Thursday, July 12, 2018

Visual Indicators of Tree Stress

How can you tell when a tree is under stress and requires attention or maintenance? Tree stress can be caused by both environmental and manmade factors including: droughts, lightning strikes, excessive rain and wind, construction damage, utility trenching, and a host of other factors.   Some typical visual stress symptoms include sudden leaf drop, unexpected leaf color change (green to yellow or brown), canopy and/or branch wilting, amounts of dead twigs suddenly increases and sudden branch or twig drop. Ensuring your tree is inspected annually by an ISA Arborist for defects, stress, and nutritional needs is a simple way to help keep your trees healthy and green.

For information on some of the most common tree stress signs and causes, please read this AccuWeather article.

Image used courtesy of
 Image used courtesy of TCN Journal
Image used courtesy of

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Future of Street Lighting and Trees

Trees and light poles/fixtures are commonplace along most streets in urban environments. While they both provide ample benefits related to quality of life and security, trees are highly regarded for their environmental attributes. However, it is not unusual for the positioning of tree canopies to conflict with safety and required on-street/pedestrian level lighting.
Older style light poles require significant maintenance to replace bulbs, which are often energy inefficient, and keep them clear from existing tree canopy. Efforts are currently underway to retrofit existing light poles with LED’s, incorporating smaller acorn light fixtures and pedestrian up-lighting into tree pits to avoid canopy conflicts. With technological advancement, research is also ongoing to potentially turn trees into light sources using bioluminescent (production of light by a living organism) genes.
How amazing would it be to have a tree lined street lit up at night using only the trees themselves! Bioluminescent animals, ferns and insects already exist in nature. According to a Fast Company Article, researchers are trying to isolate the gene that makes microalgae glow for the purpose of genetically engineering trees into natural streetlights. If successful, this could have a significant impact on future energy savings as their will be less reliance on electricity, use of traditional up-lights, and light poles along streets.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Trees and Storm Events

We are now in the rainy season and will likely experience large amounts of rain While high winds and lightning are well known to cause tree failure, oversaturation of the roots is also a big concern.

Text Box: (Courtesy DC Fire and EMS via Twitter)Water is necessary for tree survival, but too much too soon can cause multiple root zone issues and complete failure of otherwise healthy trees. In fact, I came across a Washington Top News article concerning excessive rain events and tree loss in the Washington D.C. area that highlighted how numerous trees were impacted, some of which suffered total failures due to flooding of the root zone areas. In most cases, flash flooding and heavy downpours cannot be mitigated. However, steps can be taken to ensure your property drains
properly and any new trees installed are not planted too deeply.

Be wary of trees that shift or develop leans after a heavy rain or flooding event. If you notice any on your property, contact an ISA Certified Arborist immediately to have an inspection and risk assessment conducted. This will help determine the tree(s) stability moving forward.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Hurricane Season Preparation and Your Trees

How should I prune my palms and trees to reduce storm damage in Fort Lauderdale? This question is often asked now that hurricane season has arrived. No tree or palm is 100% immune to storm impacts, but with proper pruning the chances of a tree or palm failure can be reduced. 

Be wary of individuals or companies recommending poor tree pruning practices. Some examples of poor pruning are shown in the illustration below.

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Poor Pruning Practices
Such practices put tree(s) under stress, compromise the structure and/or artificially raise the trees’ center of gravity during a storm. When selecting an arborist, be sure to ask for a copy of the company’s general liability insurance, current International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) credential, worker’s compensation insurance and to see the company’s Broward County Tree Trimmer License. Companies that do not have insurance or are not registered as a Broward County Tree Trimmer should be actively avoided.

It is recommended to have your trees inspected by an ISA certified arborist annually and, if no defects are found, pruning may not be required . If your tree or palm needs pruning, the proper tree pruning practices will likely be followed. It is important to note that all branches and debris should be properly disposed of after pruning because any debris left lying around can become airborne during a windstorm event.
Proper Tree Pruning Practices
Palm Trimming
  • Avoid removing any live fronds originating above the horizontal plane
    Sabal palm trees; photo by thesix on Flickr
  • Remove dead, dying, or diseased fronds
  • Fruits and coconuts can also be removed

Shade Tree Trimming

    • Pruning should emphasize branch reduction rather than removal for healthy trees
    • Prune young trees every 3 to 4 years to produce strong branch structure; mature trees every 4-5 years
    • Prune to produce a single dominant trunk
    • Remove dead, diseased, broken and cross branches
    • Correct unbalanced tree canopies by pruning long branches back to lateral branches
    • Remove, or reduce the weight on branches with included bark (i.e., bark trapped in the tight angle between two branches growing closely together).
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    Steps for a proper tree pruning cut
    Do not attempt to prune trees or palms adjacent to overhead utility lines by yourself. Contact FPL or utilize an ISA certified arborist qualified to perform utility line clearance pruning.

    It is generally too late to prune your trees once a storm is on its way, so contact an ISA certified arborist well in advance of hurricane season.  For additional information concerning proper palm and tree care please visit the following websites: