Tree FAQs


Selecting and Planting Trees

When selecting a tree or plant, what do I need to consider?

Some considerations before purchasing and planting a tree include:

  • hardiness of candidate species
  • the mature height and spread of the plant
  • availability and growth rate
  • cleanliness and maintenance requirements
  • branching habit, texture, and color of bark, flower, fruit and foliage
  • type of root system
  • moisture and fertilizer requirements
  • space availability
  • disease and insect problems that may limit your selections
  • any prior use of the planting site
  • the presence or absence of channelized winds
  • the location of utilities both above and below ground because they are site conditions that dictate plant choice and location
  • location of the plant to roads, walkways, power lines, and security lighting
  • whether the tree is evergreen or deciduous


BC Tree Service
can help you determine which plant species are best suited for your desired site. Prior to making any recommendations, our arborists perform an analysis of the specific planting site to determine the potential susceptibility or resistance to environmental conditions.

How do I know if there is enough space to plant a tree?

Community ordinances may restrict planting of trees near power lines, parking strips, street lights, sewers, traffic control signs and signals, sidewalks and property lines. Municipalities may require planting permits for trees planted on city property. City codes often require that trees on city property be maintained by the city, so citizens planting an improper selection can cause problems for themselves and the municipality. We generally don’t recommend that you plant trees that grow to 8 m (25 ft) or higher under any existing power lines. Ground-level utility structures, such as transformers and individual service connections, will also need repair space. Also keep in mind that root structures can affect underground utilities. A 3 m (10 ft) clearance area after complete growth of the tree’s branches and root systems would limit future maintenance issues.

What do I need to know about a transplant tree?

Tree are normally purchased in three common forms: bare-root, balled and burlapped, and container-grown. All are acceptable, but each has their limitations. Bare-root trees are normally less than 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) in diameter and are normally transplanted in the October to November and in the March to mid-May periods. These plants are sold with the roots tightly packed in a moisture-retaining medium that is wrapped with paper or plastic. Alternatively, they will come with their roots loosely covered by a moist packing medium. If your bare-root tree cannot be planted soon after purchase, you will need to temporarily plant them (heeling them in). Remove the packing materials and cover the roots with soil or organic matter (e.g., wood chips) and water them regularly to prevent drying of the root system. Some trees are moved with a ball of soil protecting their root system. Smaller soil balls should be carried with a hand under the ball. Carrying a balled tree by the stem or branches can result in a seriously damaged root system. With larger trees, the soil balls are often very heavy (100 lbs per cubic foot of root system) and, consequently may require additional handling equipment or engaging the services of a professional tree care company. Mulch and water the trees thoroughly if they cannot be planted soon after purchase. Many tree types are grown in containers. The main advantage of this type is that planting can occur year-round, as the root system is undisturbed. Roots must be pruned immediately before planting. If container grown plants cannot be planted at the time they are purchased, place them in a sheltered location. Water them to keep the soil moist. Container-grown plants can be transplanted anytime when the soil temperature is 10 C (50 F) or higher. This allows time for the plant to be established prior to the onset of winter and to avoid damage from the freezing and thawing of the soil during winter following planting. A word of caution: container grown trees can develop problems with girdling roots. If the tree has tightly-packed roots circling around the inside of the container, it will take longer for the tree to get established and will be more likely to develop a problem.

How do I plant my tree and how do I it has been planted properly?

Transplanting is not successful until the tree returns to a normal growth rate. This transplant recovery period normally takes three years, but may range from 2-8 years. To get the most satisfactory performance from trees, attention must be given to planting details. Your best option is to rely on the expertise of a tree care company. They know the proper techniques to use when planting trees. Planting is one of the most important aspects in determining the success or failure of your new tree. Watering, pruning and fertilizing will not compensate for poor planting techniques or poor plant selection. As a guideline, the general planting steps are as follows:

  1. Measure the height and diameter of the rootball or root spread.
  2. Dig the hole close to the same depth as the rootball or root depth. The hole diameter should be at least 2 to 3 times the diameter of the rootball or root spread.
  3. Identify the root flare, the point of the tree where the trunk ends and roots begin.
  4. Set the tree on undisturbed solid ground in the center of the area. Depending on the type of soil, the root flare should be planted at the same level to 2-3″ higher than the level of the surrounding soil.
  5. Backfill with the original soil removed from the hole. Adding organic matter to the backfill usually is not recommended other than in a few situations.
  6. Use water to settle the soil around the rootball to secure the plant.
  7. Mulch 5-10 cm (2 -4 inch) deep with woodchips, bark mulch, or other suitable mulch.
  8. Trees should be pruned to remove broken, damaged or dead branches.

Should I have my tree staked?

That depends on how exposed or unstable your new tree is. Guys or stakes should only be used when necessary, such as when roots are not solid in the planting hole or where the tree could be dislodged by high winds. In most instances, the weight of the rootball is normally sufficient to hold the tree in place, assuming it was properly planted. Research has shown that trees not guyed or staked will actually become established and grow faster than guyed or staked trees. It is best to have guys or stakes professionally installed. Many new products are available to the arborist so that a long lasting tree guy or staking system that does not harm the tree can be installed. Eventually guys and stakes must be removed to prevent damage to the tree.

What is tree wrap?

Tree wrap is usually reserved for thin-barked trees, exposed trees, or trees in danger of rodent and mammal feeding. Consult an arborist to determine if trunk wrap is needed. Tree wrap should only be used when necessary. If you do use trunk wrap, use one made of new, synthetic materials. They generally work better and are designed to avoid girdling the trunk. Always remove tree wraps after the specified time period to avoid damaging the trunk.

How do I take care of my tree after it has been planted?

Fertilizing generally is not necessary until the tree begins recovering from the shock of transplanting and establishes itself in its new home. This usually takes at least a year to occur, but in some instances, the tree may need some fertilization. Some practical guidelines for newly planted trees:

  • Mulching is highly beneficial to your newly planted tree
  • Watering is key and must be done properly
  • Pruning of newly and recently planted trees is recommended but must be done properly and according to standards
  • Staking, guying and using tree wraps may or may not be needed, depending on the planting site and the tree selected

Basic Tree and Plant Care

What is Plant Health Care?

Traditional landscape pest control programs rely on what are called cover sprays. The pest control sprays offered are based on pest problems and control measures common to the service area. The cover spray type, method, and timing are all pre-determined. Traditional pest control programs are not necessarily obsolete or bad for the environment and may be the best option for clients who have overriding concerns about program cost or are only concerned about one specific pest problem.

Plant health care (PHC) considers the landscape as a whole when deciding how to best care for plants. Plant problems are controlled through careful monitoring of the landscape environment. Chemical controls may be part of the treatment but they are not necessarily used in every treatment. A strategy is determined by:

  • evaluating the landscapes environment
  • noting actual or potential causes of plant stress (stressors)
  • maintaining plant performance through proper cultural practices
  • investigating the landscape through monitoring
  • identifying and treating problems as they occur

Because of this, every PHC program is customized to fit the clients property and expectations.

When and why would you recommending a Plant Health Care program?

PHC would be recommended when an arborist recognizes a potential or actual problem in your landscape that might be best avoided or treated by implementing a program. Some common examples include:

  • inappropriate matching of the plants requirements to the landscape site
  • improper or poor plantation
  • poor maintenance techniques and practices
  • a combination of all of the above

How do you customize a Plant Health Care program according to my expectations?

Some clients will tolerate a greater percentage of plant damage before requiring action, while others want to minimize problems. The whole PHC program is based on your needs. You decide if and when to resort to application of control measures.

My tree seems to be having a disease problem. How do I know if it is healthy?

Because of the complexity of these problems, professional help is recommended when trying to diagnose a plant health problem. Certain trees are susceptible to particular diseases and insect problems. What appears to be a disease may actually be caused by other problems. Sometimes the real problem is that the tree has been weakened and/or is in declining health due to a number of causes. The disease or insect is merely being taken advantage due to its weakened defenses. Overall, the health of the tree must be addressed, as infections and infestations will continue until the tree dies.

Is it a good idea to inject pesticide right into the trunk of a tree?

Injections and implants are methods of applying pesticides and nutrients to allow the material direct access into the trunk of the tree. They have been developed to control pests or diseases that have infested or infected the sapwood of a tree, to control tree pests without having to spray pesticides into the environment, or for immediate, short term treatment of nutrient deficiencies.

Injections and implants do require holes to be drilled into the trunk, causing some wounding to the tree. This wounding should be taken into account and weighed against the possible benefits of the injection or implant. Alternatives, such as soil injections or drenches, can also be used. These allow the pesticide to be absorbed by the plant roots and taken into the trunk without having to cause wounds in the trunk.

