Beware of the EAB wave, the Tree guys, not the Bug.

OK, so here we are, on the verge of the wave. The wave of traveling tree guys, floating along with the bug. They come from all over. All with one thing in mind, getting in on the action. Soon you will see all kinds of people in town, knocking on doors telling you that they have the deal of the century for you. We already have our own population of hackers who go from door to door, trying to convince you that you need them. Bubba Hack and company. These unsavory characters are always out tearing something up and mutilating our trees by topping them or pruning with “spikes”  or in a manner that might as well be considered Domestic Tree Abuse (DTA). We have our own rip off artists, the one”s who tell you a cheap price to get you into the door, then come back with a huge amount halfway through the job, basically holding you hostage. Recently we had a local rip off people for $7000.00, started of small, then somehow it grew and boy did it grow. Check our local BBB site and read all about it. So we don”t need anymore, we have enough. With no regulation on who does this for a living. We have all kinds of creeps that claim to be Arborist, but are far, very far, from it.  Now, with EAB upon us, not only will you have these guys trying to rip you off by pretending to be Arborist, you will have a new wave of “out of towner”s” doing the same exact thing. Knocking on doors, giving you some sort of story on why you should bust out your checkbook on the spot. This is all very easy to deal with, first off, if they are knocking on doors, that is your first clue. Pros don”t do this, we don”t need to. Second, go to http://www.isa-arbor.com/faca/findArborist.aspx This is the International Society of Arboriculture. The only governing body that can actually certify a Arborist. Type in your zip and there ya go, the list of actual private, local Arborist from your area. Third, how about supporting your local businesses! There are a few real good outfits here, all on the list. Now I am not talking about the national big shows that operate in our area. The one”s where you deal with a salesman or someone using their position at a big national company to set up side work. But actual, local, private business owner”s! Many of which choose to be a Arborist before they choose to go into it for themselves. Like me! Many of us have worked for the big shows, but felt we could do it better, so………. we do! Fourth, and the most important. You do not want to hire someone knocking at the door to do tree work on your property. There is no way you can verify their skill, their ability to do the work safely and proficiently. I read about horror stories all the time. They hired a guy who said he was this or that, only to find out he has no idea of what he is doing, and he either destroys property or someone gets hurt. Hope your insurance is paid up, his is not. Fifth, the rip off. We, like I said before, we have our own scam artists in the area, at least with them, you have some sort of way to get your money back, and a way to sue them or get them to replace or repair the damage they did. They are local, you know where they live or where their shop is, you can take them to court.  The “out of towner”s”, they will take your money and you will never see them again. Or they will damage your property and bail, leaving you with a half cut tree, bearing down over your house. The have no intent of doing all the work you agreed too either, they will cut corners every way possible and if they can get away with only doing half the work, they will. Make no mistake about it, they do no operate in your best interest. Remember, just because they have a business license, does not mean anything. You, yourself, could go to your local city, pay the 50-100 bucks and get a license to do the same thing I do, are you trained to climb 100 ft up and remove a 2000 lb chunk of wood over your house?………..either are they! Due your due-diligence and check your tree guy out before making a decision!

What do you do? Simple, call us!

Advocatus Pro Abora, I peak for the trees.

Economy Tree Service is now Urban Tree Care!

 

We are excited to announce our name change! To more accurately describe what we do, we felt that a change was in order. We choose Urban Tree Care! Same owner, same crew, same everything …..except for the name! We have had several clients tell us that they would never have called us if it was not for someone recommending us, just because of the name. They told us that the name Economy Tree Service sounds like your typical cut rate, hacker tree service that the QC is over populated with,  which we are NOT!……..not even close! Originally, I chose the name Economy for simple branding reasons, it was easy for people to remember. I did not consider the fact, that the general public, may take it as just another generic named, meth head, ex-con with a saw, tree service!  We do not want people to assume that about us and not call, just because of our name! I picked the name, Urban Tree Care, as it more accurately describes what we are about. The name came from a friend in California that runs one of the top rated tree services in the southwest.

The legal name will remain Economy Tree Service LLC, but DBA (doing business as) Urban Tree Care.

So please! Tell anyone ya know, who is looking for a Professional I.S.A. Certified Arborist with a perfect safety record, thousands of satisfied clients, same great reputation, same great customer service, same expert skill, just a new name! Tell them to call me, Scott Swearinger, Certified Arborist, owner/operator at  Urban Tree Care at 563 579 7117!

 

What Do I Do If My Tree Falls?

 

When I get called out on storm or emergency tree work, often it is the first time a property owner has had to deal with such an issue. There are some who have had several trees come down over the years at the same location, these seasoned storm veterans may understand this a little better, as storm work can be, and often is, much more expensive than normal, routine pruning. When dealing with injuries and property damage, the first thing I have to say is this. I am not a lawyer, in no way shape or form and I am not giving legal advice, I am just relaying what I have personally experienced when dealing with the issue.

Trees fall!,at some point, they all do. This is the risk you take when having a large tree. Me, I am ok with it, and why they fall, can be figured out, its nature.  Some trees can be obvious, massive amounts of rot and decay, but most of your average large trees, without doing extensive research on the specific tree, it can be hard to tell. A tree that looks perfectly fine, may fall right in front of you, where as a tree that looks like it shouldn”t be standing, does, for years. Wind can wreak havoc on trees like no other. If hit just right, with enough power, wind can destroy anything in its path. A perfectly healthy tree can be turned into splinters in a matter of seconds like in a tornado. Straight line winds can lay a whole forest on its side. Its no wonder then, that when we have a strong wind that moves through the urban forest (the city) where there are many trees standing by themselves, surrounded by man made structures, that cause a immense amount of damage every year, world wide. Not to mention injuries and ultimately death, like I said before, Google it. Trees often uproot. The tree above ground looks great, everything is just peachy, but the tree below is in bad shape. Roots, not only provide nutrients for the tree, they also store energy and provide stabilization. When the roots die and decompose, the tree can quickly loose its ability to hold itself up. Even with a perfectly healthy tree, in saturated soil, the roots “slide” around when the tree is moved by wind, loosing the “grip” In this case, trees can simply fall over, with just a little help from the wind. When the ground is saturated for a long periods of time, the roots cannot get oxygen. When this occurs, the trees” defense system is decreased severely and pathogens can set in, infecting the root system, allowing the roots to rot, destabilizing the tree. In worse case scenarios, you have the perfect storm, a wet, warm winter, when the soil has been saturated for months, when normally it is frozen, pathogens have long been at work, then add in the wind. This does not happen often, but it does. Some times, trees just don”t have a chance.

This is a quick rundown of what seems to be the best course of action.

1. Once you have determined that everyone is safe, if you lose power, chances are a line was taken out in the process. If there is a line down, STAY AWAY! Call 911 and then the power company. Keep everybody else away until the authorities arrive. Only proceed with the tree when instructed that it is safe online slots to do so by the fire dept or the power company. NO ONE ELSE. If the tree has fallen against a line, pole or a tower, STAY AWAY. If the cable line is down or the phone line is down, consider it energized and STAY AWAY! Treat any cable or wire as if it were live, the chance of surviving electrocution from high voltage is slim to none.

