Seasonal Treatment Recommendation: Wood chips and Mulching
Chip layer insulating the drip-line of an apple tree
As the rainy months begin to wane it is important to consider how to best accommodate the hydration requirements of your trees. As Dr. Alex Shigo puts it “Trees are like large pumps. The roots provide water and elements and the crown provides energy. The crown is dependent on the roots and the roots are dependent on the crown.” Deficiencies in foliage or browning are often a sign of poor hydration or root issues. One of the best ways to ensure adequate water intake is to insulate the drip line of your trees with wood chips. A mulch layer beneath a tree's canopy helps capture moisture and discourages other organic material from competing for a tree's water and nutrient resources. We are experienced in assessing the needs of individual species and implementing plans to optimize moisture intake. If you have any concerns about the hydration of your trees please don't hesitate to contact us for a consultation.
Hazard Consideration: Co-dominant Stems and Cabling
Conor installing a static cable in a large co-dominant Douglas Fir near Freshwater Bay
Co-dominant stems are one of the most common defects found in large trees. They often pose a serious threat to people and property in the built environment. Co-dominants can occur naturally as genetic defects or as a result of improper tree management practices such as topping. A tree with multiple dominant leaders suffers an increased probability of failure at the juncture of the stems. As two or more tops grow from a point on a tree a weak seam, prone to splitting, occurs holding them together at the attachment point. Bark inclusions are a common characteristic of these seams. The photo below exhibits the lack of strong connective woody tissue in a stem with two or more tops. Bark inclusions do not exhibit any significant connective properties. They are merely a point of contact between the bark of the two stems.
Cross-section of a split top from a removal we performed near Carlsborg
In many cases the risk of failure and property damage can be minimalized with the installation of cables between the stems. Cables redistribute the shearing force that weather and the mass of multiple stems exert on the tree. By fastening the stems above the weak juncture multiple tops are encouraged to react as one to the natural stresses the tree must endure. We instal both dynamic and static cables to enhance the structural integrity of trees with multiple large stems. In most instances we can preserve these trees while improving safety in the surrounding environment.
Tear-out resulting from poor co-dominant attachment.
Featured Project: Captain Joseph House Heritage Elms
Mick executing a long limb walk on the bigger of the two heritage Elms
In March we received a call from the founder of the Captain Joseph House Foundation, previously the Tudor Inn, in Port Angeles. We were asked to prune four heritage trees—two Elms and two Poplars—that had been planted more than one-hundred years ago. We collaborated with multiple contractors and landscape architects to ensure that these trees would not be negatively affected by remodeling plans that are currently being implemented.
Conor performing a limb-tip reduction with pole pruner
Heritage trees require much more delicate treatment than do younger specimens. They are far less likely to recover from drastic canopy reductions. Pruning objectives must be balanced with an understanding of how live canopies react to active-limb removal. Using non invasive climbing techniques we were able to make reductions from the tips of the branches and eliminate defective limbs, ultimately enhancing the natural form of the trees while improving their function on the property.