Summer Tree Care: Four Tips for Protecting Your Trees

Tree-care is a year-round responsibility, but it is important to note that your trees need different things during different times of the year. And while one could argue that trees growing in southern California experience summer-like conditions on a more-or-less constant basis, there are a few special things you’ll want to do to prepare for the summer’s peak.

Every tree and growing location is different, so it is always important to be flexible and tailor your approach to suit your specific trees. However, you’ll likely find that the following four tips help keep your trees healthier and looking their best all summer long.

1. Apply a fresh layer of mulch over the roots.

Mulch helps to keep your trees – especially their roots – healthy in a variety of ways. However, mulch’s ability to shield the roots from high temperatures and to retain soil moisture are the two most important ways it can help in the summertime.

There are a variety of different mulches you can use, but organic, bark- or wood-based mulches are generally the best choices. Just make sure that you spread a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer around as much of the root zone as possible, and avoid piling mulch up against the tree trunk, as this can encourage fungal and bacterial growth.

2. Develop an irrigation plan.

Southern California’s summers are notoriously dry, and rain only falls sporadically. Some trees are capable of withstanding drought-like conditions without any supplemental irrigation, but others will need a helping hand if they’re to survive the summer.

Research the water needs of your trees if you aren’t already familiar with them and devise a plan to suit their needs. If your trees are likely to need some extra water, figure out how you will provide it – even if water restrictions are enacted. There are a number of highly efficient ways to water trees, including, most notably, drip irrigation systems, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your friendly neighborhood arborist if you need some help.

3. Ensure that your tree’s roots and trunk are protected.

When the kids are out of school and the tourist season is in full swing, your trees may become exposed to a lot more foot traffic. They may even fall victim to vandalism or deliberate damage. And while you can’t completely protect your trees from these threats, you’ll want to do everything you can to shield them from harm.

Mulch will help protect a tree’s roots from minor foot traffic, but you may want to install fences or other types of barriers if your tree lies along a well-trodden path. You may even be able to install other plants to help keep people away from the trunks and roots of your trees – a couple of prickly holly shrubs can convince most casual passersby from getting too close.

4. Inspect the tree’s health while the canopy is full.

Crown dieback – characterized by dead or dying branches in the canopy — is one of the most common signs of failing health or stress, and it is important to regularly inspect your trees for it. However, it can be difficult to do so for deciduous trees, which shed their leaves in the winter.

However, the summer provides the perfect time to take a look at the canopies of your trees, as the tree should be exhibiting the greatest leaf density at this time. If you note any dead branches, be sure to have an arborist inspect the tree at once.

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If you are concerned that your trees won’t take this summer in stride, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll send one of our arborists out to inspect your trees and recommend the best strategies for keeping them healthy throughout the hot and dry weather to come. We may even notice subtle signs that indicate imminent problems, thereby allowing you to treat them proactively and avoid headaches down the line.

Drought-Tolerant California Trees

Anytime you intend to install a set of new trees, you’ll need to select species that satisfy a number of criteria. Some of these criteria will vary from person to person and from one location to the next, while others are relatively universal.

For example, you may want a tree with nice fall color, while your neighbor is interested in the fastest growing trees available. Similarly, the spot outside your front porch may be perfect for a shade-tolerant tree, while the sun-bathed spot by your swimming pool will be better suited for a sun-loving species.

On the other hand, some criteria are relatively uniform – at least for a given area. And for those living in southern California, this means selecting trees that exhibit three important characteristics: They should be able to withstand the droughts common to the region, and they should be as fire-resistant as possible.

Triple-Crown Contenders: Six Trees for California Properties

The following six species all satisfy the three criteria we’ve identified as important. Nevertheless, they all exhibit key differences, and you must still consider the other characteristics and requirements they present when making your choice.

1. California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)

The California buckeye is a tree with a lot going for it, and it makes a great choice for most southern California properties. Rarely reaching more than 20 to 30 feet in height, the buckeye is fantastic for small planting locations, and it will adapt to most growing conditions. It is important to note that these trees often drop their leaves in the summer to help protect themselves from drought.

3. Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)

Named for their fragrant leaves, incense cedars are fantastic conifers for properties in southern California. They are great for providing shade or privacy, but they can cause problems for allergy sufferers. They also reach enormous sizes, so they aren’t suitable for small properties. Many approach 80 to 100 feet in height, and some even reach heights of 150 feet or more.

4. Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

A great tree for planting near utility lines or in other tight spaces, the western redbud usually reaches about 30 to 40 feet in height (although occasional specimens may reach up to 60 feet). Characterized by bright purple blossoms in the spring, attractive green foliage in the summer and hanging seed pods in the winter, the redbud provides year-round aesthetic appeal.

5. California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

The California sycamore is a gigantic tree (occasionally reaching 75 feet or more in height), which typically grows best in riparian areas. However, because it is a pioneer species, the sycamore handles most environmental challenges – including high temperatures, strong winds and droughts – relatively well. If you have the room to host one of these big trees, they’ll reward you with very dense shade throughout the summer.

6. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

The coast live oak’s suitability for southern California properties is obvious by simply noting their ubiquity – only trees that are well-suited for the local environment can thrive in such numbers. Somewhat small by oak standards, coast live oaks usually remain less than 50 feet high, and some never become much more than shrubs. Coast live oaks are, however, susceptible to Sudden Oak Death, which is important to consider when picking the species for your yard.

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If you’d like to add a few new trees to your property, and you’d like a little professional help making your species selection, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll have one of our experienced arborists visit your property, assess the growing conditions and then make several recommendations. We can even help with the installation process if you like.

Should Climbing Vines Be Removed from Trees?

Although trees are individual organisms, they often harbor entire ecosystems under their canopies. Dozens of insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians commonly inhabit trees, and several plant species even grow on living trees.

Climbing vines are some of the most common plants to colonize trees, and they can often be seen growing from the soil all the way up into the canopy. Some people find these vines attractive, while others wish their trees would remain free of vines and other plants entirely.

But while personal tastes vary, those on both sides of the climbing vine divide often have a similar concern: Do the vines harm the trees? We’ll dig into this question and explore the potential ways in which these vines may cause trouble below.

Problems Caused by Climbing Vines

Climbing vines can damage trees, but that doesn’t mean they always do or must always be removed. In actuality, a number of factors will determine whether or not a tree is harmed by a climbing vine.

Some of the ways in which climbing vines can cause harm include:

  • Climbing vines can become quite heavy over time. This additional weight can cause branches to break, or, in extreme cases, exceed the carrying capacity of the trunk and lead to complete failure.
  • Climbing vines often cling tenaciously to the bark. If the vines are later pulled away from the tree, large swaths of bark can be pulled off in the process. This leaves the tree’s delicate cambium and phloem vulnerable to desiccation, disease and
  • Climbing vines trap moisture near the trunk and branches. Fungi typically prefer to grow in damp conditions, and by trapping moisture near the bark, ivy can encourage fungal colonization and eventual decay.
  • Climbing vines can wrap tightly around the trunk or branches and constrict a tree’s phloem. Phloem is a narrow band of living tissue just underneath the bark, which is primarily responsible for transporting the sugars produced in the leaves to the roots. By cutting off this movement of resources, climbing vines effectively “strangle” trees.
  • Climbing vines can shield parts of the tree from the sun. When parts of a tree are denied sunlight, they are often sealed off by the rest of the tree and discarded (shed). These lost tissues reduce the availability of resources and weaken the tree significantly.

Should Climbing Vines Be Removed?

Because they can cause damage to their host trees, many climbing vines should be removed. However, there are a number of cases in which they can be allowed to persist if you like the way they look or would just rather avoid the effort and expense necessary to remove them.

For example, large trees may not be seriously affected by a limited amount of ivy growing on the lower trunk – particularly if the ivy doesn’t reach into the canopy. A reasonable maintenance plan could be put in place to keep them from climbing too high, and regular inspections could increase the likelihood of spotting subtle symptoms that indicate the vine is stressing the tree. If so, the vines could then be removed.

It is also important to note that different species of climbing vines represent different degrees of danger. Some are almost always harmful to trees, while others rarely cause problems and can usually be left in place. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the wildlife value of the vines in question and any potential danger represented by the vines (poison ivy, for example, can take the form of a climbing vine) when making your decision.

