Category: Blog

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Trees can be an asset around your yard, but how do you deal with your neighbors’ trees when their branches extend over into your property? What are the laws about trimming or pruning their trees?

The best way to figure out how to handle the situation is to go over and have a conversation about which tree you’re concerned with.  You both may be able to come to a solution that works best for both of you. However, trees problems can be tricky. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about trees on you and your neighbor’s property.

  1. Am I able to cut down my neighbor’s tree?
    Of course not!  You also cannot hire an arborist to come chop down the tree.  If the truck is located on your neighbor’s property, even if the tree branches extend into your yard, it is their property.  If you do go onto your neighbor’s property and harm or alter the tree in any way without their permission, you may be liable for three times the amount of the tree, and charged with trespassing.
  2.  Can I cut down branches that extend across my property line?
    Yes, you are allowed to cut branches that come across your property line, however, you may be responsible if their tree is damaged as a result of your pruning.  You are not allowed onto your neighbor’s property to trim any branches on that side of the property line, and you can only trim branches up to your property line.
  3.  Can my neighbor make me cut down my tree?
    No, your neighbor cannot make you chop down your tree, but you can be held     responsible if you do not cut down your tree and your tree falls over and damages your neighbor’s property.  Call your local government if you fear that a tree may cause damages to your property. A professional can come out and assess the situation.
  4.  Who owns the tree if it’s on the property line?
    In this case, you would both be responsible for the care and maintenance of the tree.  If you wanted to cut the tree down, you would have to consult your neighbor to make sure it was alright with them.  A mediator can be hired to help negotiate what will happen with the tree.

With any situation involving property, consult your local and state laws to make sure you aren’t breaking any laws.

 

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You may love the look of ivy climbing your trees, but it could actually harm them.  When ivy begins to grow into the tree’s canopy, it’s time to remove the ivy.

 

There are several reasons to remove ivy from your trees:

 

  1. Ivy can make a tree weaker, making it susceptible to pests.
  2. Ivy can take over tree branches, blocking leaves from getting sunlight.
  3. Vines can weigh branches down, making them more likely to break and fall.
  4. Ivy is aggressive and can steal nutrients from the tree.

 

To get rid of ivy for good, it’s important to remove the roots completely.  You can do this one of two ways.

 

To remove the ivy by hand, make sure the soil is wet beneath the tree.  Use a hand pruner to cut the ivy at the bottom of the tree. Then, dig as deep as you can to remove all of the roots from the ground.  Removing the roots completely will assure that the ivy will not come back. Do not rip the remaining ivy from the trunk of the tree. This could harm the tree.  Make sure to check the tree periodically to make sure the ivy is not growing back.

 

You can also get rid of ivy by dousing the ivy with vinegar.  Fill a garden sprayer with white vinegar. Spray the vinegar directly on the ivy, avoiding surrounding plants and grass, as the vinegar could kill them.  The ivy should turned brown within a week. If there are still green leaves on the ivy plant, continue spraying with vinegar every week until it turns brown.  Do not pull the ivy off to avoid damaging the tree trunk. Once the ivy is completely dead and brown, remove the ivy from the tree, starting at the roots.

 

Ivy may look great around a tree, but it can do some serious damage to your trees.  If you suspect that your ivy situation is too much for you to handle on your own, call a licenced arborist to help get rid of your ivy.

 

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Summer storms are beautiful, but they can cause a lot of damage to your trees and your home.  You can prepare your property for summer storms and protect your home from any unexpected damage by following a few tips.

  1. Prune your branches.  Most damage caused by storms are from heavy winds.  To prevent this, make sure the canopies of your trees are thinned out.  It’s also a good idea to get rid of any branches that are dead, broken, or diseased to make sure that they won’t be blown off by extreme winds.
  2. Save the roots.  Check the roots of your tree to make sure that they are healthy and intact.  Watch out for trees that are leaning, as they can be blown over by rains and heavy winds.  To protect your tree’s roots from damage, put down a layer of mulch. This will regulate the amount of water the tree is getting, and won’t let rain wash away important nutrients your tree needs.
  3. Check for cavities.  Check your tree’s trunk for any holes or cavities that look diseased or weak.  Any weakness in a tree’s trunk could make it more susceptible to being knocked down by extreme weather.
  4. Plant strategically.  When it comes to planting your tree, make sure to place it in a spot far enough away from your home where, once it grows bigger, won’t be such a danger to your property.
  5. Remove anything from under your tree.  Before a big storm hits, pack up anything that may be damaged should a branch fall, like lawn furniture or your car.  
  6. Talk to your neighbors.  Just because a tree isn’t on your property doesn’t mean that it can’t damage your home.  Ask your neighbors to check their trees for any signs of weakness, or recommend an arborist come out and check their trees.
  7. Safety is important.  During a storm, do not go outside to try to repair or save your tree or your property.  That could result in severe injury or even death.
  8. Examine the aftermath.  After the storm, check your tree to make sure it wasn’t harmed.  If a tree or large branches have landed on your vehicle, your roof, or any other large structures, do not try to remove the limbs by yourself.  The same goes for a tree that is tangled in wires, or has large branches dangling that could fall. Contact your local arborist to come out and inspect the damage and remove any trees safely.

With these preparations, your trees should be in good shape to withstand a powerful summer storm.

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Growing a healthy tree at home starts with selecting a healthy tree from the nursery.

There are many things to consider when deciding to plant a tree in your yard.  Heading to the tree nursery to find the perfect tree can be a bit overwhelming, but there are certain things to consider when deciding on the right tree for your home.  

One thing to consider when choosing your tree is the tree’s function.  What purpose will your new tree serve your yard? If you’re looking for a tree for shade in your yard, then selecting a large deciduous tree is the way to go.  A flowering tree is nice for decorative purposes, and evergreens are perfect for gaining a bit more privacy. It’s easy to narrow down the right tree for your yard once you’ve decided on the tree’s function.

Another thing to consider when selecting a tree is the size of the tree.  Trees that will grow too large may do major damage to your home and its foundation.  On the other hand, you may pick a tree that is not large enough to give you the privacy you need.  Consider where you want to plant your tree when deciding on your tree.

It’s important to take into account what the tree will be exposed to.  Certain factors, such as insects, weather conditions, and even man made obstacles, such as power lines and buildings, can have an effect on the health of your tree.  

Once you’ve decided on the type of tree to plant, you’ll want to pick a healthy tree.  Signs of a healthy tree are:

  • The tree is in good shape, not beat up.
  • No brown or curled leaves.
  • Uniform bark
  • Trunks that taper uniformly.
  • Evenly rotated branches around the tree.

Getting your tree home safely is very important.  Trees can go into transplant shock if not taken care of.  The best way to get your tree home is in the back of an enclosed truck or van to avoid any damages.  Nurseries may even be able to offer delivery services for an additional fee, which is worth it to protect your investment.

Many nurseries have helpful arborists and gardeners on staff who can answer any questions you may have and provide great advice on selecting and planting the perfect tree for your yard.

 

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California may be getting hit with wildfires, but are we ready in Houston?

With the news of wildfires popping up in California and Colorado, it can make you wonder how safe your home actually is.  The hot, dry months of June and July can make it perfect for lawns and landscaping to catch fire, but there are ways to protect your home and neighborhood from out of control fires.  

  1. Remove fuels and flammable liquids from around your home.  This may seem like a no brainer, but sometimes, especially after fueling up your boat for the summer, gas cans can be left outside of the garage.  Make sure to put them up somewhere safe in a garage or storage shed.

  2. Make sure your trees are pruned and dead branches are removed.  Lower branches should be at least 8 feet from the ground.

  3. Keep flammable trees and shrubs, such as coniferous plants, at least 30 feet from your home.

  4. Keep your yard clear of dead leaves and branches, and mow your yard frequently to prevent high grass.

  5. Store firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.

When planting trees and shrubs around your home, there are several fire-resistant plants that can help prevent your home catching fire.  Trees should be planted at least 10 feet apart from each other. It is important to remember that fire-resistant does not mean fire-proof.  It simply means that these plants have a high moisture content and will take longer to catch fire.

These plants are ideal for planting around your home:

  1. Violets
  2. Columbines
  3. Primrose
  4. Bluebonnets
  5. Aster
  6. Gay feather
  7. Lantana
  8. Butterfly bush

With any new landscaping endeavor, it’s best to contact an experienced arborist who can assist you with your landscaping goals, and to make your home a safe and beautiful one!

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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.

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Mulching your yard is a very important process to insure your trees and plants grow healthy and happy.  Mulching is a delicate process, and over mulching could actually kill your trees. Here are a few basics to properly mulch your yard.

  1. Choose the right mulch for your yard.  While mulch can make your landscaping look much better, its purpose is to provide your soil with rich nutrients.  Selecting an organic mulch with wood is best for most trees.
  2. Apply the proper amount of mulch.  Only use 2 to 3 inches of mulch around your trees.  Any more that that could prevent water from getting to the roots.  You can apply an inch of mulch every year to freshen up the landscaping. 
  3. Mimic the tree’s natural environment.  When you look at trees in the forest, the ground is usually layered with leaves and pine needles that help to regulate water and temperature.  You can recreate this with mulch. 
  4. Apply mulch once a year during the spring.  The ground will be thawed and ready to receive nutrients.  First, remove any grass or weeds from around the tree, apply compost, then layer the mulch on top. 
  5. Don’t over mulch!  This is key. Over mulching can prevent oxygen and water to get to the trees, make them sick, and even kill them. 
  6. Don’t pile mulch against the base of the tree.  The tree’s root flare needs to be kept completely clear of any mulch.

Mulching your yard is vital to making sure your trees are protected and well nourished.  When done properly, mulching is a great asset to any yard.