then serve many purposes. They allow for granular fertilizer or compost to be added to the soil itself rather than simply placed on the surface. They also allow for the addition of organic matter to the soil, which helps improve soil structure. The holes also serve to aid in decompaction and the movement of oxygen down into the soil for the roots to use.

Full Service Plant Installation-

High quality landscapes always begin with proper, purposeful selection and installation of plants. We at TrueTimber are always happy to help you in the whole process, which starts with plant selection. Many of the common problems that face urban trees can be prevented simply by planting the correct species for the location.

Most people realize that plants have a sun or shade preference, but they also have water requirements (not only how much and how often, but how long it can stay wet without damaging roots), soil acidity and nutrient requirements as well. The acidity of the soil drastically affects the availability of nutrients to plants and we must remember this when selecting trees and shrubs to plant. Always a good decision is to take a soil sample before any planting to know which species will thrive unmanaged, and which will need constant care and maintenance.

After soil analysis and site requirements are established, we know the species from which we have to pick.

With the connected age that we live in, instant gratification is everywhere. People want things now, and trees are no different, we want a large mature tree on the day it is planted. A German poet once said, “We plant trees for those born later”, and these words will forever ring true. We must remember not to be selfish in our want of large trees; they are much happier and thrive the smaller they are planted. The research has always pointed to this: the larger the tree is on the day of planting, the slower it recovers from transplant shock– too large and it may never fully recover. Plant a small sapling and an 8 ft tall tree side by side and within 5 years the sapling will have caught up. Within another 5 the once sapling is now larger than the other. Trees see time differently than we do, and it is important to remember when selecting our specimens. Plant small, and it will be enjoyed for generations.

After selecting nursery stock based on form, growth habit, disease (or hopefully lack thereof), growing medium, and root structure, it is finally time to plant. All planting by TrueTimber Arborists is completed per ANSI A300 planting standards, ISA recommendations, and current industry research. A tree is an investment for future generations, so why trust an amateur to establish it in its final resting place?

Truetimber has been Voted #1 Treecare Provider in Richmond 4 Times