Meet Jeff, He Speaks for the Trees

Celebrating Dr. Seuss and the Lorax

Today is March 2.  It is Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  Everyone loves Dr. Seuss’ silly rhymes and illustrations that are uniquely well… Seussian.  But, landscapers and arborists tend to connect with the Lorax in particular.  You can tell that Dr. Seuss found inspiration for his whimsical trees from real life versions.

From the magical tale of the Lorax, we learn that the Lorax speaks for the trees.  Here at Signature Landscapes, we have Jeff and he too is humbled and honored to speak for the trees.The Lorax Book

Jeff discovered his affinity for trees around the third grade.   The neighbor across his street had a few big brittle cottonwood trees that he used to climb with his friends.

“I remember him yelling at us to ‘get down!’” recalls Jeff.  “Liability didn’t mean much when we were kids and having fun outside, climbing trees did.”

As Jeff grew, so did his love for trees.  He was pleasantly surprised to hear you could get paid for climbing trees.  “Why didn’t they mention this kind of work during career day in high school?” he pondered.

It must have been fate, because a few years later, after working as a dishwasher and janitor, Jeff’s dream job was going to become a reality.

One day while doing some yard work for a neighbor (not the one with cottonwood trees), Jeff was approached by the owner of a tree service start-up company.   Jeff ended up working for him for over 10 years learning all he could.  Jeff started as a ground man, progressed into a climber and ended up as a manager.   It was the perfect gig for a tree guy.

Jeff loves simply daydreaming and looking at trees.  Sure everyone is reminded to stop and smell the roses, but don’t forget to take a minute and get lost in a tree.

“They are amazing. There’s an endless variety in the shapes of the canopies and leaves, textures of the bark and growth patterns of the branches.” said Jeff.

Weeping Sequoia Trees

Weeping Sequoias line the entrance to the Signature Landscapes parking lot.

Trees can be very symbolic and inspirational as Dr. Seuss discovered.  Jeff shared some of his favorite trees that look like you can find them in the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.  He likes the coconut palm tree, the way it hangs and flows in the breeze.  The image seems like a world away at the moment (don’t worry it’ll warm up).  Another Seuss-looking tree is the weeping sequoia.  It twirls and twists and has a small frill at its crown.  More mature ones seem to sprout arms and lean toward each other as if they are talking about Brown Bar-ba-loots or perhaps Humming-Fish.

If you’re like Jeff and the Lorax and you admire and appreciate trees, take good care of them.   If you want to do more to make sure the earth is not at risk for losing real-life versions of Truffula Trees, you can participate in The Lorax Project.  The project is an initiative to raise awareness of environmental issues and inspire earth-friendly action by tree enthusiasts of all ages so we can all continue to enjoy trees.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”  – The Lorax

Trees make us happy and they are important.  If you are looking for someone who truly cares about trees and will take good care of your trees, you’re looking for Jeff—he speaks for the trees.

 

Jeff Richardson is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist and Manager of the Tree Division of Signature Landscapes.

Confused About Reno’s Temperamental Weather? So Are Your Plants and Trees.

 

Snow Covered Forsythia

Snow-laden Forsythia

March 28, 2016—Yesterday, you had on shorts and your flowers were starting to bloom.  Today, you have on snow boots.  Confused?  So are your plants and trees.

Reno’s temperamental weather can “confuse” trees, making them want to shut down their systems or go dormant again.  But, they won’t really have the required lack of light and the longer periods of colder temperatures to do that again, until the next winter season (hence the confusion).  This will have ramifications with trees that were in bloom and those about to bud.

Many fruit-bearing trees were not able to set their blossoms before this latest storm.  The result may be lost fruit production.  Unfortunately, there is nothing to do about that, except wait until next season and try again.

The delayed blossoming of non-fruit bearing trees will be mostly that—delayed.  Still, some new growth may be lost at the tips of these trees.  This will require non-dormant season pruning of the tips to remove the dead wood.  The good news is that it should not be a major problem, but in an area like Northern Nevada, we never like to lose any new growth as trees struggle to survive our climate every year, so they grow slower here than other moderate climates.

Another side effect of this storm that we are already seeing is that there are broken tree limbs due to the amount of moisture in the snow and the weight of the snow.

The first day of spring this year was on March 20, but no one seemed to tell Northern Nevada’s weather that.

Here’s the good news, we have an arbor department with ISA certified arborists.  So, just cozy up inside and let us take care of your trees (775-857-4333).

Tips on How to Avoid a Tree Trimming Scam

Tips from a certified arborist. 

Flowers are starting to bloom and so are the numbers of tree-trimming and other home maintenance scams.  Jeff Richardson, our ISA Certified Arborist shares his tips on how to avoid a scam and make sure you are dealing with a legitimate arborist.

 
  • Look for a professional tree service company that is licensed, bonded and insured (you can confirm that a contractor is licensed with the Nevada State Contractors Board).
  • A great way to correctly identify a legitimate arborist is to ask for identification (arborist ID, business card with business license, drivers license, etc.).   Look for an ISA Certified Arborist credential (International Society of Arboriculture).
  • Require a written contract agreement.
  • Do not pay cash.  Walk in or call the office and pay with your credit card or a check. 
  • Check for proper equipment that appears well-maintained and a truck identified with their logo and contact information.

It is rare that a legitimate tree trimmer will just happen to knock on a door for work.  Be aware of anyone offering their service door to door that doesn’t have any printed materials or offers an unusually low price and only accepts cash.  If you aren’t sure what a fair price is, get multiple estimates from reputable companies.

Also, being pressured to say yes to the service in a hurry can also indicate that you are being scammed.  Take the time to do your research.  Quality is important when it comes to tree service.  A poor pruning or trimming can damage your trees.

“Hiring a certified arborist will protect your trees and your money,” says Richardson.

Again, do your research (check with the Better Business Bureau and/or company website).

If you have thoughts or concerns on how best care for your trees this spring, call Jeff at Signature to receive a free consultation on steps to take.

Submit Online Service Request

Water & Managing Drought

Quick Facts about Watering During A Dry Winter

  • Water trees, shrubs, lawns, and perennials during prolonged dry fall and winter periods to prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant.
  • Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F with no snow cover.
  • Established large trees have a root spread equal to or greater than the height of the tree. Apply water to the most critical part of the root zone within the dripline.

Signature PDF Guideook – Managing Drought

Dry air, low precipitation, little soil moisture, and fluctuating temperatures are characteristics of fall and winter in our area. Often there is little or no snow cover to provide soil moisture from October through March. Trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns under these conditions may be damaged if they do not receive supplemental water.

The result of long, dry periods during fall and winter is injury or death to parts of plant root systems.

Affected plants may appear perfectly normal and resume growth in the spring using stored food energy. Plants may be weakened and all or parts may die in late spring or summer when temperatures rise. Weakened plants also may be subject to insect and disease problems.

DROUGHT GUIDELINE: Download PDF for managing large landscapes during drought

Plants Sensitive to Drought Injury

Woody plants with shallow root systems require supplemental watering during extended dry fall and winter periods. These include European white and paper birches; Norway, silver, red, Rocky Mountain and hybrid maples; lindens, alders, hornbeams, dogwoods, willows, and mountain ashes. Evergreen plants that benefit include spruce, fir, arborvitae, yew, Oregon grape-holly, boxwood, and Manhattan euonymus. Woody plants also benefit from mulch to conserve soil moisture.

Herbaceous perennials and ground covers in exposed sites are more subject to winter freezing and thawing. This opens cracks in soil that expose roots to cold and drying. Winter watering combined with mulching can prevent this damage.

Lawns also are prone to winter damage too! Newly established lawns, whether seeded or sodded, are especially susceptible. Susceptibility increases for lawns with south or west exposures.

Watering Guidelines
Water only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night. A solid layer (persisting for more than a month) of ice on lawns can cause suffocation or result in matting of the grass.

Plants receiving reflected heat from buildings, walls and fences are more subject to damage. The low angle of winter sun makes this more likely on south or west exposures. Windy sites result in faster drying of sod and plants and require additional water. Lawns in warm exposures are prone to late winter mite damage. Water is the best treatment to prevent turf injury (see fact sheet 5.505, Clover and Other Mites of Turfgrass.)

