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Nine Tree Care Tips & Techniques*

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14/08/2018

Nine comprehensive tree care tips will take you step by step, from selecting and planting the right tree to the care and upkeep of a mature tree.

It is important to remember that proper tree care starts when you select a tree and that what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span. Following these steps will make sure your tree gets on the correct foot and remains healthy throughout its life.

  1. Finding a Tree
  2. Selecting a Healthy Tree
  3. Tree Planting
  4. The Importance of Mulch
  5. Tree Watering
  6. When to Prune
  7. Keys to Good Tree Pruning
  8. Annual Tree Pruning Steps from Planting to Maturity
  9. How to Identify Pest and Disease Problems

*info provided from Arbor Day Foundation

The Jacaranda Tree

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01/06/2018

In Queensland, Australia, there is an expression 'purple panic,' which is used to describe the stress students are under between the end of spring and beginning of summer.

If you’ve ever visited Los Angeles, California in May or June, you may have seen the iconic Jacaranda tree in full bloom. The Jacaranda features vibrant, purple flowers that help to brighten up a gloomy weather season that locals refer to as “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” Turns out, the Jacaranda’s presence in southern California can be attributed to Kate Sessions (see her bio link below), a pioneering female horticulturalist who leased and tended to 32 acres of land in San Diego in 1892 that was later re-named Balboa Park (visit link below). In this park, she planted many different plants and trees, including the Jacaranda. In the 1920s and ‘30s, the Jacaranda was planted extensively in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, becoming one of the most recognizable trees in the region.

Link to Balboa Park – https://www.balboapark.org/

Link to Kate Sessions’ wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Sessions

6 Steps to Spring Tree Care

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27/04/2018

By onthehouse on February 11, 2018

You may be looking out of your window at your yard and wondering, “where am I even going to start”. Bayeradvanced.com released an article that says, “trees are low-maintenance, not no-maintenance” and they are the right place to start. When it comes to spring care, tree maintenance should be high on your priority list. Here are six easy steps to taking care of your trees once spring arrives.

-Start by cleaning up. Take down any holiday decorations that may still be up and rake up around the base of the tree.

-Follow that up with some mulch. A layer of mulch will not only help maintain moisture, but it will also assist in keeping those unwanted weeds out.

-Next, give your trees a good watering– especially in those areas where the de-icing product was used. This may also be a good time to check your sprinkler systems for leaks or clogs.

-Then, give your trees a trim. Now that the leaves are beginning to unfurl it will be easy to locate and remove any dead, or damaged tree branches.

-After you give your trees their spring haircut, take some time to inspect their trunks. If there are any signs of disease or excessive damage, call Hometown Tree Experts at 301-250-1033 if you are in the Howard/Montgomery Counties of Maryland or nearby area.

-Finally, find out if there are any new or existing pests that may threaten your trees. If so, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to keep your trees safe.

Trees with Grassy Areas Soften Summer Heat

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24/04/2018

Study on the cooling effect of black locust and linden trees in from Technical Univ. of Munich

Trees cool the environment; however, the degree of cooling depends greatly on the tree species and the local conditions. In a recent study, scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) compared two species of urban trees – the black locust and linden.

It is cooler under black locusts, especially on hot summer days. This has significant implications for landscape architecture and urban planning: “Tree species such as the black locust that consume little water can provide a higher cooling effect if they are planted on grass lawns,” Dr. Mohammad Rahman from TUM explained. “The surrounding soil remains moister thanks to the trees; the grass dissipates additional heat through the evaporation of water and thus reduces the temperature near the ground.”

A look under the treetops

Trees are considered to be nature’s air conditioners, making them the most practical way of alleviating the heat. With the little-leaved linden and the black locust the TUM research team selected these two popular but contrasting urban tree species to analyze the complex interplay of location factors, current weather conditions, and tree type. In light of climate change, the focus was on the cooling effect on very hot days.

The analysis by the research team becomes clearer by comparison: The output of a mechanical air conditioner is between one and ten kilowatts (kW) that of a linden tree up to 2.3 kW. This cooling capacity is fed by various processes such as their dense treetops that provide shade. Or the fact that the leaf surfaces reflect the short-wave rays of the sun and also use them for transpiration.

These cooling mechanisms are common in all plants including grass. However, with bigger and denser canopies along with higher water loss from the stomata of their leaves, linden trees use a large percentage of the intercepted radiation to vaporize them, hence cooling the surrounding micro-climate better.

