Three Important Diseases of California Palms

Palms are certainly iconic components of the California landscape, and they make great additions to most residential and commercial properties in our region. Several palm species are suitable for the local climate, and most require relatively little maintenance or pruning.

However, the palms in our area are threatened by a number of different diseases, which can cause your palms to languish or die. We’ll talk about three of the most notable diseases that threaten palms in Southern California below.

Pink Rot

Pink rot is a disease that can cause problems for most palms grown in California, including queen (Syagrus romanzoffiana), Mexican fan (Washingtonia robusta), California fan (Washingtonia filifera), and kentia palms (Howea forsteriana), among others. The disease is caused by a fungus called Nalanthamala vermoeseni, but it usually only causes problems for palms that have already been weakened by pests, drought or some other disease.

Symptoms of pink rot – most notably including rotting and misshapen leaves – are typically limited to the crown, but trunk rot has been noted in some cases. Some trees recover, while others will grow weak over time and eventually succumb to the disease.

The best way to protect your palms from pink rot is to ensure that you care for them properly, avoid disturbing their root zones, provide adequate irrigation during dry periods, and ensure that they are pruned properly.

Diamond Scale

Diamond scale is a disease caused by the fungus Phaeochoropsis neowashingtoniae. This causes a bit of confusion, as the term “scale” usually refers to scale insects. Naming issues aside, diamond scale is a relatively mild disease, which rarely causes the death of the tree. However, it severely compromises the aesthetics of the tree and predisposes it to other, secondary pathogens, which may be lethal.

Diamond scale primarily affects the foliage of palms. The first signs of an infection usually take the form of small dark spots scattered along the leaves. Over time, these spots give way to diamond-shaped fruiting bodies (roughly akin to mushrooms), which give the disease its name. Eventually, entire leaves will begin turning brown and dying.

Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt is a disease caused by the fungus (Fusarium oxysporum). It occurs in several different forms, which tend to attack a single plant species. Tobacco plants are affected by one form, while sweet potatoes are affected by another. In California, the fungus is known as Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. canariensis, and it infects Canary Island palms (Phoenix canariensis).

As the name implies, Fusarium wilt causes the leaves of palms to brown and wilt. It is usually fatal to palms, although it isn’t always the immediate cause of death. Instead, Fusarium wilt weakens the palm, which allows other diseases to gain a foothold. Accordingly, palms with Fusarium wilt often die from other diseases before Fusarium wilt manages to cause death.

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If you are worried about the health of your palm trees, or you would like some advice on the most disease-resistant species to install, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our certified arborists will visit your property and inspect your trees or the site you have available. He or she will then provide you will actionable advice that will help keep your existing palms looking their best or give your soon-to-be-planted trees the best chance to thrive.

Four Ornamental Trees That Won’t Create Litter Problems

Thanks to the myriad resources available to modern homeowners and property managers, many people conduct a lot of research on the trees they intend to install. They look up things like the tree’s water requirements, sun-exposure preferences and susceptibility to common pathogens and illnesses.

This is obviously a good idea, and it’ll help you avoid planting trees that won’t thrive in your desired location. But, many people forget to consider one key characteristic when doing their homework. They forget to investigate the littler problems created by the tree.

Trees can create litter problems in several ways. Some shed pieces of bark throughout the year, while others blanket the ground in fruit during a relatively small window of time. Others may shed entire branches sporadically (which can also represent a safety hazard).

We’ll try to help you avoid doing this below, by discussing four good ornamental trees that won’t create a mess in your yard (and be sure to check out our article that identifies some of the trees that cause the worst litter problems, so you can avoid them).

1. Shoestring Acacia (Acacia stenophylla)

Many acacias are notorious for creating significant litter problems (we even mention the Chilean acacia tree in our article about the trees that produce the worst litter problems), but the shoestring acacia is a different matter entirely. Unlike many of their relatives, which carpet the ground with dry fruit and thorns, shoestring acacias rarely present these types of problems. Reaching 30 feet in height, these trees have a unique, “weeping” look and they produce attractive yellow flowers throughout the fall and winter (which provides additional value, as few other trees are very colorful during this part of the year).

