Proper Tree Pruning

Trees require pruning for a wide variety of reasons. Trees are usually pruned in order to promote growth, prevent overgrowth, remove damaged or diseased branches, or to simply improve landscaping aesthetic.
Whatever your reason for pruning your tree, it is important that you take the proper steps in order to ensure your safety and the health of the tree. Tree pruning is a relatively simple task and can be done by do-it-yourselfers, but sometimes these tasks may be better suited for professional tree services.

Improper trimming of the tree branches can result in exposing the tree to a number of diseases and insects. Untrained professionals must trim branches properly in order to promote good healing of the branch. Do-it-yourselfers may be able to remove smaller, more manageable branches. However, larger branches and limbs may be better suited for experts. Branches may be heavy and may put you and others in danger of injury.

The autumn and winter months might be the best time to prune your trees. During this time, trees lose their leaves and make it easier to see and access the branches. Additionally, less sap may be lost in the process, reducing the stress to the tree.

Begin with smaller branches and limbs. Remove the limbs in segments – not all at once. Cut larger limbs into three cuts. The first cut is placed in the bottom of the limb to prevent the bark from splitting. A relief cut is placed a few inches from the notch cut and goes all the way through, removing the branch weight so the final cut can be made without splitting. The final cut is placed where the limb extrudes from the branch collar. Follow the angle of the branch collar when making the cut. These steps must be followed in order to ensure the health of the tree. If you are unconfident in your ability to prune a tree, contact a landscaping service.

Four Things to Know Before Hiring an Arborist

1. Not all trees need pruning every three to five years.
Pruning is a necessity in order to ensure proper growth and harvest. Fruit trees must be pruned to ensure a high quantity and high quality yield. Additionally, flowering trees produce larger and more abundant flowers when pruned periodically. Other trees should also be pruned periodically to ensure proper leaf density and to contain new growth. However, some trees grow slower than others and do not need as frequent pruning. Pay attention to how quickly your tree grows before beginning a pruning cycle.

2. If your tree contains dead branches, you should get it pruned.
A tree with dead branches can be a hazard to your home, business, and to bystanders – especially if situated in an urban area. Dead branches may also signify that your tree is diseased. If your tree has dead branches, call a professional such as the Happy Tree Service of Austin to safely remove the hazard.

3. If fungi, mushrooms, or mold is growing on your tree, you might be in trouble.
If you see fungi growing in your tree branches, this may be a sign of a larger problem. Mushrooms may have taken over the inside of the tree and may have begun the decomposition process. If this is the case, your tree may not be savable, especially if the decomposition process has begun within the main trunk of the tree.

4. Ask about seasonal pricing and discounts.
During the spring and summer, tree growth rates are at a maximum. As a result, landscaping companies are in full swing during these times and may charge extra to compensate. If your trees do not need immediate service and pose no danger to others (i.e. no dead limbs or branches), ask about winter pricing. During the winter, tree services are generally less busy and may offer discounts to encourage business.

When To Prune Trees

If you’re just getting into and learning about tree care, you may find yourself wondering when the best time is to prune your trees. This will mostly depend on your reason for pruning- are you trying to remove dead limbs? Increase flowering? Figure that out, and then plan what season is best for you to work on your trees.

First, know that you should try not to prune your trees in the fall. Pruning usually increases new growth of some kind, and this is not ideal if the climate is about to get freezing cold. Not to mention, cuts won’t heal as quickly as in other seasons, and this will leave the tree vulnerable to the fungal spores that spread more during fall. You may want to get the pruning out of the way, but allow yourself to wait until all the leaves drop, the limbs are more visible, and the tree has better chances of surviving the rest of the year.

After fall passes, however, you are free to prune your trees in winter. This is a popular time to prune, because while your tree is dormant, you can make cuts that will insure more growth in the spring. If you plan to do this, you should probably wait until the coldest part of the season is over.

But if you weren’t planning on increasing growth, and instead want to slow the growth of your tree, plan to prune in the warmer months of the year. Summer is a good time to decrease the growth of any unwanted branches. In addition to dwarfing parts of your tree, you may also want to remove dead wood or defective branches during this time. In summer, you can see the limbs very easily.

Once you know what you want to achieve with pruning your tree, figuring out when to do it is easy. Plan accordingly for the weather and climate of your specific area, and good luck!

Summer Tree Care

During the warmer months, your trees – young and old – will need special attention in order to stay healthy. There are a lot of ways to provide this attention and care, with some of them being particularly crucial if you want healthy and happy trees at the beginning and end of your summer.