How do I rid my tree of insects?

Proper treatment begins with diagnosis. A professional arborist can help you determine what the bug, or insect, is. Once the insect is identified, it can be determined if it is harmful to the tree, beneficial to the tree, or has no effect whatsoever.

Many bugs are benign while others are beneficial as they control populations of harmful insects through predation or parasitism. You want to avoid any treatments that take out the good bugs with the bad bugs. Most professional arborists operate on the philosophy of treating only when the environmental/economic risk from the insect has reached a certain threshold. If you are unsure, call an arborist before taking any action.

Does premature colour change indicate a problem with my tree?

Premature colors can be an indication that a tree isnt strong enough to withstand insects and disease organisms that may attack it. Occasionally only one or two limbs of the tree will show premature fall color. This could be a sign of a disease at work, weakening only the infected limbs. The more common situation is for the entire tree to exhibit premature fall coloration, a phenomenon usually linked to root-related stress. Trees respond to these stresses by trying to curtail their above-ground growth.

If the leaves on your trees seem to have gotten a jump-start on fall compared with those on similar trees in the area, then you might want to consult a professional arborist, who can identify any problems and offer possible solutions.

Tree Health

When is the best time of year to perform tree care operations?

Many tree care activities can be carried out all year long. For other activities there is a season. Spring and summer are the best opportunities to identify tree health problems. A quick inspection can tell whether the tree “looks” healthy compared to previous years or nearby trees of the same species. Diagnosis of the actual cause of the tree problem normally requires an expert. Should you feel your tree might be unhealthy, have it inspected by an arborist. Prompt detection and treatment can be critical.

Most pest management activities have a very specific and narrow window of treatment that coincides with when the pest is active on the plant and/or vulnerable to the treatment. Fertilizers are best applied when the plant roots can actively uptake the nutrients.

Generally, pruning can take place throughout the year, but there are some exceptions to this rule. There are a few trees susceptible to insect and disease problems that could be encouraged if pruning is done at the wrong time. Check the literature on your tree species and/or call your arborist.

Do my trees need water?

Your trees will need watering if they are newly planted or your area is suffering from drought conditions. If you are receiving normal or close to normal rainfall for your area, then you should not have to water your established trees.

Should I fertilize my trees?

Trees often require fertilization at some point in their life span to replace the nutrients they are missing. Shade trees, like any other landscape plants, will respond to fertilization. Often trees growing in restricted root zone areas are surrounded by pavement, compacted soil, and/or have been physically damaged by construction activities. A trees root system is just as important and sensitive as the above ground parts.

Symptoms of a nutrient deficient tree include:

  • a slow rate and low amount of annual growth on twigs and trunk
  • smaller than normal foliage
  • off-color foliage
  • increased amounts of dead branches
  • tip-die back in branches
  • increased rates of disease and insect problems

Make sure that the lack of nutrients is the problem before fertilizing. Other common tree disorders to be aware of in urban areas would include poor planting techniques, moisture problems, construction damage, girdling roots, or utility leaks from a natural gas line or sewer line.

What are some of the benefits of maintaining my trees?

Landscape trees can help you save money and live more comfortably. With properly placed trees around your house, depending upon where you live, you can reduce winter heating bills. A mature shade tree can block up to 90% of solar radiation, which could translate to a significant reduction in your home cooling cost. Trees act as windbreaks and sun screens. They reduce air pollution by producing oxygen through photosynthesis and reduce noise pollution by acting as sound barriers.

Trees enhance property values. Research shows that the value of your property could increase up to 25%, depending on the size, type, location and health of its trees. Mature trees are particularly valuable. Therefore, it makes sense to protect your tree investment with proper maintenance. You may wish to document the value of your trees with photos and a professional landscape appraisal for insurance and tax purposes. Landscape appraisals can help you determine the value of your trees. A knowledgeable arborist is the best person to do appraisals.

Do you recommend putting mulch around my trees?

Trees love mulch, if applied correctly. Homeowners and professional arborists depend on mulch in landscapes for several reasons. Functionally, mulches discourage weeds from growing, conserve moisture during drought periods, and allow better use of water by controlling runoff and increasing water-holding capacity of light, sandy soils. Mulch rings also decrease competition from lawn grass. Lawn grass, especially when lush, robs trees of valuable nutrients and moisture.