However, there are several differences to the luxuriantly blooming black locust: Its crown is less dense, the leaf surface is smaller, and hence the transpiration is lower. That makes the linden tree more effective when it comes to cooling on mild summer days. However, the black locust needs less water than the linden tree, which takes more water out of the soil during the high heat. Therefore in case of grass lawns additional cooling function from the grass surfaces under black locust trees seem more effective. With the climate change and accelerating drought either we have to water the grass lawns for having higher cooling effect under the tree species such as linden or less water demanding species need to be found. On the other hand, for paved surfaces better cooling from the dense shade of linden trees are more effective.

Diseases of Pine Trees

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23/03/2018

Article by John Fech from March 14, 2018 Tree Service Magazine

Pines grow in most every state of the U.S., and are planted for many reasons. They offer year-round color, protect homes from wind and snow, subtle fragrance, harborage for wildlife and a great backdrop to help show off ornamentals planted in front of them. Unfortunately, they are susceptible to several maladies.

It’s important to keep pines viable by providing good tree care especially in two areas, separating trees from turf and proper planting procedures. These basic, but foundational factors are all-important and should always be a reference point when diagnosing tree maladies such as ones on pines.

Separation & Planting

Why are separation and planting so important? There are many reasons, but perhaps the most influential is that these are implementations that get a tree off to the best start possible if done correctly and mistakes that can’t be corrected if not.

Separation – This means designing or re-designing the landscape so that the trees are here and the turf is over there. Think about it. Trees are woody, while turf is herbaceous. Turf usually receives moderate to high volumes of water and fertilizer, and requires mowing. When trees are growing in a co-located landscape setting, they are usually over fertilized and over watered, and constantly run into with lawn mowing equipment; not a healthy environment.

Planting – Good planting practices include: digging a wide but shallow hole, pulling tangled roots apart, placing the root mass such that the uppermost lateral root is even with or slightly above grade, using existing/native soil instead of amended soil to backfill around roots, watering thoroughly to settle the roots, placing wood chip or pine needle mulch over the roots but not the bole and checking the soil moisture weekly to make sure that it’s moist but not soggy or dry. These are all important parts of the process. Way, way too many times trees are planted too deeply, in heavily amended soils, watered once and forgotten, covered with rock mulch and planter boxes built over the roots and more — these practices prevent tree success.

Diseases

Diseases are not just biological — it’s both — pathogenic and abiotic causes that challenge the overall health of pines. Regular scouting, often referred to as monitoring will help identify possible concerns that are site related (mower blight, leaving stakes on too long, deep planting, over mulching, etc.) and ones that are caused by fungi, nematodes and bacteria. Inspection packages go a long way toward avoiding tree troubles.

Paper Birch & Douglasfir: An Odd Relationship

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23/02/2018

Blog on Arbor Day Foundation website – written by James R. Fazio – February 15, 2018

Trees in a forest are usually thought of as fierce competitors, each struggling for control of available light and soil moisture, usually at the expense of neighboring trees. But Canadian researcher Suzanne W. Simard and her colleagues found that Paper Birch trees can actually aid their neighboring Douglasfirs.

Through carefully controlled research, Dr. Simard has documented the transfer of carbon (sugar) from the Paper Birch to nearby Douglasfirs. The transfer takes place through tiny underground strands of beneficial fungi called ectomycorrhizae. These appendages are common on most tree roots. They illustrate a classic symbiotic relationship in that both the host and the fungus benefit from the close association. The fungus obtains a small amount of carbohydrates and vitamins from the tree and in turn greatly increases the absorptive surface of the root. This increases the flow of water and essential elements into the tree roots, especially phosphorous.

Dr. Simard discovered that the mycorrhizae on Birch and Douglasfirs in her research plots interconnected. Sugars flowed between the tree roots, with a net gain for the Douglasfirs. She also found that the more the Douglasfirs were stressed by shade, the more of a sugar fix they received from the Paper Birches.

 

There may be management applications of this phenomenon. By interplanting the two species, or encouraging natural regeneration of both, the birches may help the longer-lived conifers get a growth boost early in life and at the same time help crowd out competing vegetation in a plantation. Eventually the birch could be harvested when overtopped by the Douglasfirs. As an added bonus, scientists have noticed that birches also have an “antibiotic” effect on soil pathogens that cause root rot.