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If vines are starting to take over some of your trees, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll examine the trees in question, determine whether the vines are weakening or stressing the tree and recommend a prudent management strategy. As with most other tree concerns, prompt action and regular inspections are the best way to keep your trees healthy and looking their best.

How Long Do Trees Live?

About 270 miles north of Los Angeles, a remarkable tree juts out of a rocky landscape. The tree isn’t terribly attractive, nor large, nor some member of a critically endangered species.

This tree is remarkable because it is about 5,000 years old – give or take a few decades.

The tree in question is a bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva). A hardy species that thrives amid harsh landscapes, there are many ancient specimens growing throughout the eastern portions of our state and parts of Utah and Nevada.

For some time, researchers believed they had identified the oldest living individual – 4849-year-old specimen named Methuselah. However, researchers recently documented an unnamed individual which appears to be about 150 years older than the previous record holder.

We know that this tree grows in the Ancient Bristlecone Forest (part of the Inyo National Forest), but to protect the trees from vandals, its precise location has not been divulged to the public.

Which Tree Species Live the Longest?

Bristlecone pines aren’t the only trees that have lifespans reaching into four-digit territory. Cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens) often live for extraordinarily long times; a 4,500-year-old specimen called Cypress of Abarkuh is currently growing in Iran.

A few European yews (Taxus baccata) are also very old; estimates of their exact age vary between 2,000 and 5,000 years. At least one olive tree (Olea europaea) growing in Greece is known to be at least 2,000 years old, and many contend that it may be more than twice this age.

Although relative youngsters, sacred figs (Ficus religiosa) also reach advanced ages, although most of the oldest documented specimens are in the 2,500-year-old range. Several Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica) have also reached ages in excess of 2,000 years.

A number of other species routinely reach 1,000 to 2,000 years of age, but the vast majority of tree species have much shorter average lifespans. Many, including a number of fruit trees, only live for a few decades at best. And while this seems like a negative attribute when discussing trees that have been around since the construction of the pyramids, short-lived species can be quite useful in some applications.

An Important Caveat: Clones Cause Confusion

While the unnamed bristlecone pine referenced above is considered the oldest living tree, an 80,000-year-old aspen grove is growing in Utah at this very moment. Unlike run-of-the-mill tree clumps, this grove is primarily represented by a single organism – an organism that has lived for this entire time.

While the bristlecone pine (and other long-lived species mentioned above) is a single stemmed tree, aspens grow as huge colonial organisms connected by a single, interconnected root system. While the individual stems (which you’d normally think of as individual trees) live relatively brief lives, the root system persists and produces new stems to replace those that die.

A similar example of a colonial species with a long lifespan is a Norway spruce growing in Sweden. Although the trunk that stands today isn’t the same one that initially erupted from the ground, the tree’s root system is about 10,000 years old.

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Of course, even long-lived species don’t always enjoy lengthy lives – a variety of factors can shorten the lifespan of an individual tree. But if you take good care of your trees and have them inspected regularly by an experienced arborist consultant, you can give them a great shot at a long, healthy life. If you’d like to give your trees the best chance of living a long and healthy life, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our arborists will inspect your trees and provide tips for supporting them in the most beneficial way possible.

Who knows? Maybe one of your cypresses or pines will still be standing thousands of years from now.

Are Treehouses Safe for Trees?

Building your child a treehouse not only provides them with a fun place to play, it can foster an appreciation for trees and the natural world. But some homeowners worry that a treehouse will harm their trees.

And while some treehouses do damage their host trees, it is possible to design, construct and install one in ways that will not cause much harm to the tree. Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways treehouses can cause damage and some of the best ways to avoid stressing your trees when building a treehouse.

Potential Ways Treehouses Can Harm Trees

There’s nothing especially harmful about putting a few pieces of plywood in the branches of a stout tree. Big trees can usually handle the additional weight, and lumber doesn’t present any special risks to the tree. But the way in which you design and install the house can lead to damage or decay.

