May 2018

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Interested in trees and the outdoors?  Becoming an arborist could be for you!

Arborists are people who are experts in tree maintenance and health.  Arborists are armed with a strong, wide knowledge of trees and the best way to care for them and help them thrive.  Some of the duties arborists are responsible for are trimming and pruning trees, diagnosing and treating pests and other diseases, tree removal after a natural disaster, and growing and transplanting trees.  If you’re interested in becoming an arborist, there are several steps to become certified.

Certification is voluntary, but it will provide you with a competitive edge.  The International Society of Arboriculture, or ISA, provides a multiple choice test to gain certification.  You will not need to attend a class, but they do provide booklets to help you study for the exam. To pass the test, you will need to make a grade of 72% or higher.

As a certified arborist, you will work with trees in public areas to make sure that they are healthy and not a risk for people.  This may involve trimming the trees, or removing them entirely if they pose a threat. It’s important to have basic knowledge of knot tying and rope climbing, as you will need this to access tree branches higher up.  Physical strength and balance are important, as well.

As an arborist, you may be put in charge of overseeing larger projects, such as planting trees in a public park or preparing an area for scheduled maintenance to ensure the safety of the trees and the crew.  You may also be required to do administrative work for projects and work as an in between person for the client and the crew.

Keeping up with your tree education is important, but having a vast knowledge of gardening and horticulture in general is a great way to increase your value as an arborist.  Specific knowledge of fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides are very important when working with trees and the public, and knowing what bugs are good for the trees’ health and what pests can harm the tree will come in handy.  Classes and other certification on how to operate spray and mist blowing equipment may be available in your community.

Whether you’re interested in working in public parks, or as a private groundskeeper, obtaining certification is a great way to become a valued arborist.

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When you move a tree from one place to another, this can be a rude awakening for your tree.  Trees develop roots that are made to stay in one place for a very long time, so it’s natural that they may have difficulty adjusting to a new environment.  There are several things you can do to minimize the effects of transplant shock and help your tree adjust to its new environment.

  1. Avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible.  There is usually no need to break up the root ball.  Disturbing the roots can lead to severe transplant shock, and could make your tree very sick.  If your tree is root bound to its container, it may be inevitable to have to break up the roots.

  2. Keep the roots intact.  When transfering your tree or plant, make sure to keep as much of the root structure as possible.  The roots will help your tree adjust more quickly to its new environment.

  3. Water, water, water.  Watering your tree will help the roots settle into its new environment, and allow them to grow and become more established in the new area.  Do your research and consult an arborist on the proper methods to watering your new transplant to avoid overwatering.

  4. Always keep the root ball damp.  If your root ball dries up, it will have a far less likely chance of surviving transplant shock.  Keeping the root ball moist will help avoid damage caused to the roots.

  5. Add sugar to the mix.  Using a simple sugar and water solution when transferring your tree can help avoid or cure your tree of transplant shock.  This works on most plants, but if it doesn’t help, it certainly won’t hurt your tree.

  6. Trim back your tree.  With less of the top part of the tree, the roots will have more of a chance of reestablishing and getting over transplant shock.  Consult with an arborist if you are unsure about home much to trim back.

  7. Give your tree some time.  Allow for the tree to adjust to the new environment.  Sometimes it just takes time for a tree to settle in to its new home.  

With any tree related issues, if the problem persists, contact a local tree expert to help your tree thrive.

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When deciding on the best trees to grow in your yard, there are a few deciding factors.  You, of course, want a tree that will be different and stand out, but it’s important to plant a tree that will thrive in the Houston weather.  Consider the amount of space the tree will have and the soil and water requirements for your tree. Here’s a list of the top trees to plant this year.

  1. Cherry Laurels.  Cherry Laurels are great trees for Houston, because they are typically small enough to grow in any yard, and they grow quickly.  Cherry Laurels typically grow to be about 15 to 20 feet tall, and birds love them! 
  2. Desert Willows. Desert Willows are beautiful in the fall, giving off a reddish or white bloom.  They don’t require a ton of watering once the roots are established, but you will need soil that drains well. 
  3. Drummond Red Maples.  These trees are Texas natives, so they will do very well in Houston.  These trees are perfect for attracting birds for your yard. 
  4. Possumhaw Holly.  These trees are perfect for smaller yards, mas they usually only grow to be about 8 to 10 feet tall.  Their white blooms in the spring and red berries in the winter make this exquisite tree a lovely addition to any yard. 
  5. Texas Olives.  Texas Olives are evergreen trees that bloom all year round.  They can grow up to 24 feet tall. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this tree for its beautiful blooms.  Their fruits may attract unwanted animals to your yard, however. 
  6. Live Oaks.  These are classic Texas trees, and if your have the room, make wonderful shade trees for generations.  These trees do well throughout droughts. 
  7. Chinese Pistache Trees.  The Pistache trees are great shade trees that aren’t as large as the Live Oaks.  They can grow to be 40 feet tall, and are very resistant to pests and drought. 
  8. Bur Oaks.  These native trees are great for attracting birds and wildlife, since they produce large acorns for creatures to eat.  They make wonderful shade trees, as well.

Whichever tree you decide, be sure to contact your local arborist to check out your yard to provide you with the best information in figuring out which tree will do best in your yard.

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Checking your trees for pests is an important part of tree health.  Pests can burrow their way into the trunks of your trees and cause infections or even death.  Spending just ten minutes of your day checking your trees for pests could be all you need to help your trees.  There are several different types of pests to watch for, and many options to help keep these pests away from your trees.

While there are hundreds of pests to look out for, there are certain pests that are more common in South Texas.

  • Lace bugs
  • Spider Mites
  • Bag Worms
  • Emerald Ash Borers
  • Tent Caterpillars

Checking for signs of pests can vary from pest to pest, but there are some common signs to look for when checking your trees.  Check the leaves for signs of damage, discoloration, abnormal leaf size, or fewer leaves that usual. Signs of infestation on branches could include holes on the trunk, stunted growth of the branches, and lifting roots.

If you suspect that your tree has become infested, try to take a picture of the damage done to the tree, and a picture of the pest itself.  If possible, capture one of the pests and freeze it so that it can be identified by a certified arborist. Your arborist may suggest that it is reported to the state department of agriculture for further examination.

Early detection of the first signs of pests is the best way to protect your trees from serious damage.  If you suspect that your tree may have the early warning signs of pests, contact your local arborist immediately.