Author Archives: Patrick Ganino

What is Dendrochronology?

Decode a tree’s life with the help of dendrochronology.  What is dendrochronology?  It’s the dating and study of a tree’s annual rings.

An unusual tree in Confederation Park, Fergus Ontario

Dendrochronology:  The Life of a Tree

via Trees Are Good

There is so much to learn from a tree.  Dendrochronology, or the study of a tree’s rings, can provide useful data from years past.  A tree’s rings can help us understand environmental factors of the past, therefore assisting us with making better decisions for the future.  Scientists and historians alike find the study of a tree’s rings useful for giving historical artifacts a timeline.

Counting the Rings:  A Myth?

You may have head you can find the age of a tree by counting it’s rings.  This is not completely true.  Through numerous studies, dendrochronologists have discovered that counting a tree’s rings can lead to inaccurate conclusions.  When searching for an accurate date, various techniques are required to “cross-date” artifacts and wood samples.  Learn more about gathering information from tree rings with the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research here.

What Trees Tell Us About Temperature

Trees are a great indicator of the Earth’s past climate and local environmental patterns.  Scientists can even gather information about climate and temperature pre-dating climate documentation with the help of a very mature tree’s rings.  Learn more about dendrochronology with this kid-friendly guide from NASA.

The color and width of tree rings can provide snapshots of past climate conditions; via climatekids.nasa.gov/tree-rings/

Did You Know:  Tree rings grow wider in warm, wet years and appear thin during cold, dry years.  If a tree has weathered stressful conditions like drought, a tree may have very limited growth during those years.

Fun Activity:  Listen to a Tree

Have you ever wondered what tree rings would sound like when played like a record?  You can listen on YouTube here.

How to Protect Your Family from the Worst Tick Season on Record!

Every year as we trudge through tick season our guard is up and we are out to protect ourselves and our pets from these nasty little creatures.  In general, tick season usually runs from early spring, into the summer and winds down in the fall.  However, did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has predicted that 2017 will be one of the worst years on record? This is especially important for dog owners because our pups are at risk for picking up ticks and the potential diseases these critters carry. Let’s take a look at some of the vital information that will get us all through this tick season safely!

There are several contributing factors as to why this season will be so bad. For starters, the northeastern United States had a fairly mild winter which means that more ticks will survived and reproduced.  Also, the animals that ticks rely on for food sources (like mice, deer, squirells etc.)  will be more available. These 2 factors alone are reason enough to see a huge increase in the tick population.

Another reason that gets somewhat overlooked is that there was a mice population surge in 2016.  Rick Ostfeld, an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College,  have discovered a unique way of predicting cases of Lyme disease in a given year by examining the growing mice population of the previous year. Simply put; the population of mice relates to the number of known Lyme cases because mice are carriers of the disease and ticks feed on the mice which causes a quick spread.

These nasty little predators rely on large forests to survive.  In this day and age more and more people are building their homes on wooded lots which means a lot of our larger wooded areas are seeing the trees disappear. This is a definite contributing factor to ticks discovering more and more mice to prey on.  As people build their homes next to these tick-infested forests, the chances for humans and their pets to get bitten greatly increases and in coming years the problem is only going to get worse.

So what can we do to protect ourselves from this growing epidemic? Those who live near wooded areas, like the northeast United States and Great Lakes areas, as well as ocean areas and other bodies of water should really be paying attention right now. Known cases of Lyme disease have gone up dramatically in the past bunch of years and this year will likely be the worst yet! One of the best ways to protect ourselves, believe it or not, is to open up our eyes! When your dog goes out in the yard or woods or if you go for a walk, be sure to thoroughly check yourself for ticks BEFORE coming back inside. It is so important to remove these vermin outside! let’s not invite them into our houses! Naturally, ask your veterinarian if a Lyme vaccination is right for your dog before administering any prevention products.

 

It is important to remember that ticks are not limited to “the woods”!  If you are outside then you are now exposed to the possibility of picking up a tick. From grassy areas to a single tree to a mouse running through your yard; ticks live outside, period.  They like to camp out on taller vegetation, grass and leave piles and wait for a passing animal to latch on to. You will need to do a full body inspection every day and pay special attention to the ears, face and inner thighs as these are common areas for ticks to lodge. 

Keeping your grass cut lows and keeping vegetation low will help reduce exposure because ticks like to climb high to improve their chances of attaching to an animal. It is very important to talk to a professional on pest control to see what options will best suit your family and yard if you are considering using a pesticide.  On top of applying a tick preventative to your yard you can also look into some topical tick medications that can be applied to the back of your pets’ necks. This may help in killing off ticks that bite your dog and they will fall off by themselves.  There can be potential side effects that you should be aware of so you should research the facts for yourself and talk to your vet about what options work for you and your pets.

