When is the Best Time to Plant a Tree?

One of the most common questions asked of certified arborists is, when is the best time of year to plant a tree, autumn or spring? Young trees typically don’t like the heat, so planting any tree in warm, dry weather is usually not a good idea. New trees also typically like to be planted when they are dormant, usually in late autumn to early spring. So, with all that said, the answer to when to plant is: it depends. It depends on your local climate and on the type of tree. 

Deciduous trees, if you recall from grade school, are trees that lose their leaves in winter and grow them back beginning in the spring. The best time to plant is when the maple, oak or birch sapling is at its strongest either in late fall or early spring after it has shed its leaves but before the spring buds appear. This will allow the new tree to take root and survive the heat of its first summer. 

Evergreen trees such as pines and firs retain their foliage all year long so there’s a little more leeway in planting. Evergreens can be planted earlier in the spring and later in the fall, but they should never be planted in summer. Evergreens do have a dormancy period, too, just not as pronounced as most deciduous trees. 

Ornamental trees, or those that produce flowers or fruit, are best planted in late autumn or very early spring at ground’s first thaw. If the young dogwood or crab apple tree has already blossomed, planting could be detrimental. It is absolutely crucial that ornamentals be planted when they are dormant. 

If you have any questions about planting trees in your particular growing zone, it is always wise to consult your local arborist. The arborist can also give you tips on what types of trees would best suit your climate and landscape, and which would give you the most benefits in terms of shade and energy conservation.

Caring for Tree Roots

It’s easy to focus on the canopy of your tree to the exclusion of all else, as the soaring height and reach of the limbs is so distracting and the root system is largely invisible. Making sure that the roots of your trees are properly cared for, however, is absolutely essential to their health and ability to thrive. 

One common cause of failure to thrive and tree death in most urban areas is a buried root collar. The root collar is the area where the roots and trunk come together, and burial beneath too much soil or mulch keeps the collar moist and inhibits the movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide. A tree with a buried root collar is also more susceptible to soil-borne pathogens. 

If the root system of a tree extends to the area beneath or even near your driveway, the action of driving over the roots can cause severe damage to the tree over time. Even one pass over the roots by a heavy vehicle like a garbage truck or construction vehicle can cause irreparable damage to the root system, so exercising care when plotting out a new driveway or allowing heavy vehicles to part is essential if there are trees nearby. 

Compacted soil also compromises the health of a tree, as does girdling roots that effectively strangle the tree. Routine care and the attentions of an arborist will ensure that your trees stay healthy, and that even the less prominent features get the care they need. Contacting a professional arborist or tree service contractor in your area is the best way to determine just how healthy the roots of your trees are, and to correct any problems before they begin to threaten the life of the tree itself.

Why Tree Trimming Is a Job for the Pros

Pruning and trimming the trees on your property regularly promotes healthy growth and can protect the structures around them from falling limbs. While it may seem like a relatively simple job, there are actually a few reasons why you might want to consider enlisting the help of a professional before tackling your unruly trees. 

First and foremost, teetering several feet off of the ground with an arsenal of sharp tools isn’t a recipe for safety in most cases. Larger branches can easily fall on you as they come crashing to the ground, which also presents a fairly serious risk. Unless you’re highly accustomed to working under such conditions, you’ll be actively risking your own health and well-being when you attempt to prune your trees. 

Your own safety isn’t the only thing at risk when you prune a tree without proper knowledge. The tree itself can suffer if you use the wrong tools, trim at the wrong time or remove too much. Professional tree service workers and certified arborists have a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from, not to mention the right tools for the job. 

Different types of trees will require different pruning times, but it’s generally not advised to trim any tree during the autumn months. Stimulating new growth when your trees are falling into dormancy can stress them dramatically, as can a sudden cold snap immediately after pruning. 

