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Damage from fire affects trees in several ways including damage to the bark, damage to the cambium layer located beneath the outer bark, and inner bark which is comprised of the inactive phloem and the active phloem. Charring of the cambium and phloem will result in stress and girdling of the tree depending on the amount of tree circumference affected.

Trees with thicker bark are more likely to survive fire damage. Young oak trees smaller than 12 inches in diameter have thinner bark than mature trees and will suffer more than older trees with thicker bark. One of the most important ways to determine a tree’s survivability is whether the interior cambium, or tissue directly beneath the bark, has been killed. If the bark has been cracked or separated from the wood, the cambium is almost certainly dead. The degree of damage is determined by cutting away a portion of the bark.

Branches may also be burned and weakened by fire damage and may be more likely to fail from the loss of structural integrity. If the fire burned deeply into the trunk, the tree will be unstable and survival is unlikely.

Leaves on trees and needles on conifers may be scorched. Damaged foliage will result in stress which will increase the likelihood of beetle infestation. Bark beetles such as fir engraver beetles affect fir trees, oak bark beetles or ambrosia beetles affect oak and buckeye trees.

It is important to check for soil damage in addition to the visual assessment to bark and foliage to determine the survivability of fire damaged trees. Roots may also be damaged by the high temperature of fires especially if the earth has been heated to the extent that the soil is cracked or “glazed” in appearance. This soil damage can result in poor water infiltration preventing adequate uptake of water and nutrients leading to stress or death of the tree.

Call TreePro for prompt service to assess your fire damaged trees. A Certified Arborist will provide a free written estimate to identify and mitigate tree hazards.

When fire burns trees it can damage the structure of the tree and create a hazard. The following are five ways that trees may fail after damage from fire.

  1. Trunk failure from weakly attached multiple trunks. Trees with “V” shaped co-dominant or multiple trunks are inherently more likely to fail than trees with a single trunk and horizontally attached limbs. Coast live oaks often have multiple trunks. These stress areas may fail when wind and heat associated with fire damage.
  2. Trunk failures caused by interior damage to heart wood by fire through tree cavities. Hollow areas especially near the lower trunk act as an entry point for fire. Fire can burn through a cavity into the interior of the tree and burn upwards like fire in chimney. Failure of the trunk may occur if the damage is severe.
  3. Trunk failure from stump re-growth. When trees are removed and the stumps are not ground out some species will grow several new trunks around the outer area of the tree. Also known as fairy rings in redwood forests, this type of growth pattern is also common in bay trees. The old stump in the center of the tree trunks will dry out and easily burn during a fire. As the old stump burns it weakens the surrounding new trunks and may cause multiple trunk failures.
  4. Limb failure from weakly attached branches or decay cavities. If fire moves into the canopy of the tree it can cause limb failures in areas with “V” shaped attachments or branches with cavities.
  5. Tree failure from root damage. If fire is hot enough it can damage tree roots. While most people think trees have a large tap root and roots that extend deep into the soil most tree roots are located within the top 12 inches of the soil. A young oak tree sends a very deep root initially but for most trees including oaks the roots extend laterally and “anchor” roots extend in an oblique direction to provide additional stability to the tree. Trees in high temperature burn areas such as next to structures or where multiple trees have burned may have root damage to the extent that the trees are no longer structurally sound. A root crown or lateral root excavation may be needed to inspect roots of high value trees.

Contact TreePro for tree assessments for fire damaged trees. A Certified Arborist will inspect the trees and if necessary provide a free estimate for pruning or removing fire affected trees.

Ron Wallace, Owner TreePro Certified Arborist #WE 0979A

TreePro has added staff and equipment to ensure that we have the resources available to help our clients in this time of crisis. Contact TreePro and a Certified Arborist will inspect your trees promptly and provide a free written estimate to mitigate hazards associated with fire damaged trees.

Ron Wallace, Owner TreePro Certified Arborist #WE 0979A

  1. Fallen trees are unstable and hazardous. When a tree falls there are heavy limbs and trunks under tension. Trying to move or cut the branches can cause the tree to shift and cause further damage or injury. Calling a reputable tree service with Accreditation from the Tree Care Industry is your best assurance of removing the tree without causing further damage to your home or injuring yourself.
  2. Pine Tree FailureBe careful of potential power lines knocked down by a tree failure. Often falling trees cause damage to the high voltage lines which cause major power outages and also the line that runs to your home. In addition, cable and phone lines may become energized with high voltage from a downed PG and E line. Stay away from power lines and contact PG and E for assistance.
  3. Be careful of slippery roof surfaces. If a tree falls on your home or structure the first impulse is get on the roof and determine the damage and try to stop water damage. A wet roof during a windstorm with slippery tree debris is the wrong place to be. TreePro responds to storm emergencies with tarps and trained professionals with the proper safety equipment to remove the tree from the roof and tarp the area to prevent water damage.
  4. It’s a good idea to check with both your insurance agent to review your policy limits and coverages before a problem occurs." change to " It’s a good idea to check with both your homeowners and auto insurance agents to review your policy limits and coverages before a problem occurs.
  5. Call a reputable Tree Company to help with a tree emergency. Attempting to remove a fallen tree during a storm Pine Tree Failure 2requires extensive training and experience. Following a storm there are unscrupulous and uninsured companies that may have a good sales pitch but leave you with more problems from additional damage.

TreePro has been the local professional choice for tree care since 1990. We are Accredited by the Tree Care Industry Association. We carry $1 million in liability and worker’s compensation for your protection. We also have the highest ratings of any tree company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Five Star Rating from Yelp and a Super Service Award from Angie’s List.

Even before a tree is planted a number of factors will determine how safe the tree will be when it matures. The variety of the tree, the growing conditions at the nursery, the method of planting and early pruning all make the difference between a safe tree to enjoy for generations or a hazardous tree doomed to fail.

pruning 1While any tree has the potential to fail; avoid trees that are structurally weak and prone to failure. Some trees are more likely to be brittle and drop branches, especially during storms with high winds. These include willows, eucalyptus, poplars, Monterey pines, Italian stone pines, douglas firs, and Monterey cypress trees.

Trees which often have trunk failure (splitting of the trunk) include several native trees and some ornamental species. Native trees subject to trunk failure include coastal live oaks, black oaks, firs, and to a lesser degree redwood trees. Introduced trees subject to trunk failure include eucalyptus, locusts, ash varieties, Bradford pears, poplars, liquidambers, and some maple varieties. While some of these trees should not be planted in urban areas many can be pruned or repaired to overcome structural defects.

Trees subject to root crown failure where the entire tree falls over include eucalyptus, Leyland cypress, Douglas firs, Monterey pines, bay laurels, and poplar trees. To a lesser degree native oaks may have root crown failure; especially where roots have been damaged by construction, compaction, or summer watering.

Early growing conditions and planting technique also play a large in the future safety of a young tree. Nursery grown trees are often “tipped back” from the top and lower branches are removed. This makes for uninform trees that are easy to transport, but it creates potential problems for the young tree. Cutting the top of the tree causes several branches to grow from a single area and these co-dominant leaders are forced to compete for stability and few will succeed. Often the trunk failure occurs years in the future when the tree is an integral part of the landscape. It’s important to choose a tree which has not been tipped back, but has a single central leader with good spacing of the branches growing along the trunk. The branches should be horizontally attached, extending perpendicular to the trunk, rather than a high “V” shape attachment. Branches that connect to the trunk with a “V” shape are prone to failure.

Lower branches growing on the trunk should not be pruned off because they add diameter to the trunk. A trunk with good caliper willphotos 228 be stronger than a tall thin trunk. Avoid trees with circling or girlding roots. If a tree is left too long in a container the roots begin to encircle the pot. When planted, the roots continue to circle around the base of the tree and fail to extend outward establishing the strong buttress roots that prevent failure. Poor root development is one of the major reasons for tree failure at the root crown.

Bodega Bay Cypress Emergency 1To help a tree develop good root structure it should be planted in a hole twice the diameter of the growing container. In clay or poor soils the hole can be even bigger. The depth of the hole should match the container depth. Plant the base of the tree slightly above ground level. Trees planted too deeply will develop root decay.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) recommends that trees should not be staked at planting time if possible. Research has shown that un-staked trees develop stronger trunks than trees that are planted with stakes. If the tree is unable to stand without staking it should be staked as low as possible from opposite sides with approved materials that will not girdle the trunk or damage the bark. For more information on planting and staking trees, a pamphlet is available from the UC Cooperative Extension Office in Santa Rosa.