2. Once the tree is safe, if the tree went down in a yard and caused no damage, call a Certified Arborist. If the tree did cause damage, call your insurance agency, stay on them until you get an adjuster out. Make sure they take pictures. You do the same, of everything. At the same time, call a Certified Arborist. They will come to take a look and give you a bid on the work. Get it in writing, GET IT IN WRITING! Do not do any work until the adjuster has arrived.

3. The insurance adjuster can sign off on the amount proposed and give a authorization or claim number. They can also sign the contract for services, acknowledging that the cost of the service is to be paid by the insurance company. It is best to have the Arborist and the Adjuster there at the same time.

4. With the agreement in writing and the tree service verified, you should be safe to proceed with the removal of the branch or tree.

Many services have different billing and payment procedures.

This is how I deal with it. First, I do not get paid by the insurance company; I get paid by the client. The contract is between the property owner and the Tree service. I have a specific paragraph for the insurance agent or adjuster to fill out. Most will require a security deposit. It is a fact, that when people have a tree on their house, a hole in their roof, they will say anything to get it off and get the hole patched. It is not uncommon for a Tree service to remove a tree for someone who has no intent on paying, the ability to pay or have a issue with the insurance company.  There is nothing tangible to recover if this happens, a deposit gives the professional Certified Arborist a comfort level, that they are not risking their life for nothing. Second, most do not wait for the insurance company to pay you, to get paid. Most are paid in full when they are done with the project, unless otherwise authorized by the owner of the Tree service. Removing a storm damaged branch or tree is extremely dangerous and we have to put our lives at risk to do it. We are trained in the proper and safe techniques by professional organizations such as the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) and TCIA (Tree Care Industry Association), however, nature is nature and unforeseen accidents still happen.

When we have storms and there are lots of trees down, the Jack of All Trades come out like cockroaches. They will go door to door, giving out the best prices in the world. STOP!  Don’t even think about it. Professional Arborist do not go door to door! These guys will do anything for money and today they printed off tree service business cards, yesterday it was roofing, tomorrow it will be retaining wall installation. Landscapers and lawn services jump on this as well. They can often be more dangerous than the Jack of All Trades, as they have a false sense of security, thinking they have a grasp, when they are far from it.  Removing a tree from a structure is serious business. It should ONLY be performed by an ISA  Certified Arborist.  We are properly trained in Advanced Rigging and understand the forces involves. One branch cut it in the wrong place, can and does, result in death. Google it, you will see what I mean. Often, when the Homeowner goes ahead and hires the guy off the street, additional damage is incurred. The insurance company does not pay for this and will sometimes deny the whole claim. They want you to hire a pro as well. If the guy doesn”t have insurance and causes more damage or gets hurt, the Homeowner can and often is, held liable. Certified Arborist have specially designed equipment for this type of work.  A boat rope, electric chainsaw, and a ladder are not on that list.

If you do not want to deal with the insurance company, that is your choice. A Certified Arborist will gladly deal directly with the Home Owner.

Where do I find a Certified Arborist? It’s easy!, go http://isa-arbor.com/ ,type in your zip and BAM! There we are! Now when looking at the list, Keep in mind that Arborist do not have to be a current member. It will still show our certification number and expiration date, for example. Mine is MW-5088A and expires June 30 2016. There is a easier way yet! Just call me!

Finally, the best thing to do is stay calm, do not make any knee jerk decisions. Hire only vetted pros. Take pics to cover your backside. Insurance companies hate trees, they hate paying for them even more! Do not put yourself at risk by hiring your buddy’s nephew or someone knocking on a door. When it is all said and done, there is one thing left that you need to do……………….have me plant a new one!

Reviews

Here are a few reviews from our clients. These are legitimate reviews found on the internet. Most from Angieslist.com. Some from YELP.COM and SuperPages You can find them and many more, all by googling……..well, me! These are not fake, obviously self written reviews like many of my competitors have put out there! These are all real people who I have personally performed tree care for. I have not listed their full name for security reasons. They are available for references. Contact me and I will put you in contact with them

Scott

 

Kathy, Le Claire

“We live on over 3 acres on a wooded bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.  We first used him to clear about 70 scrap trees from the bluff to give us a river view.  We were pleased with the service and price and have proceeded to use him on a lot of other tree work that needs to be done around here.  He gives solid quotes, is responsive and does good work.  He also uses good safety equipment, which a lot of tree guys do not.  Highly recommend.”

Kim, Le Claire

“We had about 80 trees removed to open a view to the Mississippi River in a difficult hill terrain.  Additionally we had them prune and trim our front yard trees.  This involved about 10 trees.  And remove a dead oak from a difficult hill terrain.

Economy Tree gave us a very competitive bid and was prepared for the difficult terrain with all the proper safety equipment.  They removed a wide variety of trees in all shapes and sizes.  Initially we had intended to sell our home and thought a river view would enhance the capacity to sell the house.  After Scott finished we realized we loved the view so much that we didn”t want to move!  We then hired them to prune and trim our front trees.  As before they did a professional, responsible and fantastic job with our front yard 10 or more trees.  They will return tomorrow to remove a dead oak in our woods.  I will hire them again!”

 

Bill, Andover

“I don”t usually take the time to review a product or service, but I made exception in this case because I was so impressed with the quality of service provided by Scott Swearinger and his crew. My wife and I needed three large maple trees and one large locust tree trimmed at our residence in Andover, IL. One of the maple trees had a great deal of deadwood in it, but the tree was worth salvaging. We also needed an old, nonproductive apple tree removed. Scott is a very knowledgeable certified arborist. He and his crew did an excellent job (for a fair price) with our trees. They really look nice and we can”t wait for spring to see how they look once they leaf out! Some of these trees were near our house and electric service line and were a potential risk. After the work that Scott and his crew performed, I”m now more at ease about any potential damage risk these trees present to our property. I am extremely pleased with the tree service and cleanup Scott and his crew performed.”

Elizabeth, Bettendorf

“They did a fabulous job. I highly recommend Economy Tree Service. We had our front yard tree taken out first and it went very smoothly. They have great teamwork. I think and the cleanup was wonderful you could hardly tell the were there. Wonderful wonderful!!! Then with our backyard tree that one is more challenging so we had a few weeks in between that we were waiting on the weather to corporate and once it did boom they were on it. The back tree but it was a monster and very difficult to remove. They are very good at the difficult part of it they roped everything off and once again the teamwork was amazing. They were there every morning by 8am and finish for the day around 4pm. The cleanup for the backyard tree was very good also. We had some wood we wanted from the tree and they stacked it up good for us. They really did go over and beyond what we expected. A !!! Great Job Scott!!” 

 

Kim, Rock Island

“Scott came to meet with us and give us our estimate.  He told us about the process and how it was going to work.  The first morning they arrived right when they said they would be there.  Worked all day got all the branches down from the tree (working between all the power lines).  Next working day, they took down the rest of tree.  About a week later, they came back and removed the stump and filled it. I really appreciated how polite Scott and his crew were from start to finish.  They did a wonderful job.  The price was right and the only ones that bid on it that were able to do this without taking out my power and my neighbors” power while doing this big project.”