A trained and experienced arborist or tree service contractor will know when each of the trees on your property should be trimmed, and can help to walk you through the process for shorter trees. These specialists will also have the expertise to help in the prevention of disease and insect infestation after pruning, which can also affect the health of your trees. Establishing a relationship with a local arborist or tree service is the most effective way of ensuring the continued health and beauty of your trees.

Benefits Of Consulting A Trained Arborist

If you wanted to put in new plumbing or wiring in your home, you would want the expert advice of a licensed plumber or electrician. The same should be true of your trees and woody plants in the yard. Tree experts or arborists can help you not only when you have a problem with your trees, but they can also help you plan what trees and plants will work best in your yard and how to keep them healthy. 

What Is A Trained Arborist?

Called tree surgeons, tree doctors and also arboriculturalists, arborists are basically certified tree doctors. They have trained and are certified to know how to maintain tree health, diagnosis tree diseases and insect infestations and how to safely remove limbs and trees when needed. 

When To Consult An Arborist

There are many times when the advice of a trained certified arborist is needed for your trees, very similar to when you would see a human doctor. Some times it is preventive or for consultation, other times it is to treat or remove. 

  • Landscaping. If you will be adding or removing trees to your property, getting the advice of an arborist before you start can help you plan what will work best in your yard.
  • Preventive. Arborists can teach you how to care for your trees to help keep them healthy for years to come.
  • Treatment. Arborists can help you treat sick trees or remove problem branches.
  • Removal. When it is time to remove a tree, you want a professional who knows how to safely and effectively remove the tree without causing harm to your property or other trees. 

By hiring a professional arborist, you can make sure that all your trees, those you have, those you add and those you remove, are taken care of with expertise.

What is a Certified Arborist?

Arborists are professionals who have received training in providing tree care.  They provide many different services including treatment of disease, pruning, and tree planting and removal.  A Certified Arborist is an arborist who has met certain requirements for experience and knowledge.  The Certified Arborist program is run by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), a non-profit organization that promotes professionalism in the tree care industry and the education of consumers about trees and tree care.

In order to earn the title of Certified Arborist, an individual must have at least three years of work experience in the tree care industry.  In addition, the person must pass a comprehensive examination that tests the candidate’s knowledge on a wide range of tree care topics.   The Certified Arborist designation indicates that the person has met a measurable standard of knowledge and experience in the tree care industry.

Certified Arborist is also required to complete regular continuing education courses in order to maintain their certification.  Through continuing education, Certified Arborists stay up to date on the latest developments in arboriculture.

When you need a tree service, look for one that has certified arborists.  This indicates a commitment to knowledgeable, professional tree care.  You can be confident that a Certified Arborist has the knowledge and experience to safely care for trees and to operate their business in a professional manner. They will have the tools and equipment necessary to complete the work safely and liability insurance in the event of an accident.

Hiring an Arborist

A certified arborist is a specialist who has been educated and trained in the planting and care of trees.  Consideration should be given to hiring a certified arborist if you are planting new trees or maintaining an existing landscape.  Your arborist will be able recommend the right type of tree that will grow on your property giving consideration to space, surrounding plants, soil, exposure to the sun, as well as proper grouping of your trees and other plants to ensure the best possible health of your landscape.   

Trees are a significant investment in your property.  An arborist can help you properly plan for this investment as well as educate you on proper maintenance so your investment keeps “growing” for years.

Cutting and pruning trees can be dangerous and lead to other expenses if not done properly.  Some trees are protected by state and local laws.  You may need a permit to trim your trees.  Some companies will perform cutting services without permits or insurance.  This could lead to lofty fines as well as compromise the health of your tree if the cutting was not done properly.  You may also be held liable if there is an injury on your property when the service is being performed. 

When choosing your tree service company, make sure you get a proposal in writing and check your state and local codes for cutting and pruning your trees.  Always ask for references and documentation of permitting, insurance and certifications.  A certified arborist will provide all of this for you and give you the peace of mind you need while trying to protect your landscaping investments.