So remember, the best action to take in keeping these little problems off of your loved ones is to conduct thorough body searches and carefully comb through the hair.  Doing a little research on what medications are best and safe for your pets can be vital in saving their lives. Be sure to hire LICENSED professionals if you are considering using a treatment on your lawn. This can be very effective if done properly or very harmful if misused. So please contact a professional and get your family protected today!

A Helpful Guide on Planting New Trees!

Now that summer has arrived we are all spending more time outside in our yards! As you walk around you may start to feel like it is time for some new growth on your property. Let’s take a look at planting new trees and how to NOT let the process overwhelm you! By following some simple guidelines you can have new trees growing in your yard! Location and proper care are vital to successful growing, let’s take a look!

So When is the Best Time to Plant?

When thinking about planting new trees there are several factors to keep in mind. To achieve a healthy grow cycle trees are ideally planted during the dormant season (fall and early spring before the buds start). This is important because it allows the new trees to establish strong roots in its new location before the spring rains and high heat of summer force a strong top growth. A sturdy house is built upon a sturdy foundation! You can plant in the warmer seasons if you are using “balled” or container trees but it is vital that these trees receive appropriate care in order for them to thrive. It is very important that they are properly watered if planted in warmer growing conditions. Just be careful with balled/container trees because they lose a large portion of their root system at the nursery which can result in “Transplant Shock”. Transplant shock slows the potential growth of the root system, especially when some of the roots have to be cut due to kinked or entwined roots. To avoid or lessen the transplant shock you should take steps to pick out a prime location and provide constant “follow-up” care to your new tree.]

 

Let’s take a look at some important factors to consider when planting your new trees. First, and foremost: Make sure to identify all underground wiring before you dig ANYWHERE in your yard!

When digging the hole for planting be sure to make it 2-3 times wider than your new tree’s root ball and make the hole is as deep as the actual root ball. It is key to dig a broad hole so the new roots have room to expand and the broken up soil allows for this to happen. Once your hole is ready you should remove the containers or cut away the wire root casing.  Closely inspect the root balls for circling roots and be sure to straighten, cut, or remove them. Expose the trunk flare, if need be.

Wait, “trunk flare”?  What’s this? Trunk flare is where the trunk expands, visibly,  at the base of the tree. This area should be partially visible after the tree has
been planted. Be sure to remove all the excess soil from the top of the root ball prior to planting if the trunk flare is not visible.  If the tree is planted too deep, new roots will have a tough time developing because of a lack of oxygen. Also, in poorly drained
or heavily clayed soils, trees should be planted with the base of the trunk flare 2 to 3 inches above grade. And always remember to lift the tree by the root ball…not the trunk!

 

 

 

Once your new tree is in the hole be sure to quickly straighten it up. It helps to have another set of eyes view this new tree from several different angles and distances to ensure the tree was planted straight. Once the tree is firmly planted it will be very difficult to reposition it. Once you are happy with your new tree’s position you can stake it if needed. Some simple follow-up care will help your tree grow strong and healthy. You should lay mulch around the new growth area because this will help retain the much needed moisture as the new roots begin their exploration. Keep the mulch away from the trunk of the tree to prevent rapid decaying and have your mulch layer be 2-4 inches deep. Keep the mulch 1-2 inches away from the trunk to prevent bark decay.

 

 

Keep the new soil moist but be sure not to over-water. In general it is good to water the new tree 1-2 times per week depending on the amount of rain you receive. A little extra water is a good idea if you are in a hot weather spell. Continue this watering schedule regularly until the fall and then start to taper off because lower temperatures require less frequent watering.  You can prune your new tree but do so sparingly. Remove any damage areas that occurred during planting. Delay necessary corrective pruning until a full season of growth in the new location has occurred. The last step is VERY IMPORTANT: Enjoy your new tree! Yes, that’s the last step! When you have questions regarding your tree, be sure to contact your local ISA Certified Arborist or a tree care or garden center professional for assistance!

 

It’s Time to Start that Compost Pile!

Have you thought about starting a compost pile in your yard but felt a little intimidated by the process? Let’s take a look at how easy this can be and how you can quickly reap the rewards of fresh compost! In general, compost is the breaking down of organic matter into rich soil particles. This amazing process happens naturally on the forest floor but you can accelerate this magic in your garden by mixing specific ingredients in the right conditions.

