Tree Safety

Keeping Your Trees Pest Free

Now that summer is near, New Jerseyans are coming out of the woodwork to soak up the warm weather and sunshine. Unfortunately, so are the pests.

We believe the best approach to pest management starts with healthy, vigorous trees. While few trees are entirely pest-free, healthy trees are much more capable of resisting pests and the damage they cause.

It is rare for a truly vigorous tree to succumb to pests. Here are five key steps you can take to keep the trees on your property free from insect infestations:

Ensure Good Soil Conditions

Perhaps the most significant thing you can do for your trees gives them rich, healthy soil to grow in. Ideally, you should have species well suited to your region’s growing conditions and soil type. Proper drainage is key to avoiding pest problems, and adding compost yearly will provide your trees with the nutrients they need to grow strong.

Be sure not to over-fertilize, as an excess of nitrogen can actually steal nutrients from the soil and leave trees susceptible to pests and disease. Controlling weeds will also help to limit the habitat for creepy crawlies.

Water Correctly

Believe it or not, overwatering is actually more prevalent (and deadly) to trees in urban areas. Too much water can not only cause root rot but invites conditions for pests and disease. Trees with too little water, however, become stressed and vulnerable. Moist, but well-drained, the soil is preferable. Learn how to properly water your trees.

 Prune Properly

Regular pruning is one of the best gifts you can give your trees to keep them healthy. Good air circulation in the tree’s canopy is important for warding off infections and infestations. However, when done incorrectly, pruning can actually leave open “wounds” for insects to enter and attack. Pruning done by a certified tree service or arborist will ensure that the branch collar – which contains specialized cells to help the tree heal properly – stays intact.

Don’t Overmulch

Mulch can be a tree’s best friend, but only if you do it right. Mulching too deep can lead to root rot in wet or heavy soils, making the tree susceptible to infestations. Mulching during the late fall, right before the ground freezes, should also be avoided, as it provides a home for pests to overwinter. Read how to mulch your trees the right way.

Clean up in the Fall

Insects and other pests love to hide out in fallen leaves, decaying branches, and fallen fruit. Once the summer season comes to a close, remove any leaves, branches, twigs, seed pods, fruit (on or off the tree) or anything else littering your landscape. If you see the diseased material, dispose of it in the trash. Keeping the ground clean can deter pests from hibernating in your yard for the winter.

What About Spraying?

At Friendly Tree, we believe the first line of defense when it comes to pest control is preventative action. However, if you find yourself fighting an uphill battle with infestations, insecticidal soaps can be particularly effective against aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, thrips, mealybugs and other common pests. We typically encourage avoiding chemical pesticides, as they can do more harm than good if not applied by a professional.

Proactive care really does go a long way in keeping your trees healthy and pest free. If your tree has a bad infestation, it may need to be inspected by a professional and potentially removed.

If your trees need troubleshooting, we can help. Our inspections and assessments are always free.

5 Common Tree Planting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

With Earth Day just around the corner, tree planting is on the horizon for many home and property owners in New Jersey. Did you know that the best way to ensure your new tree’s long-term health and happiness is with a good start? In this article, we’ll explain how to avoid the most common tree planting mistakes.

When it comes to tree planting, there is a right way and a wrong way. Improper planting methods may set your tree up for poor growth and future structural problems. Following proper methods will allow it to reach its full potential and ultimately, require less maintenance and troubleshooting later on.

Are You Making These 5 Common Tree Planting Mistakes?

Tree Planting Mistake #1. Planting Too Deep

Planting too deep is a common reason for tree decline. In fact, one study found that more than 90 percent of professionally planted trees were planted too deep. Burying the tree’s root collar, either by planting it too deep or by volcano mulching, can cause reduced growth, defoliation, leaf yellowing, girdling roots, branch dieback and even tree death.

Although the tree may seem fine at first, these symptoms can take years to appear. If your tree’s flare is covered – and if it resembles a telephone pole in the ground – it’s buried too deep.

What to do Instead:  A good rule of thumb is to never dig the planting hole deeper than the height of the tree’s root ball. Keep the tree’s root flare exposed and keep mulch away from the base of the tree.

Tree Planting Mistake #2. Digging a Hole Too Small

On the other side of the coin is the width of the planting hole. It can be tempting to dig a hole the width of the tree’s root ball – after all, digging is hard work! But planting a tree in a hole that’s too small stifles the growth of new roots and and doesn’t allow them to take hold in the soil as it continues to grow. Newly planted trees in small holes are less stable and have a hard time building a robust root system. Trees in this situation are easily blown over in storms.

What to Do Instead:  When it comes to the width of the planting hole, here’s where you’ll want to go big. Dig a shallow hole that is two to three times wider than the root ball. While it may take more time and energy, it’s worth it to create a planting site which will allow your tree’s roots to spread, and will result in fewer problems down the road.

Tree Planting Mistake #3. Planting the Wrong Time of Year

While it may be tempting to take care of all your landscaping tasks in the summer when the sun is shining and the grass is green, summer is one of the worst times to plant a young tree. The summer’s heat can cause extra stress, which makes trees more susceptible to pests and disease (both of which are more active in the warmer months). On the other hand, planting just before freezing temperatures hit can also stress your new tree.

What to do Instead:  Spring (after the risk of a hard frost has passed) and fall, especially, are both great times for tree planting in New Jersey. Moderate temperatures, warm soil and cool nights ease a newly planted tree into its new environment and limit potential stressors.

Tree Planting Mistake #4. Choosing the Wrong Planting Site

Now, here’s where the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted” just doesn’t work. Trees have very specific growing requirements and can’t be expected to simply grow anywhere.