Monitor weather conditions and water during extended dry periods without snow cover – one to two times per month.

Newly Planted vs. Established Plants
Newly planted trees are most susceptible to winter drought injury. Trees generally take one year to establish for each inch of trunk diameter. For example, a two inch diameter (caliper) tree takes a minimum of two years to establish under normal conditions.

Trees obtain water best when it is allowed to soak into the soil slowly to a depth of 12 inches. Methods of watering trees include: sprinklers, deep-root fork or needle, soaker hose or soft spray wand. Apply water to many locations under the dripline and beyond if possible. If using a deep-root fork or needle, insert no deeper than 8 inches into the soil. As a general survival rule, apply 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree needs 20 gallons per watering. Use a ruler to measure your tree’s diameter at 6″ above ground level.

Newly planted shrubs require more water than established shrubs that have been planted for at least one year. The following recommendations assume shrubs are mulched to retain moisture. In dry winters, all shrubs benefit from winter watering from October through March. Apply 5 gallons two times per month for a newly planted shrub. Small established shrubs (less than 3 feet tall) should receive 5 gallons monthly. Large established shrubs (more than 6 feet) require 18 gallons on a monthly basis. Decrease amounts to account for precipitation. Water within the dripline of the shrub and around the base.

Herbaceous perennial establishment periods vary. Bare root plants require longer to establish than container plants. Perennials transplanted late in the fall will not establish as quickly as those planted in spring. Winter watering is advisable with late planted perennials, bare root plants, and perennials located in windy or southwest exposures.

 

 

Thanks to the Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating.CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

by J.E. Klett,  Colorado State University Extension horticulture specialist and professor, horticulture and landscape architecture; and R. Cox, Extension horticulture agent, Arapahoe County. 1/04. Revised 3/13.

 

Your Trees Need Water in the Winter

Winter watering is important to our region’s community forest. When sprinklers are turned off, most plants and lawns hibernate, but your trees still need care. Remember that winter in the Truckee Meadows is often characterized by dry air, dry soil and significant temperature swings – all of which can stress your trees. The need for winter watering may not be obvious, but trees need water during dry spells. To help keep your trees healthy, follow these winter watering tips:

  • Water your trees every two to four weeks if there is no significant rain or snow. A healthy, sufficiently watered tree can withstand strong winds and freezing temperatures far better than one that is dry and stressed.
  • Apply water when temperatures are above 40 degrees and early enough in the day that the water will not freeze overnight.
  • Avoid spraying water on the trunks, as it increases the risk of frost injuries.

Be sure to disconnect and drain your hoses once you’re done watering too!

This is an excerpt from the TMWA January Newsletter.

Link to TMWA’s newsletter…

Top 10 Man-made Tree Killers

Signature’s arborists have a “Top 10 List” of what kills trees. Turn the list around – and it becomes a list of what not to do – and what not to allow – if you want your trees to live.

IMG_3679
Hold her down captain!

 

1) Soil compaction & root damage
2) Topping & harmful cuts
3) Over-thinning & canopy elevations
4) Over-watering
5) Neighborhood tree removals
6) Planting too deep
7) Wrong tree/wrong place
8) Cambial injuries to the trunk
9) Poor cabling & damage repair
10) Over fertilizing or treating

Wonders of Winter Care – Tips and Tricks

Hello Northern Nevada! Winter is on our doorstep with snow coming soon. In the meantime, there’s still some nice weekends ahead to enjoy being outside while catching up on a few remaining landscape chores.

Snow on top of leaves is a mess

Wet leaves take time to dry out, become heavy and even slimy. It will save you time and trouble in the long run if your yard is covered (again!) with leaves, to deal with them before it snows. For leaves on the lawn, a smart move is to mulch them with a mulching lawn mower. The fragments left behind are good nutrition for the lawn.

In bed areas, you’ll also be ahead of the game by raking most of the leaves out. Work especially at cleaning out ground cover.

Storm damage is more likely to occur on trees that haven't yet dropped all their leaves. 

Tree care tips for when it snows

Storm damage is more likely to occur on trees that haven’t yet dropped all their leaves. The snow mounts on them, weighs down the branches and they can break. Many trees – particularly pear, crab apple and honeylocust – which still have a lot of leaves are in this susceptible category.

