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.

Turf & trees have different water needs

Trees and turf often share space in home landscapes, but they have different water needs. Understanding this can help conserve water and save money.

A tree is a thirty-year investment that can easily add up to $5,000 to a property’s value!


Tree suffering from overwatering

Tree suffering from overwatering

Bluegrass turf requires about 1inch of moisture per week during the spring and fall and about 1 1/2 inches in summer, depending on temperatures and winds.

Water should be applied once or twice a week on heavier soils in spring and fall, and potentially two to three times during the heat of the summer. For lighter, sandy soils watering may be needed more often.

This frequent irrigation is good for the turf, but not so for the trees that live within the turf.

This frequent, shallow watering encourages trees living within the turfgrass to develop shallow roots. When periods of drought occur, these trees do not have a deep root system that would allow them to pull water from deeper in the soil profile and that’s when we see them become drought stressed.

One other problem that trees encounter while living in the over-irrigated turfgrass environment is that daily watering of turf also prevents the soil from drying out, this also is harmful to trees.

Tree roots need oxygen to develop correctly. Soil that is constantly saturated with water will prevent oxygen from being present in the soil. This will prevent proper root growth and this will lead to drought like symptoms.

Furthermore, trees planted in irrigated turf must try to compete with turf to capture moisture and nutrients within that top 12 inches of soil. Inevitably the turf will win every time.

Homeowners will find it more practical to meet the differing needs of trees and turf if they group trees within large mulched beds. Trees would prefer to be watered deeply and less frequently than lawns. They should be given 1 to 2 inches per application.

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

We encourage watering trees deeply and infrequently to encourage them to develop a deeper rooting system, which makes them structurally stronger and more resilient to years of drought because they can capture water deeper in the soil profile.

A typical tree has most of its water-absorbing roots in the top 12 to 24 inches of soil. Those roots also expand out more than one and a half times further than the drip line of the tree. These massive root systems allow trees to draw moisture from a larger area.

The objective to watering trees should be to irrigate to the depth of the root zone and provide adequate water to the area under the drip line and beyond.

Trees would prefer to receive moisture every seven to 10 days, possibly even 14 days, depending on species. The best way to know if a tree needs to be watered is to insert a soil probe or a 12-inch-long flat-head screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in easily there is no need to water; if it is difficult to insert into the ground, it is time to apply some moisture.

It’s also important not to apply too much water or fertilizer around the trees near the end of the growing season, prior to first frost. That would stimulate tender new growth that could be damaged by the freeze. However, after the leaves have dropped, if winter is dry, water should be added once a month.

Other factors to consider when trying to figure out a watering routine and amount to apply are:

  • Soil: Heavy soils require more water less often. Sandy soils require more applications, but in smaller amounts
  • Location in the landscape: Trees placed on south and west sides of buildings and homes require more frequent watering than trees on the north and east
  • Time of year: Trees need to be irrigated less often in the spring and fall, because temperatures are lower and less evaporation is occurring
  • Species of tree: Some trees species require more water than others

Knowing trees’ water requirements is more than a good way to conserve water; during a drought, it might be the key to saving valuable trees. If water restrictions are enacted, homeowners should give trees higher priority than turf.

 

Special thanks to Amy Seiler and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for information on this article.

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.

 

Take these winter steps give hope for next year

The dry, hot summer has many lawns looking rough as we head into winter.

While it might seem easiest to throw in the towel, proclaim defeat and try again next spring, the best time to prepare your lawn to look its best next year is now.
Seeding, fertilizing and weeding in the fall help ensure healthy root development before winter hits — and let your yard thrive the following summer.

“Anything you can do in the fall will help that plant be healthier next year,” said Steve Fine, of Signature Landscapes. “You will get substantially more root development in your turf. If you wait until spring, you just won’t have time to develop that root system.”