 

Brain, Davenport

“I obtained several bids prior to deciding on Economy Tree.  The owner, Scott Swearinger, impressed me as being straightforward, honest, and professional; he didn”t try any scare tactics, unlike two other contractors, but laid out the possible courses of action and answered all of my questions.  His military background and website suggested he would get the job done, and he lived up to it.  I was most impressed by him (out of four bidders), so I was pretty happy that his bid was also the lowest by a significant amount.  He arranged the work quickly, showed up on site with his work crew, gave specific instructions, and introduced me.  

His crew did a fabulous job on a tough bit of work; a tight space with a very tall tree and two nearby houses.  They were organized, coordinated, and efficient; there were the necessary breaks to rehydrate, but no standing around watching others work.  They answered my questions, followed through on the few things I requested, cleaned up, let me look over the job before they left, and were altogether friendly, polite, and professional.  There was no impatience if I had a request; they just did it with a smile.  They seemed pretty happy, too, which in my experience is the sign of a good working atmosphere and a good crew.

I would absolutely use this group again, and recommend them to my friends and neighbors.  They did a great job of taking my interests into account and accomplishing their task.  I am completely satisfied with their work.”

Rod, Davenport

Called back right away with an estimate. Had 3 trees close to the house and phone lines removed. Quick service. They cleaned up all of the limbs and mess. Will use this company again in the future to trim up the other trees.”

 

Guest at SuperPages.com

“Great job! Recently had them cut down 3 large trees and trim 1. Very nice guys. Cleaned up very nice and blew all the leafs off my roof. I wanted the wood, so they cut and stacked it for me. The tree they trimmed was really ugly. Now its very pretty”

Emerald Ash Borer, Don’t Treat Them, Remove Them!

Updated Feb 22 2014

Well, its here. They have found it by the airport. It was inevitable and now we have to figure out the best way to manage it. As you may know, I talk with other professional Arborist from all over the world, daily. I am fortunate to have some of the top Arborist in the world as my mentors and I have several friends who run very large private professional company”s that are Board Certified Master Arborist and members of the Tree Care Industry Association and are accredited company”s. Many of them are in areas that are heavily infested with EAB in the northeast.  Listening to them, their experiences with treatments, removals and the aftermath. I have came to my own conclusion on how I plan on dealing with it when called. First, everyone who knows me, knows I am not a fan of chemicals. Too many times, we see a miracle cure and run to use it, then a few years later, we see commercials on TV where lawyers are getting class action suits together because of issues associated with the miracle cure.

You always see these young guys out running around with a tank in their truck, knocking on doors and spraying your yard with this or that. All while listening to their I-Pod or texting their girlfriend. In other words, not paying attention to what they are doing. Dumping who knows what in your yard, into the environment. “Oops, little spill, hope no one seen that”. Many times, I have had to come in after a “pro” has treated a tree, only to remove it. They where supposed to fertilize it, treat it for whatever they told you was wrong, even if they didn”t know for sure, but read the ticket wrong, didn”t clean the equipment properly or just applied the wrong amount and killed the tree. Most of the time, the one who is in the field has had little training and is not the one with a QAL. Just a guy they hired to fill a spot, a couple days of on the job training and they are sent out the door with a full schedule. He has no idea of what he is doing and they make him responsible for making sure highly toxic chemicals are carefully handled and stored. This happens all the time around here, all the time. The chemicals they have for EAB, have proven that that they have some success and can work to a point, but experiences in the field (from highly successful, professional, private companies with Master Arborist, with no affiliation of the manufacturer) have determined that this is not always the case. The highest success rate so far is only about 80%. So if your tree has 10 bugs, 8 will die, 2 will live and become resistant to future treatments. So treating basically just prolongs the death of the tree and kills many insects, that we need to survive. What worries me the most, is what these chemicals do to the environment. Granted, some Master Arborist have been successful at preventing large important trees from falling to the EAB, but the introduction of the active ingredients of these insecticides, over the course of several years has a widespread negative affect on the environment that is not easily measured, so to say they are harmless, is misleading. If you are offered a treatment, before you sign the line, Ask for the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)of the active ingredient. If they cannot present this immediately, simply say goodbye and close the door, as this is a clear and obvious sign that they are no professional. If they do have it, take it and do your own research before agreeing to the service. You will clearly see that these chemicals possess a serious threat to you, me and every living thing. Take Emamectin Benzoate, the active ingredient in the top treatment….the most popular injection treatment. Its the one that has a huge marketing department behind it. They are doing a great job, as every time you read a article about EAB, it is listed. Do a Google search on its toxicity, not only to bees but to many living organisms. Lets take any leaf eating insect for example. This same insect is then eaten by a bird, say a Turkey and then that Turkey ends up on your table………see where I am going with this!  This is true for all of them, like I said, do your research, you will see. Once you start treating your tree, depending on the brand, it is something that you will need to continue for the life of the tree. Often leading to more expense over the long term than removing it and replacing it.

All of them, the chems, are HIGHLY TOXIC TO ALL POLLINATORS. That means that they kill our honey bees. And that is no good. We need our Bees, without them, we die!! Most of them are HIGHLY TOXIC TO ALL AQUATIC LIFE. The chemicals leach very easily through the soil and quickly make its way into the water. Killing fish and polluting the environment in a big way. So next time you pull that Catfish out of the river, clean it and cook it, I hope it tastes good. This is what the manufacturers don”t want you to know. They do list this in the labels, but in the small print……… They are pushing revenue and could care less about the environment. They say they do, but how can you take them seriously when they produce a product that is so extremely harmful to many living organisms, all to try and save one. Its all about money. Granted, Ash trees are not normally pollinated by insects, but that does not matter. When you apply these chemicals, no matter how it is applied, they kill anything they touch. Ash trees are a favorite tree for bees to make a hive in. Every time I have been attacked by bees, while in a tree, it has been a Ash tree. So, even though they are not flying around from flower to flower in the tree, they do live there and when the tree is treated, you kill the bees. Some of the treatments are systemic, meaning it is injected into the tree and the chem is drawn into the “circulatory” system of the tree, up through all the branches, twigs and stems, out to the leaf and down through the root system. Now, this way, is better than the sprays and is less likely to be toxic to aquatic life, but it is still highly toxic to pollinators. That means, if the tree is dripping sap from a broken twig, a pruning cut, etc and anything feeds on or touches the sap, it will die. The loss of many good, beneficial insects will die and that is the aftereffect that they are not telling you. The other thing they forget to tell you, is although a systemic injection is much safer than a soil drench or a spray, they drill multiple holes around the base of the tree, this also damages the tree and after several years of drilling, the base of the tree begins to rot.  What if, just by chance, something that never ever happens around here……….. NEVER! Especially here in the QC! A BAD SUMMER STORM!! That never happens here right! The normal schedule to treat your Ash is late spring to early summer. Right in the middle of storm season. So, a storm rolls through, right after you treated all of your Ash trees, it tears up your  trees and drops large branches on the ground, strips many leaves off the tree. Where do they go? So now you have thousands of treated leaves all over your yard. You rake them into a pile put them in your compost pile. Again, see where I am going. Earthworms feed on this, birds feed on earthworms. You dig them up to go fishing…..

