Seasonal Care

Why Fall is the Best Time for Tree Planting in New Jersey

As we wave goodbye to summer and welcome the colorful days of autumn, it’s not quite time to put away the garden tools. In addition to cleaning up the yard – removing debris and raking up spent leaves – you might want to add tree planting to your to-do list this fall.

Here at Friendly Tree, we talk a lot about the benefits trees provide to a home or property – including reducing energy bills and increasing property value. One of the most important factors in determining when to plant trees is the climate (in addition to the tree planting site).

Trees need the right combination of temperature and moisture to establish a healthy root system for proper growth.

What Makes Fall a Good Time to Plant?

Newly planted trees need a little extra attention to get them off to a good start. Remember – in many cases, your tree has lost a good amount of its root system during transplanting.

In most areas of the U.S., the dry days of summer have passed but freezing temperatures have not yet arrived. The moderate daytime temperatures, cool nights, warm soil and increased rainfall means right now is the perfect time for tree planting in New Jersey.

Leaves prefer cooler, more moderate temperatures because the summer sun can drain energy from the leaves as well as the rest of the tree. Underground, the warm soil accelerates new root growth for a healthy root system before the tree goes dormant.

With the cold months ahead, your new tree can shift its resources into developing its root system and storing nutrients instead of producing new foliage. Once spring arrives, your new tree’s roots will be vigorous and well-established, giving it a better chance of getting through the summer months.

Just don’t wait too long – your trees need time to acclimate to their new location. Sudden frigid temperatures soon after planting can stress a young tree. We recommend getting your new tree in the ground before mid-October.

What About Summer?

Some homeowners make the mistake of thinking that all landscaping tasks should happen in the summer, when the grass is green and trees have fully leafed out.

While it is possible to plant in the summer, trees will require extra watering and may show signs of stress from the heat and intense sun. In fact, trees can actually get sunburned (known as phototoxic burn)! When trees are stressed, they are more susceptible to pests, diseases and overall poor growth.

Can I Plant in the Spring?

Yes, you can. In fact, spring is the second best time of year for tree planting. In the springtime, when the risk of a hard frost has passed, temperatures are generally mild and trees have a chance to grow all spring, summer and fall before settling down for the winter.

At this time, however, they must produce a flush of new leaves and develop their roots at the same time. This intense growth can be taxing on a young tree and also requires extra watering, especially during dry spells.

How do I Choose a Tree Species?

Friendly Tree can help! Give us a call and we can help you determine which trees will do best in our area of New Jersey and in your specific planting site.

You can also visit the Arbor Day Foundation website and try out their helpful Tree Wizard tool, which gives you recommendations based on your property’s growing conditions, hardiness zone and personal preferences.

When deciding on tree species, it’s important to think about how much space (vertically and horizontally) your tree will have and how much water it will receive in that particular location. Choosing a tree based on the site requirements will give you a better chance at success.

Regardless of tree type, don’t forget to water during the winter! Some winters can turn out to be very dry, so keep an eye on soil conditions and water your new tree when needed. Even though the tree is dormant, its roots still need moisture to continue to grow.

Need help with tree planting? Call the New Jersey tree planting experts at Friendly Tree.

We also invite you to explore more of our blog for arborist advice on watering, mulching and pruning your new tree.

Your Tree Care Checklist for Summer

There’s a lot to enjoy in the summer ? but there’s also a lot of work to do. When it comes to your trees, there are a few jobs you can do now to ensure a vibrant and healthy growing season and keep your trees strong going into the upcoming winter.

First things first ? inspect your trees.

Winter frosts and heavy snows can do a number on your trees. Inspect all of the trees on your property for damage, like winter burn. This happens when a tree does not receive enough moisture in the fall and cold winter winds dry out the leaf tissue. If you notice vertical cracks in the tree’s bark, you may be looking at sun scald, which can eventually lead to decay. Sun scald is more likely to be a problem with younger, thin-barked trees and occurs in the winter and spring months.

Additional signs of damage include abnormal leaf size, off-color bark and oozing sap. Any severely damaged or dead branches or trees should be removed.

Check for pests and diseases.

Unfortunately, trees are not immune from getting sick or overrun with pests. Insects tend to target vulnerable trees which are already weak from stress. Aphids are a common issue, notable for the sticky residue they leave behind after munching on tree leaves and stems.

The Emerald Ash Borer has caused devastating damage throughout most of the country. If you have Ash trees on your property, look for signs of dead branches starting at the top of the tree, and small D-shaped holes in the tree’s bark where the beetles exit in June. Trees with bad infestations may lose a third to a half of their branches in one year. The U.S. Forest Service operates an informative website on the Emerald Ash Borer, which you can find here.

Proactive care goes a long way in keeping your trees free from pests and diseases. If your tree has a bad infestation, it may need to be removed by a professional. Look for a certified arborist who meets the criteria of the International Society of Aboriculture.

Pick up the rubble.