Beginning in September, homeowners should:

  • Make sure your lawn is getting enough water. Most lawns need an inch to 11/2 inches of water each week. Place a rain gauge or straight-edged container, such as a tuna can or drinking glass, under your sprinkler to determine how long you need to water. When it has an inch to 11/2 inches of water, you know you’re done.
  • Apply fertilizer before the first frost. This will help provide your lawn with enough nutrients to survive the winter. “Fall fertilization is much more important than a spring fertilizer,” Fine said. “It can never catch up in the spring.”
  • Aerate your lawn. Aeration lets air, moisture and fertilizer travel to the roots more efficiently. “It should be aerated three or four times in different directions before you overseed,” said Tim Scott, Signature’s residential manager. “Our clay soil, which doesn’t have nearly enough air or water and doesn’t have the capacity to hold it. The key to (successful) seeding is having soil contact with the seed.”
  • Overseed your lawn when necessary. If your lawn has bare spots larger than a softball, seed those areas from early September through mid-October. Thin grass promotes weed growth. “It’s important to get seeding done in early September so that grass has plenty of time to germinate, develop a root system and establish before winter,” Scott said.
  • Kill the weeds. Apply a broadleaf weed killer in the fall to minimize weed growth in the spring. “October is a great time to get good weed control going into next year,” Fine said. “Weeds eliminated in the fall won’t come back in the spring.”
  • Continue to mow. Keep the blade at its highest setting and mow until around mid-November. Leaving the grass about 3 inches tall helps promote strong turf and reduces weed growth. Be sure to rake up leaves from your lawn quickly, so water and nutrients can penetrate the ground and reach the grass roots.

While many homeowners like to work in their yards, hiring a professional can help ensure good results. Many companies offer a free analysis of your lawn, and you can work together to come up with a plan that’s best for your situation.

“The biggest advantage with a professional is that they will have timely applications, using the correct products at the correct time and using the products correctly,” Fine said.

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…

Weathering winter drought – watering required

Commercial & Residential Landscapes Affected by Winter Drought

In much of Northern Nevada, we’re experiencing a serious dry spell. Warm winters without snow appeal to people, but cause winter drought. Specifically, the lack of soil moisture and atmospheric humidity can damage plant root systems unless they receive supplemental water. Truckee Meadows residents are in for a shock if watering doesn’t take place in the next few days.

 
Washoe County Parks has issued an emergency watering rule for all turf areas. Take this as a warning… let’s get our landscapes watered this month!

KTVN Channel 2 Interview

Do you remember last year’s dry December and January?


Affected plants may appear normal and resume growth in the spring, only to weaken or die in late spring or early summer because the amount of new growth produced is greater than the weakened root system can support. Lawn grasses also are prone to winter damage. Newly established lawns, whether they are started with seed or sod, are especially susceptible to damage in dry weather. Pay particular attention to turf on south exposures.

If you have any questions or comments about how to ensure the survival of your landscape plants, shrubs and trees, give us a call at (775) 857-4333 and ask for Tim, our irrigation landscape specialist.

woodlandvillageTrees and shrubs at risk from dry winters include recent transplants, evergreens and shallow rooted species such as lindens, birches, and Norway and silver maples. Evergreen shrubs, particularly those growing near a house, may suffer root system damage during dry spells.

Water during winter only when air temp is above freezing.In the future, you should plan on watering plants when the leaves start to fall in the autumn. This will send them into winter with adequate soil moisture. For recent transplants, a soil needle or deep-root-feeder can be used on low water pressure for one minute at each site to water the root ball and surrounding soil.

Water during winter only when air temperature is above freezing. Apply water early in the day, so it will have time to soak in before nighttime freezing. If water stands around the base of a tree, it can freeze and damage the bark.

In most years, one or two winter waterings will be enough to keep plants from suffering winter damage.

Special thanks goes out to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Landscape for information on this article.

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

Get to the root of it – watering trees in winter

Watering your tree within entire root area

Watering your tree within entire root area. Click for larger image

These ecologists describe root activity as periodic, with maximum growth in early summer – especially in deciduous species – and pulses of additional growth occurring occasionally in early fall. And complicating things further, they indicate that not all roots grow at the same time. Even within a single tree, some roots may be active while others are not. However, by all accounts, tree roots in our region are thought to spend the winter in a condition of dormancy. This means they are not dead but rather they overwinter in a resting phase with essential life processes continuing at a minimal rate. Full-on root growth resumes in spring, shortly after soils become free of frost, usually sometime before bud break.

But unlike the aboveground parts of most trees that pass the winter in a prolonged dormancy – marked by unbroken inactivity until spring – tree roots seem to maintain a readiness to grow independent of the aboveground parts of the tree. That is, roots remain mostly inactive but can and do function and grow during winter months whenever soil temperatures are favorable, even if the air aboveground is brutally cold. While roots tend to freeze and die at soil temperatures below 20°F, minimum temperatures for root growth are thought to be between 32 and 41°F. So, if soil temperatures warm to or stay above this minimum, winter roots can break dormancy and become active.