Trees requiring full sun will not do well in another tree’s shade, or on the north side of a large structure. Trees with high water needs may suffer if they are planted on a slope, where water easily drains off. All trees have their favorite soil type, and many are sensitive to cold or hot temperatures.

Another commonly overlooked factor is planting a tree too close to structures, sidewalks or driveways. It may look little now, but your tree will develop an extensive root system and some species can grow very quickly. You could end up running into problems with power lines or plumbing.

What to do Instead:  Do your due diligence and research your property’s soil type, soil chemistry, drainage and hardiness zone. Then, choose a tree that is looking for the same things. Before digging, always provide plenty of clearance for power lines and structures, and call your utility company to mark underground lines.

Tree Planting Mistake #5. Improper Watering

This may come as a surprise, but more newly planted trees die from overwatering than not enough water. In clay soils, especially, drainage can suffocate the tree’s roots. Improper watering can drown your young tree, or cause it to dry out in the hottest part of the summer. And, believe it or not, trees also require water in the winter, especially those that were planted the season prior.

What to do Instead:  The rule of thumb for watering trees is slow, deep and infrequent. Water your tree at planting, again the next day, and then every three days for the next couple of weeks. Once established, trees should be watered to a depth of one foot at the drip line. Water more often during the summer and dry spells, and keep in mind your soil type when watering. Clay soil needs longer watering intervals because it absorbs water poorly, while sandy soil needs shorter intervals more often. Don’t forget to water your tree during dry spells in the winter; even though your tree is dormant, it still requires water to survive.

A new tree is an investment, and cutting corners during tree planting may prove to be very costly later on. If you’re not sure where to start, give us a call.

Friendly Tree Service has been planting trees in New Jersey for 27 years. We hand pick trees from our specialized growers from around the country and can help you select the best type of tree for your landscape, deliver it safely to your property and plant it properly for long-term success. We offer not just a survival guarantee, but a thrive guarantee!

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.

Tree Pruning and Removal: Why You Should Hire a Certified Arborist

As a home or property owner, you’re familiar with the seemingly never ending expenses that crop up throughout the year. While it is certainly wise to learn a few skills and accomplish some of these tasks on your own, tree pruning and removal should not be on your DIY list.

Tree trimming and removal are dangerous tasks. In fact, the chance of injury for tree care professionals is three times higher than for those in the police or fire industries. (Source) When it comes to the trees on your property, play it safe and hire a professional.

Four Reasons to Hire a Certified Arborist

1. Improper pruning causes more harm than good and can even kill your tree.

We have a saying here at Friendly Tree Service: “Pruning is a science as much as it is an art.” In fact, it’s better not to prune at all than to prune incorrectly. Every year, more trees are killed or damaged from improper pruning than from insects and pests.

Each individual tree has its own requirements as far as which cuts need to be made, and where. A skilled arborist knows which limbs are weak or diseased, and how they should be trimmed. He knows how to make training cuts to develop the tree’s natural shape or fill in an open area, and he knows how to eliminate weak spots so that the rest of the tree grows healthy and strong.

Trained arborists also understand when minor trimming or aggressive pruning is needed, and they know how to properly remove dead or diseased trees safely – without endangering themselves, other people or the property.

2. Tree pruning and removal is more dangerous than you think.

Unfortunately, many well-meaning people think as long as you have a good saw, anyone can prune a tree. This line of thinking can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities from falls, falling trees or branches, contact with power lines and injuries from cutting equipment.

Still not convinced? Here are some statistics provided by ArborGlobal.com:

  • The risk of serious accident for a tree worker is 1:120
  • Tree workers experience 6 deaths per 100 accidents
  • The fatality rate in Arboriculture is 35 deaths per 100,000 workers per year, compared to the average fatality rate for all industries of 4 deaths/100,000 workers per year

Sometimes trees only show minimal signs of damage; it takes a highly trained eye to know if the tree is hazardous and poses a serious risk. A trained professional understands how to recognize a hazardous tree and the safest method to remove it. Certified arborists, like those at Friendly Tree, have been trained in safe tree pruning and removal practices and know how to limit the impact to your property.

3. Arborists have the necessary equipment and training.

Professional arborists have tree cranes that allow them to reach large or difficult to access trees and branches. At Friendly Tree, our crane can reach more than 150 feet away and can lift up to 42 tons! Our arborists have the necessary training and experience to handle our advanced tree care equipment without injuring themselves or others.

At Friendly Tree, we follow the highest ANSI Z133 and OSHA standards for workplace safety, which are recognized in the U.S. as the primary safety standards for pruning, repairing, maintaining or removing trees or brush. These standards are reviewed and updated every five years and ensure that trees and equipment are handled in the safest way possible.

4. A certified arborist will have liability and insurance that protect you and your assets.

Imagine if a large, heavy branch crashed down on your roof – or your neighbors’ – during tree pruning. Are you protected?

A reputable tree care service will carry liability insurance, which protects you and your property from damage, and workers compensation insurance, which protects tree care professionals in the field. Any arborist you hire should have a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability and workers compensation insurance. Check to make sure your name and address are added to the Certificate of Insurance before any work has begun.

At Friendly Tree, we don’t cut corners – our certified arborists put the safety of you, your home and your property first, not our bottom line. Our stringent adherence to ANSI standards and our crew’s combined 239 years of experience means we can guarantee our work is safe and of the highest quality.

Need help with tree pruning or removal? Give us a call. We can recommend the most appropriate action for the trees in your landscape, and our inspections and assessments are always free.

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.