For starters, if you’ve considered hiring a professional to evaluate your trees, summer is a good time to do so. When the climate is hot and often very dry, you may need an expert opinion on how best to take care of your trees. They will suggest a lot of ways to keep them healthy, one of which is mulching. A lot of people mulch their trees in the spring, but there’s still time in the summer. Putting mulch around the base of your tree should regulate soil temperature and hold in moisture.

Other treatments include pruning and irrigating your trees. Irrigation is especially important during the summer, and very important for your younger trees. Always be sure to focus more on less-frequent watering that goes deeper to the roots, rather than more constant, quick watering.

Depending on where you live, another danger that summer brings to your trees is the possibility of storms. This is where a professional is useful- they can look at the position of your trees and determine any danger of damaging property during a summer storm. You can also remove limbs or cable some of them up to try and limit the potential damage.

There can be a lot that goes into caring for a tree. But once summer is over and your trees are happy and healthy, the effort will be worth it. Be sure to either do research or speak to an expert about how your particular climate and location will affect your trees during the summer.

Tree Pruning Basics

Trimming and pruning trees can enhance the natural beauty of a landscape if done right, but can also hold the risk of permanently damaging a tree or shrub. A tree will naturally grow and form into the shape that benefits the most from the surrounding area and how light coverage is affected, so even without pruning a tree will be able to grow healthily. If you do want to try pruning your trees or shrubs, keep in mind that it takes proper understanding and skill in order to complete successfully.

Pruning is done in order to train the plant into a specific shape, maintain the tree or shrub’s health, improve flowering quality, or restrict growth. Regardless of the specific purpose, pruning should always be done methodically with a goal in mind. The first step should always be to cut off all dead, diseased, or broken branches. Additional removal of branches should only be done if you want to train the tree, if the tree still seems crowded, or if there is a hazard.

Depending on which type of plant you are pruning, the recommended time to prune can vary. Following the recommended time of year to prune the plant will reduce the risk of damaging and weakening the plant. The best time of year to prune most plants is during the late winter of early spring in the time before the new growth starts.

Another important part of pruning is taking care of your tools. Equipment that is properly taken care of will last longer and do a better job. After using equipment, oil it in order to keep it from rusting. The most popular shears are scissor action pruning shears and anvil action shears. Other tools, such as lopping shears and pole pruners, are used for cutting bigger and harder to reach branches.

Always make sure to consider the circumstances, such as season, age, and type of the plant, before attempting to prune. With proper research and practice, you should be able to prune successfully.

Tree Trimming Tips

If you’re interested in trimming and tending to your plants, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before you start. Trimming can make your plants look beautiful, take care of any health issues, and keep unruly branches out of the way from hazards. But if not done properly, trimming can end up damaging the tree or shrub.

One of the key things to keep in mind when trimming a plant is which branches can be cut and which need to be kept. Unless it’s for a good reason, it’s better not to remove a branch that is over five centimeters in diameter. It’s also highly recommended that you only trim a plant when it is in its dormant season, unless there is a hazard. Wait until the coldest part of winter is passed before pruning and you will see a more vigorous growth in the spring. If the branch is dead, however, you can trim it regardless of the season. You should also try to only trim the branches that have narrow angles rather than the stronger, broader angles. Trimming branches when they’re younger is also better for the tree or shrub than if you trim older branches.

An overall good tip is to not trim or prune your plants during the fall. During the fall, decay fungi spread their pores more than any other season. This leads to wounds healing very slowly and can leave scarring and increase the risk of complications. When you trim in the spring in order to enhance flowering, make sure to wait until all of the flowers fade before pruning. Trees or shrubs that produce flowers in the summer should be pruned in winter instead of fall.

Trimming and pruning your own plants can be cost efficient and make your landscaping look more attractive and healthy. But if you aren’t confident with your own pruning, you can always do some extra research or hire a professional.

When to Call an Arborist

No matter how strong your green thumb may be, growing trees can be very high maintenance. And at some point, if you start to notice certain symptoms or signs in your trees, you may find that you need a professional’s help. Here’s what you need to know about consulting an arborist about your trees.

Trees require a lot of maintenance, and you have to first make sure that yours are getting enough nutrition, sun, water, pruning, and a good environment. But, if even after all of those factors, your tree is showing signs of sickness- it may be time to bring in an expert. Think about consulting someone if your tree’s leaves are falling off more than expected, or if they show discoloration. Also, check the bark and branches of the tree- if the branches near the top are dying, your tree could be in trouble. See if the bark is splitting or peeling more than usual. And see if there are any growths on or around the trunk of your tree.