Sycamore Trees And Frost Crack From Winter Temps

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16/02/2018

Blog edited from Tree Services Magazine article by VIC FOERSTER — FEBRUARY 7, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, local temperatures were quite frigid. During a similar stretch of severe weather up in west Michigan, most of their sycamore trees across town literally exploded. As a species, sycamores retain a great deal of water. The water within the wood can freeze to the point where the expansion in the wood cells causes tree trunks to burst.

Fissures, splits and cracks ran up and down hundreds of city trees. Many of them split open so far you could see completely through 30-inch diameter trees.

Several residents were wondering if their tree would survive or if they were in danger of falling. Having never seen anything like it before, a local arborist at first was unsure how to assess, but they proceeded to examine each and determined that some of the trees should be removed. Others were recommended to have trunks bolted, which, in essence, meant screwing them back together again.

Most of the trees, however needed no help, and when the temperatures warmed to a balmy positive 15 degrees, the fissures unexpectedly snapped shut. The trunks slammed back together so violently it sounded like gunfire. The police actually received so many calls about the so-called gun battles that a public notice was needed to reassure citizens.

Now years later, one can still see the vertical seams in the bark of those sycamores. During colder winters, the seams separate slightly, just not as far as that first time. If you hadn’t been there you’d never know those trees suffered such trauma.

Your sycamore could have more than a mere frost crack if you find that it is approximately 10” deep. Hometown provides FREE consultation and then offers FREE quote to review soon thereafter so call us at 301-250-1033 Monday-Friday from 8am-4pm.

Turf and Tree Wars*

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*shared from Tree Services Magazine article by Sharon Lilly from 1/1/13

There may be a battle brewing on your property between your trees grass. Trees and turf tend to be mutually exclusive in nature; you don’t see many trees growing in the prairies or grasslands as you may have noticed that grass is not common on the forest floor.

Our urban landscapes represent an unnatural ecosystem in which we force two somewhat incompatible plant types together and expect optimum performance from each. Trees and turf compete for sunlight, water, mineral nutrients and growing space below ground. Turf roots typically outcompete tree roots and win the belowground battle. However, the dense shade of a tree’s crown can be too much competition for turf, and trees win the aerial war.

Shade leads to reduced grass density, increased root competition and increased weed invasion. There are some varieties of turf that are somewhat shade tolerant, but this may be a partial solution, because shade-tolerant grasses tend to be less tolerant of wear.

Pruning for light penetration

Pruning to increase light penetration should be considered, keeping in mind that it is not a permanent solution. An important axiom to remember is that trees will grow into the voids created by pruning. Keep in mind the old rule of thumb not to remove more than one-fourth of the tree’s foliage-bearing crown in a single pruning. If a tree is topped or thinned too much, it will be stressed and will probably produce many water sprouts (suckers) along its branches to compensate for lost foliage. This defeats the purpose of pruning to allow more light penetration.

It may help to “raise” a tree’s crown to improve light penetration. Crown raising involves the removal of lower branches, and most tree species are tolerant of this pruning practice. Crown raising, however, does not significantly increase sunlight to the turf in most cases.

Root control

Some trees have a tendency to form surface roots, which can be a major problem in lawns. Besides ruining the appearance of the turf, they can interfere with mowing equipment, and can even become a safety hazard. Homeowners always want to know to what extent they can prune or remove tree roots without bringing about the demise of a tree. Since cut roots tend to develop more roots, root pruning is usually not a good solution.

The most simple maintenance recommendation is perhaps also the most important: mulch. Mulching the root areas of trees is probably the least expensive but most beneficial thing you can do to enhance tree health and minimize competition with turf. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, moderates soil temperature, and reduces competition from weeds. Organic mulch can help condition the soil and improve microbial activity.

Apply mulch about 3 to 4 inches deep, but do not pile it against the trunk of the tree. As far as the trees are concerned, the bigger the mulched area the better. Group trees together in mulch beds and extend the mulched areas as far out as practical.

Fertilization

There is a long-standing, but inaccurate, belief that trees must be “deep-root” fertilized. This belief is associated with the myth that a tree’s root system is an underground mirror of the crown. Because most of the absorbing roots are actually in the upper few inches of soil, it makes little sense to place the fertilizer deeper.

If the lawn is being fertilized and trees are occupying the same area, the trees might not require supplemental fertilization. The key to any fertilization program is to base the application on the plant’s needs. Soil and foliar analyses can provide the information required to make an educated decision about nutrient needs.

Mowing

Mowing equipment and string trimmers can damage trees. Most people don’t realize the degree of damage that can be caused by the bumping of a mower or the whipping action of the nylon string in a trimmer. A tree’s bark can provide only so much protection against these devices. Young, thin-barked trees can be damaged almost immediately. In the worst-case scenario, the trees are eventually girdled and die. Those that are not killed will be stressed. The wounds may serve as entry points for diseases, borers or other insects. Many canker rot and root decay fungi have entered trees from wounds created by lawn and landscape maintenance workers.

Chemical treatments

Herbicides, especially broadleaf weed killers, are often used on lawns. Since most trees are broadleaved plants they can be injured or killed if high enough doses reach them. Homeowners must keep in mind that “weed and feed” fertilizers contain herbicides that can damage trees.

Achieving a balance

Trees and turf can peacefully coexist and even thrive together in a landscape. Armed with an understanding of how each affects the other, you can modify your landscapes and adjust your maintenance procedures to optimize the growing conditions for both.

One Tree That Look Like An Entire Forest – The Quaking Aspen

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Think of a tree and what comes to mind probably has some leaves, some roots, and a trunk. The Quaking Aspen regularly reproduces via a process called suckering. An individual stem can send out lateral roots that, under the right conditions, send up other erect stems; from all above-ground appearances the new stems look just like individual trees. The process is repeated until a whole stand, of what appear to be individual trees, forms. This collection of multiple stems, called ramets, all form one, single, genetic individual, usually termed a clone.

But not all trees follow that formula. Some form what are called clonal groves: swaths of forest connected underground by a single network of roots, with each trunk genetically identical to the others.

The most famous example of a clonal grove is Pando, a grove of quaking aspen in Utah’s Fishlake National Forest. This entire forest, possibly over 80,000 years old, in Utah that is made up of ONE single tree with ONE massive underground root system is called a Quaking Aspen. It’s also the heaviest known organism, weighing over 6600/tons.

Its name means “I spread” in Latin, and for good reason. Pando is among the largest and oldest organisms on Earth. Its 47,000 stems cover more than 100 acres. It’s tricky to tell exactly how long Pando has been around, since the individual trunks only live up to 100 or 150 years.

Scientists have sequenced the genome of a couple dozen shoots of Pando and confirmed the main swath really is a clone, with very closely related but not quite identical trees surrounding Pando proper.

Clonal aspens like Pando can reproduce the traditional way, but they aren’t as good at it. That’s because they have three sets of chromosomes instead of the usual two. So when conditions aren’t perfect, they stick to sending up new shoots from the mass of roots under the grove.

Pando has survived this way for a long time, but scientists are worried it may not be able to clone itself quickly enough to stay alive in the future. They’ve noticed that most of the aspen trunks are relatively old and when new shoots do develop, they don’t last long enough to become full-fledged trees.

Scientists have a couple of theories why that is, but one of the most common is that deer and other animals nibble away at the shoots before they grow old and thick enough to protect themselves. In response, sections of Pando have been fenced off. Deer still sometimes sneak in, but in places where the fence is well-maintained, young shoots inside the fence are doing better.

ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE ARRIVES IN NYC

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The Rockefeller Center Christmas arrived around 8am Saturday morning from State College, Pennsylvania stated CBS New York reports.

The beautiful Norway spruce stands 75’ tall and roughly 50’ in diameter. It is set to be decorated with more than 50,000 LED lights on around 5 miles of wire and topped with a 25,000-crystal Swarovski star.

The tree was discovered when Rockefeller Center’s gardener Eric Jose attended a football game in State College seven years ago. The 80-year-old softwood towered over school superintendent Jason Perrin’s backyard until it was cut down on Thursday.

 

“I have to be honest, when Eric first knocked on my door, I didn’t believe him,” Perrin said of the moment he met Pauze in 2010. “After I figured out it wasn’t a prank, Erik told me my tree looked like it was tall and wide enough, and full enough, and he thought that in a few years it might be ready to be the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.” “Close to a million people are going to see it on a daily basis,” Perrin said. “It kind of blows my mind in a way.”

 

The 12.5-ton tree, which grew 10 feet since Pauze first saw it, is nearly 50 feet wide.

He says he’s now focused on putting the gargantuan spruce into position for the big day.

The 85th Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony will take place on Nov. 29, and the tree will light up the plaza until Jan. 7, 2018.

 

At the end of the season, the spruce will serve another important purpose as NBC will donate the tree to Habitat for Humanity so its lumber can be used to build homes.