Alpine Arborists Tree Care
P.O. Box 669
Tahoe City, CA 96145
Monday - Friday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
24 Hour Emergency Service:
At Alpine Arborist Tree Care, our attentive staff is available Monday through Saturday to answer your questions and ensure you are 100% satisfied.
Alpine Arborists Tree Care is based in Meeks Bay, California
Serving the the Lake Tahoe
and Truckee Region
When purchasing or planting trees there are many things you should look for to ensure the long term health, structure and survival of your trees. If you go to the nursery you can pick and choose the best trees. If you are having a landscaper plant your trees, you should always closely inspect them before they are planted and reject undesirable ones. Trees will often appear healthy when first planted but years down the road after money spent on planting, maintenance and the trees themselves they can become seriously unhealthy, defective or even die. Pick the right trees from the start; include qualified arborists to help you! You will save lots of time and money and have beautiful healthy trees.
(Below is some helpful and detailed information from urbantree.org)
Shade trees grown in the nursery should have a strong central leader even if the leader will be lost at maturity. Temporary branches are important to trunk development because they build a strong trunk and root system. Good root systems start in the nursery at propagation in the liner stage and require attention each time a tree is shifted into a larger container. Installation contractors must provide simple root and shoot pruning treatments at planting to ensure that sustainable landscapes are created. The follow document have been developed to help industry professionals.
Specification Guidelines for Container-grown Trees for California. This document's intent is to help landscape professionals develop their own comprehensive and detailed specifications to ensure that they obtain high quality container-grown nursery trees. The document is also intended to help nursery professionals in their efforts to improve the quality of trees grown in California. These specifications can be modified for specific simulations. Recommendations for improvements to the document received in the past 5 years have been incorporated in this 2009 revision. Strategies for Growing a High-Quality Root System, Trunk, and Crown in a Container Nursery. This document presents strategies to assist growers in producing trees that conform to the Guideline Specifications for Nursery Tree Quality. The strategies are based on most-recently-published and ongoing research, combined with the knowledge, skills, and know-how of both the practitioner and researcher, to produce high-quality root systems, trunks, and crowns. As research progresses and new strategies are developed, this document will be revised to incorporate state-of-the-art information.
Basic Tree Care Information for
People Who Love Their Trees
Why plant trees around the Tahoe/Truckee area? Aren’t there enough trees already? Well, sometimes the native tree that you have are not desirable, especially to be around your house and high use property. Many older trees have defects. Many defects can make a tree hazardous. Branches or the whole tree may fail, potentially falling on your house, car or even a person. Also, trees close to your house may become too large causing damaged to your foundation or roof. Trees too close to your house may also need to be removed for defensible space purposes. Other reasons for tree removal on your property may be disease, poor taper, to allow more sun, etc.
If all else fails and trees cannot be saved it’s best to have them removed and re-plant new ones. Re-planting gives you the opportunity to place the trees exactly where you want them. You can position them for privacy, as a border, for shade, etc. Many of our native Tahoe area trees can be bought at local nurseries or landscape companies. There are also dozens of non-native but appropriate trees for our climate, which will give you more diversity in the planning of your landscape. In the future, I will post a list of native and non-native trees that can be purchase and planted up in the Tahoe/Truckee region.
Trees can reduce energy usage, act as a windbreak, reduce noise, control erosion, clean the air, increase property values and make people feel good. Planting a tree is an investment in time, money, and the future. Here are a few tips to insure that you get a good return on your investment.
Selecting quality trees: Planting quality trees begins by choosing vigorous, structurally sound trees from the nursery. Strong trees have straight roots, a thick trunk with taper, and a good branch structure appropriate for the species. Trees that become large at maturity are most durable when grown with onedominant trunk or leader to the top of the tree (right illustration). The root collar or root flare (the point where the uppermost roots emerge from the trunk) should be in the top two inches of the root ball.
Digging the hole: A firm, flat-bottomed hole will prevent trees from sinking. Dig the hole only deep enough to position the root collar even with the landscape soil surface (left illustration). Use a rototiller or shovel to loosen soil in an area three times the size of the root ball. This loose soil promotes rapid root growth and quick establishment. Installing the tree: Remove soil and roots from the top of the root ball to expose the root collar; cut away any roots that grow over the collar (right illustration). Also cut any roots that circle or mat along the sides and bottom of the root ball (illustration below left). The root collar should be even with the landscape soil after planting. Backfill with soil removed from the hole. Minimize air pockets by packing gently and applying water. Build a berm no more than four inches tall around the rootball to help force water through the root ball. Enlarge the berm as the tree establishes.
Staking: Staking holds trees erect and allows the root ball to anchor. Secure the trunk at the point where the tree stands straight. A second stake tied directly to the trunk made of bamboo may be required to straighten the upper trunk.
Mulching: A layer of organic mulch, such as leaf litter, shredded bark, or wood chips, helps protect tree roots from temperature extremes and conserves soil moisture. Mulch also helps prevent grass from competing with the tree for water and nutrients. The mulched area makes it easier to operate mowers and weed eaters without hitting the trunk and compacting soil. Apply mulch to a depth of three to four inches, slightly thinner on top of the root ball (right illustration).
