Speaking Tree

Speaking Tree

One of my New Year's resolutions is to learn a new language. I work with several arborists fluent in Spanish, and they've inspired me. I've purchased audio aids, manuals, and am even enrolled in a Spanish class at a local community college. Well, it turns out that this is much harder than the commercials make it sound.

As I was absorbing Spanish on my way into work yesterday, it occurred to me that our trees communicate through their own language. They have something to tell us, but we have to be able to understand them. This is one language I am comfortable speaking, so when my landscape wakes from its winter slumber, I'll be ready to listen. Here are a few pointers from my experience as a landscape interpreter:

First, listen for obvious cries for help. Are there any dead or dying limbs, branches that may have broken or split during the harsh winter?  If so, prune out the dead tissue to support healthy growth and prevent injury to anyone who might be passing under the tree. Be on the lookout for damage from animals feeding on buds, bark below the snow line, twigs, and small branches. Even if you're new to "speaking tree," trust your instincts here; if something looks wrong, you may have a problem.

Next, turn your attention to not-so-obvious communication. Perhaps the tree has damage from low or unstable temperatures. For example, winter drying, caused by low temperatures and reduced humidity, decreases a plant's ability to find and retain adequate moisture. Winter sunscald is another condition that can impact your plants, rupturing tissue when they are warmed by bright, direct sunlight then suddenly exposed to frigid nighttime air. This often creates a vertical crack in the bark.

I'm not going to stop there, though. I'll be on the lookout for other potential signs of winter damage, such as poor leaf color, discolored bark, fungus growth, abnormal bud appearance and leaf size, heavy shedding of twigs, and oozing sap, all of which could be signs of root, leaf and needle injury.

spring tree inspection

I'll continue the dialogue with my shrubs as well, as certain common varieties such as rhododendron, holly, and English boxwood are prone to winter damage.

So once you've decoded these messages, what should you do?

Your local professional arborist can recommend specific treatments depending on the injury, but often the best advice is to maintain good cultural practices to help your trees thrive. Stay on good speaking terms with your trees by properly watering, mulching, and fertilizing them.

Like any relationship, the better you communicate, the happier you'll be. Hasta la próxima vez.

Add a comment:
Featured or Related Blog Posts
  • Root in Moisture

    Planting trees is just half the battle.

    The diseases, pests and power equipment that emerge outdoors in spring, accompanying frequent sunlight, longer days and warmer temperatures, can wreak havoc on your trees if you don't put forth the effort to protect them.

    To keep your trees healthy throughout the growing season and beyond, you must practice routine maintenance and proper tree care. One way to help trees retain moisture, reduce weeds and keep power equipment at a safe distance is through mulch. In the coming weeks, you'll see piles of fresh mulch lined along neighborhood driveways. Soon, the coarse, fragrant matter will settle among flower and tree beds, enhancing the quality of landscapes' appearances.

    Read More
  • Just a Trim, Please

    Put a pair of scissors in your hands, and whether you're cutting coupons or bangs, there's always the potential to oversnip. It's almost too easy to make a mistake as you clip, clip, clip away - removing a little more on this side and a bit more on that side.

    Just like with a bad haircut, there is nothing more noticeable than a poorly pruned plant - pieces sticking out in all directions, a butchered shrub, a tree that looks like the top has been sliced off. The good news is that just as the perfect haircut can frame the face and improve a person's appearance, the same can be said for a professional tree pruning job.

    Pruning is not only a science, but an art form. The science aspect of pruning involves understanding tree biology, recognizing plant flaws and skillfully eliminating or minimizing defects. The artistic aspect of pruning consists of removing dead wood while aesthetically shaping the tree.

    Read More
  • Heat Wave

    Heat wave.

    The term usually makes many people think of the tropics or the desert.

    But extreme heat has hit many areas hard so far this summer. Record highs have been broken in some cities, while others have seen their hottest temperatures since the 1980s.

    Read More
  • Forecast: Hot & Humid

    The air-conditioning is set on high. The fan is blowing in my face. And it feels so good, particularly since my dog and I were just panting within seconds of stepping out to a heavy wall of heat and humidity. His face tilts up to mine, happy for the nice, cool breeze. We face the facts together as I sip from a tall, cool glass of water and he laps up the same out of his bowl: Despite our yearning to enjoy the outdoors, it's hot. And it's hot in nearly every region of the country.

    There's simply no denying it: This summer's a scorcher. While it's difficult to find the motivation to open the door to the heat lingering in the air outside - let alone step out onto a dry, parched lawn - I brave the elements because I notice my trees need some TLC, too.

    It's difficult to imagine another day of 90-plus degree temperatures. So I can hardly imagine how my trees must feel as their roots cling to nothing but the dry soil, day after day.

    Read More
  • Try a Little Tenderness

    When someone moves into a new home, they tend to have a smoother, more successful transition when they plan ahead and carefully move through each step. This includes thoughtfully packing boxes beforehand in an organized fashion, clearly labeling the boxes so movers put them in their proper rooms and then unpacking them so everything that is removed is unwrapped and put into its place to avoid rework.

    If this works for your most delicate China place settings and Lenox crystal, you can see why it would make all the difference when moving something as large, yet just as delicate, as a tree.

    When it's a big, valuable tree that provides numerous benefits to your landscape and your family, a "move" is much more than just picking it up and placing it in its new location. To preserve the numerous benefits trees provide to a community and its residents, which The National Tree Benefits Calculator can help determine, one must plan carefully - before, during and after the big move - to ensure survival.

    Read More

Request a consultation

What do you need services for?
Sorry, we can’t seem to find the zip code you specified. Our residential tree care offices may not service your area. If you believe this is an error, please try again. Need help? Email us at info@davey.com.
  • Email newsletter
  • Woodchips
*Please fill out all required fields.