Spring 2009 - Tree Doctors Still Make House Calls

By: Jean Ferdinandsen, Certified Arborist WI-0149A

Spring 2009 Newsletter in Adobe PDF format When you call Wachtel Tree Science and Service to look at your tree, a Certified Arborist will come to provide a thorough assessment of it. You may have some idea regarding how your doctor assesses your health, but what does a Certified Arborist look at when determining your tree’s health or condition?

Typically, we start with the history of both the tree and the site, just as your doctor asks you about your personal health history. This is done by asking questions and through observation. This history may include such things as when the tree was planted, its age, whether there have been any changes to the site or care, how long an issue or concern has been present, or has anything been done or applied to the tree? This history provides needed information and clues.

From that point, we look at as many parts of the tree as we can. This includes the three main components: roots; trunk and branches; and leaves or needles. Each part has a crucial function that can impact tree health.

Roots are the most difficult to assess as they are, for the most part, underground. Loss of roots due to recent transplanting, construction or other causes such as root rot may be determined by the history or thorough detailed observation. Symptoms of root loss may be similar to those caused by other issues. We also look for evidence of root loss due to insects or disease. Loss of roots reduces the uptake and storage of water and nutrients, plus structural support. In some cases, we may dig or excavate to get a better look at the root system and planting depth. This may require use of our air spade or even tree radar equipment.

The trunk and branches provide structural support, storage, and transport of water and nutrients to the leaves. Damage to the structure or form (be it from storms, poor maintenance, or lack of pruning, etc.) can affect aesthetics, health, and safety. Our first concern is always safety. Interruption to the vascular system cuts off water and nutrient flow. This can occur from wounds or trunk damage, boring insects, cankers, vascular diseases, etc. We look for any signs or symptoms of these types of problems.

The leaves and buds are the final part of the tree to be assessed. In this portion of the tree (depending on the season), we look to see if any buds are present. If so, what is their condition? Are they the appropriate size for the species, age, site, and degree of establishment of the tree? Are the buds and twigs plump, hydrated, and viable? Are the twig growth increments also appropriate?

During the growing season, leaves (or needles) can tell us a lot about a tree’s health. If it’s a time of year when they should be present, are they? Insects or disease may cause leaves (or needles) to come off prematurely. When leaves or needles are present, we assess their number, size, color, distribution, and density. We may also look at the flowers and/or fruit in the same manner. All of these parameters should be appropriate for the species, age, site, weather, and growing conditions.

Once a complete assessment is made of your trees’ health, structure, and the site, your Certified Arborist from Wachtel Tree Science and Service can then make appropriate recommendations to ensure the health of your trees. So remember, we make house calls!

© Copyright 2009 – Wachtel Tree Science & Service, Inc.

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