Take advantage of the warm weather to pick up old leaves and twigs, fallen branches, or anything else that may be littering the floor of your landscape. Be especially careful to remove diseased material, and DON’T compost it; throw it in the trash.

Get out the pruning shears.

Now is the time to prune those dead or diseased branches you noticed in your inspection. Trees don’t try to repair or regrow injured or diseased wood; instead, they stop sending resources to the damaged tissue.

Pruning allows the tree to put energy into its healthy branches, it improves airflow and it can even lower the risk of insect infestation. If you are dealing with very large or very high dead branches, or branches that pose a risk to structures, vehicles or people, make sure you consult a professional first.

Feed your trees.

After a long, hard winter, trees are often desperate for nutrients. Help them recover and put their energy into new growth with a slow-release fertilizer. Healthy trees have the best defense against disease and insects.

Know how to water.

As the days become longer and hotter, it’s important to give your trees adequate moisture. Following a consistent watering schedule that mimics rainfall (a slow, deep soak) is the best bet. Established trees need one gallon (or one inch) of water each week and younger trees may need twice as much. Consider installing a drip line below ground and don’t water in the afternoon, when moisture can be lost to evaporation.

Apply new mulch.

Mulch provides so many benefits to your trees and can be a lifesaver in the hot summer. Add two to four inches of mulch around the base of each tree, being careful not to pile it up around the trunk (this is called “volcano mulching” and can kill your tree). In addition to retaining moisture and keeping soil temperatures cool, mulch provides added nutrients to the soil.

If the warm weather is calling to you, go ahead and answer. Dust off those gardening gloves and give your trees the attention they need to make it through the long summer.

Arborist Advice: Protecting Your Trees from Summer Storms

Summertime in New Jersey often evokes images of backyard barbecues, baseball games and weekends at the Jersey Shore. But with every summer also comes the less idealistic but very real summer thunderstorms, which can really do a number on your landscape.

Many of us remember last year around this time when one particularly strong storm left over 250,000 people in South Jersey without power, damaging buildings and tearing down trees. There’s not much you can do about an approaching storm, but did you know there are simple preventative steps you can take now to give your trees a fighting chance?

The arborists at Friendly Tree have put together a list of five things you can do to minimize summer storm damage:

Thinning the Canopy

Thinning the top of a tree reduces wind sail, allowing wind to blow through the tree. This type of pruning should only be done by a certified arborist experienced with correct and safe pruning methods.

Adding Support

Installing support cables for large trees can also provide strength and minimize storm damage. Arborists use cables and bracing rods to help to redistribute the tree’s structural weight and provide extra support to weak spots. We can help you determine if your tree could benefit from cabling and bracing.

Pruning Dead Branches

Diseased or dead branches break easily, and your car could be the perfect target. Pruning will minimize falling branches during a storm causing damage to people or property.

Lightning Protection

Trees provide a great pathway for lightning to strike the ground. A lightning protection system is a reliable and inconspicuous way to protect valuable trees or those close to a home or other structure.

Filling Cavities

It’s not just for the dentist’s office! Cavities are weak spots in the trunk of a tree that can compromise its overall strength. If you notice a cavity in your tree, give us a call and we can help you fill it correctly.

Losing large trees is a costly problem – thankfully, these preventative measures can keep your trees at their best when Mother Nature is at her worst.

Give Friendly Tree a call if you need help with tree pruning, trimming or any other tree care services. For over 25 years we’ve been helping New Jersey residents with their tree care needs, and we’ll be there to help your trees weather the storm.

Tree Pruning and Removal – How to Tell When It’s Time

It usually happens while walking through the yard one day – you notice leafless limbs or dead branches lying on the ground. But how do you know when a tree needs a good pruning or when it should be removed?

In this article, we’ll explain when a tree is considered a safety hazard and when it just needs a good, healthy trim.

Signs Your Tree Needs Pruning

Tree Pruning is essential for the healthy maintenance of trees, but improper pruning can cause damage and in some cases the tree’s death. That’s why trees should only be pruned by Certified Tree Care Safety Professionals, like the experts at Friendly Tree, who practice safe, proven and effective methods.

Damaged, Diseased or Dead Branches

Besides the danger of falling, broken or damaged limbs can serve as an entry point for insects and disease. In general, a tree has a good chance of survival if less than 25% of its branches are damaged.

Dense Canopy

A tree canopy that is too dense is a problem, as restricted sunlight and airflow can lead to disease.

Undesirable Branches

Sometimes, weak or troublesome limbs must be removed in order to benefit the health of the entire tree. Suckers and water sprouts steal a tree’s resources and should be removed. Crossing branches can damage each other and should also be pruned. Co-dominant leaders (two branches of similar size growing up from the top of the tree) are prone to splitting and tearing during strong winds. Eliminating one of these branches provides the tree with more stability.

Weak or Split Crotch

As a tree ages, its crotch (where two branches come together) may grow weak and split apart; removing split crotches helps keep the tree healthy and strong.

Approaching Power Lines or Structures

A more obvious reason for pruning is a tree’s proximity to power lines or other structures. Unfortunately, people sometimes plant trees under power lines not knowing how tall they will get at maturity. Be sure to hire a professional for these kinds of jobs, as there is significant risk to people and property if the job is not done correctly.

The best time to prune your trees is when they are dormant in late winter or early spring, which encourages healthy spring growth. Dead, damaged or hazardous branches should be trimmed as soon as possible.

Signs Your Tree Should be Removed

Not all dead or dying trees need to be removed. Those that don’t pose a risk to people or structures can be left alone and serve the neighborhood birds as a shelter and food source. Here’s how to tell when tree removal is necessary:

Large Number of Dead or Damaged Limbs

If 50% or more of the tree is damaged, and falling limbs pose a hazard, it’s time to say goodbye. If the dead branches are all on one side of the tree, it’s typically a sign of root or trunk problems and the tree should be evaluated by one of our arborists.

Severe Trunk Damage

Severe damage to the tree’s main trunk (more than 25% of the trunk’s circumference), including large cracks and seams, indicate decay.

Hollow Trunk

A tree can live for many years with a hollow trunk, but it will eventually come down. If a third of the trunk is hollow (or rotted), consult an arborist about getting it removed.

Root Damage or Weakness

It may be hard to tell if a tree has substantial root damage, but if the ground nearby has been excavated or you suspect any damage to the root system, consider removing the tree. Also look for trees with shallow root systems as a result of their growing environment. Trees near ledges, large rocks or right next to a water source often have shallow roots.

Leaning

If your tree is suddenly leaning in one direction, it could mean root damage or weakening. A tree that is noticeably leaning in any direction is unsafe and should probably be removed.

Need help determining if your tree needs pruning or removal?  Friendly Tree can help. For over 25 years we’ve been helping New Jersey residents with their tree care needs. Our certified arborists adhere to ANSI standards for tree care practices, with the expertise to help you assess what your trees need to stay happy and healthy.

Summer Tree Care in New Jersey – What You Need to Know

As summer approaches, it’s up to us to protect the trees on our property. Trees that are exposed to extreme heat and dry conditions during the summer can be stressed and more prone to health issues the following winter.

Young trees, especially, need extra care and diligent watering in hot, dry weather. Older, more established trees may not require extra watering, but there are steps you can take to ensure the tree and root system remains healthy.

Summer Watering Tips

Be Consistent.

Follow a regular, consistent watering schedule that mimics natural rainfall. Give each tree one gallon of water (the equivalent to one inch of rain) every week or so.

Take Extra Care.

For newly planted or young trees, water more frequently during hot, dry weather. They are still establishing their root systems and need extra care during drought, otherwise they will become stressed.

Choose the Right Time.

Avoid watering trees during the afternoon, when evaporation is at its peak. The best time to water is early in the morning, before the heat of the day.

Water Deep.

Deep watering is the best kind of watering. If possible, install a drip system and bury it at least a feet below the ground.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Mulch.

Keep trees well mulched (2-4 inches) to retain moisture and regulate the soil temperature. If you have a drip system, make sure to apply mulch beyond the drip line for maximum water uptake. Read how to properly apply mulch to your trees here.

Keep Your Trees Happy Year-Round.

Keeping trees happy and healthy throughout the year goes a long way toward keeping them protected during the harsh summer months. Fertilize regularly and apply compost to the soil twice a year to improve the soil structure and reduce water runoff.

How to be Firewise

Going into the summer season, there has been a flurry of news articles highlighting wildfire danger in New Jersey’s Pinelands, with Rolling Stone Magazine going so far as to report headlines like “Apocalypse in the Garden State.”

Since the last major blaze in 1963 – known as Black Saturday – the population in the Pinelands has tripled. According to the article, “If a series of blazes starts on the right dry and windy day, it could take out a large chunk of the Jersey coastline.”

Although most city dwellers don’t think much about wildfire danger, the 720% population increase in wildland/urban interface areas across the U.S. (since 1960) has put more homes and lives in jeopardy than ever before. Because embers from wildfires can travel up to 14 miles, home ignitions can happen anywhere.

What Does That Mean for New Jersey Homeowners?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “When it comes to wildfire risk, it is not a geographical location, but a set of conditions that determine the home’s ignition potential in any community.”

There are simple, proven steps you can take to protect your home or property from fire, like:

  • Pruning trees on the property so that the lowest branches are no lower than 6 feet from the ground
  • Keeping grass, trees and shrubs on the property well watered and maintained
  • Clearing leaves and dead vegetation from gutters, porches, and decks within 10 feet from the home or building
  • Removing flammable items like firewood and propane tanks within 30 feet from the home or building

For more tips on how to protect your home, download NFPA’s Firewise Toolkit.

If you need help getting your trees ready for summer, give us a call. The tree care experts at Friendly Tree are here to provide skilled, reliable service, taking the utmost care of our customers and their trees.