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’ve suspended our traditional spray-based Integrated 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.
Inspection visits from our expert staff help to identify tree and plant issues ranging from poor vigor, insect infestations or diseases. We will then evaluate your property and cultural practices to determine the “root” cause of your issues. Below are some of the problems we see during our inspections:
● plant species planted outside their natural environment; wrong tree in the wrong spot
● too little or too much water
● changes in natural soil grade
● soil compaction
● roots being severed or cut for driveways, sidewalks, irrigation, etc.
● limit root zones
This is where we get dirty! 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. Looking at the soil, touching the soil and smelling the soil will help determine if there are any obvious issues with your soil. Our focus at Truetimber is to improve the soil food web which converts silt, clay, sand, rocks and organic matter into available nutrients for your trees.
More on soil food web checkout Truetimber’s article:
While we will not offer chemical insecticide or fungicide treatments, there are many pests that can be controlled by improving soil health or using beneficial insect releases to help reduce an infestation. Sometimes nature will take care of itself: “Watch an infestation of aphids on a tree or shrub and before you know it you will start to see a large population of ladybugs trying to take care of the issue”
However, If we determine that a spray treatment will be effective and is the best course of action, we can refer you to other companies in town who can 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.
When an arborist wants to check the health and stability of a tree, one of the first things they may look for is a good root flair. This feature is where the tree and earth meet and it should flair out as the trunk meets the ground.
Problems can arise when this feature is not seen. If you see the trunk of the tree enter the ground like a fence post, this can be problematic. Buried root flairs can promote decay in the root flair and the roots, which can lead to the tree falling. Buried root flairs can also lead to roots growing around the trunk, which means the tree can eventually choke itself.
It’s extremely common in an urban environment for a tree to be planted too deep or for mulch to be built up to an excessive level, or burying a tree’s root flare by changing the grade. Over time, this can lead to stem-girdling roots that can encircle a tree’s stem—or trunk—and prevent the uptake of nutrients. An arborist is then able to determine and prune roots that may be growing in a way that is detrimental to the tree’s health.
Using small hand tools or an AirSpade when applicable to expose a tree’s root flare is perhaps the most common technique for finding the area where the tree flare meets the ground. Some trees do have more pronounced root flairs than others.
If you are concerned about the root flair on your tree, feel free to give us a call for a free arborist’s visit.
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.
Using our AirSpade, 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 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.
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).
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?