2. Fruitless Olive (Olea europaea)

For obvious reasons, fruiting trees are rarely good choices for those seeking low-litter trees, but the fruitless olive is an exception – as its name suggests, it produces no fruit. But aside from the lack of fruit production, fruitless olive trees provide all of the same traits that make olive trees popular with many homeowners and property managers. Olive trees typically grow as multi-trunked shrubs, but they reach tree-like sizes; many specimens eventually reach 20 to 25 feet in height. Olive trees are ideally suited for Southern California’s Mediterranean climate, and they rarely require much supplemental irrigation once established.

3. Willow Acacia (Acacia salicina)

The willow acacia is another interesting-looking tree that produces very little litter. A medium-sized tree, most specimens will stand between 20 and 40 feet tall. Willow acacias often exhibit a weeping growth habit, and they have an attractive gray bark, which is often visible beneath the canopy. Willow acacias are hardy trees, who tolerate a wide range of soil types, and they will grow in full sun or partial shade. Like many other acacias, they’re typically quite drought resistant, once established.

4. Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana)

The monkey puzzle tree is one of the most unusual-looking and eye-catching trees around. It is a little larger than most trees used for ornamental purposes – it can grow to 80 feet in height or more – but it is a great addition to large yards and properties. And, like the other trees on this list, it won’t create serious litter problems. The monkey puzzle tree will tolerate light shade, though it prefers full sun. It isn’t a particularly drought-tolerant tree, but it will tolerate a wide variety of soil types. It’s also fairly salt-tolerant, so it will work well for homeowners living near the coast.

 

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If you have a tree that is creating litter problems in your yard and you’d like to replace it with one that won’t cause such a mess, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll have one of our certified arborists visit the property, examine the troubling tree and recommend a prudent course of action. In some cases, we may even be able to recommend ways to reduce the litter-related problems.

Root Pruning: Considerations and Concerns

Roots are obviously important to trees. They help anchor trees and keep them upright, as well as draw water from the ground. They even help to moderate the temperatures of trees a bit, and they serve as sugar storage sights during times of plenty. Tree roots even benefit the surrounding ecosystem, as they help to prevent erosion and disturb compacted soils.

But roots can also cause problems. Shallow roots can become trip hazards, ruin the aesthetics of your otherwise-well-manicured lawn, or even make life difficult for the other plants growing in the area. They can even damage sidewalks, house foundations and utility lines.

In these cases, some homeowners consider pruning such problematic tree roots. But while this is occasionally a viable solution, it is imperative that you proceed carefully to prevent the tree from declining once you’re finished. We’ll talk about a few of the most important things to think about when considering root pruning below.

As a general rule, younger trees make better candidates for root pruning than older trees do. Not only do younger trees have younger (and therefore smaller) roots, they are also at a point in their lives in which they are primed to produce new roots. In fact, root pruning is routinely performed on outdoor-grown trees before they’re dug up and packaged for sale.

Mature trees can have their root systems pruned when necessary, but you’ll need to make sure that you proceed very prudently.

The closer a root is to a tree’s trunk, the more likely it is to play a significant role in the tree’s stability. These roots also serve as important carbohydrate storage sights. This means that cutting the large, woody roots near a tree could affect the tree’s stability and prevent the tree from accessing resources it may need to cope with the loss of a large root.

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If you need help caring for the roots of your trees, or you think root pruning may be necessary, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our ISA-certified arborists will visit your property, inspect the tree and roots in question, and recommend an appropriate plan of action. As you can see, root pruning is not to be taken lightly, and you’ll want to get some professional guidance before you start cutting through the roots of the trees in your yard.

Getting to Know Palm Trees: Five Fascinating Facts

Palm trees are among the most iconic residents of Southern California. They line the local streets, contribute to the cultural identity of the region, and provide a number of the environmental benefits that most other trees do. Most of those growing in our midst were deliberately planted, but you’ll occasionally stumble upon a wild example, who’s escaped cultivation and made their own way in the world.

But no matter how they arrived at the locations in which they grow, palm trees are very different from most of the other trees in the Southern California area. They have a number of unique biological characteristics and adaptations that make them so captivating and set them apart from most other trees.

We’ll talk about five of the most interesting examples of these adaptations and characteristics below, as we discuss a few of the most fascinating facts about palm trees.

1. Palm trees aren’t technically “trees” at all.

Palms exhibit a number of different growth habits. Some are little more than shrubs or bushes, but others do grow in tree-like form. However, none are what botanists would consider true “trees,” in the sense that oaks, pines and dogwoods are; instead, palms are members of the family Arecaceae. The biggest difference between palms and true trees is that palms lack secondary growth – they don’t increase in diameter in the same way trees do. Nevertheless, palms certainly function like trees from a homeowner or property manager’s point of view.

2. Palm trees are an incredibly diverse group of plants.

Even though they aren’t “trees” in the technical sense of the word, palms are part of an incredibly diverse group of plants. In fact, the family Arecaceae contains more than 2600 described species – and several more likely wait scientific discovery. This means that different palm species have colonized different parts of the world. Most are restricted to the tropics and subtropics, but there are a few species that live in temperate lands.

3. Palm trees can be dangerous to prune and trim.

Palms rarely present the kind of safety hazards that some other trees do (some oaks, for example, may shed large branches with little warning). However, the dead fronds that hang from their canopies can be extremely dangerous. Even though they are essentially dead leaves, these large fronds weigh more than most people would think, and it doesn’t take many to represent enough weight to crush a person. In fact, removing dead fronds from palm trees is one of the most dangerous tasks arborists routinely perform.

4. Coconuts aren’t the only fruit produced by palm trees.

Most people envision coconuts when they think of palms, but in actuality, palm trees produce several different types of fruit. Acai berries, for instance, come from palm trees that are native to the northern portions of South America. Other palms produce dates, while others still produce betel nuts. Some palm fruits (such as those produced by the sago palm) are actually toxic. However, these and other poisonous or unpalatable palm fruits are usually important for wildlife.

5. California fan palm is the only palm native to Southern California.

Given the number of species that thrive in Southern California’s Mediterranean climate, it’s a bit surprising that only a single species is native to our region – especially when you consider that several species inhabit the Southeastern United States. Nevertheless, the California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera), has been growing in scattered portions of the American Southwest and Baja California for thousands of years. And because it has naturally adapted to the climate and soil chemistry of the region, it makes a great choice for homeowners interested in installing palms.

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As you can see, palms are clearly interesting plants, and many will thrive in Southern California properties – you just have to be sure to pick a good species for the location. If you are thinking about installing a few palm trees on your property, or you need some help caring for the ones already growing in your yard, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. Our experienced arborists are familiar with all of the trees commonly planted in Southern California properties – even those that aren’t trees at all.

The Three Services Roots Provide to Trees

Every anatomical part of a tree is important.

Without leaves, trees wouldn’t be able to produce food; without bark, they’d be left vulnerable to pests and pathogens. Without fruit and flowers, they wouldn’t be able to reproduce; and, without a trunk, they’d hardly qualify as trees in the first place.

But while these anatomical features all pitch in to keep a tree alive and healthy, a tree’s root system is perhaps its most important component. Roots perform a number of vital roles for trees, and their health is inextricably linked with the health of the entire plant. We’ll talk about three of the most important jobs roots perform for trees below so that you can understand exactly why it is so important to take care of them.

Note that these services are not listed in any particular order.

1. Anchorage

A tree’s roots serve to anchor a tree and keep it growing upright. However, contrary to popular perception, they largely accomplish this by growing out and creating a wide “net” of support, rather than by growing deep into the soil. The woody roots originating near the base of the tree are typically those which provide the most support to the tree.

2. Absorption

As every elementary school student learns, tree roots work a bit like a straw and absorb water from the soil. However, a tree’s roots don’t only absorb water – they also absorb oxygen and minerals. Different root types have different capacities for absorption. The thick, woody roots near the trunk absorb relatively little water or minerals. Instead, it is the fine, white roots at the distal ends of the root system that are responsible for absorbing most of the necessary resources.

3. Aeration

Some trees grow in water-logged soils, and a few actually grow in standing water. Willow trees are a great example of the former, while cypress and mangrove trees are good examples of the latter. These trees face a rather unique challenge, in that they have access to plenty of water; oxygen becomes the most precious resource they seek. To sidestep this problem, many of these types of trees produce roots (or sections thereof) that grow above the water, which allows them to access oxygen.

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As you can clearly see, a tree’s roots are invaluable. If you want your trees to live long and healthy lives, you’ll need to ensure that they remain healthy. In fact, aboveground problems can often be traced to a subterranean cause that’s afflicting the root system.