The causes of these symptoms are varied- the acidity and quality of the soil could be affecting it, for instance, in which case an arborist will test the soil and give you information on making changes to your fertilizer. But in some cases, there may not be a solution to saving your tree, and the arborist may have to recommend removing it. Regardless, if you are having problems with your tree’s health, consulting a professional is the way to go. Many companies offer free first inspections, while some others charge around $50-75 for one. And if you need a tree removed, you can hire someone for that as well. You’ll be glad that you consulted someone with an expert opinion, and that expert will do all they can to try and save your tree.

Is It Time To Remove A Tree?

Trees provide shade, climate moderation, soil protection, and aesthetic character. In fact, trees are often the key features of one’s property. Unfortunately, there are times when trees can prove troublesome or dangerous. When trees develop damage or disease, they pose threats to people and structures. While professional trimming can help extend the life of a tree, there are times when it might be prudent to remove the tree. There are many questions to consider when considering tree removal.

Working with a professional arborist, ask yourself is the tree in question a desirable species. Undesirable species include those that are prone to breakage or disease, have shallow roots, or are particularly invasive. If the tree is deemed undesirable, you may choose to remove it entirely.

Damage to more than half the tree likely warrants removal. In some cases, specific damage to tree trunks may lead to removal, though smaller wounds can generally heal over, thus saving the tree. Trees that rot and have hollow interiors are ripe for further damage, even though many trees can live for years with a hollow trunk. While trees are resilient, and you do not want to take them out unnecessarily, be aware that damage from falling trees and limbs can cause significant property and personal damage.

Trees that are not diseased, but rather leaning may also need removal. If the lean is sudden, then there may be underlying damage, but in any case where the lean in pronounced, removal is advised.

Trees growing under power lines need to be monitored. If they grow too close to the line, tree limbs can cause damage or power outages if left untrimmed. However, removal of any limbs near power lines should only be done by professionals.

Other factors to consider include historic or sentimental value, sight lines, and overall health of the property in question. As you can see, tree removal requires careful consideration of many factors and generally should be done with the consultation of a professional arborist.

Top 3 Harmful Trees for Pets & Livestock

Although trees provide shade, shelter, and beauty to your home or property, they can also be a contributing cause of illness to large animals such as horses, and cattle. Some trees are so poisonous they can result in anemia, kidney failure, and even cyanide poisoning for larger animals.
Although animals don’t usually eat the leaves or twigs of these trees, rain can wash the poison into their water sources. Watch out for fallen twigs and leaves, especially after storms. In order to protect your pets and livestock, stay away from planting these top 3 harmful trees.

1. Red maple (Acer rubrum)

Red maple trees, usually found in the northeastern United States, produce poisonous leaves that can harm horses. The leaves the red maple drops are poisonous for up to four weeks after falling. A horse that consumes these leaves may demonstrate signs of anorexia, pale mucous membranes, and red-ish-brown urine. The poison in the leaves can lead to acute renal failure which can kill horses.

2. Oak (Quercus species)

Oak trees, found in eastern Unites States, are poisonous to all large animal species: cattle, sheep, horses, and goats. However, oak poisoning is most common in cows and calves. The poison is found in the green buds that grow in the spring and in the acorns on the ground in the fall. Depending on the amount ingested, poisoning can lead to anorexia, dullness, and constipation. Cattle feces are often hard and covered in mucus. Later signs of poisoning include dehydration and hematuria. Horses may show bloody diarrhea. Death may occur within 3 to 7 days.

3. Box elder (Acer negundo)

Box elder trees are widespread throughout North America and found in many ranches and pastures. The seeds produced by this tree pose a fatal threat to horses. Ingestion of just 165 seeds could result in toxicosis. Ingestion of these seeds is associated with seasonal myopathy (a disease of muscle tissue), usually in the fall. Horses often become weak and reluctant to move. Muscle tremors are common and some horses may not be able to stand on their own. Death can occur within 72 hours of ingestion.

If you find any of these trees on your property and you fear for the safety of your pets or livestock, then please contact the tree removing professionals at Happy Tree Services and we can remove any unwanted trees or bushes.

To Remove a Dead Tree

Sooner or later, the time comes, to all property owners, when a tree on their property must be removed.  Bruce Springsteen has sung to us, “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact—,” and when a tree dies you need to deal with it both on a practical and, sometimes, emotional level.  In this article, we’ll examine what’s involved in the removal of a tree.