Control and Prevention

The most effective way to reduce the possibility of root injury and disease is to keep the tree healthy and vigorous. A healthy root environment consists of adequate growing space for the root system, well-conditioned soil 16 inches to 24 inches deep, and sufficient water and oxygen. To check the water and soil condition of the root environment, dig a hole outside the dripline of the tree and determine if the soil is dry, wet or compacted. If you can’t get the shovel in the ground, the soil is dry. Soil moisture is adequate if the soil can be madeinto a ball with little pressure. Long, deep watering over the entire root system with time for the soil to dry between watering is better for trees than frequent light watering. Watering once a month during a long, dry winter also is helpful.

Avoid any practice that injures the roots. This includes: soil compaction, soil depth changes, mechanical injury, and improper watering and fertilization techniques. However, if these practices cannot be avoided, try to minimize damage.

Learn more about the health of your trees by calling a Signature ISA Arborist - (775) 857-4333 

To minimize soil compaction, remove compacted soil and replace it with noncompacted soil. Provide adequate drainage before planting. Use 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch (peat moss, wood chips, tree bark) around the base of a tree to improve soil aeration and water availability. Adding new mulch every three years or so will be needed as the mulch decays and improves the soil structure.

Avoid fertilization damage by applying nitrogen fertilizer to established trees immediately after spring leaf expansion, not in the late summer and fall.

 

 

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.

A Green Christmas Tree – How Green Is It?

This year, the gap between Thanksgiving and traditional Christmas is a narrow one. Many of us will be hauling out the holiday décor even before we get into turkey day leftovers.

Before you hang the wreath or follow-up on that deal of the week to buy the pre-lit tree, think about greener options that might work for you this year.

Natural or artificial tree?

Cutting down a perfectly shaped Christmas tree to deck out for two weeks and then send to the trash heap sounds like an insult to Mother Nature. Isn’t it logical that using the same artificial tree year in and year out saves trees, keeps debris out of the landfill and is the best way to live green at the holidays? Compelling logic, but there’s more to the story.

Need help with holiday lights or other seasonal landscape chores? Enjoy a professional holiday decoration consultation with our brilliant experts at Christmas Decor! Call us at (775) 827-5296 or visit our Virtual Holiday Showroom at http://www.christmasdecorreno.com


While a pre-lit tree is tempting, you will go greener with a real tree. Here’s why:

  • An artificial tree must be used for 20 years to have a lower carbon footprint than a natural tree.
  • Grown trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide the entire time they are growing.
  • One acre of Christmas trees on a farm produces enough oxygen to support 18 people.
  • Trees from tree farms are grown sustainably – for every tree cut down, 2 to 3 more seedlings are planted.
  • Natural trees are recycled by most cities, so they don’t have to end up in the landfill. They are ground into mulch that is used for hiking trails, gardens and other purposes.

Tips for selecting and caring for a natural tree:

  • Pinch and sniff. Pinch a needle to check for freshness. When you smell a rich fragrance, that’s the sign of a fresh tree.
  • Remove a needle and bend it. If it snaps like a carrot, the tree is fresh.
  • Before putting the tree in a stand, cut off at least an inch at the base of the trunk. This new cut will allow the tree to absorb water.
  • Water regularly. The stand for large trees should hold at least one gallon of water. Check the stand daily and refill the water to keep the tree fresh.

Sustainable lighting for trees and garlands
A natural tree doesn’t always work for everyone. So if you still need to get the most out of the artificial tree you already have, make your sustainable step this year to replace worn-out lights with the new LEDs.

Here are good reasons to replace worn out lights with LEDs:

  • Safety: LED lights do not get hot like conventional lights to create a fire hazard or scorch plants.
  • Fewer outlets required: You can string a few dozen strands of LEDS end to end and plug the whole line into one extension cord connected to one power outlet without blowing the circuit.
  • Less power: LEDs use up to 90% less power than conventional holiday lights.
  • Longer life: LEDs last 4-5 times longer than conventional lights.
  • Sustainable facts: LEDs require less energy and because they need to be replaced less often, less material is used over the long term.

 

 

Page 1 of 2 12