Many organic materials can be used as a mulch. Bark mulches and wood chips are the two most commonly used mulches. Most arborists consider organic mulches as the most compatible with trees. There are, however, several inorganic materials used as mulches.

Can my tree really be damaged by a lawn mower?

Trees often are wounded by careless use of yard equipment like lawn mowers, weed whips, and other trimming equipment. These injuries cut through important tissues just inside the bark, which can lead to the decay and ultimately death of the tree. A bed of mulch around the tree eliminates the need to trim or mow close to the tree’s base. Extreme care should be taken when digging up or tilling the soil under a tree. Such digging will cut many large and small roots, especially if it occurs close to the trunk.

Why should my trees be pruned?

Pruning trees, especially when younger, helps promote healthy trees with good branch architecture. Good pruning:

* promotes good branch structure
* can correct poor branch structure
* reduces potential hazards
* improves overall health by removing dead, diseased, and dying branches
* gives the arborist a chance to examine the tree more closely than possible from the ground

Are there pruning standards?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requires the use of certain tools, cutting techniques, and pruning methods. If an arborist is adhering to the standard they:

  • will not leave branch stubs
  • will make few or no heading cuts
  • will not cut off the branch collar (not make a flush cut)
  • will not top or lions tail trees
  • will not remove more than 25% of the foliage of a single branch
  • will not remove more than 25% of the total tree foliage in a single year
  • will not damage other parts of the tree during pruning
  • will not use wound paint

Should I prune a young, established tree or is it better to just let it grow?

It is generally recommended that some limited pruning be done at the time of planting. Generally, dead, broken, and split branches should be removed when a young tree is planted. Once the tree is established (up to one year or more after planting) a central trunk or leader or well-spaced multiple trunks or leaders should be developed by removing competing leaders and heading or thinning vigorously growing branches that compete with the selected leader(s). Branches should be retained on the lower trunk to increase taper. The pruning of large branches and/or working off the ground should be left to professional tree experts with proper equipment.

Should I apply pruning paint to seal the cuts?

In the past, part of the standard recommendation was to apply a generous coating of a tree wound dressing to all fresh cuts. It was believed this would prevent decay-causing infection. However, research has shown that this practice works against nature’s design and the trees’ best interest. All of the wound dressings currently available do nothing to prevent decay, and some serve as a food source for microorganisms. They also can hold moisture against the cut wood, promoting the growth of decay-causing microorganisms. A light coating of non-toxic wound dressings can be used for cosmetic purposes. Wound dressing may also be recommended in some unique, limited situations, such as to control mistletoe or to discourage borer infestation that could spread diseases like Dutch Elm Disease. Consult your arborist for more information.

Should I have my tree topped?

Topping or severely cutting back of a tree’s crown is a poor arboricultural practice and should not be used for healthy tree maintenance. The common reason given for topping is to limit the growth of a tree, but this does not occur. In reality, the fast-growing watersprouts will actually outgrow a similar-sized tree that has not been topped in about 5 years after the topping. Taking the top from a tree:

  • destroys the trees branch structure
  • gives multiple points of entry for wood decay organisms
  • can turn your tree into a hazard, creating a liability for which you could be held responsible
  • does not limit tree growth as advertised by tree toppers

Though topping often leads to many large, fast-growing sprouts, these sprouts are attached to stubs that soon become rotten. The sprouts then become hazards, as they grow larger.

Tree Defects and Hazards

Is my tree prone to breaking away?

Some tree species (boxelder, Chinese elm, cottonwood, poplars, silver maples, and willows) have brittle wood, which is easily broken in storms. These rapid-growing trees are prone to damage. Homeowners should be aware of these characteristics and avoid planting such species close to buildings, utilities, pedestrian areas, etc. where damage could occur. Preventive practices, such as pruning and bracing, or cabling, may help reduce the potential of storm damage if these trees are already growing in these locations.

Can I tell if my tree has structural weakness?

There are often clues indicating that a tree is prone to failure. If a tree has large branches attached with tight, V-shaped forks, you should consider having those branches removed or lightened. Other warning signs of structural instability include cracks in the trunk or major limbs, hollow and decayed areas, or the presence of extensive dead wood. Mushrooms growing from the base of the tree or under its canopy may be an indication of root decay. However, just because you may not see fungus growth does not mean there is no decay. Be highly suspicious of any tree that has had construction activities such as trenching, addition or removal of soil, digging or heavy equipment movement anywhere under the spread of its branches. These activities can cause root death, which in turn could lead to the structural instability of the tree. By not paying attention to your trees, you are potentially placing your property, even your life, and that of others, in jeopardy.

