Trees in the wild need nothing from us. They thrive or fail on their own. As with animals, stronger trees will dominate weaker trees in the battle for nutrients and sunlight. Nature sorts that out without human input. But take one of the largest living things on earth and let it tower and sway next to your house and instantly human input seems prudent. Removing a tree is less expensive than replacing a house but there are several things that can be done to preserve the tree (and the house) while saving a great deal of money. Planning is key. Calling an arborist one day before a major storm should not be a homeowner's tree care plan.
Here's a few things we can do to save you money and minimize risk to people and property:
1. Soil injections to eliminate destructive pests and overcome any shortcomings in a tree's diet. These are relatively inexpensive, quick, and can be done early in the year in most cases. Make certain that your applicator is licensed. The chemicals used are controlled items and not available to vendors without special training and licensing. Unfortunately, this is often an area where fraud is committed through the substitution of products. You can always ask to see a licensing certificate.
2. Weight reduction. Trees can overgrow, gaining more weight on limbs than they can support. The loss of a major limb may be the death of a tree. Of course, in the forest this happens all the time but we don't want our nice lawn trees to start dropping wood in the backyard. A trained climber under the general guidance of a certified arborist can reduce weight on an overgrown tree without inhibiting the tree's ability to drink, eat, and breathe. Weight reduction needs vary but tend to be good for 2-5 years. There are exceptions, of course. During droughts and extreme heat, trees will take on a lot of water quickly. Water is heavy and constantly running inside of a healthy tree. Trees fail in the Sacramento area during severe heat because of weight/water intake. A little preventive maintenance can save the homeowner a lot of money and present a much nicer looking tree.
3. Limb cutbacks are needed when wood has grown in such a manner as to be beyond what the crotch of that limb can hold, endangers another limb, or threatens utility lines or buildings. A broken limb will invite disease. A properly cut limb can prevent premature failure and the expense of removal.
4. Arborist consultation. Have an arborist inspect your tree. Most trees don't need fertilization but some must have it. A certified arborist can advise you in selecting necessary preventive care. Many times, owners need less work than they think. Ask for an annual tree care plan for your individual trees. A little money spent throughout the year can save you up to several thousand dollars of emergency work. Hundreds can save thousands with trees but the work has to be done before the crisis occurs.
Trees are like nothing else we own. Once they are gone, that's it. We can replace the car and the gazebo but your favorite tree is like no other. A beautiful oak tree, towering in your backyard cannot be replaced in three or four lifetimes. In most cases, a little care will keep a tree sound and healthy for generations. It just takes a little planning.
Happy New Year.
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Stacy W. Barker
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