10 Considerations When Planting a Tree That You May Not Have Thought Of

Trees serve a number of obvious purposes in the landscape such as creating shade, blocking wind, reducing noise, defining boundaries, and focal points are just a few.

Deciding where to plant a tree goes beyond just creating a beautiful design. There are many other factors an arborist will take into consideration when making the best possible recommendations the types of trees to plant and how to maintain them for many years to come.

Here are 10 things to consider when you are deciding what and where to plant trees on your property to save you time and money.

Play Areas

You may want shade over designated play areas or sand boxes on your property to provide protection from the afternoon sun. However, you also may want to consider the mess that birds and other critters can cause if the canopy extends over the area.

One solution to this is to map out the line of the sun during the day and place trees strategically in the path, but a distance away from the play area. This will provide the needed shade, but also keep the area clean.

Pools

Keeping a pool clean can be hard enough without a tree hanging over it. And while most pools are built in sunny locations, you may want your pool to be in a spot where you can relax out of the sun.

Unlike play areas, you may not want to shade the entire pool area. In this case, do not plant trees in the direct line of the sun. You can plant your tree on one side or the other to create a shady spot. Evergreen types are a great option to plant around pools.

Footings and Foundations

Be sure that roots will not grow and seek water too close to concrete, footings, or foundations.
Roots can become very powerful and break foundations, sidewalks, paths, or walls. This can be a costly mistake.

Power Lines

Be sure you check what’s overhead. A tree that grows into power lines can wreak havoc for you and your neighbors!

Property Lines

Be aware of property lines and easements. This one can make enemies out of neighbors.

Underground Utilities, Sewers, and Septic Tanks

Not only can roots grow and break pipes or lines, you also want to plant your tree in a place where it won’t have to be moved should you need to replace or repair these lines. Locate these lines and plant away from to avoid any problems in the future.

Perspective

Keep in mind the size of the tree. As a tree matures and reaches its full size, it should be in proportion to the size of your home. Small trees can look out of place next to a large home and large trees next to a small home can be overpowering.

Hiding or framing a home

You’ll want to consider whether you are looking to accent your home or hide it from neighbors or the street. This will help you decide upon the size and type of the tree you choose to plant.

Parking Areas

Like the play area, parking areas give birds and other critters to make a mess! Take a look at the areas the canopy will cover if this is a concern for you.

Maintenance

Trees will need to be cared for to maintain optimal health. This can include pruning, watering, and pest and disease prevention. An arborist can help you keep trees healthy, full, and strong so you can minimize your risk of damage and keep your property safe and enjoyable.

If you’d prefer to consult an arborist, we’d be happy to help you. Give us a call at 914-238-0069 and we’ll assist you in recommending the best locations to plant trees in your yard and how best to maintain them.

How to Plant a Young Tree

Besides water and essential nutrients, one of the most important things a young tree needs is support to grow. By helping the tree stand tall, you can prevent it from bending and growing crooked. Supporting the tree will help it grow tall and straight. 

One of the most popular methods of helping a young tree grow straight and tall is to place long stakes into the ground on either side of the tree and tying them together, making loops around the tree. The loops you make around the tree should be fairly loose to allow for the trunk of the tree to expand.

Staking a tree can help prevent wind and other forces from moving the ball of roots within the ground, giving the tree a chance to grow a stable base into the Earth. The most devastating thing that can happen to a young tree is to have movement before it has had a chance to properly plant its roots firmly in the soil.   

Before you stake a young tree, be completely sure that it needs it. You do not want to constrict the growth and movement too much, which could cause damage beyond repair. For example, the material you use to stake the tree could cause abrasion on the trunk. This may happen anyway in nature, but why have it happen needlessly?  

The process of staking your young tree is rather simple. Just take three stakes and tie each one separately near the base of the tree. An even better option is to use a sort of tether to prevent potential rope burn on your tree. Materials can be purchased at any gardening shop or home improvement store. The goal is to minimize the friction from the rope that the tree endures.

When the tree has been staked long enough to stand on its own and its roots are secure, you should remove the stakes. Keeping the tree constricted may cause it to lose some of its vitality. You may even want to check your local weather report to be sure there are no storms or high winds coming in that could harm the tree.

You should always be sure to stake a young tree that needs the extra support to give it the best chance to grow tall and strong. However, staking a tree that doesn’t need it can be just as damaging as not staking a tree that does need it.