You may treat your Ash, spend a lot of money doing it, and it still can die, it probably will. You end up having the tree removed after all and your yard will still have those chemicals in it. Several studies show that the chemicals do not dissolve as fast as they say in all situations. Some have been still measurable after 20 weeks. Think about it like this, when you see someone treating plants, trees and yards with chemicals, what are they wearing? White TyVek suits with respirators, rubber boots and big yellow gloves! Hello! Does that give you the impression that it is safe! They treat your yard, then tell you it is ok for the kids to play in it! This cracks me up!

There is a product out there, that is an organic treatment, that is safe for the environment. I am currently researching this product and may offer it as a service. It will be a alternative to the big 3. If this product meets my standards, I will offer the treatment. It is also a systemic treatment that requires injecting the tree but in much less amounts. However it is not dangerous. It is a natural compound extracted from another tree that is used to disrupt the reproductive system and basically makes the eggs non-viable. Stopping them from fully developing. It is required that only persons with a QAL (Qualified Applicators License) are allowed to utilize it. This is what I am concerned with and why I have yet to use it. I have contacted to the manufacturer  to learn more about it. If I do offer it, it will be only on trees of particular significance.

Many times, there is a natural cure for bugs, like other bugs, that are predators…..good bugs. To this point, I do not believe that there is a particular bug that can be bought to fight EAB. There are many other bugs that are successfully controlled by natural predators and they are easy to obtain. So I am hoping that the bug guys hurry up. They have been breeding 3 different types of parasitic wasp with great success, little bitty wasp that do not sting humans. They are natural enemies of the EAB. They kill EAB in various different ways, using the eggs and larvae as food sources for their own offspring. They have released these wasp in several locations throughout the US and are currently upgrading their breeding facility in Michigan to be able to produce many more. It is still in study and I am not sure if these little studs will be available for purchase. They have no known negative impact on the environment. This would be the best course of action in my opinion. It may be a long shot, to think we could take care of the problem completely with this, but they are having great success where they have deployed them and the Ash trees in theses areas are thriving because they now have body guards!  Check out the video on this, its pretty cool!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc668J_TxYs

Treating your Ash tree with these toxic chemicals is just money wasted and more nasty chemicals introduced to the environment. Whatever the long term effect will be, it won”t be good. All of their stats come from perfect world scenarios, and we do not live in a perfect world do we? It never is,  and there is always some unforeseen circumstance that shows its ugly head later down the road. Too many yahoos are going to be out and about , going from door to door telling you that the sky will fall if you do not treat, right then, right there. Every lawn guy, landscaper and jack of all trades is going to be all over this. Do you think it is smart to trust the guy that does roofing, siding, concrete, landscape, lawn mowing, installs retaining walls and patios to be a true professional tree guy! This scares me to death. If one of these so called pros accidentally spills this stuff next to a stream or creek,  the result will be disastrous, and this will happen ………..actually, it already has. Most of them cannot identify an Ash tree and I have already dealt with a lady that had her Oak, Maple and a Birch treated for EAB!  These guys simply do not care, they just want your money and could care less if they damage anything in the process.

If you have any questions, it is imperative that you talk to a I.S.A Certified Arborist, an actual tree professional. Not some Jackwagon, that was just released from prison, who removed a low branch off your tree, so he could mow around it and now considers himself a tree professional.

So that is where I am at with it. I have a QAL (Qualified Applicators License) on staff and we can perform the treatments, but I will not. I will refrain from this service. It is nature, and this happens, is it good for your cool tree in the back yard, no, I suppose not, and I get it, you want to save the tree that you planted many years ago. BUT! If you asked the tree what it thought about all this and it could answer, I guarantee it would be against all chemicals. It is called natural selection and this sort of thing has happened since there were trees on Earth. Natural Selection is at work. With that being said, it was simply fast forwarded by the movement of shipping crates from China to the US, by man. So it is a naturally occurring epidemic, sped up by man. The Ash trees in China have evolved to build a natural tolerance to the EAB, when they came to North America, our Ash trees had never been exposed to them before, so they never had a reason to build any type of resistance to the bug and are much more vulnerable. The bug loves this and is going crazy, the population grows up to 5000% per year.  Some Ash trees will already have a natural resistance and without any treatments, they will survive, but they are few, far and in between. As the weak trees are killed, by bug or by saw, the healthy ones will remain, reproduce and their offspring will be hardened to the bug. But this will take hundreds of years. If your tree has EAB, confirmed by a ISA Certified Arborist, then you have a decision to make. Do you treat it and kill all kinds of beneficial bugs and hope for the best, or do you remove it and start over. Some people do not care about the effects on the environment and will dump all kinds of chemicals into their yard, trying to save a beat up old Ash tree that they have never cared about before. These are the same guys that dump used car oil in the stream out back.  This is what I recommend to you, remove and replace. Unless the tree has some sort of huge sentimental value, why dump a bunch of chemicals into the environment and hope for the best. Lets get it taken care of right away. By removing your tree, you are removing your problem. Take the money you would spend on treatments and plant a new tree! No chemicals needed! If a tree has lost more than 20-30% of the canopy, it is most likely too far gone and is not worth trying to treat.  When first diagnosed, it can take several years before your tree is dead, however, as that time goes by, the bug reproduces and moves over to your neighbors tree. Lets be a good neighbor, get ahead of it and get rid of it.

Normally, I am against removing a tree, unless absolutely necessary. I don”t have a boss pushing sales goals and making sure I hit that revenue goal at all cost. I am not in fear of losing my job or being demoted because I failed to sell unneeded services. I don”t work for commission, so I don”t have any pressure to sell, no matter the work that is done. I never use scare tactics to close the deal. So many times before,  when someone has been told by a local tree service, that they need to remove a tree, it is done with one thing in mind, money. Often,  I will come in, debunk the scare tactic and give them an honest opinion of the tree, often resulting in the tree remaining and a long term plant health care plan being established. I would rather prune your tree over the years, caring for it, instead of killing it because of some little flaw that the “others”  exploit who do not understand the biology of trees. They try to use these minor issues to convince you that the tree is going to result in a massive failure. Scare tactics are often used to make revenue goals.  So when I suggest removing your Ash, once it has EAB, it comes with a heavy heart. I don”t like to remove trees that can be saved. Some people have a perfectly healthy tree and just want it removed, for this reason or that. I always try my hardest to change their mind and often do. Some are determined, so we remove it, but I always try to get them to replace it.  I know that I have saved hundreds, if not thousands of trees, from the hands of those who only have their boss, their bad habit or court fine in mind. They will tell you anything to get you to remove it. Anything to keep their job, anything to make their boss happy.  With EAB, it is a different situation. I think the planet would benefit more, from removing the tree, replacing it with a different species, than it would from millions of trees treated with chemicals that are non-selective, killing not only EAB, but any bug that comes into contact with it. There are many more good bugs than bad and when you treat your tree, your killing many more than just EAB. Many of my friends have reported back, saying that they have treated particular trees, over the course of several years, only to lose the battle and end up removing them after all. All of their treatments were not able to stop the bug.