If you see snow accumulating and you can reach branches on smaller trees, use a broom handle to gently shake limbs so snow falls off. Start on the lowest branches. Otherwise, snow falling from higher onto lower branches just adds to their snow load that leads to breakage.

Don’t forget evergreens. Even though they stand tall winter after winter, in very heavy snows, their branches can also break. Keep an eye on them during heavy snows and shake their branches as well.

It's always best to have broken, ripped limbs pruned back with a clean cut.

Prune to prevent more storm damage and decay

High winds have already broken limbs in many areas this fall.  It’s always best to have broken, ripped limbs pruned back with a clean cut. Otherwise, torn limbs can invite pests and disease. This is one time when having an arborist, who really knows trees, do the work pays off for the long term.

Also be aware of “hangers” – limbs that may be damaged but are still “hanging by a thread.” They could fall at any time to damage property or injure people. Look up and play it safe.

What not to prune

Shrubs that flower early in the spring have already set the buds that will become pretty flowers. Avoid pruning lilac, dogwood, forsythia, viburnum and spirea in the fall as you will see fewer flowers next spring.

Remember the sprinkler system
If you have not yet winterized the sprinkler system, don’t delay. Freezing temps are ahead! Our guys can help you out in a pinch. Call Julie at (775) 827-5296 for a technician to drop by and take care of your system.

Why Do Leaves Turn Different Colors?

Leaves are loaded with chlorophyll, which makes them green. But all green plants also carry a set of chemicals called carotenoids. On their own, these look yellow or orange – carotenoids give color to corn and carrots, for example – but they’re invisible beneath the chlorophyllic green of a leaf for most of the year.

In the fall, when the leaves are nearing the end of their life cycle, the chlorophyll breaks down, and the yellow-orange is revealed.

“The color of a leaf is subtractive, like crayons on a piece of paper,” says David Lee, formerly of Florida International University, who has studied leaf color since 1973.

Most trees have evolved to produce a different set of chemicals, called anthocyanins, when it’s bright and cold in autumn. These have a reddish tint and are responsible for the color of a blueberry. They’re also sometimes made in newly sprouting leaves, which explains their sometimes reddish tint. Where chlorophyll and anthocyanins coexist, the color of a leaf may run to bronze, as in ash trees. At high enough concentrations, anthocyanins will make a leaf look almost purple, as in Japanese maples.

More drab autumn colors form as leaves really die and complete the breakdown of the chloroplasts. When they’re all dried out, the pigments link up together into what Lee calls a “brownish gunk.”

Have a burning horticultural question you’d like us to answer, email Steve Fine, at steve@siglands.com.

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Popular Science.

 

What’s the Deal with Fall Turf Aeration?

Why does Signature Landscapes believe so strongly in lawn aeration?

After proper watering, Aerating is the single most important thing you can do for a healthy lawn. Aeration promotes root growth and reduces water usage by getting oxygen and H20 into the root zone. Aerated soil will endure drought stress, fill in bare spots faster and resist insect and disease attack too.

LEARN MORE >

Trees are people too!

Drip Line IllustrationSometimes we take our trees for granted because they are always there and don’t turn brown as fast as a heat-stressed lawn. We forget that they, too, can be water-deprived. Right now, your tree needs to soak up water–and nutrients–to survive the dormant season.

So how do you help your trees?

Water them now and water once per month through October. Use a deep root watering device that attaches to a garden hose and soak the soil 6 to 8 inches deep.

To know where to water, draw an imaginary circle of where the outermost branches extend over the ground.  That circle is called the drip line of the tree.  Water at various points within this drip line.  Be sure to probe and water some points that are closer and some points that farther away from the trunk as you move around the tree.

Fertilize?  The deep-root watering device can also deliver fertilizer while you water.  But wait until about Labor Day to add fertilizer.  Look specifically for a fall blend that has the micro-nutrients that are beneficial for the fall fertilization.

Remember, Signature Landscapes has two skilled and knowledgeable ISA Certified arborists on staff to help you with your tree questions. Call us at (775) 857-4333 and we’ll work to keep your gentle giants happy, healthy and ready for the coming winter.

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