Ensuring Life and Limb


by BreAnn Stephenson

s kids, we took trees for granted. We saw them as big, beautiful places to cool down from playtime during summer or a place to stay dry during a downpour. They were infinitely strong. We could climb them and even build houses in them. As adults, we also recognize these giants for the value they can add to our residential property. Maintaining that value— and preventing any liability issues—requires that we be mind- ful of their needs and vigilant in their care. Your landscape will thank you—and so might your neighbor’s rooftop or car! A MYTHSWE HAVEABOUTTREES MYTH #1 TREES HAVE DEEP ROOTS. We use a phrase like “firmly rooted” to describe the reliable, strong nature of people or things in our world. What’s oddly interesting is that trees actually have shallow roots. Though they are quite extensive and spread several times the width of the canopy, a tree’s roots grow in the “soil oxygen zone” with other organisms (plants, fungi, bacteria). Trees can become vulnerable very quickly when their roots are damaged. This can happen through soil compaction, soil removal, severing roots, filling soil over roots, flooding or drought. TREES ARE SELF-HEALING. When a tree is wounded, it actually does not heal like animals or humans do. This is because the cell wall structure is very rigid. The biological characteristic that gives trees the ability to grow tall is also what makes them more vulnerable when injuries occur. Because trees cannot heal, the only way a tree can protect itself from further damage is by sealing off the wounded area. TREES CAN’T BE DEFECTIVE. Trees, just like man-made products, can have defects. Tree defects such as poor branch attachment, ineffective compartmentalization (sealing), lack of taper in stems or branches, cracks and other deformities can weaken a tree and start it on the path to decline. MYTH #2 MYTH #3

PLANTINGATREE IS EASY, RIGHT? Planting the wrong tree in the wrong place or in an im- proper manner are both very quick ways to ensure a tree is headed for failure. If you don’t have a natural green thumb, be sure to educate yourself thoroughly before planting new trees to match your beautiful renovation. Chances are, there will be some species better suited than others for success in your selected spot. THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A PLANTING SITE: 1 Room for the crown and roots. 2 Prevailing winds and sun exposure. 3 Utility wires or other obstructions nearby or overhead. 4 Soil quality (sandy, clay, poorly drained, well-drained). 5 Function (shade tree, ornamental tree, deciduous tree, conifer). PRUNINGAND PROPERMAINTENANCE Just as you do with your properties, you should periodi- cally inspect your trees to maintain their health. Proper care includes pruning, mulching and fertilizing. Pruning may be the most significant of these practices, as it can improve the tree structure and extend its life for decades. REASONS FOR PRUNING A TREE: 1 Removes dead or hazardous branches. 2 Improves the tree structure. 3 Provides better clearance from buildings or other objects. 4 Increases light or air penetration. 5 Maintains aesthetics. Routine maintenance and pruning of dead wood can be done at any time, but it may be easiest to prune live wood when it is dor- mant. For example, youmay want to prune any flowering trees after they bloom. Check with experts in your geographic area for more detailed instructions and advice on the best techniques and timing.

84 | think realty magazine | mar :: apr 2016

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