Something to consider, we will never have total control. Nature is much more powerful than we are. For all the trees that are treated, there are 10 times that amount in the forest. No one is treating them, they will be lost. To think that by treating your tree with these noxious chemicals, you are helping to stop the bug is false positive. The bug will never be completely stopped. It is here and we have to deal with that. Can we put a big dent in the population, absolutely. Should we just give up and let them have at it? No, we need to continue the fight. But dumping millions of gallons of into the environment is not the answer either.

There are some Ash trees, dead smack in the middle of the EAB wave, completely unaffected. Never once treated, just properly care for by a Certified Arborist. Why did they live? Because a healthy tree is the best defense. It is nature and you cannot put nature in a box. Like the trees in China, these select few have a natural resistance to the bug. There are studies being conducted on these trees and at some point, I am sure, they will start to cultivate this resistant species and we will once again be able to plant new Ash.

If you have several Ash trees on your property, and you end up having to remove them all, then use multiple different species when replacing them. One thing that has happened back east, back when the Elms where getting hit in the 70″s, once a street was stripped bare of all its Elms, they came back in and planted all new trees……..all Ash trees. Fast forward to now, and they have bare streets again. Diversification is key. Do not replace all your trees with the same species. Choose good stable trees, stay away from all the fancy hybrids. Make sure that you buy from a well respected nursery such as Wallaces Garden Center in Bettendorf, Where the trees are inspected and cared for daily. Choose multiple different species. This will hardened your property against the next wave of bugs that will come through, maybe next time it is Oak or Maple, who knows. This way, when it comes again, the next big wave of a destructive bug….. and it will, you will not lose all your trees. Again, the decision is yours. Me, I have already removed my Ash, it was already busted up from a storm and was going down hill, a sure goner if it was hit with EAB. It was replaced with a honey locust and it is thriving.

Here is a good site, lots of good info and a little bit of backup to what I am saying. If done perfectly, treatments can have a positive effect on your tree, and you can prolong the inevitable.  But it still remains to be seen of what the environmental impact will be. The fact is, we need our Bees and other bugs in a bad way, and the bad treatments will kill many.  If you do choose to treat it, consider this info when doing so.

Hold your applicator to these standards.

http://www.mda.state.mn.us/~/media/Files/plants/eab/eabtreatmentguide2.ashx

I hope that the eco friendly side of the green industry, who is diligently working to find that “miracle” cure or inoculation, that is completely harmless to the environment, finds what they are looking for. If they do, I will be the first one to endorse it.

http://www.planetnatural.com/effect-of-pesticides/

Until then, Remove and Replace. No chemicals needed!

 

 

 

 

Safety on the Job site, and the lack there of!

Let me tell you about some of the stuff that I have seen since I started doing tree work, better known by pro”s as Modern Arboriculture.  I have seen fingers ripped off, legs broken, houses crushed and I have seen one fatality in this line of work. ALL PREVETABLE. I have seen, several times, tree workers get hurt because they are not wearing the proper safety gear. Most men feel that they are too tough to wear it, that it’s “dumb” and unnecessary. They are the first ones to cry when it happens to them! If they had on the gear, they wouldn’t be complaining. You will see a guy up in a tree, they may have their saddle on, but no ear or eye protection. Sometimes, very few and far between, I will see a guy with a hard hat on!

Most services have no idea how to rig a tree down safely. They take huge chances to get the job done fast, only exposing themselves, their customers’ property, all to save a little time. The term “it’s easier to cut up on the ground” is always said. Not true.  They approach the tree with reckless abandonment. Making choices on time, rather than safety. This often results in a longer, harder day for everyone. Many times I have seen a tree cutter with a little bit of rigging knowledge, swing big leaders around, trying to “go big” so they can get down. The reason they don”t go out on the tips of the branches and break it down is, because they are scared. Now don”t get me wrong, if I were to tell you I don’t get nervous up there, I would be lying. Some trees are just scary.  The reason they are scared is they don”t possess the skill to do it efficiently. To them, it seems like it takes too long to rig out all the pieces, but they cannot see the big picture. Going big, often results in a branch hung up in a tree, a gutter damaged, shingles ripped, etc.  Then when they do get it free, the ground men have to figure out how to get it down to the ground without it hitting power lines, the fence, a shed and so on. Now they have to cut it all up, often right in the danger zone below the Arborist. Stopping him from working, keeping him in the tree longer. (Side note: I have seen climbers do this on purpose as well. They send something down that will be a pain for the ground men, tying ridiculous knots, so it will take the ground men  a while to clear it. Mean time, the climber, who is milking the clock, can text his girl friend or talk to a buddy about cars.) Anyways, this type of work is always going to produce a less than stellar performance, not to mention, constantly putting their people, the customers’ and their property at unnecessary risk.  Me, I go small. I will go out to the tips and work my way back, never cutting anything that the guys cannot immediately escape from and easily remove from the drop zone. This allows the job site to be clean at all times, as the material that comes down, is instantly processed. This reduces the amount of time they are running a saw. Keeps the drop zone free of debris, so the guys can walk and work. All of these little changes from their style to mine reduce our risk. And that is what it is all about, reducing the risk. Risk mitigation and situational awareness are huge in the tree business, just as in the Marines, they are designed to bring everyone home safe.  You have to constantly monitor both of these, at all times. You do this with constant communication. I see these guys, that we will for now on call the “others” I have watched them feed chippers with nothing but daisy dukes and a beer, these are not your neighbors getting together to do a weekend project, but so called tree services. They have no idea the risk they impose and the homeowners do not have a clue of what could happen to them if someone was hurt. A chipper will eat a human and have no regret. I have seen them ride on the outside of a bucket with no safety harness, climb ladders with a 3ft saw, only to cut a branch that hits them on the way down.  I have seen them try to lay a tree over, only for it to go over backward and land on a house. I get calls all the time from various people about the “others” They tell me stories that I just cannot believe, until I go look myself. They use the bucket trucks as cranes. They use crane operators that have no idea of what they are doing (FYI time again, when u are picking a piece of wood, you do not tie it off in a manner that it is going to flip upside down. Anyone who says this is right, obviously has been operating on luck and no skill or training) It is almost too funny to listen to them talk how they are approaching the tree, leaving safety in the truck. They go to work with absolutely no plan. Just getting in the tree and start cutting. Again this is the most dangerous job in the world. Not the crab fishermen on the show. Every year, ANSI produces a list of the top 10 most dangerous jobs. We are on top every year. This is due to no regulation. When you do not have a way of vetting who is who. You ended up with a tree community that is filled with half trained druggies and ex-cons that have no intent on providing a safe work environment, just to get it down by any means necessary. This is why we are on top. If you were to look at all the accidents in the tree industry, you will find that most are preventable and most occurred to those who have no training. Very rarely, do you hear about a Certified Arborist getting killed. Mainly, its bubba with the “others”. Go on youtube, type in tree accidents, you will see. The other culprits of many accidents are the homeowner themselves. Now I do not expect them to understand basic tree care or basic rigging. That is why they should hire a pro. Ask around to your friends and family. Someone close to you has been hurt doing tree work. Recently, here in Bettendorf, a Homeowner was using his ladder to cut a large branch. He broke his back.  I watched first hand as a neighbor came out to “help” us with his saw. I would not have let him, but it didn”t get that far. He started his saw, in his yard, and then ran it right into his leg. I instantly found myself applying first aid to him. This is no joke. He could have died that day in his yard from bleeding to death.  Many of the “others” have a little bit of skill, and they take that little bit of skill as full on training, when really, they have barely made it to the basic level. They understand how to cut a piece of wood, they understand gravity and they can figure out how to tie off large pieces and swing them into the tree. But that is about it.  If you were to ask them how much force they applied to the ropes when they drop something with them, they would have no clue of what you are talking about.  They walk a thin line, always on the verge of destroying something or getting someone killed.  Luck is not a skill, and they have really no understanding of the danger they put themselves in.

Now some will take issues with this, send me nasty comments about  what they think, that”s good! At least we know they can read! Now! there is no more excuses of why they don”t do it right……….right!

“Fear is for the educated, I am not educated, so I have no fear” – Words of a old date palm climber when asked about safety on the job, in the country of India

 

Topping is BAD!

 

Topping is a practice done by tree hackers, no more, no less. They have no idea what they are doing, if they do, they should be arrested. In many major cities across the U.S. it is illegal. It is one of those practices that is from the stone age. It was done as a normal practice, until we started walking upright and learning how to talk, in other words, it’s been a while since it was recognized as a proper practice.  Yet it is still done all over town. Some of these guys are convinced that what they are doing is right, but it is very wrong. If you see any tree service do it, they are wrong. I have talked with a few of them, tried to explain to them why it is bad, their only response was, “we have always done it” They have been doing it for so wrong, for so long, they think its right.  I could go into details but the ISA already has, so I will let them explain it. Here’s what the ISA says

Why Topping Hurts Trees

Topping is perhaps the most harmful tree pruning practice known. Yet, despite more than 25 years of literature and seminars explaining its harmful effects, topping remains a common practice. This brochure explains why topping is not an acceptable pruning technique and offers better alternatives.

What is Topping?

Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Other names for topping include “heading,” “tipping,” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over.”

The most common reason given for topping is to reduce the size of a tree. Home owners often feel that their trees have become too large for their property. People fear that tall trees may pose a hazard. Topping, however, is not a viable method of height reduction and certainly does not reduce the hazard. In fact, topping will make a tree more hazardous in the long term.

Topping Stresses Trees

Topping often removes 50 to 100 percent of the leaf-bearing crown of a tree. Because leaves are the food factories of a tree, removing them can temporarily starve a tree. The severity of the pruning triggers a sort of survival mechanism. The tree activates latent buds, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree needs to put out a new crop of leaves as soon as possible. If a tree does not have the stored energy reserves to do so, it will be seriously weakened and may die.

A stressed tree is more vulnerable to insect and disease infestations. Large, open pruning wounds expose the sapwood and heartwood to attacks. The tree may lack sufficient energy to chemically defend the wounds against invasion, and some insects are actually attracted to the chemical signals trees release.

Topping Causes Decay

The preferred location to make a pruning cut is just beyond the branch collar at the branch’s point of attachment. The tree is biologically equipped to close such a wound, provided the tree is healthy enough and the wound is not too large. Cuts made along a limb between lateral branches create stubs with wounds that the tree may not be able to close. The exposed wood tissues begin to decay. Normally, a tree will “wall off,” or compartmentalize, the decaying tissues, but few trees can defend the multiple severe wounds caused by topping. The decay organisms are given a free path to move down through the branches.

Topping Can Lead to Sunburn

Branches within a tree’s crown produce thousands of leaves to absorb sunlight. When the leaves are removed, the remaining branches and trunk are suddenly exposed to high levels of light and heat. The result may be sunburn of the tissues beneath the bark, which can lead to cankers, bark splitting, and death of some branches.

Topping Creates Hazards

The survival mechanism that causes a tree to produce multiple shoots below each topping cut comes at great expense to the tree. These shoots develop from buds near the surface of the old branches. Unlike normal branches that develop in a socket of overlapping wood tissues, these new shoots are anchored only in the outermost layers of the parent branches.

The new shoots grow quickly, as much as 20 feet in one year, in some species. Unfortunately, the shoots are prone to breaking, especially during windy conditions. The irony is that while the goal was to reduce the tree’s height to make it safer, it has been made more hazardous than before.

Topping Makes Trees Ugly

The natural branching structure of a tree is a biological wonder. Trees form a variety of shapes and growth habits, all with the same goal of presenting their leaves to the sun. Topping removes the ends of the branches, often leaving ugly stubs. Topping destroys the natural form of a tree.

Without leaves (up to 6 months of the year in temperate climates), a topped tree appears disfigured and mutilated. With leaves, it is a dense ball of foliage, lacking its simple grace. A tree that has been topped can never fully regain its natural form.

Topping Is Expensive

The cost of topping a tree is not limited to what the perpetrator is paid. If the tree survives, it will require pruning again within a few years. It will either need to be reduced again or storm damage will have to be cleaned up. If the tree dies, it will have to be removed.

Topping is a high-maintenance pruning practice, with some hidden costs. One is the reduction in property value. Healthy, well-maintained trees can add 10 to 20 percent to the value of a property. Disfigured, topped trees are considered an impending expense.

Another possible cost of topped trees is potential liability. Topped trees are prone to breaking and can be hazardous. Because topping is considered an unacceptable pruning practice, any damage caused by branch failure of a topped tree may lead to a finding of negligence in a court of law.

Alternatives to Topping

Sometimes a tree must be reduced in height or spread. Providing clearance for utility lines is an example. There are recommended techniques for doing so. If practical, branches should be removed back to their point of origin. If a branch must be shortened, it should be cut back to a lateral that is large enough to assume the terminal role. A rule of thumb is to cut back to a lateral that is at least one-third the diameter of the limb being removed.

This method of branch reduction helps to preserve the natural form of the tree. However, if large cuts are involved, the tree may not be able to close over and compartmentalize the wounds. Sometimes the best solution is to remove the tree and replace it with a species that is more appropriate for the site.

Hiring an Arborist

Pruning large trees can be dangerous. If pruning involves working above the ground or using power equipment, it is best to hire a professional arborist. An arborist can determine the type of pruning that is necessary to improve the health, appearance, and safety of your trees. A professional arborist can provide the services of a trained crew, with all of the required safety equipment and liability insurance.

When selecting an arborist,

  • check for membership in professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). Such membership demonstrates a willingness on the part of the arborist to stay up to date on the latest techniques and information.
  • check for ISA arborist certification. Certified Arborists are experienced professionals who have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care.
  • ask for proof of insurance.
  • ask for a list of references, and don’t hesitate to check them.
  • avoid using the services of any tree company that
    • advertises topping as a service provided. Knowledgeable arborists know that topping is harmful to trees and is not an accepted practice.
    • uses tree climbing spikes to climb trees that are being pruned. Climbing spikes can damage trees, and their use should be limited to trees that are being removed.