Early pruning of the tree will also affect its safety. Regular pruning establishes good structure. Waiting until a tree is mature and deciding to reduce the canopy by topping or over-pruning is dangerous. Topping a tree creates decay and weakly attached branches when the tree re-grows. Topped trees also develop thick canopies that can cause the tree to blow over. Over-pruning may also cause stress and lead to decline or death. The ISA recommends contacting a Certified Arborist for pruning trees. The definitive guide to pruning including information on correctly training young trees is the “ISA Pruning Guidelines” available from the ISA.

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Most people who haven’t tried their hand at gardening simply do not understand what an enjoyable activity and stress reliever it can be. Taking some time for yourself in order to care for another living being that doesn’t really demand that much attention can be very satisfactory. However, you might be limited to certain low or medium maintenance plants. The truth is that, for example, trees are much harder to take care of. It is not as simple as buying a fertilizer or an insecticide and spraying it on. Trees are plants that grow to live many more years, and it isn’t only their size that makes things complicated.

Each kind of tree needs a different set of nutrients and a different amount of water, and the environment around it will affect how it grows and develops. It is also easy for a tree to get infested with some kind of plague, something you want to try to avoid or catch early on. In this kind of cases, it is important for you to call professionals who can help you determine how bad the situation is and the kind of measures that can be taken.

Aside from the fact that they are beautiful living beings, it is important for you to consider that a tree can also pose a risk easily if it is not well taken care of. Especially when talking about the bigger kind of trees, it is easy to forget that branches will fall and even the whole tree could come down if it dries out or has a severe infestation.

This is why, if you have trees in your garden, around the area of your house, your job, or in spaces you frequent, you want to pay special attention and call a professional immediately if in doubt. The TreePro Professional Tree Care can also help you understand more about tree health, the kind of situations where you would need to take more drastic measures such as removals with cranes, and even give you information on replacement trees. They grow their own native trees and can easily provide you with as many as you need if you want to replace a tree. Their services are guaranteed to leave any customer satisfied, so don’t hesitate to call them and find out everything they can do to help you keep your trees in good health and your areas safe.

There are multiple reasons why you should hire a Santa Rose tree removal service. Not only can they help with the removal of trees, but they are also able to help with the maintenance, growth and overall well being of the surrounding trees in the yard. You need to protect this growth around your home, and if one of them is sick or is dying then they would need to be removed so that they do not interfere with the other growth.

Here is why you should hire professionals for this particular job, and why you’ll thank us later for letting you know…

  1. They know what they are doing, so there is less of a chance of having something happen when it comes to having a tree cut down.
  2. They are knowledgeable in the care and maintenance of the shrubs, trees and other greenery around the yard.
  3. They have been doing this for years and can provide valuable insight on everything that has to do with your landscaping and yard.
  4. They are there when you need them for all types of tree and shrub purposes, even just having them come out to prune and trim branches.
  5. They can safely remove stumps from the yard, and know whether or not there are important roots or other lines in the ground.
  6. Professionals can guarantee their services when you work with them, and chances are they provide you with a contract to work off of, so everyone is protected in the process.

When it comes to removing trees, it is an important job that can cause serious issues if you choose to do it yourself. You do not want to do this though. You want to trust in professionals that can do the job and make sure it is done right. Safety should be your first concern, and when thinking of a DIY tree removal job, you should never consider it unless you understand the precautions and safety measures that need to be taken - and they should not be taken lightly!

Speaking with TreePro Professional Tree Care for these purposes is essential. They can give you an estimate on removing the trees from your yard and make sure it is done safely. They want to protect your home, while removing the problem areas and this can be done with ease. Contact them today to get an estimate for the removal or services you’re in need of.

Santa Rosa tree removal services can provide anyone with the removal of trees throughout their yard. Not only can they ensure that everything is done correctly, but you also have to know that the trees you’re removing can no longer be used. When removing trees from the yard, you’re removing shade, oxygen and a wide range of other beneficial aspects. Before having them removed, you want to make sure that this is the best plan of action for you to take.

Why Remove Dead Trees

Not only are dead trees unsightly, but they can provide a wide range of problems in your yard and throughout the home. When the dead tree is sitting there, it can rot. This rot then leads to insects and other rodents. These rodents, if close enough to your home, can change direction from the tree, to the house.

In addition to this, dead trees become brittle with time. If it is dead for a long time, and it is a large tree, this means that anything that is in the way can become a problem. You want to make sure that you’re taken care of the trees before they take anything out with them.

Dead trees that are dead due to disease or conditions can cause further problems if you’re not careful. The condition or disease that is affecting this one or even two trees can spread to the others that are on the property, causing additional damage to the grounds around them. This causes your landscape to suffer.

Dead trees will not grow, they will not flourish and they will not prosper. So why leave them in the yard for everyone to see? Skip this scary looking thought and go with removal and planting of a new, beautiful, healthy tree in the yard, so you have something beautiful to look at.

Trees that are dead in your yard must be removed. Not only is this healthier for your grounds and trees around it, but it can be healthier for everyone living on the property. Don't let something like this slip you by. Speak with professionals at Santa Rosa tree removal to find out what needs to be done to have them removed safely from your property. They can also advise you of any other conditions, disease or troubles that they find along the way. Keep your property happy and healthy for the upcoming years with the right tree removal services.

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Removing a tree, whether straight out of the ground or toppled over into the street, is not an easy task. There are steps and hazards that your local Santa Rosa tree removal service team has to do to remove that tree as safely and quickly as possible. Trees are huge plants, and when they fall over it can be very loud and very scary. One of the worst things you could ever experience as a home owner is a tree falling on your roof or through the side of the house. The damage created can be very expensive and a real inconvenience. There are some things you can do determine if it is time for you to call your Santa Rosa tree removal company to remove a possibly unsteady tree.

Some trees when they get older and begin to die, start to look dried out, bare, and lose some of their vibrant color. When the tree in your yard starts to look a little gray or doesn’t grow leaves any more, it may be time to go ahead and plan to get rid of that tree. Also if you notice the tree in your yard is leaning, you may want to call a tree removal service to come see what they can do. When trees are leaning like that, it only takes a strong wind to come and pull that tree completely out of the ground and over into your house or the street.

Tree removal is not something that is recommended that non-professionals do. Trees can get extremely tall and there are special tools that should be used to begin to cut down and remove that tree properly. As a non-professional, you should not attempt to cut down the tree yourself. There may be some people who think taking a chain saw, or an axe of some sort, to the tree is a great idea because they think it can save them money and it doesn’t look so hard on television. There are many things those people have not accounted for, like power lines and the actual weight and size of the tree. Professional tree removers know how to remove the tree piece by piece. They know how to remove the tree while keeping your property, the people around your property, and themselves safe. It is not a process to be taken lightly and needs to be left to the professionals.

If you want a tree removed from your yard, make sure you contact your local Santa Rosa tree removal company.

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is featuring several books for the month of April to help us conserve water for trees, plants, lawns and other agricultural use. I recommend visiting the UC ANR website to get a look at their publications. You can find out more at . Some of the topics include Monitoring Soil Moisture for Irrigation Water Management. It gives pointers on helping to determine the right amount of water to apply to maintain plant health, how roots uptake water, timing irrigation and how to determine if water is getting deep enough.

With mandatory rationing and the reductions in irrigation frequency or length it is essential to make the best use of what little water is available. Some additional hints to help reduce and retain more of the irrigation water used is to never water during warm daytime periods when much of the water can be lost to evaporation. Mulching around trees and shrubs will also help to retain moisture levels in the soil. A four inch layer of soil will retain more moisture and also reduces heat stress to trees and shrubs. It is important though not to place mulch near the trunks of trees and shrubs because this can encourage root fungi to develop.

For more information about keeping your trees healthy while reducing your water use contact
Ron Wallace from TreePro at 1 (888) TREE-PRO.

bodega tree failure treeproOn Saturday February 8th TreePro was contacted to help one of our clients in Bodega Bay who had experienced a major limb failure that landed on their garage. After a Pre-Job Safety Inspection we went to work to remove the limb so we could cover the garage with a tarp to protect the client's possessions.

A neighbor reported that the wind had been howling in the night and he heard a rumble when the tree section fell. This was one of three emergency jobs we were called over the stormy weekend.

This tree failure occurred where two trunks were joined. Co-dominant trunks or leaders that have a high "V" shaped attachments have a condition known as"included bark." When the bark is included the tree is unable to grow tissue between the trunks. This can lead to splits at the crotch where the limbs or trunks meet. Branches with horizontal attachments have better attachments and are less likely to fail. However, when horizontal limbs become greater than half the diameter of the tree's trunk they are also subject to greater stress and have a higher risk of failure.

When branches are wet from the rain they become heavier and this added weight combined with wind create the potential for limb failures.

If your trees have heavy branches and you are worried about them falling on your house during a storm,
call 1 (888) TREE-PRO for a free consultation.

When trees fall over at the base and the roots are pulled up there are several factors that contribute to this type of failure. A large tree with a heavy canopy has a lot of "wind sail" which
catches the wind much like the sail on sail boat. The roots of the tree may be compromised by root fungi that cause die back of the large roots that provide support for the tree. Some common root fungi that affect our native trees include phytopthera and armallaria mallea. These are the most common fungi that affect native oaks.

When soils become saturated in combination with strong winds, trees are more likely to fail at the root crown.

Often it is difficult to determine if root fungi are affecting a tree in the home landscape. Trees may look healthy but at the same time be compromised by a root system that has decay and root loss. There are some clues that may indicate problems in the root system. Mushrooms growing near the base of the tree may be an indicator of armallaria mallea pathogen. Hypoxylon is an indicator of dead tissue at the trunk of the tree. It is identified as black rounded knobs about the size of a quarter. If a tree has dieback of the branch tips or areas in the upper canopy that are dead it may mean the root system is in trouble. Another problem area is cavities in the trunk or branches. Holes in the trunk indicate an area of decay and a potential area for tree failure.

Another common fungi in our area is Ganoderma Appalatum which is a growth that occurs at the lower trunks of tree with decay. This fungi is flat shaped growth with a brown top and a white bottom that grows out of the tree trunk.

It is a good idea to have your mature trees inspected on a yearly basis by a Certified Arborist to identify potential hazards and provide recommendations to mitigate those hazards. The mitigation may include reducing weight on heavy limbs or limbs with weak attachments. In some cases it is advisable to install cables or braces to add support to tree limbs or trunks.

Trees add value and beauty to your home. Inspections and regular maintenance will help to promote tree health and reduce hazards.

If you have an emergency, call 911, and if nobody is hurt call 1 (888) TREE-PRO to get the crew at your house and take advantage of our 24/7 emergency services.

Ron Wallace, Certified Arborist #WE 0979A



Our early spring like weather may mean fruit trees will benefit from better bee activity. When temperatures are cold bees are less likely to be out pollinating early blooming fruit and nut trees like almonds and apricots. This year if our warm spell continues there should be plenty of bees available to pollinate early bloomers.

Sonoma County agriculture and our entire state are dependent on bees to keep our farms, fields and orchards pollinated and producing. Thousands of bees are transported to the Central Valley each year to pollinate almond trees. There are currently 800,000 acres of almonds in production in California and almonds are a $3 billion industry in our state. In Sonoma County we have over 60,000 acres of vineyards producing around $500 million in grape production.

Maintaining a healthy bee population is the goal of researchers who are working to identify reasons for bee colony collapse. A routine inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found tobacco ring spot virus on commercial honeybees that are used for pollination. The L.A. Times reports that tests show this RNA virus was replicating inside the bees and spreading from bee to bee in the colony through mites.

The tobacco ringspot virus "acts as a quasi specie, replicating in a way that creates ample mutations that subvert the host's immune responses" according to the Times.
Judy Chen, a researcher for the USDA laboratory in Maryland states: "The cause of colony collapse remains unclear. But we do have evidence that TRSV along with other viruses that we screen on a regular basis are associated with lower rates of over winter survival."

Other viruses, pesticides and fungicides have also been linked to bee colony collapse. Scientists from the USDA and EPA have found that pesticides, pathogens and nutritional deficits, some caused by a shortage of natural forage, were the major contributing factors behind colony collapse disorder said the L.A. Times.

Bees are often fed high fructose corn syrup to provide food for the colony through the winter months but bees which survive on their own honey, were less susceptible to microbial pathogens and the effects of pesticides.

In our own home gardens and orchards we can reduce the use of fungicides and pesticides that are harmful to bees. There are several over the counter products that have chemicals which are highly toxic to bees. There are hundreds of products available for home use that share active ingredients that should be avoided for the health of bees in your home garden. Here is a list of pesticides highly toxic to bees: carbaryl, carbamates, organophosphates, pyrethroids, chlorinated cyclodiene and imidicloprid. Read the label and look for these active ingredients prior to using products where bees are present.

To help provide food for wild bees consider planting some of the foraging plants suitable for planting in Sonoma County. Visit the Sonoma Bee Keepers Association website at Look for the "Plant 4 bees" download handout for a list of bee friendly plants.

For more information on reducing toxics in your home landscape visit our website at and click on the articles tab. Choose the "Home and Property Tree Safety" tab to locate the article "Reducing Toxins in Your Home Landscape".

Ron Wallace, Certified Arborist #WE 0979

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Aphid-giving-birth.jpgI took a walk through my yard on Sunday afternoon in the 70 degree sunny weather. It felt more like being in San Diego rather than Sonoma County. The daphne is in full bloom filling the air with its fragrance. As I admired some of the flowers I noticed a shiny film on the leaves. On closer inspection I was surprised to find aphids had infested the whole shrub.

The warm winter weather is giving the problem insects a head start on their spring feeding of our plants. I found only one of my daphne shrubs was affected but I would recommend checking your roses and other shrubs for aphids. Look for the shiny residue on the leaves and also check on the undersides of the foliage where they will be found. It is important to treat for aphids early. They are very efficient at reproducing and it's best not to let them go untreated. Aphids have sucking and piercing mouthparts which they use to extract the carbohydrates or sugars from leaves and soft stems. Aphids ingest more of these carbohydrates than they can process and the excess is excreted from their bodies in the form of "honeydew". This honeydew is the sticky substance that can become so saturated on tree leaves that it drips onto sidewalks, streets and vehicles. Ants may also be present when aphids have infested a tree or shrub. Ants actually encourage the aphids to grow and spread because they utilize the honeydew they secrete as a food source. They even work to protect the aphids from other beneficial insects that would consume them.

Aphids are one of the easiest insects to control because they are soft bodied. Without an exoskeleton they have little protection from non toxic pesticides like insecticidal soaps. Some people prefer to spray them off with a hose but I prefer a method that is more likely to stop the aphids in their tracks. I take a household spray bottle used for mixing cleaning products or even re-use a glass cleaner sprayer to mix my own insecticidal soap. If you are reusing a container make sure you rinse it well before preparing your mixture. Use two tablespoons or so for a 16 oz. container and three tablespoons for a 24 oz. container of either Ivory dish soap or a Castille soap such as Dr. Bronner's and fill the container with water.

Spray your roses or shrubs on the undersides of the leaves for best results. I grab the branches and bend them over gently to I can easily spray the foliage. Leave the soap mixture on the foliage for an hour or two and hose off the plant with fresh water. A small sprayer will work fine for roses and smaller shrubs. If you are trying to spray aphids on a large tree you will need to use a hose attached spray bottle similar to the type that Miracle Grow uses for their foliar feeding fertilizers. Another option is to use a pump type or backpack sprayer. I recommend having separate sprayers for your insecticides and herbicides. Marking each sprayer with a non erasable marking pen or using a permanent label will help prevent costly mistakes. The last thing you want to do is treat your aphids with a dose of Round Up that ends up killing your shrub or tree.

One advantage of our early warm weather means bees will be more active early in the year for pollination. Early blooming fruit trees like apricots will have better fruit production if bees are out and about when they bloom.

For more information about caring for your trees and shrubs visit the "articles" tab at our website at

Ron Wallace, Certified Arborist #WE 0979A


With the Governor of California declaring a drought emergency and some Bay Area communities already starting to institute water rationing, our trees may be in trouble.

Trees which depend on winter rains like our native oaks will likely be going into the summer months in a stressed state. In addition, if landscape trees are planted in
lawn areas and water restrictions limit the use of irrigation for lawns these trees will also be subject to stress.

Water is the single most important factor in the growth of trees. Reduced water will cause reduction in the growth of roots and foliage. Trees may have yellowing or browning of foliage and branch tips may die. In extreme conditions a tree may die.  There are some things you can do now to help reduce the impacts of drought for both native and ornamental landscape trees.

First of all doing supplemental irrigation during the winter is beneficial to oak trees.  Normally, providing irrigating oak trees is not advised but during a drought period irrigating the trees can help to reduce stress. The reason irrigating oaks is discouraged is because moist warm conditions favor the growth of root fungi that affect our native trees. Irrigating during the cool winter months is less of a risk to the development of root fungi. I recommend slow watering out to the drip line but
be sure to keep water at least three feet from the trunk of the tree where the root fungus are most likely to affect the tree's roots.

Another important step is to install arbor mulch around your trees. For landscape trees this may mean removing lawn from around trees. When lawn is removed and
the irrigation is discontinued drought stress can occur for the trees. Installing mulch to a depth of four inches out to the drip line can reduce drought stress. Periodic irrigation during the summer if possible is also advised. Deep watering for trees that have had sod removed every week or two is helpful to maintaining optimal tree health. Make sure to keep mulch a foot or two away from the trunks of trees to discourage root fungi.

Other benefits of applying mulch include better saturation or rain water, better water retention and moderating soil temperatures during the warm summer months. Mulch as it breaks down in the soil also adds humus and micro nutrients that help roots grow and provide additional nourishment to the tree.

Reducing competition from shrubs or ground cover below trees will also mean more water is available for your tree. Ivy is especially problematic for trees because it
takes water away from the tree and can also climb up into the tree and deprive the branches of light. Removing thirsty shrubs and ground cover and replacing them with drought tolerant choices will mean more water is available for your tree.

For more information on optimizing the health of your trees please view our articles section at

Ron Wallace, Certified Arborist #WE 0979A

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The Santa Rosa Plum variety was developed by Luther Burbank in 1906. This plum variety is to this day one of the favorite of home orchardists and commercial growers.

The best time to start pruning your Santa Rosa Plum Tree is a year after it is planted. Early pruning to develop the proper structure is best done when a tree is young. It is important to keep lower branches on the tree where the fruit can be easily picked. To develop strong branch development prune out branches with high "V" shaped attachments. These are more likely to fail as the tree grows. Branches that attach to
the trunk horizontally are strongest and should be retained.

Fruit trees produce more fruit when they are encouraged to grow new branches each year. Plums grow on last year's new wood. This means that your best fruit production will occur on wood that was grown during the previous Spring and Summer.
The best way to promote new wood is to reduce the upper part of the branches each year.

A good rule of thumb is to remove one third of the new growth and reduce the remaining branches by one third. This keeps new branches growing each year and will keep your plum production high. When reducing a branch you will want to cut to a lower lateral branch that is one third to one half the diameter of the branch you are cutting. Remove any overcrossing branches but keep some interior branches on the lower tree where the fruit is easy to reach. Too often fruit trees are overthinned in the lower tree and left to grow tall where the fruit is too high to reach. Don't make that mistake when training your tree. Keep the lower branches and reduce the taller limbs to encourage new fruiting wood that provides fruit that is easy to pick.

How large will a Santa Rosa Plum Tree grow?

A Santa Rosa Plum Tree can grow to 25 feet or more but is best kept at a height where you can reach the fruit. Most people use a ladder or basket style fruit picker to reach taller branches. So the height of your tree may best be kept where you can reach the fruit with your picker or ladder. In commercial orchards trees are normally kept at the height of the pruning ladder being used to prune the trees.

It is a good rule of thumb to follow in your home orchard as well. Prune the tree to the height you are comfortable when working from a ladder. I recommend having someone hold the ladder while you are working to prevent an accidental fall.

Tools to use when pruning your Santa Rosa Plum Tree

The type of tool used to prune your tree will depend on the size of the branch to be pruned. A good pair of hand pruners can cut a limb of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Larger branches can be pruned with a pair of loppers, a hand saw, or a pole pruner. Make sure you have sharp tools in good condition prior to starting your pruning. Trying to make a clean pruning cut with a dull pair of hand pruners or hand saw is frustrating and can even be dangerous.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_4350511_orig.jpgJapanese Maple trees growing in Santa Rosa require extra care when they are pruned.  Our warm summers with hot winds can cause leaves to dry and become wind burned.  It is best to prune trees during the cool season when trees are dormant.  It is also a good idea to provide trees with extra irrigation especially during warm periods.  This year we are having very low rainfall so providing extra irrigation to your Japanese Maples and all your trees and shrubs is advisable.


How to Prune a Japanese Maple Tree

There are two typical growth patterns for Japanese Maples. The first type are upright varieties like the common green Acer Palmatum or the Bloodgood cultivar which has
burgundy foliage. The second type of growth pattern is the weeping variety such as
Acer Palmatum Dissectum autopurpureum.

All Japanese Maples have a decurrent growth pattern. Decurrent trees have spreading limbs as opposed to excurrent trees like conifers with a single trunk and mostly horizontal branching. When training trees with decurrent growth it is important to establish good structure in the tree as early as possible. Early training of all trees is essential in promoting strong branch attachments to reduce branch failures as trees mature.

Pruning Upright Japanese Maple Trees

The most typical branch failures in Japanese Maple trees is either at the trunk area where trunks meet with a "V" shaped attachment or in upper limbs with the same "V" shape. Limbs that have horizontal attachments are stronger because there is more tissue surrounding the attachment area where the branch meets the trunk.

Pruning to develop proper structure

When pruning your Japanese Maple tree the goal should be to promote horizontal branch attachments as much as possible. Leave lower limbs on the tree because they add strength and caliper to the trunk. It is also important to establish a dominant trunk as close to the center of the tree as possible. Japanese Maples will always have a multi-trunked form but keeping the center trunk larger and more dominant will provide a better tree structurally and also develop a tree with an aesthetic form as the tree matures. To promote a dominant area the of tree you must prune the other trunks and branches to reduce their size and foliage. By pruning areas of the tree other than the main trunk these trunks will grow more slowly because they do not have as much leaf area to produce food and in turn the growth of these branches will be slowed.

Mistakes to avoid when pruning Japanese Maples

One of the most common mistakes people make when pruning Japanese Maples is to cut the top of the tree. Topping or heading cuts ruin the shape of your tree and promote decay at the heading areas. Another common mistake is over pruning a tree. The maximum amount of green foliage that should be removed in any season is 25%. Pruning more than 25% can stress the tree. Over pruning can also lead to sunburn of the bark. Japanese Maples have very thin bark which sunburns easily.

Types of pruning for Japanese Maples

Reducing branches or crown shaping should be done by cutting a branch back to a smaller lateral branch. The smaller branch should be 1/3 to 1/2 the diameter of the branch being cut. Normally these type of shaping cuts are done to keep the smaller trunks in check so they do not grow too large or become too upright and compete with the dominant trunk. Thinning the tree should be done to remove branches that are overcrossing or to reduce growth in the smaller trunks. Crown cleaning is done to remove dead branches. When Japanese Maples are grown in shady areas they will often develop interior dead branches.

Pruning weeping Japanese Maples trees

Weeping variety Japanese Maple trees tend to grow thickly with branches that curve downward and often cross over adjacent branches. Some thinning is beneficial to reduce small branches dying from inadequate light. However, it is important not to thin the trees too much which can lead to sunburn of the uppermost branches. If possible, leave some foliage covering the top area of the tree to shade these branches. Remove any watersprouts (sucker type branches) growing below the graft of the lower trunk.

As weeping maples grown larger they often grow more horizontal than vertical because of their weeping growth pattern. Crown shaping can reduce these horizontal limbs if necessary.

Time of year to prune Japanese Maples

The best time for pruning Japanese Maple trees is the winter months when trees are dormant. December and January are ideal months for pruning. Light pruning can be done at any time of the year but pruning during a tree's dormant period is best.

A good resource for illustrations of different types of pruning is the ANSI A-300 Standards for tree pruning available from the International Society of Arboriculture at Google Images also has some illustrations under proper pruning. More information is also available at TreePro Professional Tree Care in Santa Rosa at

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TreePro provides mulch to several community, church and school gardens.  We recently received these great pictures from some young gardeners at Kawana School in Santa Rosa.

b2ap3_thumbnail_121207_EXP_GoldenGateBridge.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large.jpgTrees help to clean the air during spare the air days.  


The San Francisco Examiner reported two days ago that the Mission District proper has the poorest air quality of any San Francisco neighborhood.  The reason cited by a report from MIT entitled "Health and Urbanism"  found that surrounding neighborhoods had better air quality because of more open space.  This open space includes more areas with back yards planted with trees and shrubs.


The City of San Francisco is making an effort to plant more trees and shrubs according to the Examiner.  The city is also granting permits for property owners to remove concrete areas and replace with soil areas that can be planted with trees and shrubs.


During this record breaking winter for spare the air days we are reminded that planting more trees helps to keep our air healthier.  I recommend reading our article on "Choosing the Right Tree for your Home Landscape."