If you suspect that one of your trees is suffering from an ailing root system, or you just want to have your trees inspected to ensure they are thriving, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll have one of our experienced, ISA-certified arborists visit your property and examine your trees and, if necessary, their roots. Just be sure to do so quickly, as even minor problems afflicting the root system can quickly kill even the healthiest of trees.

Myths and Misconceptions About Tree Roots: Setting the Record Straight

Most people have a vague understanding of the importance of a tree’s root system. They understand that roots absorb water from the ground and help to keep a tree standing upright, but few know much more than this. In fact, many are unfortunately misinformed about some of the major aspects of tree root biology.

We’ll try to help correct this below, as we look at a few of the most pervasive myths and misunderstandings regarding tree roots. This should help you understand your trees (and the things they need to stay healthy) much more effectively.

Myth #1: Tree roots penetrate deep into the ground to help anchor the tree.

Truth: While some trees do produce a tap root that primarily grows straight down into the earth, and some produce secondary “sinker roots” that grow down from the tree’s primary roots, tree roots anchor trees and keep them upright by growing out, rather than down. This allows them to “grip” a larger portion of the soil than if they simply used depth to keep a tree upright, and it is part of the reason that root systems extend so far from a tree’s trunk.

Myth #2: Tree roots grow to the edge of the canopy and then stop.

Truth: While many arborists and tree-care professionals rightly advise homeowners to do everything possible to protect the roots underneath a tree’s canopy, this does not mean that roots don’t extend beyond the canopy’s edge. In fact, many trees produce root systems with a diameter that greatly exceeds that of the canopy. To be sure, the bulk of the tree’s roots do usually occur within the boundaries of the canopy, and these roots do require special protection, but they often extend for much farther into the surrounding soil.

Myth #3: The most important roots of a tree are found deep underground.  

Truth: As explained earlier, some trees do produce roots that penetrate rather deeply into the ground. However, even these trees primarily rely on the roots in the upper portions of the soil. Typically, the most important roots for a given tree are all found in the top 12 to 24 inches of the soil. At this depth, the roots can obtain all of the things they need, including moisture and oxygen.

Myth #4: It doesn’t matter if a tree’s surface roots become damaged by lawn mowers or other equipment.   

Truth: Most of a tree’s root system grows in rather shallow soil. In fact, the most important roots typically grow between about 12 and 24 inches of depth. However, some trees produce roots that extend above the soil line. These types of roots often suffer damage from lawn mowers and other types of equipment, and many homeowners are under the impression that this type of damage isn’t harmful to the tree. In actuality, this type of damage can be very harmful to the tree, as it not only compromises a tree’s ability to anchor itself and absorb the water and nutrients it needs, but it also subjects the tree to pests and pathogens. This is why it is so important to place a layer of mulch above a tree’s root system.

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Don’t feel bad if you’ve fallen victim to some of the myths explained above. Many of these misunderstandings are surprisingly prevalent among the general public, as well as the occasional well-meaning, but misguided tree-care professional.

If you have any questions or concerns about the roots systems of your trees, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. We’ll send one of our ISA-certified arborists to your property to address your concerns and help ensure that your trees – and especially their roots – remain healthy and happy for a long time to come.

Stump Removal 101: Methods, Tips and Tricks

Most arborists and tree-care professionals will discuss stump-removal options before having you sign a contract or performing any work. But unfortunately, homeowners are occasionally surprised to find that the tree removal services they paid for do not include stump removal.

This leaves them with an ugly and potentially dangerous tree stump sitting in the middle of their yard. Fortunately, there are a few ways to deal with the remaining stump and restore its original beauty. We’ll talk about some of the best ways to remove a tree stump below; but first, let’s talk about the reasons it is important to remove most stumps.

Is Stump Removal Absolutely Necessary?

While there are some cases in which you can simply ignore leftover tree stumps, it is usually a good idea to have them removed. Some of the most important reasons to do so include:

Stumps Are Eyesores

Although some tree stumps have a lot of character and look pretty interesting, most will stick out in your yard like a sore thumb. And if you are trying to sell your home, you may find that they reduce the curb appeal of your property too.

Stumps Take Up Valuable Space

Unless you have a gigantic property that provides more space than you could use, you’ll usually want to have stumps removed so you can make better use of the location. You could, for example, install a new tree or flower bed where the stump sits, or you could simply plant grass over the area. Any of these options will provide more value than the stump does.