The "Others"

You know these guys! the ones who run around, in beat up old trucks, no names, cut off sleeves, shorts and tennis shoes. The only part of tree work they understand is gravity and how to start a Home Depot chainsaw. These guys will take a job, screw up, damage something and bail, leaving the home owner in their dust. Many of them are criminals, just ask the cops. They leave in their wake, a long list of mutilated trees

They have no training, just what uncle bubba told them. So there they are, trying to remove a 2000lb chunk of wood over your roof, deck or driveway. Then OOPS! Now you have a truck flipped in your yard. A log through your roof. How about that crushed deck rail or busted driveway. They could go small and safe, but this takes a little longer, and that is why they don”t do it. They only take on hard removals if they can get a crane close to the tree, if they can’t “it cannot be done” is what they say. They have no idea how to remove a large hazardous tree by rigging. They are afraid to climb out on the tips to set rigging, so they go big, crashing the branch or leader back into the tree, creating a even more hazardous situation by hanging it up or busting other branches free. When they prune, it is common practice for them to start at the top and prune on the way down, this is lazy. When they cut branches, they smash down thru the canopy, tearing up most of what was to remain, knowing they cannot leave broken branches hanging all around, they remove those too. Now you have a tree that has about 30% of the canopy left. They then will give you some crazy reason why the tree was severely trimmed, when the real reason is that they tore it up while working on it. They will climb a tree that is to be pruned while wearing their spikes (gaffs, spurs) leaving hundreds of puncture wounds for the tree to try and heal. They top trees like it is an art form. Prune oak trees in the middle of summer. They leave stubs instead of properly finish cutting. Often they do not even understand how to make a proper pruning cut; this results in a “peel” where the bark peels away, below the cut, leaving a nasty wound that the tree will most likely not heal.

They have multiple businesses, ya know! Ask them, they do everything and are the best at all of them! They will build you a retaining wall, re-roof your house, mow your grass, build you a deck, pour concrete. They do gutters, siding and windows as well. Do you know why? Because this is what they destroy when doing tree work, so instead of calling a pro to fix the damage, they pull out their other business card, which just happens to be the exact service you need to fix what they broke! Some are landscapers that know just enough to be dangerous. Their customer comes out and asks “you know anybody that does trees?” Of course the landscaper says he does, and then goes on to completely mutilate the tree. The QC not having much knowledge on proper Arboriculture, just accept the end result as normal.

These type of guys drink beer on site, hit on your 14 year old daughter all while casing your residence for a later return, that nice tool box in the garage will look better in theirs. Ask the police, there is a reason why they are on the watch list. They purposely do not mark their trucks, so when someone wants to complain, they don”t know who to call. Not only is this done, it is preached about. They take your material out to rural roads and dump it in the ditches. They do this because they have been kicked out of most dump sites for dumping garbage along with the tree material. They drive down the road with unsecured loads, dropping stuff all the way out to the country. Last year, one of the “others” was hauling large logs on the back of their large junk flat bed, the load was not tied down, they turned a corner and large 1500lb logs rolled off the truck and into a intersection, almost hitting my wife and father-in-law. Instead of stopping and getting it, they hit the gas. This was done by a “premier” local tree service. They promise a rose garden but deliver a thorn bush. They will take your money and never return. They take on jobs too technical for them, then when they figure out they can not do it, pick up their saws and leave, leaving the homeowner with a hazardous situation, The Homeowner then calls a pro, and the pro says no! (Not because he wants to be mean, but he cannot take on the liability of others, nor do they want the neighbors thinking that it was them that did the original bad work). These guys will come out and tell you that your tree is going to die when they know darn well it’s not, just to make revenue. These half hearted self proclaimed Arborist will also explain how they are going to do it, but will have never been in a tree themselves, or if they have, it was for a very little amount of time and they recognized they do not have what it takes, so they get a couple pics of them bear hugging the trunk of a tree, 10ft of the ground, to prove that they have climbed.

Then you have the ones who knock on doors. As a rule, legitimate tree services don’t need to do this, we stay busy all year. Tree services that knock on doors usually have a bad reputation and this is the only way they can generate work. Door hangers and mailers are fine, but walking the neighborhoods, telling every person that the world is ending, if they don”t cut down that tree.

They will list in the phone books, on their advertising that they are ISA Certified Arborist or claim to have one on staff. This is a downright lie.  Some even have it in their name. They are not certified and they do not have one on staff. Ask them who it is that they claim is a ISA Certified Arborist and then go to www.isa.com  and check them out, you will see who is and who is not. They steal intellectual property of professionals, not realizing that there are legal ramifications when they do. They claim professional services, but are a far cry from it. The other cool little trick they do is falsifying their documentation. Anybody with a computer can generate a Insurance Certificate or a Bond. It is very important that you call their insurance company to make sure it is legit. Too many times have I been told about a tree service that has destroyed something, only for the Homeowner to find out they really do not have insurance. Then they are stuck flipping the bill. The tree service scurries away. The Homeowner can try and go after him, but for what, a junky truck and a old saw! Most people are a good judge of character, use your gut. When you meet these “others” and you feel that they are less than desirable, do a background check on them. We do whenever we hire any type of contractor. We use www.instantcheckmate.com , cost about $20 to get unlimited checks for a month. Do it! You will be blown away by the records of some of my competition. So be careful people! You do not want to hire someone who is going to come back in the middle of the night and steal from you. You will see them doing things that are completely and totally unsafe. Not wearing the proper safety gear, feeding chippers with daisy dukes and a beer. These guys are the ones who leave garbage all over their customer’s yard, go no. 2 in your bushes, (yes that is true, someone really did that!) Some will work for a day, up and leave the jobsite for a few days leaving their ropes and gear all over your yard so your kids can go out and get hurt. They will leave huge piles of brush and say “I”LL BE BACK” and the customer never sees them again. I am not sure why, but many people feel the need to call me and tell me what they see, or what they have experienced. Some guys, from other crews, that have wanted to work for me, still call me to tell me what they did for the day!  I secretly coach them, not necessarily wanting to help my competition, but some of these young guys have good intentions and I don”t want to see them get hurt, so I give them pointers all the time. It’s funny to hear their bosses talk about how good their guys are, not realizing that the little tricks that are making their guys better, come from me! Don”t worry guys, your secret is safe!

So! Next time you”re out and about, if you see a tree service, take a look. What do you see? I keep tabs on who is out there doing a good job as well. There are a few, out of the hundreds, that are pretty darn good. One of them, I look to for advice.

We are not hard to find, just look for the outfits that speak English, have sleeves on their uniformed shirts, professional equipment that’s designed for tree work. Cleancut, courteous employees. You will see names all over; we want you to know who we are, not trying to hide it!