Some of the ways that treehouses can cause harm include:

Creating Wounds

Most treehouses are secured to the tree via screws or nails. The holes created by these fasteners can damage the tree’s phloem and cambium, and provide a route by which pests, pathogens and fungi can access the tree’s vulnerable tissues.

Trapping Moisture

Rainwater will run down the sides of the treehouse and work its way into the sheltered nooks and crannies near the junction of the structure and the tree. If allowed to stay damp, these places will provide the perfect conditions for fungal and bacterial growth.

Limiting Normal Growth

Trees not only grow vertically as branches and trunks lengthen, their branches and trunks also increase in girth. But treehouses can limit this growth and prevent branches from increasing their diameter. Anything that constricts a tree’s ability to grow can reduce the tree’s vigor and may lead to weak spots.

Altering the Tree’s Balance

While most large trees can support a couple of hundred extra pounds without difficulty, it is important that this weight is properly distributed across the tree’s branches. If placed away from the tree’s center of gravity, it can alter the balance of the tree and increase the likelihood that it will topple.

Catching Wind

Treehouses can function as “sails” when installed in the branches of the trees, which will cause them to get blown around quite a bit. This can stress the branches of a tree significantly and lead to breakage.

Limiting the Damage Caused: Low-Impact Treehouses

Now that you understand the ways in which treehouses can harm trees, you can embrace a few strategies and techniques to limit the potential for damage. Minimally, this means adopting the following practices:

Use Tree-Friendly Connectors and Hardware

As much as is possible, avoid driving nails or screws directly into the trunk or branches. Instead, use adjustable straps or U-bolts to connect the structure to the tree. Additionally, be sure to inspect these connectors regularly and adjust them to allow the tree to grow properly.

Avoid Creating Moisture Pockets

Provide places that allow water to drain and air to flow between the structure and the tree’s bark. If you must create a potential moisture pocket, try to position it so that it receives plenty of sun exposure, which will help it dry out more effectively.

Keep the Treehouse Near the Trunk

Always place the treehouse near the trunk, rather than far out on the tree’s branches. This will help you avoid altering the tree’s balance and reduce the chances that the structure will function as a sail.

Build a Ladder; Don’t Nail Steps to the Trunk

As much as is possible, you want to limit your kids’ contact with the tree – they should primarily be standing on the structure, rather than the tree itself. Accordingly, you’ll want to create a standalone ladder or set of stairs to provide access to the treehouse, rather than by attaching steps directly on the trunk.

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If you are considering adding a treehouse to your property, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll have one of our experienced arborists inspect the tree you intend to use and verify that it is suitably stable and strong to support the structure. No one can guarantee that a treehouse will not cause damage to a tree, but by doing your homework and working closely with a tree-care professional, you can certainly reduce the chances of stressing your beloved trees.

Why Is “Topping” a Tree a Bad Idea?

Unfortunately, many trees are planted in locations in which they outgrow the space available to them. When such trees are situated under powerlines, roof lines or other overhanging structures, they must often have their height reduced to avoid problems.

However, cutting the tree’s primary leader (its main stem) at an arbitrary height can quickly cause the tree to enter a downward spiral, which will ultimately lead to its demise. But this practice – called “topping” – is unfortunately common, despite the threats, it presents to trees.

Why Does Topping Harm Trees?

Topping a tree is harmful because it typically involves making pruning cuts at improper places along the trunk. A tree’s trunk should usually not be pruned at all; but, if it is imperative that you do so, you must make the cuts just beyond a place called a node. Trees are equipped to repair the damage that occurs in these places, but when cut far from these regions, trees almost always become colonized by fungi and bacteria. Topping usually requires that you make these types of destructive, internodal cuts.

Additionally, trees who sustain damage to their central leader (trunk) are no longer able to grow in the way they should. Trees grow in height at locations called meristems, which are located at the distal end of the trunk. With this meristem removed, the tree will spend a lot of resources trying to cope with the damage, which will lead to stress and place it at further risk of decay.

Additionally, when a tree is topped, it often responds by producing a litany of quickly growing, poorly attached branches called waterspouts. These new branches typically look terrible and represent a safety hazard, as they are more likely to fail than properly formed branches are.