First of all, if you’re going to remove a tree, because it’s dead, you need to make sure that it is, in fact, dead.  How should this be done?  If you have any doubt, at all, as to the tree’s state of existence, you should contact a Certified Arborist to check the tree out.  At times, certain tree species exhibit symptoms that can mislead a casual observer.  Such symptoms can give the appearance of death when, in reality, the tree is alive.  In the Austin area, Red Oaks sometimes experience rapid leaf browning, even though the tree is still very much alive, and will bounce back with a full green canopy the following Spring.  This browning can be caused by drought, excessive high wind conditions in hot, dry air, and other factors.  The brown leaves can remain attached until very late into the Winter.  While other trees in our area can exhibit this same phenomenon, Red Oaks are a special case:  Rapid leaf browning and tree death is a hallmark of Oak Wilt.  In this case, the tree dies, quickly, and must be removed to prevent the spread of this terrible disease.   With the preceding in mind, you can understand that it is important that the death of a given tree be ascertained.

There are a few things you can do to try and determine if your tree is dead.  As mentioned above, calling a Certified Arborist, like the one we have on staff, here at Happy Tree, will take much of the guess work out of the diagnosis.  If you wish to make a determination on your own, though, you can try the following:  Snapping twigs can reveal a great deal, if you know what you’re looking for.  Dead trees have dry twigs that snap with a fairly distinct sound, to the trained ear.  Live twigs will bend far more readily, as opposed to snapping with gentle pressure.  Once a twig is broken in two, you can examine the cross sections revealed:  Is there any green wood observed?  Does sap exude from the side still attached to the tree?  If so, the tree is still alive, most likely, or has just died very recently.  Can you see conks, growths that look like half mushrooms, growing all over the tree?  Observing the same may indicate that a systemic fungal infection has killed the tree and/or decomposer fungi are at work on a dead tree.  Does the tree have a peculiar smell at its base, indicating root rot?  Such rot usually indicates a tree that has recently died or is on the way out, in fairly short order.  Again, when in doubt, call us to arrange for our Certified Arborist to drop by.

OK, so now, unfortunately, your tree has been pronounced dead. All that’s left is to quickly cut it down, right?  Wrong!  If you live in Austin, or its surrounding communities, there may be tree ordinances in place that dictate what you must do before you can begin removing a tree.  In fact, there are even HOA rules in some cities, Austin included, that further limit how you can go about removing a tree.

Size guidelines are the first thing to consider.  In Austin, any residential tree over 19” in diameter, measured at 4.5’ from grade, must have a Tree Ordinance Review Application (TORA) filled out before it can be removed, even if it’s dead.  In some cases, you will have to pay a filing fee.  Where a tree is dead, and a hazard to life and property below it, the fee is usually waived.  Here, again, our Certified Arborist can assist you, when it comes to filling out and filing the permit.  If your tree is over 24” in diameter, you may have to supply an additional document, a Tree Risk Assessment Evaluation.  Our Certified Arborist is ISA TRAQ qualified, which means he has special training in filling out this more detailed document.

Keep in mind that different ruling bodies have different criterion for tree removals.  Things are also different for commercial sites.  Happy Tree can determine exactly what needs to happen, what forms need to be filed, before a tree is removed from a given location.

Now you have the paperwork done.  It’s time to remove the tree.  This is the most dangerous time, for you and your property.  Each month, in the professional trade journals for our business, you can read accounts of homeowners who are killed trying to remove their own trees.  Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence:  Two to five homeowners are killed trying to remove their own trees, every month.  Trees are the heaviest living organisms in the world.  For example, a cubic foot of Live Oak wood weighs about seventy-five pounds.  A sizeable Live Oak branch can weigh thousands of pounds.  Trust me, you do NOT want to deal with this type of weight, unless you know exactly what you’re doing.  That is why you want to hire a professional tree company, like Happy Tree, for your removal.

When you consider hiring a tree company, you must make sure that it has liability insurance to cover possible damages to your property and the property of your neighbors.  One to two million dollars worth of general liability coverage is the standard.  Ask for a Certificate of Insurance, and call the company listed.  Many times, unscrupulous tree companies have forged documents.

You need to ask how the tree is going to be removed.  Professional tree service companies never “bomb” your property by cutting large limbs and letting them simply fall.  Large limbs should be rigged gently down by the use of rigging ropes.

Once the tree is removed, it should be loaded up and hauled off, unless you want the wood.  You also need to consider what will be done to the stump that remains.  If you like the look of stumps, and some people do because they use them to place potted plants, statues, other objects of art, etc., then no further work is required.  If you don’t want the stump to remain and/or want to plant a new tree in place of the one that has been removed, you will need to have a stump grinder brought in to reduce the stump to sawdust.

We at Happy Tree sincerely hope that all of your trees stay happy and healthy for a good, long time.  In the event of an unfortunate tree demise, though, we encourage you to give us a call at: 512-212-0010.  We will help you do whatever needs to be done to get your tree removed and work towards assisting you in replacing it, if that is what you decide to do.  We look forward to working with you!