Irrigating: Consistent irrigation is critical for establishment.
1. Apply about three gallons irrigation per inch of trunk diameter to the root ball two or three times a week for the first growing season.
2. Increase volume and decrease frequency as the tree becomes established.
3. Weekly irrigation the second year and bimonthly irrigation the third year should be sufficient for establishment.
4. Once established, irrigation requirements depend on species, climate and soil conditions.
5. Irrigation devices should be regularly checked for breaks and leaks.
Pruning: Training young trees to one dominant trunk promotes durable structure and overall tree health. Reduce the length of, or remove, codominant stems that grow upright because they compete with the leader (left illustration). Large-diameter branches should also be reduced in length with reduction cuts back to smaller lateral branches. Pruning codominant stems and large branches encourages growth in the leader chosen to be dominant. The leader may not grow correctly when several branches are clustered together at one point on the trunk. In these cases, remove some branches entirely back to the trunk so water and nutrients can reach the leader. This combination of reducing fast-growing branches and removing branches clustered togther forces growth in one dominat trunk. Click here to see recommended pruning at planting.
Now you have purchased your trees, planted them and now it is time to prune. Pruning is essential on all ornamental and shade trees around the Tahoe/Truckee area. It is even more crucial than most other parts of the country because of our heavy snow loads! Pruning helps ensure your investment will thrive and grow for years. Failure to properly prune can cause severe breakage of branches or even the whole tree to fail during heavy snow and wind storms. This often causes the tree to be completely destroyed and un-savable. The price of routine pruning is usually only a fraction of the cost or replacing a tree.
Our goal to pruning ornamental trees around the Tahoe region is to establish a dominate leader, to keep the crown small and compact, remove all crossing and defect branches and to maintain as many lower structural branches as possible. Basically, we want to make the trees develop a short and stout main trunk and short stout branches. We want to train the tree and branches to not overload with snow and even be able to become strong enough to support normal snow loads. You don't want these trees to be "tall and skinny" or too "leggy". You want them to be "short and stout". Aspens, flowering plum, maples, locust, apple, golden-chain and choke cherry are some of the most common ornamentals that require pruning around the region. But just about every planted ornamental and even wild aspens and willows need routine pruning.
Pruning should be on a schedule of between every year to every third year depending on growth.
Training and pruning trees for strength, clearance, and aesthetics
The first priorities when pruning established trees are to reduce conditions in the tree that contribute to weakness, ensure strong tree structure by guiding future growth, and create clearance. Treating defect by reducing or thinning stems that compete with the leader, large forked limbs and those with inclusions, or aggressive (fast-growing) or long branches reduces risk by slowing their growth rate or redistributing mass. Once this structural and clearance pruning is completed, one or more of the other pruning methods can be applied if needed to complete the job, provided the targeted pruning dose has not been exceeded.
Trees that grow to be large are more structurally sound and cost-effective to maintain when trained with a central dominant leader that extends 30 feet or more into the crown (see single-leadered tree at right). Trees with branches smaller than half the trunk diameter, and with branches spaced along the central leader, or trunk are stronger than trees with branches clustered together. Vigorous, upright branches and stems that compete with the central leader can become weakly attached (top right illustration). Structural pruning in the landscape aims to develop and maintain the strong central leader structure found in the forest.
Structural pruning selectively favors a single, dominant leader by suppressing competing leaders using reduction cuts (left illustration). Reduction cuts shorten stems back to lateral branches that are at least one-third the diameter of the cut stems. Structural pruning on shade trees that occurs regularly when the tree is less than about 20 inches trunk diameter establishes strong form early. It is normally performed every few years to gradually encourage more growth in the selected leader. Structural pruning performed on most tree species that become large at maturity promotes longevity, decreases future maintenance costs, and reduces conditions in the tree that could place people or property at risk. All branches and stems should be shorter than the central leader after pruning is completed.
Shortening or removing branches that are larger than half the trunk diameter (large lower right branch in illustration at right) at planting, and every few years, is an effective way to maintain a leader. These stems and branches are shortened by cutting back to a live lateral branch. This lateral branch should be pointed away from the trunk and it should not be growing upright (left illustration). The central leader should be more visible in the crown center after pruning. Only large-diameter branches need to be pruned because they compete with the leader and could be weakly attached. Small branches do not need pruning because they will not compete with the leader.
Structural Pruning Checklist
1. Develop and maintain a central leader.
2. Identify the lowest branch in what will become the permanent crown.
3. Prevent branches below the permanent crown from growing larger than half the trunk diameter.
4. Space main branches along the central leader.
5. Reduce vigorous upright stems back to lateral branches.
1. Prune from the ground using proper tools and safety equipment.
2. Do not prune near power lines.
The text and illustrations for the pruning section has been adapted from "Illustrated Guide to Pruning, third edition" 2012, Delmar Publishing, Albany, NY. Edward F. Gilman, Ph.D.
Below are some very informative links from urbantree.org.