How important are trees to a community? Very.
Not only do trees provide shade in the summer months and a multitude of color in the fall, but, most importantly, they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air. They also add a tremendous amount of beauty to the landscape.
Unfortunately, trees can’t entirely take care of themselves, especially in an urban environment, so we must be good stewards of them. We asked Scott Carlson of Schneider Tree Care just how to go about that task.
Q: Are the trees on my property safe to leave for family and neighbors?
A: About 70 percent to 75 percent of tree failures occur from pre-existing conditions. Having a qualified arborist check annually for cracks, cavities, mushroom growth, and structural defects helps identify issues before they become serious. The remaining 25 percent to 30 percent occur from unforeseen events like excess rain and wind, as well as ice storms.
Q: How can a homeowner tell whether trees are healthy?
A: Trees growing in an urban environment often have stresses that forest trees do not have. Looking at the leaf crown can give an idea of the general health. Checking for dead wood, proper leaf size, and color — especially at the top of the canopy and ends of the branches — can tell us what is going on with the tree.
Q: What should a homeowner consider when planting trees?
A: Consider the mature size of the tree and the space it has to grow, including consideration for overhead service wires. What do you want the tree to do: provide shade, fall color, spring or summer flowering, or aesthetics? Also, research to make sure that no chronic insect or disease issues are associated with that species.
Q: Which type of mulch is best to use around trees?
A: In a forest, trees naturally mulch themselves by dropping leaves in the fall. This leaf layer recycles nutrients and organic material, and helps hold moisture. In a yard, this process is usually interrupted when leaves are cleaned up in the fall. Therefore, any decaying organic material works to help hold moisture and start the process of nutrient recycling. This can be leaves, pine straw, or wood mulch.
Q: When and how often should trees be pruned? Why is pruning necessary?
A: A general pruning cycle for a tree is every three to five years, and can be done about any time. Reasons for pruning will be to remove dead limbs for safety and tree health, clearance from a structure, thinning to promote proper structure, and to open up the canopy to reduce wind resistance during storms. Thinning can also help reduce insect and disease issues since most insects like protection from the elements.
Scott Carlson is an ISA Certified Arborist with Schneider Tree Care. Visit https://www.schneidertree.com/