How do we fix it? tell your alderman that you want regulation on the tree industry. A simple test on safety and proper Arboriculture, before receiving a business license, would be epic! The easiest way is to simply require that all tree services have a proven I.S.A. Certified Arborist on staff.

 

 

Firewood

I heat our home with the very same wood that I sell. We turn the furnace off Nov 1st and leave it off till we need air! The wood is mixed hardwood. Oak, maple, ash, cherry, elm, walnut…..you get the idea! We have a wood stove in our basement with no forced air. I was told by a wood stove “guru” to simply buy a 20 dollar box fan and point it towards the stove. WOW! We often have to open the front door to cool it down a bit. Saves a lot of money and I am using a renewable energy to heat my home. I burn wood at all various stages of seasoning. I also mix the wood per the type. A bit of hedge mixed with some oak and maple seems to me, the best combo. I will start the fire with bark and saw dust, building a little “fire tee pee” with the wood, inside the stove, putting the lighter, dryer wood at the bottom and putting unseasoned wood on top. Even freshly cut live wood will burn when laid on a hot bed of coals. After the fire is going, I will check every hour and throw a few pieces on, always mixing. If you throw in a bunch of completely dry material, it will burn so fast, that all you will be doing is feeding the stove, this is a waste of wood and very time consuming to keep up with, this is why I do not burn just fully seasoned wood. The key to a good fire is air. If your stove is full of ash and cannot get very much air, you will always have issues. Clean you stove or fireplace everyday. We usually have a lot of coals in the morning; we knock them around getting them free of the ash, thro a bit of bark or other tender on the coals, then a few pieces of dry wood. This will get it back going, then back to the norm. Every hour, a couple of pieces. When stacking, people always sweep up the mess and throw it away, NOOOOOOOOO! This is your tender, all the little chunks of bark that fell off, that is gold! Keep it, throw it in a bucket and have it handy for when you need to kick it back up. Make sure that you clean your chimney at least one time, every year. We clean ours 2-3 times a year.

Pine, or soft woods are not disrable wood, for fear of creosote build up and a chimney fire, most avoid it like the plague. You can burn it just as well as any other wood, as long as you clean your chimney on a regular basis.

Our wood, obviously comes from the trees that I remove or work on. The sizes and shapes are all different. I have found that most people prefer this over the standard 16”x5” piece. Those look good in a fireplace while having a nice romantic dinner! But they do not allow for good structure when burning in a stove. Having those big fat pieces are good for “overnight” logs and the little short pieces fit well in that place inside the stove that a regular piece will not fit.

Some people have a hard time starting fires. You cannot lay a bunch of wood together, then light a match and throw it on and expect it to burn. If you do not have time to mess with it. I would suggest buying those little fire starter logs. They work really well, they will burn for about 30 minutes, usually more than enough time to get things going. The best way is still to build your teepee with tender, saw dust and light dryer wood, get it going and then throw on your bigger stuff.

I am in no way a pro, these are the methods that I use and I burn every day. Hope it helps!

Save your gas for cooking, heat with wood!

 

Oak tree pruning, when and why

OK, So I have heard about a hundred different reasons why and when you prune an oak tree. Let me set it straight, it’s actually pretty simple. When you create a wound on a tree, when pruning it, the wound will secrete sap. Bugs love sap! A bug, normally a beetle that does not have the ability to chew, will smell the sap and come to feed. At the same time Oak wilt also will form a mat under the bark, it will actually push the bark open and expose itself and it also has a sweet smell and attracts bugs to feed on it, hoping to spread its spores. This beetle may have been hanging out in a old oak, out in the woods feeding on the mat, the beetle picks up the oak wilt spores on it body (picture a bee with pollen). When it comes to feed on your tree”s wound, it spreads the spore, these spores enter the wound and now you have a problem. Depending on the species of Oak, it can kill very quickly. How do you prevent this, well its nature, so 100% prevention is pretty much impossible, and there will always be the “weird scenario” that gets through and toast’s a tree.

To prevent this, you work on oaks in the winter, it’s not because the sap drops or because the tree is dormant, the first frost is not the answer either. Its not a particular date (trees don”t read calenders to much) The best way to prevent the spread of the spore is to do it when there is very little chance of any bug feeding on the sap in the middle of winter. When the frost is in the ground, most bugs are under the frost line or they were frozen to death. How many times have we had a first frost  and a couple of real cold weeks and then, all of a sudden, we have 2 weeks of 60 degree temps! The bugs will be out and about, feeding on whatever they can find. This is a typical Midwestern fall. People say after November or after first frost, these are wrong. Bugs do not work on a schedule and they do not get laid off. So yep, in the middle of winter, when there is 2 ft of snow on the ground and your nostrils burn every time you breath! That’s the best time to do it!  So far, by sticking to this plan, I have never lost an oak to oak wilt. Not saying that this is the final rule, every situation is conditional.  This in nature after all. This is gives your tree its best chance to avoid the bugs. No bugs, no spread. Oak wilt can get into the tree via the root system, but we will touch on that later. So, when you see someone pruning an oak in the middle of summer, they are wrong, in October, they are wrong, I stick to late December to the middle of March, based on the conditions outside of course. Sometimes it comes early. It is all based on the weather and when temps allow. There are 2 main reasons why it is done improperly  1.They don’t care about your tree, just care about making revenue 2. They do not want to work in the freezing cold. Either do I,  I do it because that’s the right thing to do.

There are a few other Certified Arborist in the area that prune them whenever. They know the reasons why it should be done in the winter, yet they do it and  they know that it is wrong, these are the guys who became certified for the wrong reasons, just to flash a piece of paper in a face. If they practiced true Arboriculture, They would not do this.

Roots, if you have a tree that has been identified as having Oak Wilt, you need  to look and see where the next closest oak is. If you have one that is withing 50yds, you need to inspect it right away. Remember, the majority a root system is in the first 18″ of soil and can be three times the height of the tree in a 360 radius,.  In other words, if you have a 100″ tree, you probably have about 300″ of roots all the way around it. Or 600″ across.   Have a ISA Certified Arborist check it out. To aid in prevention, the only way to do this is to double trench around the tree. Oak wilt can travel thru the roots system of the same species and infect other trees. If you have different species, it is unlikely that they will transfer the wilt, but it has happened. Trenching can stop this by severing the connected roots of adjacent trees. The second trench is kinda for good measure, it will help in slowing down the trees making that underground connection again, killing the roots in between the two trenches. Yes, this is a big mess and very costly, but it works pretty darn good.

If you have a oak that has been damaged in a storm and you have no choice but to remove a few pieces during the warmer months, this is the one and only time I would recommend a sealer. Wound sealers are bad for trees and plants, no matter what the manufacturer says, it messes up the trees natural ability to care for itself. It will screw up the process of closing the wound  and many times will result in a “pocket”. This is especially true of oaks, however, it is the lesser of two evils. The sealer will most likely not kill the tree, but it will prevent the bugs from feeding on the tree and spreading oak wilt. There is a specific product for this called TreeKote. All other products should be avoided. Since we are on the topic, NEVER put cement, foam, tar, gravel or any other foreign material in a wound or cavity, it will hurt your tree and it does not prevent anything.