Should I fill in the hollow trunk of my tree?

Filling of hollow trees, a process called “cavity filling,” was practiced by arborist for many years. Modern research. However, has shown that this procedure is not needed to support or improve the health of hollow trees. Tree experts have found that cavity filling with cement can actually damage a hollow tree. The rubbing created by the swaying tree and the solid column of cement can lead to further damage. Fungi can then take advantage of the new injuries created via the rubbing action and invade the remaining healthy tissue of the tree. If cavity filling is desired for aesthetic reasons, there are some new synthetic foams that can be sprayed into the cavity by professional arborists. These materials will bend with the swaying tree, reducing injury. However, there is really no reason to fill a cavity other than for aesthetic reasons. If structural support of a tree is required, we recommend cables, braces, tree guys, or removing the tree.

How do I know if my tree is creating an electrical hazard?

Even a healthy and otherwise safe tree can become hazardous if it is growing close to electric power lines. Any tree that has limbs within 3 m (10 ft) of overhead lines should be considered hazardous as anyone who touches or climbs a tree while it is resting on a live power line can be electrocuted. If you suspect a hazard condition, it will pay to have your tree evaluated by a professional. You could be held responsible for any damage or personal injury caused by a tree on your property.

Storm and Weather Damage

How do I know if my tree has is safe following a storm?

You could be held liable if a hazardous branch or tree falls and damages property or causes personal injury after a storm. If you suspect or can see storm damage to your tree, you should consider getting a tree care professional to assess the damage. Any assessment should check for the presence of broken or hanging limbs, split branch unions (also know as branch forks), splintering or removal of bark, twisting or cracking of trunks, and uprooting. It is important that the injuries be properly treated and repaired in order to maintain the health of the tree and remove vulnerability to future damage.

Can I protect my tree and property from being damaged in a storm?

The greatest peril in a storm is the property damage and casualties that can occur when big trees fall. Large growing trees will “catch” more wind and become heavier, so they are prone to increased mechanical stresses, thus increasing the chances of failure. Larger trees will also affect an increased area should they or their larger limbs fall. This means that power lines, homes and other structures that might not have been threatened a few years ago might suddenly be under threat by a tree that has grown. Cabling and bracing techniques can be used to provide additional structural strength for individual limbs, or even entire trees. To help ease your concerns, have a professional arborist evaluate your trees. Doing this will help you determine potential weaknesses and dangers.

Are trees always damaged when struck by lightning?

Usually some damage will occur, but the extent depends on the severity of the lightning strike. Lightning damage to trees often is more serious than its outward appearance. Whatever you see on the outside has probably occurred, to a more serious degree on the inside. The vascular tissue of a tree may have been heated and/or burnt to a point where large sections of the tissue have been killed. The lightning may have traveled into the root system, damaging or even killing whole sections of the roots. It may take a year or even longer to know the full extent of damage from a lightning strike. If you have any doubts about the health of your tree, consult with a tree care professional.

Can I save my tree after it has incurred storm damage?

That depends on the amount of damage. If the injuries look significant, you should first have your tree assessed before making any reparations. A thorough examination will help determine if the health and safety of the tree has been compromised. Only then can the appropriate corrective actions begin. Normal practices usually involve pruning weakened and affected sections, adding cabling and bracing, and/or providing appropriate irrigation and fertilization.

Construction Damage

Can my tree be affected by construction?

A tree’s environment may be altered greatly during construction. Various tree species respond differently to construction. Trees, unlike animals, cannot move. As a consequence, a tree must adapt to the changes that occur during construction. Some trees are better at this than others. Construction damage to trees may not be apparent to the homeowner for three to eight years after the damage was inflicted. This makes it difficult for the homeowner to relate cause and effect.

What causes construction injury?

Construction injury often occurs from accumulation of many smaller injuries. Any root injury or disturbance is the most detrimental, but other types of injury can also compound the problem. Since a tree may have been healthy before construction, it can take anywhere from 2 to 8 years for a tree to die as it slowly uses up its energy reserves to survive from year to year.

What are the most common causes of construction injury?

Some of the more common causes of construction injury include:

* soil compaction: Equipment used in construction (backhoes, bulldozers, payloaders, cranes, dump trucks, equipment trailers, utility vehicles, and skid-steers) reduces the capacity of soil to hold both oxygen and water for the tree roots. Water from rain and even irrigation is more likely to run-off the top of the soil instead of soaking in the soil, causing an altered drainage pattern.
* altered drainage patterns: Placing sewers, streets, curbs, and gutters at a site will greatly alter drainage patterns. Water that once had a chance to soak in after a shower now is whisked into the storm sewer, bypassing the ground water system. Less ground water is available to tree roots. The soil dries out faster since less water is stored, and the effects of droughts are heightened. This effect is worse at the bottom of a hill where plants requiring moist, but well-drained soils are often found.
* decreased grades: Reducing the grade around existing trees causes serious injury as the majority of fine roots are found in the top 15 to 30 cm (6-12 inches) of soil. Large portions of the fine roots thus are lost by soil removal, causing a reduced root zone.
* reduced root zones: Trenching, cuts for roads and/or sidewalks, and decreased grades result in the mechanical severing of fine roots, decreasing the size of the root zone. Since most of the fine roots are near the surface, even a shallow trench or cut for a sidewalk can damage the tree. The tree now has a decreased ability to absorb water and nutrients and store carbohydrates.
* disturbed soil profiles: Builders are often faced with a disposal problem with the soil removed from digging the basement. The lowest cost solution is to spread the spoil from the basement over the existing soil. The spoil is often finer textured than the original soil, resulting in a disturbed soil profile and increases the grade. Water does not move downward from a fine textured soil such as clay into a coarser textured soil such as a sand or gravel. Water remains in the fine textured soil at the interface of the soil types until the head pressure is sufficient to force the water into the coarser soil.
* increased grades: Distributing soil from construction excavations can also bury tree roots. The result is decreased aeration to the fine feeder roots and a disturbed soil profile. Adding soil over the root zone of existing trees is problematic. As little as 10 cm (4 inches) of fill may kill a mature climax forest tree such as linden, sugar maple, and beech.
* mechanical injury: Bark and limbs are often damaged by construction equipment. The tree is further weakened and subjected to invasion by decay organisms.
* debris in the soil: Virtually anything and everything is buried at a construction site. Concrete spills, sheetrock, and plywood are examples of construction debris that cause disturbed soil profiles and alter soil moisture distribution patterns.
* impounded water: Sometimes altered drainage patterns and/or disturbed soil profiles can cause water to be impounded, creating a boggy site from one that had been well drained. Many native trees will not tolerate poor drainage. Oxygen levels in the soil are reduced as water fills the pore spaces that formerly held oxygen.
* increased competition: Often little thought is given to the effects of altering plant communities. Inappropriate combinations of plant species are left to compete for the limited resources. Ultimately one species will out compete the other, leaving one weakened and unhealthy.
* increased light: Another alteration of the suburban landscape is increased light. Reduced numbers of trees and the resulting increase in reflected light contribute to a much higher light level. Reflected light alone can double the incident light levels to which a plant is exposed. Thin barked trees, such as beech, seem particularly sensitive to this problem.
* increased temperatures: Soil and air temperatures both rise in the city. Plants may be more sensitive to soil temperature changes since air temperatures normally fluctuate more. Plants that are at the southern part of their natural range are most likely to be sensitive in this situation.
* interrupted nutrient cycling: This is not a factor that is likely to have severe consequences itself, but it is one more stress with effects that are additive. Micronutrients are likely to be the ones that are found to be deficient. Removal of leaves and other organic debris takes the nutrients they contain out of the system.
* modified insect and disease complexes: A number of insects and diseases attack weakened hosts. The increased stress levels associated with urban sites often predispose the plant to attack. Engraver beetles and metallic wood boring beetles are insects that are associated with increased stress levels. Nectria canker and cankerstain are diseases that are stress related.

How do I prevent construction injury?

The most important thing is to have your site evaluated by an arborist before construction begins. Arborists are often called upon to provide help for trees injured during construction. Many times the arborist can be helpful, but all too often the call is made after the damage has been done and the trees are in a declining condition. The best option for the homeowner is to prevent construction injury by having an arborist create a tree preservation plan.Should you feel that your tree has incurred construction injury, you should first have an arborist evaluate the health of the trees as well as the extent of construction injury. If the trees appear to be in rapid decline or the original construction injury occurred a long time ago, attempts at restoring tree health are unlikely to be successful. If, on the other hand, construction recently occurred and/or limited tree decline is observed, remedial treatments have a better chance of success. Your tree care company will have to evaluate the trees and the site and then make recommendations.

What is a tree preservation plan?

Large-scale construction projects, such as subdivisions, normally involve specially trained, consulting arborists working with landscape architects and building developers in creating a tree preservation plan. The plans usually catalog trees, rate their condition and value, indicate which trees will be protected, and outline how that will be accomplished. For smaller projects, such as building a house on a wooded lot, building a garage, paving a driveway, installing landscaping, building a retaining wall, adding an addition, etc., your local tree care company should be able to assist you.

How can I prepare my tree for construction activities?

Based on the tree, site, and impact evaluations, an arborist may choose to prepare the tree for construction by applying fertilizer, biostimulants, and/or mycorrhizal inoculations. If any pruning is needed, it should be done as soon as possible to give the tree time to adapt before construction.Will changing the grade on our property hurt our trees? Both soil fills and cuts will have an affect on the health of your trees. When fill is placed on the soil, tree roots initially remain at the original grade. They are subject to a condition of reduced soil aeration and increased moisture. Damage and death of some roots will occur as a result. Slowly the tree will attempt to grow new roots into the soil fill. Eventually these new roots will grow upwards into the fill to the point where they regain acceptable soil aeration and moisture conditions. If trees are to survive having fill placed over their roots, those roots must have adequate oxygen and drainage so that the tree can survive until the time that its own roots have satisfactorily grown into the new fill. Provisions must be made to allow air exchange between the roots and the atmosphere and be certain there is adequate drainage in the soil. Your tree care company may recommend the installation of a soil aeration system. Generally, this system will include a tree well. The goal of this system is to provide adequate aeration and drainage for the initial root system while new roots grow up through the fill soil to better aerated and drained soil.Soil cuts as a whole are probably more damaging than soil fills. The fine roots of most trees are in the top 15-30 cm(6-12 in) of the soil, with the majority of these in the shallower depth. Many are lost when even a small amount of the surface soil is removed. It should also be noted that the most fertile soil, and thus the largest supply of nutrients for the tree is removed when cuts are made. Loss of roots and fertile soil will tend to increase the probability of the tree suffering from drought and mineral deficiencies. Deep cuts will severe large, supporting roots and may cause the tree to be wind-thrown in moderate to strong winds. Where cuts are made only on one side of a tree, retaining walls, or terracing should be constructed to prevent excessive loss of soil from the remaining roots. Pre- and post-construction preparations, such as fertilization or inoculation, may be needed to stimulate new root growth. Irrigation may also play a key role, since much of the tree’s ability to absorb water is lost when the roots are cut.

Will changing the grade on our property hurt our trees?

Both soil fills and cuts will have an affect on the health of your trees.

When fill is placed on the soil, tree roots initially remain at the original grade. They are subject to a condition of reduced soil aeration and increased moisture. Damage and death of some roots will occur as a result. Slowly the tree will attempt to grow new roots into the soil fill. Eventually these new roots will grow upwards into the fill to the point where they regain acceptable soil aeration and moisture conditions. If trees are to survive having fill placed over their roots, those roots must have adequate oxygen and drainage so that the tree can survive until the time that its own roots have satisfactorily grown into the new fill. Provisions must be made to allow air exchange between the roots and the atmosphere and be certain there is adequate drainage in the soil. Your tree care company may recommend the installation of a soil aeration system. Generally, this system will include a tree well. The goal of this system is to provide adequate aeration and drainage for the initial root system while new roots grow up through the fill soil to better aerated and drained soil.

Soil cuts as a whole are probably more damaging than soil fills. The fine roots of most trees are in the top 15-30 cm(6-12 in) of the soil, with the majority of these in the shallower depth. Many are lost when even a small amount of the surface soil is removed. It should also be noted that the most fertile soil, and thus the largest supply of nutrients for the tree is removed when cuts are made. Loss of roots and fertile soil will tend to increase the probability of the tree suffering from drought and mineral deficiencies. Deep cuts will severe large, supporting roots and may cause the tree to be wind-thrown in moderate to strong winds. Where cuts are made only on one side of a tree, retaining walls, or terracing should be constructed to prevent excessive loss of soil from the remaining roots. Pre- and post-construction preparations, such as fertilization or inoculation, may be needed to stimulate new root growth. Irrigation may also play a key role, since much of the tree’s ability to absorb water is lost when the roots are cut.