 

The general idea is to mix four parts “green material” (including grass clippings and kitchen scraps) with one part “brown material” (dry leaves) in small layers. It is also pretty important to keep the compost pile moist but not saturated. The key to keeping the pile moist is having it covered either in a bin or enclosed box. It can easily take up to a couple of months before you start seeing the dark, nutrient enriched composted soil. However, your efforts will be well worth the wait!  The new compost will improve your garden soil providing perfect growing conditions.  If you live in an area with dry/sandy soil it is particularly important to add compost to all of your garden areas.

When thinking about the overall size of your compost pile be sure you are at least at a cubic yard. This will produce enough heat to destroy compiled weed seeds and add speed up the overall composting process. It is pretty important that you keep piles of weeds out of your pile if it is on the smaller size because the weeds may take over.
One of the key elements to a successful compost pile is Oxygen.  It is imperative that you “turn” your pile for this allows air to circulate and helps the overall decomposition process.  You may want to avoid adding large quantities of grass clippings because of the matting factor which may block out the flowing of air. The turning process can be done with a pitch fork and only takes a couple of seconds. 

Overall you need to remember that this is not an overwhelming process. Doing minimal work will certainly improve your garden and flower beds. Remember, oxygen is crucial in the decomposition process so you need to remember to turn your pile regularly. Give it a try and watch how your new nutrient enriched soil makes your gardens flourish!

How to Attract Butterflies to your Yard

With the return of warm weather we are starting to see a familiar and welcoming sight. Little splashes of color that flutter by and add vibrancy to our landscapes. Indeed, the butterflies have returned. Every time we see one of these beautiful specimens we can’t help but smile and feel content for the few moments we share with their presence. So how do we attract more and more butterflies to our yards? Let’s take a look at some key elements.

Naturally, if you were to sit and wait for them you would eventually see one or two. However, if you know what they are looking for and provide the proper trees, flowers, and shrubs for them, you will have your own butterfly sanctuary to enjoy!  For starters, it’s best to start with a variety of flowering/fruit trees and shrubs to attract butterflies to your garden. It is recommended that you choose a mixture of both rapid bloomers and varieties that have a longer bloom time. With the addition of these types of plants you will start to see American ladies, silvery blues, zebra swallowtails, Compton tortoiseshells, and northern pearly eyes . . .just to name a few.

The eastern red-bud tends to bloom in early spring and is one of the earliest bloomers. This leads to the attraction of such specimens as the silvery blue, zebra swallowtails and dreamy duskywings. This would be a great addition to any landscape to help kick off the welcoming of the butterflies. Plus you are helping the environment because its nectar and pollen attract butterflies necessary for healthy orchards and vegetable gardens.

It is very important to know what these beautiful creatures are looking for in order to create an inspiring butterfly sanctuary in your yard. The majestic flutter-bys instill a joy and peacefulness to our everyday. It is a very simple process and takes minimal work to give these beauties what they are looking for . . .and well worth the effort!

 

Westchester Tree Life: Tree Care in Westchester County

Westchester Tree Life, Inc., has been providing quality affordable tree care in Westchester County since 1985 and boasts an extremely satisfied clientele. We feel that it is our knowledgeable, experienced staff that sets us above the competition. Licensed and certified arborists, as well as members of the Tree Care Industry of America, International Society of Arboriculture, and New York State Arborists, are what make our staff one in which you can place your utmost trust and confidence in.

Voted the Best Tree Care in Westcheter County, NY by Westchester Magazine!

Voted the Best Tree Care in Westcheter County, NY by Westchester Magazine!

We support our employees to continue to learn, grow and excel in their work through workshops and seminars which allows us to stay on the cutting edge of the tree care industry. It is because of our dedication to the tree care industry, hard work and natural love of trees that our business continues to flourish.

Westchester Tree Life are also proud members of the International Society of Arboriculture!

Westchester Tree Life are also proud members of the International Society of Arboriculture!

We are committed to…

  • Providing our customers with the highest quality tree care possible, using the most efficient environmentally friendly methods available, all the while adhering to strict safety standards.
  • Completing each job on time, for the quoted price, while exceeding our clients’ expectations.
  • Staying on the forefront of our industry, and always striving for excellence in Professional tree care.
  • Ensuring the safety of our staff with an ongoing comprehensive safety program.

Westchester Tree Life is proud to participate in assisting and volunteering in the community and charities. The following are Westchester Tree Life’s most recent volunteer projects: