When I visit a client’s property for the first time, I have a mental checklist of the ten things I will be looking at, or at least looking for, when I access their trees.
I now have a handout that I provide for the tree owner that lists the things that are on my radar when I visit. Funny, but sometimes I find myself almost too close to an individual tree to make certain observations, most often though, it is quite the opposite.
The most perplexing aspect of examining a site is trying to figure out what has taken place on that property over time, whether months, years, decades or even centuries! Environmental and cultural changes around any tree have at the very least some effect, and often great effect, on a tree or forest.
Rarely do seemingly “healthy” trees just up and die for no apparent reason. It does happen, it is just an extremely rare occurrence.
Some giant red flags for me can be mostly invisible to the casual observer.
I once read an extensive (and probably expensive) arborist report on an estate property I was called out to for an evaluation. Some of the recommendations made by the arborist that had prepared that report were appropriate, some, not so. There were two giant red flags for me the second I pulled into the driveway of that estate, and surprisingly, no mention of these were made in that report. First off, almost every tree on site had been buried due to a grade change. Some by a few inches, some by a few feet, but almost every tree on site needed to have the root collar excavated for further evaluation of the tree. I don’t see how the arborist could have overlooked this, maybe he was in a hurry. The second thing that stuck out like a sore thumb, was every mature tree on site had been severely pruned, or topped, probably sometime back in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. This was not as red flag obvious as the buried root crowns but the report made no mention of it, and to see it you had to sort of back away from the tree aways. Maybe the arborist that wrote that report was just standing too close!
When I told the clients about this, they were a little surprised. This gave me the idea for my “10 things to look for” punch list that I provide on my visit. It is not a “do all” or holy grail, just a quick primer on what an arborist should be thinking about when they visit your trees. Give me a call if you would like me to drop a copy off, and no there is no charge for consultation as long as you do most of the talking (just kidding). If you are wondering if now is the time to prune your dormant fruit trees, nope, not yet, they just fell asleep. But they would enjoy some kelp right about now!
It looks like we will actually have a winter this year but it never hurts to do a little dance anyway! As always, plant high and often…