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Centreville Safety

In this day and age, with so many do-it-yourself blogs and sources out there, it’s tempting to just assume that you can do everything yourself. And when it comes to performing basic landscaping, yard work, or home improvement tasks, this is a perfectly valid assumption. But what a lot of us are bad at is knowing when a task is too big for us to handle. Most tree care beyond basic trimming work falls into this category. I came across this article today and wanted to share it, because I thought it was pretty powerful:

Trees, Saws and Ladders Don’t Mix!

In May of 2011, a Lexington, Kentucky, woman was struck by a falling tree limb and died. According to a local news report, the woman was holding a ladder for her husband, who was standing on it to trim a tree branch caught in a power line. …

The woman killed in this story was from Kentucky, but it could just as easily have happened in a Centreville backyard. Please, please, if you are going to attempt any tree work that involves ladders or large limbs, first contact a Centreville tree service. You don’t even have to hire them to complete the job – you can just have them come out and give their opinion on the project, and whether or not it’s something that you can accomplish safely on your own.

Specialist cutting a tree

You can also check out OSHA’s list of tree care safety tips:

Tree Trimming & Removal Safety Tips

Assume that All Power Lines Are Energized!
Contact the utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines. …

Be smart. It just might save a life.

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Removing Ivy From Trees

In a post from a couple of days ago we talked about the damage that ivy can cause to trees. If after reading that post and talking with a Woodbridge tree specialist you’ve decided that you need to remove the ivy from your trees, we thought we would offer some tips on just how to do that.

Ivy leavesOne way to kill the ivy is through the use of pesticides. This has the danger, however, of harming the tree itself along with the ivy, so I personally recommend the long and hard manual process. To begin, you must disconnect the ivy from its roots in the ground. IvyOut explains how:

“Depending on the thickness of the vines, use either loppers or a pruning saw to cut through each vine at shoulder height and at ankle height. Be careful not to wound the bark of the tree when cutting the ivy vines. Strip the ivy away from the tree between the two cuts (some vines may be so big that you will need to pry them away from the tree). Be careful not to damage the bark.”

By severing the vine’s connection to its roots, it is cut off from its source of nutrients, eventually causing the vines to wither and die. You can also check out this blog post for a more detailed explanation of how to sever the vines:

Removing Ivy From Trees… Easier Than You Think!

Sorry for the long title, but this is what I needed to read regarding the large tree next to the house, two years ago.  You see, we bought a house with a yard that had literally “run wild”. …

However, you cannot just end there. Ivy is called an ‘invasive plant’ because of its rapid growth and tendency to take over. You must pull the vines up by the roots, or they will grow back. Here’s what you do:

“Pull all ivy vines out of the ground around the base of the tree, making a 2 feet ‘life saver ring[ around the tree. This will protect the tree from future infestations. This is easiest to do when the soil is soft from rains; if the ground is very hard and the vines keep breaking, wait until after a rain to remove.” (Read full article.)

And you’re done! Now all that is left is to wait for the vines still on the tree to dry up. You might be tempted to pull them down, but their strong attachment to the bark still remains. It is best to let them die on the tree in their own time.


Can Ivy Kill My Tree?

I’ve always loved the look of a huge old tree covered in ivy. For some reason it always makes me think of King Arthur or Robin Hood or other such stories. But there is always the question of whether or not the ivy damages the tree.

What is ivy, exactly? The most common type of ivy that you will see in Fairfax is called English ivy. It is an evergreen vine that is sometimes used as groundcover, and also climbs trees, walls, fences, and anything else that it can find. At its full maturity the vine will grow seed balls and flowers at the top. The way it climbs is actually quite interesting:

“English ivy climbs up trees and walls by attaching with suction-cup-like roots called “hold fasts”… . These little attachments are so strong that they often need to be removed from walls with sandblasting.” (Read full article.)

Ivy does not directly kill trees. It is not a parasite so it does not directly take nutrients from the tree. It does, however, require all the same nutrients that the tree does, so they become competitors:

“Dense ivy cover deprives the tree’s bark of normal contact with air and mocroorganisms and competes with the tree for nutrients and water.” (Read full article.)

Person removing ivy from a large treeThe ivy also holds moisture against the tree’s bark, causing it to rot. The rot creates a pathway for bugs and diseases to enter the tree. If a tree is strong and healthy, this may not be a problem for it. But if the tree is already not doing well, this added struggle may be too much.

Talk to a tree specialist in Fairfax to help you determine whether or not your ivy is a threat to your tree. It’s quite possible that all you need to do is trim is back a bit rather than remove it completely. If it’s at all possible to keep the ivy on my trees without injuring the tree, I would choose that solution in a heartbeat. Stay tuned for an article later this week on how to trim or remove ivy without damaging the tree.


Tree Planting

So you want to plant a tree? Fantastic! We can always use more trees in Gainesville. But before you begin, there are a few things you should know to ensure that your tree will thrive, not just survive. Planting your tree at the right time of year can make all the difference:

“In general, April and May are the best times to plant in the Northern hemisphere, because the tree has all summer to grow and get accustomed to its new abode. Otherwise, September and October are your best bet. It tends to be cooler and rainier and the trees are getting ready for hibernation.” Read full article.

Be aware, however, that certain kinds of trees do not do well when planted in the fall. If you’re not sure about your tree, ask your local Gainesville tree specialist for any advice that is particular to your tree.

Once you’ve decided when to plant, you need to pick a good spot. It needs to be in a place that gets a lot of sun and away from anything that will hinder its root development. You should keep a number of factors in mind when choosing the location:

Choose the Right Place

Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing the right place to plant trees around your home…

Now you’re ready to begin. You need to dig a hole for the tree and loosen up all the soil around it. Once in the ground, fill in the hole with that loose soil, not packing it down too hard or covering the top of the root ball. Watch this video for more details:

As the video explains, once in the ground the surrounding area should be covered in 2-4 inches of mulch. The end result should look something like this:

Graph of planted tree

The tree will then need to be watered daily for the next few weeks, and possibly months as it begins to grow. And you’re done!

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Mulching Tips

When it comes to basic tree care in Reston, there are two simple and easy things that will benefit your trees to no end: mulching and watering. The need for watering is pretty obvious, and even total beginners are aware of its importance. But mulching often gets overlooked.

Mulch

What is mulch, exactly? About.com has a good definition:

“Mulch is any type of material that is spread or laid over the surface of the soil as a covering. It is used to retain moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, keep the soil cool and make the garden bed look more attractive. Organic mulches also help improve the soil’s fertility, as they decompose.”

Mulch can be made of any number of things, but the most common kind is made of wood chips. It is very important to mulch a newly-planted tree, but mulch can be equally beneficial to an adult tree. It has a number of benefits:

The Importance of Mulching

A newly planted tree’s best friend is mulch. It is very important to remember to mulch your tree after you have planted it. Mulch is a valuable for your trees health and care because…

When mulching a tree you want to create a ring around the base, generally covering the area that is shaded by the tree’s branches. The mulch should be about 2-4 inches thick. Any more than this and you can actually damage the tree. You should also avoid piling the mulch up against the base of the tree, as this can cause the bark to decay. Here’s a video for tips on spreading mulch:

If you have any trouble and are concerned about your tree, remember that you can also call on a local Reston tree service to give you some tips.


Spring Tree Care

One of my favorite aspects of spring is watching the trees slowly go from being bare as coat wracks to having small buds to eventually becoming green and luscious. Virginia is known for being pretty heavily wooded, so here in Centreville I think we sometimes take our trees for granted. Without maintaining proper care of your trees there is no guarantee that they will blossom. Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do in the spring to help your trees, including inspecting and pruning:

The Summer You’ve Been Looking Forward to for Months

After trudging through the snow, sleet, rain, snow, ice and subzero temperatures (did I mention snow?) Mother Nature delivered many of us this winter, we’ve earned hours–even days, weeks–to spend in the shade this summer. …

The first task is to inspect your trees to see what looks healthy and what doesn’t. Some things like dead branches are obvious, but other kinds of damages can be harder to spot. Watch this video for tips on what to look for:

After you’ve inspected it’s time to do some pruning. Most pruning should be done in early spring, after the first frost just before buds start appearing. So at this point it’s a bit late to do any hardcore pruning. However, you can still remove any dead, dying, or diseased branches. Any large branches that are in danger of falling and pose a threat to your house, car, or other aspect of your property, should be removed immediately. Some limb removal can been done by yourself, but you should always have a tree professional from Centreville handle the particularly large branches.

Worker removing a large tree branch

Finally, don’t forget to water your trees throughout the spring and summer months. We all know that young trees need to be watered regularly, but we often don’t think about watering older trees. Older trees take a longer time to show damage, so they can appear healthy even when they are not. Sometimes by the time the damage is visible it can be too late. Here are some tips on proper tree watering:

Tree Watering Tips

Because larger trees show stress symptoms slowly, a lot of homeowners completely overlook maintaining the water needs of the most valuable landscape investment they own. Proper, consistent watering is crucial to your tree maintenance strategy. …

All it takes is a little bit of work, and soon you will be looking out your window into beautiful foliage.

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Pesky Pests

It’s a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping. You walk out to look at your beautiful budding trees – only to see them crawling with insects. Virginia has a strong bug population because so much of it is wooded, and Leesburg is no exception. Tree damaged by bugsUnfortunately those bugs don’t stay in the woods and instead move into your beautiful dogwood trees. We don’t call them ‘pests’ for nothing. Tree-damaging insects tend to fall into one of three categories: the boring, chewing or sucking insects:

About Tree Insects

Countless insects live on, in, and around trees – many are harmless, while others can cause fatal damage. Below is a general description of the three main types of insect that affect trees. …

Really the only sure way to protect your trees from bugs is to employ some kind of spray. These sprays come in all different varieties, so do your research to determine which best suits your situation:

How To Protect Your Trees & Shrubs From Insects & Disease

Fleas & Ticks
Perimeter spraying of low-lying shrubs to minimize populations of fleas and ticks. Usually done once per month, 3 – 4 times a year (Recommended) …

You might also consider an oil spray, which is generally more environmentally-friendly than any of the other sprays. Oil sprays do harm a few kinds of trees, however, so you do need to be careful:

A safe way to protect trees

Horticultural oil sprays have been used for more than a century on fruit trees to control insects and disease. Traditionally, these sprays, aimed at killing overwintering insects, were applied in late winter while trees were dormant. …

If you’re looking for more information, the following article gives tips on when to spray, what sprays to use, and even some other uses for sprays besides killing bugs:

SPRAYING TREES FOR PESTS AND DISEASES

Spraying is a useful way to treat many pests and diseases.  Unfortunately there are many companies that “sell spray” and do spraying indiscriminately.  Those companies seem to suggest that spraying can cure all problems. …

For help and advice, don’t hesitate to contact a professional tree service in Leesburg. They’ll get you on the right track in no time.

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Man Killed in Tree Accident

That big old tree in your yard finally fell down. Being a do-it-yourself individual, your plan is to ask a couple of friends with chainsaws to come help you out, and you’ll have that tree chopped up and out of there in no time. What could go wrong?

Before you proceed with your plan, read this story:

Virginia man dies in tree accident, daughter injured in crash en route to see father

HILLSVILLE, Va. — A Virginia man died in a tree accident on Wednesday and his daughter was seriously injured in a crash while en route to see her father, according to The Carroll News. …

Cutting up a fallen treeThis man wasn’t trying to do anything particularly difficult with the tree. He wasn’t trying to remove a live tree, nor move the fallen one. All he was doing was cutting it up – and it cost him his life. What makes this story even scarier is that this didn’t occur halfway across the country. It was here in Virginia. Not that far from our Ashburn-area homes. Any work involving large trees is dangerous, and I strongly encourage to hire a tree specialist from Ashburn to do the job for you.

If, however, you are bent on doing the job yourself, at the very least be sure to take more safety precautions than you think you need. This article should give you some tips, but it is by no means an exhaustive list:

Cutting up a dead tree that is already down

Cutting wood is doubly satisfying for me. Not only am I keeping my house warm, but I’m cleaning up. Here on the farm trees fall down and drop branches all the time. When I moved back to the farm in 1999, I had a wood stove and a teacher’s salary. …

If you’re using a chainsaw, it is vitally important that you are comfortable with it before you try to cut anything large. Experiment on small branches and the like to get you accustomed to the feel, and always work with a partner. This video should help get you started:

Even if you don’t want a professional to do the job, you can still have someone come in and examine the situation. He can then help you know exactly what you need to do to safely deal with your tree. A good specialist will also give you his honest opinion on whether or not the job can be done by a non-professional safely. Learn from the mistakes of others and know when it’s time to let someone else do the job.


Capitol Crescent Trail Reopens

After a week of being closed for cleanup from a sewage overflow, the Capitol Crescent Trail has finally been reopened:

Trail Reopens After Raw Sewage Spills Into Canal

After five millions of gallons of raw sewage and rain water spilled into the C&O Canal last week, the Capital Crescent Trail has reopened. …

In case you missed the original reports, the overflow occurred as a result of the extensive rain we had last week, causing sewage to flow over the trail and into the Potomac:

Five Million Gallons of Sewage Just Spilled Across the Capital Crescent Trail

A break in a major sewer interceptor late Wednesday sent an estimated five million gallons of sewage spilling across the Capital Crescent Trail and into the Potomac River, according to DC Water. …

Capital Crescent TrailThe trail is now safe for use, but authorities are warning against coming in contact with the water.

No comment has been made on how this incident might affect plants and trees that get their nutrients from the now-contaminated waters. If you live in the area I would suggest having a Fairfax tree expert come take a look to ensure that your trees are still getting the nutrients they need.


Goats in Trees??

Tired of spending all that time trimming the trees in your Burke yard? Morocco has found an interesting solution to the problem: goats!

Forget chickens in the trees. Goats are far more entertaining. These goats live in the Moroccan desert where food is scarce. They feed off the fruit of Argan trees, one of the few things that manages to grow in that dry land:

“The Argan tree – scientifically recognized as Argania Spinosa – is an extremely rare little-known tree indigenous to the southwestern Morocco. Due to its extraordinary characteristics, it’s considered one of Morocco’s miraculous resources. … This is [in part] due to its amazing ability to withstand long periods of drought, heath, the chalky poor soil and extremely harsh conditions.” (Source)

Argan fruit, somewhat reminiscent of an avocado, has a fleshy outside layer surrounding a hard core. Locals extract Argan oil from this core, which is used for a variety of things including cooking, shampoo, and skin care. The goats actually excrete the core, which people then gather. A little gross when you think about it, but whatever works!

Argan fruit

Too bad Argan trees don’t grow in Burke. I guess I’ll have to stick with a good Burke tree company. I’d love to purchase a goat or two to help mow my trees , wouldn’t you?

Goat in Tree