Stumps Can Be Dangerous

Tree stumps can be trip hazards, so for safety’s sake, it’s generally wise to have them removed. This is especially true for places in which kids frequently play. Tree stumps can also represent a danger for mowers and landscapers, who may inadvertently hit the stump (or the associated roots), which can lead to damaged equipment or injuries.

Stumps Will Harbor Wildlife

Rats, mice, bugs and snakes will frequently take up residence in old tree stumps. And once these tenants move into a stump, they can begin colonizing the rest of your property. This can lead to serious infestations, which are often very expensive to eradicate.

What Are the Best Methods for Removing a Stump?

Now that you understand the reasons it is important to remove tree stumps, it’s time to turn your attention to the methods by which you can do so. There are a couple different ways to deal with a tree stump, and you’ll want to select the best method for your particular circumstances, budget and skill level.

In the broadest sense, there are two basic options from which you can choose:

1. Using a Stump Grinder

The best way to remove a stump in most cases is by using a stump grinder. Stump grinders are designed in a few different ways, but most use a rotating disc or wheel that is covered in sharp teeth to chew right through a stump quickly and completely. You can solicit the help of professional stump grinders (most arborists also provide stump grinding services), or you can rent a grinder and do the job yourself.

2. Mechanical Removal

If you don’t want to use a stump grinder, and you don’t mind putting in a bit of elbow grease, you can use hand tools – such as chainsaws, pickaxes and pry bars – to break apart the stump and pull the pieces from the ground. This method will usually take a considerable amount of time, but the costs associated are very low.

If you have access to heavy equipment (such as a backhoe, tractor or all-terrain vehicle), you may be able to lift or pull small stumps directly from the ground. You’ll usually want to start by cutting the roots below ground level to help free the stump and make it easier to lift.

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If you need help disposing of a tree stump, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll discuss your options and help you decide the best way to deal with the stump. We can also help you pick out a new tree to replace the one that was removed.

Five Deer-Resistant Trees for Southern California Properties

Deer are certainly lovely animals, and most people enjoy getting a glimpse of these beautiful creatures sauntering through their yard. Unless that is, the deer are destroying the plants and trees you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of installing on your property. In such cases, deer can represent quite a problem.

Short of building a large fence or getting a big dog to patrol your property, there aren’t many great ways to exclude the deer from your yard. If you provide a good food source for the deer, they’ll usually go out of their way to take advantage of it.

Accordingly, the best way to deal with deer and to protect your trees is by installing deer-resistant species, which do not appeal to the antlered animals. In fact, you can often use deer-resistant species to help protect any palatable species present, by planting the resistant species around the perimeter of your yard.

Fortunately, there are a variety of deer-resistant tree species that are suitable for southern California properties. We’ll describe five of the best below.

1. California Ash (Fraxinus dipetala)

Deer find most ash trees unpalatable, and most will thrive on properties with heavy deer traffic. But, because it’s always a good idea to opt for native species whenever possible, the California ash is a great deer-resistant choice for local properties.

A relatively small tree, the California ash rarely exceeds 25 feet in height, so it is suitable for most small- to medium-sized planting locations. It is also tolerant of droughts once established, and its root system rarely causes many problems. And while deer don’t find the leaves palatable, many other wildlife species – including bees and birds, among others – are attracted to ash trees.

2. Fuchsia Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus forrestiana)

Many eucalyptus trees reach incredibly large sizes and cause a variety of problems for homeowners and property managers, but the fuchsia eucalyptus is a modest-sized tree, which typically remains below 15 feet tall. Like most other eucalyptus species, the fuchsia eucalyptus produces buds, leaves and fruit which are not palatable to deer.

The fuchsia eucalyptus produces very attractive, inch-and-a-half-long, red and yellow flowers in the summer. These soon turn into dry-shelled fruit, which may cause minor litter problems when they fall from the tree; but, they won’t attract deer. These trees will thrive in a variety of soil conditions, and, although they prefer areas with full sun exposure, they can survive in partially shaded areas too.

3. Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana)

If you are looking for something that’ll stand out and catch the eye of every passerby, the monkey puzzle tree is hard to beat. The first thing most people will notice about the monkey puzzle tree is its tightly-packed, sharply triangular, evergreen leaves. However, it’s open canopy and sometimes-peculiar branching habit also attract plenty of attention.

Native to Chile, the monkey puzzle tree is an evergreen species, which retains its foliage all year long. These are very large trees, which occasionally reach 80 or 90 feet in height, so they aren’t appropriate for small planting spaces. They can grow in a variety of soil types, but they do require relatively high levels of soil moisture to thrive.

4. Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)

Another California native, the vine maple is quite similar to the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), and it prefers the same types of cool and moist growing spaces that its more widely celebrated cousin does. The vine maple will not tolerate alkaline soils very well, nor will it grow well in compacted, clay-rich soils. It may also require supplemental water during dry summers.

The vine maple typically grows as a multi-trunked tree or shrub, and it rarely exceeds 20 feet in height and width. Accordingly, they are often used as small ornamental trees around shaded backyard decks or small streams. They shed a ton of dry fruit, which some owners find irritating, but they provide very attractive fall foliage, which may make them worth the trouble.

5. Korean Fir (Abies koreana)

Perhaps best known for their attractive upright cones (which are often purple to blue in color), the Korean fir is an excellent option in areas with dense deer populations. You’ll surely notice plenty of birds, squirrels and chipmunks living in and around Korean firs, but deer do not find their needles or cones tasty.

Reaching about 30 feet or so in height and 10 to 20 feet in width, these trees produce extraordinarily dense, conical canopies. This makes them excellent choices for screening projects, as they can discourage foot traffic, reduce highway noise and block prying eyes. They can thrive in full sun or partial shade, but they do require relatively moist soil. Unfortunately, Korean firs are somewhat susceptible to aphids.

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If you need help protecting your property by installing deer-resistant trees, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants and let us help. We can not only help you select the species that are most likely to survive in your yard, but we can assist in the installation process as well. We can even determine if you should have some of the trees that are attracting the deer removed.

Protect Your Trees by Protecting Their Roots

Like most other living things, trees live in conflict with the world around them.

Their crowns are constantly buffeted by strong winds, while their trunks are assaulted by tunneling insects and teenage vandals. Caterpillars consume their leaves and beavers devour their delicate cambium layer. Bacteria, viruses and other pathogens also threaten trees and remind us that the tiniest organisms can bring giants to their knees.

But trees usually cope with most of these threats. They shed diseased branches, compartmentalize wounds and produce reaction wood to help cope with the prevailing winds. However, some types of damage are more difficult for trees to handle – especially when this damage occurs to a tree’s root system.

The Many Responsibilities of Roots

Root damage is devastating to trees in part because roots perform so many crucial functions. This means that injured or infected roots can compromise several different biological systems simultaneously.

Some of the most important services roots provide to trees include:

  • Roots draw water from the ground to keep the tree hydrated.
  • Roots anchor trees in the soil and keep them upright.
  • Roots are the important storage vessels for carbohydrates.
  • Roots draw the minerals used to help produce new tissue from the soil.
  • Roots sometimes serve as the place from which new stems emerge.

As you can see, roots are quite important to trees, so it is very important to protect them from harm and provide them with the best possible growing conditions. We’ll discuss five of the best ways to do so below.

Five Ways to Protect Your Tree’s Roots

Protecting your tree’s roots isn’t terribly difficult, and it won’t require vast sums of money or labor. In fact, many of the most helpful steps include things to avoid doing.

1. Plant your trees at the appropriate depth.

Many people make the mistake of planting trees too deeply, which can unnecessarily stress the developing root system. Most tree roots grow in the upper 12 to 24 inches of the soil; when forced to grow beneath this level, they can struggle to access enough oxygen. Just make sure that the top of the root flare is readily visible above the ground when planting new trees, and you can avoid most such problems.

2. Mulch over the root zone.

Roots must be prevented from desiccation, shielded from temperature extremes and nourished with plenty of organic matter. A 4-inch-thick layer of organic mulch will not only accomplish these goals, it will also help prevent weeds and grass from germinating near the roots.

3. Limit foot and vehicular traffic.

Soil compaction, such as that which occurs in areas with heavy foot or vehicular traffic, reduces the soil’s pore size. This limits the amount of water and oxygen that will penetrate the soil, thereby making it poorly suited for root development. Additionally, compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to grow and keep up with the tree’s increasing needs for water and nutrients. Accordingly, you’ll want to provide alternative routes for people and vehicles, so that they won’t be traveling over the tree’s root zone.

4. Limit construction activity near trees.

Construction activity is notorious for killing tree roots. The heavy equipment used can not only compact the soil in the root zone, but it can also physically damage roots at the surface. However, construction activity may also change the grade of the surrounding land, which can change the way water flows across the soil. This may wash away the soil near the roots, leaving them exposed and vulnerable to desiccation and sunscald.

5. Prevent mechanical damage wrought by lawnmowers and similar equipment.

Lawnmowers and similar landscaping tools are responsible for a lot of root damage – they are particularly dangerous for partially exposed roots. Once cut or broken by landscaping equipment, the roots not only become less efficient at drawing water and nutrients from the soil, they can also serve as an entry point for pathogens. Just avoid planting grass underneath your trees (and add a layer of mulch over the roots), and you can almost entirely eliminate this possibility.

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Protecting your tree’s roots isn’t terribly difficult, and it can drastically increase your tree’s chances of living a long, healthy life. Just try to embrace the tips presented here and keep your tree’s roots in mind when carrying out any large landscaping or home-improvement tasks.

If you’re worried about your tree’s roots, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our arborists will visit your property, assess the growing conditions and potential threats present, and then provide recommendations for keeping your tree roots healthy and damage-free.

Five Great Trees for Helping Your Local Honeybees

Hymenopterans – a group of insects that includes wasps, ants and bees – are incredibly important components of most terrestrial ecosystems. They not only serve as important food sources for predators and hosts for parasites, many of them play important roles in the process of pollination.

And while all pollinators are important for the plants on which they feed, honeybees are among the most important from a human perspective, as they’re used to pollinate a number of very important fruit crops. But unfortunately, honeybees have been dying off at an alarming rate thanks to something called colony collapse disorder.

The root causes of colony collapse disorder are varied and complex, and scientists are still working to identify the most important factors. Pesticides likely play an important role as do parasites and diseases, but it is quite possible that food availability is also part of the problem. And while the average citizen can’t do much to combat the first three problems, food availability is something they can help change. All you have to do is plant a few trees that provide the nectar honeybees need.

Honeybees feed on a number of different nectar sources, but the following five are among their favorites:

1. Bee Bee Tree (Tetradium daniellii)

It isn’t clear whether the bee bee tree is named for its bee-attracting nectar, but it would certainly make sense if that were the case. The bee bee tree (and its close relatives, which all appear to be very popular among honeybees) hails from East Asia, reaches about 60 feet in height and prefers to grow in areas with plenty of sun exposure. They grow quite quickly and produce pretty white, yellow or pink flowers in mid- to late-summer.

2. American Basswood (Tilia americana)

The American basswood (or American linden, as it is sometimes called) is a relatively large deciduous tree, which typically reaches heights of 60 to 100 feet. It is one of America’s fastest growing hardwoods, so it is popular among homeowners who want to add large trees to their property as quickly as possible, but it still takes about 10 years to begin producing flowers. Basswoods produce small, delicate-looking whitish flowers in mid-summer.

3. Willows (Salix spp.)

Collectively, willows are some of the favorite food sources of bees. However, because willows typically bloom in the very early spring, bees are seldom able to feed on them to the extent they would like, as the low temperatures prevent the insects from flying. However, this is less of a problem in southern California than it is in other places. There are many popular willow species and cultivars available, and several will work well in our region. Just be sure to avoid planting them near sidewalks, homes or other structures, as they frequently produce problematic roots.

4. Maples (Acer spp.)

Maples produce relatively inconspicuous flowers (which vary in color from one species to the next), but bees seem to find them without much trouble. However, most maples bloom in the spring, so they often present some of the same challenges that willows do. Maples have plenty of other things going for them, but perhaps no characteristic is as famous as their fantastic fall foliage, which comes in red, orange and gold flavors, depending on the species and cultivar selected.

5. Tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Tuliptrees are native to the southeastern United States, but they’ll grow in western locations that have sufficient soil moisture. They serve as one of the most important food sources for the bees living near them, but they require a very large planting space, as they are among the biggest trees in the country. Tuliptree flowers are quite pretty and resemble tulips (hence their colloquial name), but they are unfortunately limited to the upper canopy in most cases, so they’re difficult to appreciate.

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If you’d like to help out the local honeybees and are interested in installing a few bee-friendly trees, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. We’ll send over one of our friendly and experienced arborists to assess your property and recommend a few of the best choices for the local conditions. With a bit of planning and a little effort, you can begin helping support the local honeybee population in no time.