If you’d prefer to consult an arborist, we’d be happy to help you. Give us a call at 914-238-0069 and we’ll assist you in recommending the best trees to plant in your yard and how best to maintain them.

3 Simple Tricks to Make Fall Cleanup Easier

It’s a beautiful time in New England where the trees give us a stunning show and the leaves change from a bright green to shades of red, orange, and yellow.

The views are spectacular, but after a week or two, they now cover your lawn! A covering of leaves can suffocate your lawn, causing mold and fungus to grow.

Here are 3 simple tricks to help the Fall cleanup go smoother:

1) Use a tarp.

Instead of picking up many piles of leaves and breaking your back, lay a large tarp down and rake or blow the leaves onto the tarp. Not only can you easily drag the tarp to the place you will keep your leaf piles (see the next tip!), you can make less trips depending upon the size of the tarp.

2) Mulch instead of rake.

The best way to do this is to first shred the leaves with a mower or compost shredder. This also saves your back from raking!

Begin a compost pile with the mulched leaves. You can simply pile up shredded leaves or build a small fenced in area to store the clippings. Over time, the mulch pile will turn into a nutrient rich soil to use in the garden.

3) Enlist the help of the family.

Children can help with the raking, especially when creating a pile of leaves to jump in (minus the sticks, of course). Make the Fall clean up a fun family activity and end the day with a cup of hot chocolate, blankets, and a movie.

If you don’t have the time, tools, or energy, to clean up your lawn, we’re happy to help! Call us at (914) 238-0069 to schedule a visit.

Ease Stress with Nature

After a long day, taking a walk may be the last thing on your mind, but maybe it should be the first.  Did you know you can ease stress with nature?  The benefits of surrounding yourself with trees and plants are endless.  Here are some ways to ease stress with nature.

Parks & Rec

If you are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps the answer lies in nature.  Take a walk in your local park, go for a hike on a favorite trail or plan an outing to a farm in Westchester county.  Exposing yourself to the serenity of nature is a great way to relax and reconnect with your inner peace.  A study by researchers at the University of Illinois found that “viewing tree canopy in communities can significantly aid stress recovery.”

 

Spending time in your local Westchester parks is also a wonderful way to familiarize yourself with your community.  The more you explore, the more you may become inspired to take action.  What are some ways you have found peace in a local Westchester park?

 

Plant an Indoor Garden

Give your home or office a touch of greenery with an indoor garden.  An indoor garden is a great way to incorporate a little bit of nature into your everyday life.  Maybe your indoor garden will help you explore the green thumb you never knew you had.

Read Green

Exercise your imagination with a great nature-themed book.  Simply imagining yourself in a natural environment is an awesome tool for relaxation, and reading makes this even easier!  American Forests shared this great list of nature-inspired books from Goodreads.

For more ways to ease stress with nature, check out this article from American Forests.

How Trees Fight Climate Change

Have you ever wondered how trees fight climate change?  Planting trees is a great way to leave a positive imprint on the Earth while helping in the fight against climate change.  Here are how trees fight climate change at your home and in your community.

How Trees Fight Climate Change

We only have one Earth, so we all have to do our part to make sure we minimize our carbon footprint.  Ensuring future generations have a comfortable climate, functional eco-system and enough natural resources to sustain them is vital.  Westchester Tree Life wants you to get involved in the fight against climate change by planting a tree.  By planting a single tree you are giving back to your community.  Learn more from Arbor Day here. 

Combat Climate Change from Your Home

Adding trees to your Westchester residence has many benefits.  The U.S. Department of Energy have reported that planting trees on the south and west sides of your house you can reduce heating and cooling costs.  This is a great way to cut costs while benefiting the environment.  The U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research has stated that you can save up to 30% of energy use simply by properly placing three trees around your home.  Read more about how trees can help fight climate change at home from the Arbor Day Foundation here.

Local Action:  Fighting Climate Change in Your Community

How can you take action to fight climate change in your community?  Stay knowledgeable about current climate change topics and statistics; if you’re looking to take action, think up a creative, effective way to get involved.  Not sure how to begin?  Try simply by getting a few neighbors together to discuss the benefits of planting some trees in your neighborhood!  The U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research has stated neighborhoods with well-shaded streets can be up to 6–10° F cooler than neighborhoods without street trees.  Though it seems small, that temperature difference can make a world of difference.  For more ideas and information on fighting climate change in your community, click here.

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!