What Are the Alternatives to Topping?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to tame a tree’s height. Skilled arborists can occasionally carry out a procedure known as a crown reduction, in which the entire size of the canopy is reduced. When doing so, arborists avoid making internodal cuts and try to avoid harming the central leader at all. It is rarely possible to remove a significant amount of height by doing so, but you may be able to reduce a tree’s height slightly by having such a procedure performed.

The better option is to simply have the tree removed. Although this is often heartbreaking to property owners, there is little else that can be done in many cases. After the tree is removed, it can be replaced with a tree that is of the appropriate size for the space available.

This is one of the reasons that tree selection is so important when planning new installations. If for example, you are trying to plant trees beneath a power line, you’ll certainly want to select a western redbud, Japanese maple or crepe myrtle, rather than a jacaranda or eucalyptus tree, which will quickly reach the height of the overhanging power lines.

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If you are faced with a tree that is rapidly outgrowing the space available, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our trained arborists will visit your property and assess the tree in question. We’ll then provide you with recommendations to address the situation and carry out the work if so desired.

Why Do Tree Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?

Thanks to the incredible colors that appear, Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in many places. Instead of the pretty, yet monotonous green tones that have painted the landscape for the last 6 months, the trees become clad in gold, red, orange and purple hues.

Because the green color of leaves is a crucial factor in the biology of trees, many people are curious why tree leaves change color at this time of year. But, rather than having a reason for doing so, this phenomenon actually represents a beautiful byproduct of the dying process.

Why Are Tree Leaves Green in the First Place?

Like all other advanced plants, trees make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. This process works by converting the water and carbon dioxide the trees collect into sugars, which serve as the plant’s food. Green plants rely on a substance called chlorophyll to capture the energy in sunlight and use it to drive the chemistry behind photosynthesis.

Chlorophyll – which is found throughout leaves and a few other plant tissues – is green. This, in turn, means that the leaves of plants and trees are usually green.

Why Do Tree Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?

As the nights grow longer and the days shorter, some trees begin preparing for the coming Winter. Because leaves help the tree draw water from the ground and then release it from small holes on the leaf surface, many trees shed their leaves during this cold, and often dry, portion of the year. This helps them to avoid becoming stressed by a lack of water.

As part of this process, the chlorophyll in the leaf begins to break down. When this happens, other pigments that are already present in the leaf become visible. Two such pigments are especially important in this context: carotenoids, which produce yellow and orange colors, and anthocyanins, which produce red tones.

Because different species and individuals have different amounts of these pigments inside their leaves, their leaf color can vary. This is why one sugar maple on your street may turn bright red, while another turns a rich gold color.

What Types of Factors Influence Fall Color in a Given Year?

You may have noticed that not all Falls are created equally, and the leaf color in some years is much more vibrant than in others. There are a few reasons for this year-to-year variation, but most relate to the weather during the previous spring and summer.

Typically, the best fall color follows years with ample growing-season rain and dry, warm and sunny weather during the late summer and early fall. The first factor ensures that the tree will produce lots of healthy foliage, which will remain intact and healthy late in the season, thanks to the lack of rain.

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Fall color is a little tamer in California than it is in many east-coast cities, but there are a handful of high-color trees that thrive in our region’s Mediterranean climate. If you’d like to add a little red, yellow and maroon to your yard next Autumn, call your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. One of our trained arborists will visit your property and recommend a few species that are likely to thrive there. We can even help with the installation process if you’d like.

When Should You Plant Trees?

As long as you select healthy specimens that are well-suited for the location, you can plant trees at just about any time of year. However, because most people install relatively young – and therefore fragile – trees, you’ll have more success planting trees during some portions of the year than in others.

The Rule of Thumb: Fall Is Tree-Planting Time

Geographical factors are always important to consider, but generally speaking, the best time of year to plant new trees is the Fall. Root growth and development is one of the most crucial factors that determine whether a newly planted tree will thrive, so every effort must be made to plant it at a time conducive to root growth. By planting new trees in the Fall, they have the chance to develop a robust root system before winter dormancy sets in.

Additionally, by planting new trees in the Fall, they are unlikely to be stressed by a late-Summer heat wave or drought. Heat waves and drought increase a tree’s need for water and decrease the amount of water available, respectively. Accordingly, it is a good idea to avoid planting any trees until you are sure the Summer is in the rearview mirror and Fall has arrived.

And, while this is not a problem for most California residents, Fall planting schedules allow you to plant the trees before the ground freezes, which can make it difficult to excavate a planting hole. The trees also have a chance to adapt to its new surroundings before frosts and freezing temperatures occur.

Notable Exceptions and Caveats

Some trees thrive best when given a significant amount of time to establish themselves before Winter; these species are best planted in the Spring. Some of the trees that fall into this category include dogwoods, birches, willows, and magnolias, among others. Fruit trees are also best planted in the Spring in areas with cold winters, but they can be planted in the Fall in most of California.

Because they do not become dormant in the winter, you can plant evergreen conifers at just about any time of year. However, they may not thrive if planted during the heat of the Summer, so they are generally best installed in the Spring or Fall, like most other trees.

Other Important Factors to Consider

There are a few additional factors that can alter the ideal tree-planting time for your property. For example, if your yard is bathed in exceptionally high levels of sunlight, you’ll likely want to wait a little longer to plant your trees than others in your region. Conversely, those living on cool, windswept, northern exposures may want to give their new trees another week or two to establish themselves before cool temperatures set in, so it is wise for such homeowners to plant a little earlier than others in the area.

Similarly, if your home is situated low in your local watershed, and your soil typically carries ample moisture, your trees probably won’t be as negatively impacted by Summer heat, so you can plant them a little sooner than you otherwise would.

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If you need help planning out a new tree installation, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. One of our experienced and trained arborists will visit your property, discuss your wishes and make recommendations regarding the species and the timing of the installation. If you like, we’ll even take care of the installation for you.

Will A Tree Die If Its Roots Are Damaged?

Trees depend on their root systems for a variety of reasons. Roots help to anchor a tree and keep it upright, as well as draw water and nutrients from the ground. They also serve as a site for food storage, which helps give plants the ability to survive during difficult times.

But root damage is an unfortunately common problem among trees in urban and suburban areas. And because roots are so vital for a tree’s survival, prompt treatment is crucial. Without proper care, root damage can cause a tree to decline and eventually die. In some cases, root damage can even predispose a tree to failure, representing a serious safety hazard.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the common causes and symptoms of root damage, as well as some of the treatment strategies used to save such trees.

Common Causes of Root Damage

Tree roots can be damaged from a variety of causes, but some of the most common include:

Animals

A variety of animals – primarily insects – feed on the roots of trees. Fortunately, most such problems are somewhat self-limiting and respond to various exclusion and extermination techniques.

Soil Compaction

Compressing the soil around a tree’s roots can inhibit their growth and even cause physical damage. Soil compression can result from a variety of causes, but frequent foot traffic and the use of heavy machinery (such as that used in construction projects) are two of the most common. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to address compacted soil.

Trenching or Digging

Anytime you dig in the area around a tree, you risk damaging its roots. And unfortunately, this type of damage can occur while digging the shallowest trenches or holes, as the bulk of a tree’s find absorbing roots (the ones that do most of the heavy lifting for a tree) are found within the upper 12 to 18 inches of the soil.

Landscaping Activities

Mowers, edgers and weed whackers can all damage a tree’s roots and expose the tree to fungal and bacterial infection. This type of damage is especially unfortunate, as it is very easy to prevent through the use of mulch or protective barriers.

Symptoms and Sequelae of Severed Roots

Depending on the severity of the root damage, trees can exhibit a number of different symptoms. Some of the most common and obvious include the following:

Crown Dieback

Crown dieback refers to the progressive death of a tree’s canopy. In some cases, the damage will be limited to a single branch (or portion thereof), while other cases will involve the complete death of the canopy.

Poor Growth or Vigor

Trees with damaged roots cannot grow and thrive as they should. This can cause them to grow slowly, exhibit poor health or fail to reach their typical size.

Leaning or Soil Mounding

Many trees grow at angles, and this is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, trees that suddenly develop a lean can be very dangerous, as it suggests that some of their roots are failing or that there is a problem with the soil. Mounding soil (typically on the side opposite the direction of the tree’s lean) represents a safety emergency – always contact a qualified arborist immediately if you notice the soil rising around the base of a tree.

Premature Leaf Drop

Trees that cannot draw sufficient water or nutrients from the soil are often unable to maintain a full, vibrant canopy. This can cause their leaves to change colors or drop earlier than is typical for the species and region.

What Can Be Done to Help Trees with Damaged Roots?

Unfortunately, significant root damage can lead to the death of a tree. However, trees can often overcome minor cases of root damage – particularly when supportive measures are implemented. Some of the most common steps taken to support trees with root damage include:

  • Mulch Application– Mulch helps to protect and nourish tree roots, which can help them survive and produce new roots.
  • Radial Trenching – Radial trenching involves the careful excavation of soil throughout the root area and addition of nutritious topsoil or mulch, which helps to support the tree’s roots and encourage new growth.
  • Vertical Mulching – Vertical mulching is accomplished by digging holes in strategic places throughout the root zone, which are then filled with nutritious mulch or other materials to encourage root growth.
  • Fertilizer Application – In some cases, fertilizer can help support the development of new roots.
  • Root Pruning – Although it seems counterintuitive, trimming or pruning the roots of trees in specific locations can help stimulate the tree to develop new roots.
  • Supportive Measures – Because trees are often unstable, it is often necessary to support these trees with cables, braces or props to keep them upright while they regenerate a healthy root system.

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If one of your trees has suffered from root damage or exhibits symptoms that suggest it has, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. One of our experienced arborists will visit your property, assess your trees and recommend a prudent course of action. We may not be able to help you save every tree that’s sustained root damage, but we’ll gladly provide you with every possible option for doing so.

What Are Some of the Best Drought-Tolerant Trees for California?

Prolonged droughts are commonplace in Southern California, so it is important to select trees that can survive with relatively little water for your next tree installation project. Fortunately for residents of the sunniest part of the Sunshine State, there are a number of native and exotic selections that fit this bill.

The next time you are planning to add new trees to your property, start by considering the following six species:

1. California Sycamore

Big and beautiful natives of the state, California sycamores (Platanus racemosa) are surprisingly drought tolerant, given their preference for growing in riparian areas. Reaching up to 100 feet in height, California sycamores – like most of their relatives – possess very attractive, splotchy bark that includes white, grey and brown tones. Although these trees are deciduous and shed their leaves each fall, they make excellent shade trees during the spring and summer.

2. Purple-Leaf Acacia

The purple-leaf acacia (Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’) is an attractive tree with smooth bark and green to purple evergreen foliage. Although fast-growing, purple-leaf acacias have relatively weak wood, so it is best planted away from homes and areas of high foot traffic. A 20- to 30-foot-tall tree, the purple-leaf acacia is relatively short-lived, and rarely reaches 50 years of age.

3. California Buckeye

A California native, the buckeye (Aesculus californica) is a drought-tolerant species, but without supplemental irrigation, it will usually shed its leaves in the late summer. Rarely exceeding 25 feet in height, the California buckeye is typically used as an accent tree, but it provides great shade while in leaf and can be used to keep air conditioning units cooler (which will help reduce your home-cooling costs) in the summer.

4. Flame Tree

The flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) is named for its gorgeous orange or red flowers, which grace the tree in the late spring or summer. Reaching about 60 feet in height, these trees are not suitable for use under utility lines, but their modest spread – generally less than 35 feet – makes it a great choice for narrow planting locations. The flame tree is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and sun exposure levels, making it an acceptable choice for most properties.

5. Western Redbud

The western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is a small species that bears pretty purple flowers in the early spring.  Because of their small size (few specimens exceed 20 feet in height), they don’t work well as shade trees, but they are an excellent accent or ornamental trees that also provide significant wildlife value. They can also work well for screening projects in some cases.

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If you need help selecting the best drought-tolerant trees for your property, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. Not only will one of our experienced arborists help you determine the perfect trees for your space, he or she will provide you with tips for helping to prepare your tree for the inevitable droughts that will occur over the next several decades.